One well-received show from the winter 2019 season was Kaguya-sama Wants a Confession: the Genius’ War of Love and Brains. The anime was based on the manga by Akasaka Aka, and animated by A-1 Pictures. It falls into the genres of comedy, school, romance, and seinen. Myanimelist.net says it’s in the psychological genre, but I disagree. Let’s review the sound, art, characters, story, and enjoyment factors in Kaguya-sama.
The auditory elements of Kaguya-sama were enjoyable. The instrusmental music was not my style, but it fit the show well and sometimes was quite funny. The opening, “Love Dramatic” by Masayuki Suzuki is unforgettable and so much fun. The ED (1) was a little boring.
Off the top of my head, I don’t know the seiyuu of the main cast from many other anime, but the three or four central characters were adequately acted, with the most impressive being Kaguya (Koga Aoi) and Chika (Kohara Konomi). Miss Kohara recently played Kazumi in Asobi Asobase. She’s a remarkable singer. In addition, Hanamori Yumiri, voice of Ai Hayasaka, was a treat for the ears. Her character is the deadpan type, yet she delivers some great lines.
Art and Animation: 7/10
I wasn’t too impressed by the art overall, and would have given it 6/10, except that it does extremely well with being creative. The face expressions are great. There was the infamous dance of Chika at the end of episode 6, which looked pretty smooth and natural to me, and was cute and interesting in terms of cheorography. For an example of being creative, the character design for Kaguya has a lot of black and red, which is a rare choice for a non-villain, female character in a school comedy. Throughout the episodes, interesting effects and backgrounds are used. One such background is shown in the screencap below. The diamond shapes move and twist in weird ways while Shirogane thinks.
The comedy effects are great, too. The increasingly menacing shots of Kaguya saying “Okawaii koto,” in Shirogane’s mind are one example. Another is the funny animation in episode 12 when Shirogane is so freaked out by Kaguya’s words his face shrivels to nothing like a date or a raisin. A-1 Pictures excels at bringing unique animation elements into their lower budget works. (There’s Shinsekai Yori, for instance; the art is cheap but so creative and diverse in style!)
The characters were all very funny and/or cute, which saved me from rating them 5/10 average. I didn’t think any of them saw any growth or improvement, except that Ishigami became less timid, but I’m not even sure that’s a good thing, with things that kid says. There’s also the off-putting fact that while Kaguya and Shirogane are phenomenally smart in academics, they have no common sense and little ability to consider things introspectively or critically.
Why are they both of the backwards opinion that there must always be a power element, dominant and submissive, in a loving relationship? Common sense says otherwise. Kaguya having no sex education wasn’t remotely funny to me. I knew way too many girls growing up in the Quiverful Movement who were the same, and for them, having no sex ed created a lot of issues. Also, I don’t understand why/ how these two put their pride before their love, refusing to confess they are romantically and sexually attracted. I mean, I’m almost not convinced they