Tag Archives: Ishigami

The Observation Deck: Kaguya-Sama Love is War – The First Kiss That Never Ends

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


(Minor spoilers ahead)

I have talked a lot about Love is War over the past couple of years, and for good reason. The show has only gotten better with time and additional seasons, further developing its characters into some of the most compelling in all of the medium. Additionally, it does so while basing its entire premise around the conceit of not wanting to confess first out of fear of being seen as weak, which itself is born out of the implicit relationships people have based on socioeconomic status and perceived importance.

Thus, with a sequel movie getting announced after the end of an already incredible third season, there was going to be a lot more to talk about. Expectations, my own included, were pretty high considering what had transpired previously. Now, after having watched the film in the company of a friend of mine, I would have to say this movie was terrible, just awful, a total departure from-

Of course not, Kaguya-sama: Love is War – The First Kiss That Never Ends is one of the best anime films in recent memory. Anything it could have done right it did and manages to navigate both the comedic elements as well as the more genuinely tragic moments with the same level of gravitas.

The Narrative Setup

Japanese Christmas, not having the same sorts of religious connotations for most people as it does here in the west, tends to be a more romantic holiday like Valentine’s day (hence the marketing and release schedule). Anyone who has watched an anime with any sort of romantic plot or even just a subplot has probably figured this out already. Thus, it makes a perfect setup given Shirogane and Kaguya’s kiss at the end of season three. The race against the clock set-up also gives them a perfect window in which to create snappy, comedically effective bits as well as build on previous jokes such as Kaguya’s internal courtroom and various personas.

The two of them clearly want to be together. The problem, and what makes this film so brilliant, is that rather than fighting each other, the two spend most of it fighting themselves. Both Kaguya and Shirogane still have a strong sense of pride, one that will not let themselves be vulnerable around another person. This is especially true in Shirogane’s case, to the point that he ends up collapsing due to sleep deprivation. That strong sense of tension helps to propel the movie forward through its fairly accelerated pace.

Though the film was most obviously going to focus on the two leads, Ishigami’s love for Tsubame felt like one of the more important plotlines of the last season, and the show seemed to imply it was going to get resolved in this film as well. However, the parts of their story that are adapted feel a bit thin, getting a fairly suggestive couple of seconds at the end followed by Tsubame going to a psychic for advice. It was not bad, per se, but lacked the same kind of satisfying resolution that Kaguya and Shirogane ended up with.


Did Someone Say Comedy?

Yeah, I did.

Kaguya-sama has always been known for its fairly ludicrous gag comedy and visual bits, but the animators and editors really turned it up to eleven for this film. The first half is slathered in some of the most out-of-pocket, unhinged humor in the whole series. Hell, the first 20 seconds include Ishigami reading softcore porn and while talking about how publishers skirt obscenity laws by only including four pages of suggestive material, and it really only gets better from there.

The latter half, meanwhile, slows down a bit, switching between comedy and tragic backstory. However, despite doing so fairly often, the weight of the situation is never compromised, because at this point in the series, it is understood how awkward and corny both Kaguya and Shirogane can be. In fact, wearing various masks such as the ones featured in season three’s climax becomes the main visual metaphor for how the two have had to hide their true selves from the world and each other.

Granted, the film is not exactly treading new thematic ground when it comes to this subject. Plenty of media in the past has played with the idea of having to hide one’s true self (Persona 5 comes to mind, primarily because of the way he shouts “persona!” halfway through while transitioning through backstory). Still, The First Kiss That Never Ends brings a sense of freshness to the topic that is uniquely its own.

Experimental Visuals

Ok, maybe “experimental” is not the right word. Still, it is hard to deny, just how much trippy-ass stuff happens in blink-or-you-miss-it moments. One moment that sticks out, in particular, happens during a flashback about Kaguya, where she blankly stares forward into the camera, with black nothingness rotating through her eyes. She does as she is being taught by someone who is presumably a private tutor bought by her family, someone who is also revealed to be just as abusive as the other Shinomiyas. It was genuinely very creepy and out of left field in a way that contributed to the tragedy of her situation.

Additionally, the show also has shot composition and timing down to a science, not just when it comes to comedy, but especially for its more serious moments. The film does a great job of creating further tension by focusing on just a frame or two over the span of a few seconds. Again, not exactly new, but utilized in combination with a distinctive soundtrack and characters’ trademark expressions to ride the fine line between comedic and serious nearly perfectly.

Although, at this point, experimental could be considered standard when it comes to Kaguya-sama, and Bocchi was arguably doing way more experimental stuff for scenes that had way fewer stakes.


I could go on about just how amazing this film is, and depending on my boredom after finishing this review I might, but rather than overexplaining jokes that someone else could probably do a better job of anyway, I will simply say go watch the movie. It absolutely earns every single one of its 96 minutes down to the credits scene. Kaguya-sama fans will not be disappointed.


How do you all feel about Kaguya-sama: Love is War – The First Kiss That Never Ends? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!


The Observation Deck: Kaguya-sama Love is War: Ultra Romantic

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


The end of another season of course means the end of another block of anime. However, this season feels a bit different, and a lot of that can be attributed to the series I am talking about today, Kaguya-sama. I have admitted in the past to not being the warmest on the show when it first came out. In fact, it felt kind of gimmicky. At least, that is how it was at first.

Not only did the series only get more and more entertaining, but the amount of longevity and growth it has had over its now three seasons is also one of the most impressive I have seen from a show in a while. Any hesitancy about its quality on my part has since been replaced with whole-hearted enthusiasm for one of the most charming romantic comedies of the last decade.

For those unaware, Love is War focuses on Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, the president and vice president of the student council of the elite Shuuchin Academy. After working together for about half a year, the two simultaneously develop a crush on the other. However, the driving philosophy among those at the top is as such: Admitting one’s feelings is tantamount to admitting defeat, and so the two engage in war to get the other to confess first.

Ultra Romantic? More Like Ultra in Panic

I said in the plot description that the show focuses on their game of not admitting to one another, and while that is still generally true of the third season, there is a large shift in philosophy that encompasses much of Ultra Romantic. Whereas seasons one and two felt significantly more playful and comedy focuses in their approach to the story, Kaguya-sama’s third season is decidedly not that.

Ultra Romantic instead looks towards the end game. For as much as the antics between Kaguya, Miyuki, and the others are fun, time is not static, and both seemingly want this game to come to an end. Kaguya is as restless about the situation as ever, and at this point is even worried about sending him a message on social media, not only because of their game but because she is genuinely confused about how she should approach the situation.

Meanwhile, Miyuki’s sense of self-worth has always been determined by his ability to outwork others. Consequentially, this has meant that his relationship with this game has become more tied to his self-worth. Thus, this sense of resignation in wanting to confess to Kaguya is a genuine internal conflict that she is only aware of on a surface level.


Romance Isn’t Just For Protagonists

If Love is War was only good for its leads, I do not think I would be able to leverage the amount of praise for it that I do. What sets the series apart from other romantic comedies is that its side characters are decidedly less one-note in their effect on the story or any individual gag.

A great example of this is Ishigami. While he certainly started out as kind of a nothing character, his evolution throughout the series has been phenomenal. His arc during the final episodes of season two showed that the series is able to handle heavier moments despite its more lighthearted nature.

Season three only built on this development, as the revelation of his feelings for Tsubame creates a funny and heartwarming side-story which at times feels as compelling as the push and pull of Miyuki and Kaguya. If season two was Ishigami’s lowest moment, then the end of season three is a moment of triumphant return.

However, Ishigami is not the only other love-struck idiot desperately hiding their affection. It really could not be any more obvious that Miko herself has started to develop feelings for Ishigami, who does not seem to notice, and yet continually feeds this attraction by showing her continual kindness. This comes to a head when Ishigami hand delivers an IPad so she can watch the campfire that she helped organize in the first place.

As much as the main romance of the series is great, some of my favorite moments have come from the interactions between Hayasaka and Shirogane. Embedded in their encounters is a message about what it means to be one’s genuine self, and how the two of them are forced to hide behind a social mask for fear of being ridiculed. Apart from the obvious romantic dynamic of Hayasaka’s crush on Shirogane, their relationship also symbolizes the hardships that come with being from a lower-class family, which itself makes their relationship feel like a continuous moment of solidarity.

The Visual Gag Level Up

Another thing that Kaguya-sama has always been good at is visual gags. Its ability to utilize moments of extreme sakuga and other weird references to tell a joke is second maybe only to a few others. Much like the previously mentioned character development, the visual gags of season three have only gotten funnier.

One of my personal favorites comes from Maki during the early to mid part of the season, where Ishigami tries to protect her from playing her erotic relaxation soundtrack out loud because she forgot to plug in her headphones, meanwhile the image of cute boys is constantly appearing in her head.

Kaguya’s facial expressions are also amongst my favorite, as she can often go from menacing psychopath to adorable gremlin in a matter of frames. The thing that makes it even more humorous is when the series ops to cut in the moments of heaviness with these strange visual gags, which can certainly feel jarring if done poorly, but is almost always on point.

The Finale/Confession

The climax of the series’ cultural festival arc is one that I did not see coming even despite how obvious it was that something was going to happen. In a final bid to get Kaguya to confess, Shirogane undergoes a secret identity of the phantom thief, leading everyone around so that he can have his moment with Kaguya, and while neither actual confess, they do share a kiss under the thousands of heart-shaped balloons which he had risen up from the campfire below.

Again I am not gonna pretend like I did not see it coming. It is literally in the premise of the show that it was going to happen eventually. However, I am a strong believer in the idea that a plot point being obvious is not necessarily bad as long as it is executed well, which this flashy display of romance most certainly was.


There is not much to comment I that I have not praised the series for before, and on top of that, it has been confirmed that another anime-related project is in the works, which likely means either season four or a sequel movie. Season three was exciting, charming, and overall everything that I could have wanted from the series in its latest incarnation.


How did you all feel about Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts on Kaguya-Sama: Love is War Season Two

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Two positive reviews in a row? why it might just be a Christmas miracle!

Oh who am I kidding? Most of my reviews are positive because I rarely ever watch stuff I feel like I’m not going to like.

Well, anyway, yeah I doubt this is going to be much of a surprise, but “Kaguya-Sama: Love is War” is a truly exceptionally series. I’ve already mentioned a few times how my initial impressions of the series led me to believe that it was going to be an extremely repetitive series with little variation in its comedic focus and timing. Luckily, though, I ended up being sorely mistaken. Without further delay, here are my thoughts on the second season of “Kaguya-Sama: Love is War.”


War Rages On

In my discussion of the first season of “Kaguya-Sama,” I noted how the show plays up the more conservative ideas around romantic interest for comedic relief, dumping on the idea that one needs to hide their emotions by showing how both of the main characters end up miserable for doing so. The series largely continues this idea, but also uses its time to bring new characters into the fold and develop others who were somewhat shunned during the first season, namely Ishigami.

While the battle between Kaguya and Shirogane to get the other to confess seems to be raging on, morale on both sides seems rather low. The series shows how this idea of not admitting ones love first can affect people. Shirogane becomes increasingly worried that the vice-president hates him, while Kaguya, in turn, becomes increasingly flustered and unable to come to terms with her own feelings. As sad as it is to say, though, this kind of scenario does make for great comedy, as one constantly tries to out do the other, despite the fact that they both just to end it all and be together.

Still, I should give the show’s writers a bit more credit, because while the idea itself is certainly amusing, especially given the hormones’-infused, rich kid high-school setting, it is the everyday scenarios which themselves are turned into battles of love that make the show so fun to watch.

Ishigami’s Struggle

I was genuinely surprised when I realized that they were giving not just more attention to the side characters, but a whole back story. While Ishigami was given a fair amount of screen time in the last season, it never really felt like he was an essential part of the story despite the fact that he was also extremely funny. It definitely makes sense that his past would be a little bit darker considering how gloomy he is, but those last three episodes were not the direction I was expecting.

Still, I am happy they went there. Ishigami’s actions with regards to Kyoko’s boyfriend do not feel as justified as the show probably wants them to feel. After all, he did just walk up and start assaulting the guy when he could have just confronted Kyoko herself. However, the sentiment is certainly a relatable one. After all, there are plenty of awful people in the world, and their is most certainly a visceral anger that arises when they just reveal their shittiness right in front of you.



Thought there is not much information available right now, it does seem the series is ripe for a third season, and I for one am ready. The series is extremely enjoyable from start to finish, with only a few misses throughout the entire series. What will become of Shirogane and Kaguya? What will happen once they have graduated? Will we learn more about Fujiwara and the others? Hopefully these questions and more will be answers by “Kaguya-sama’s” eventual return.

How do you guys feel about the show’s second season? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!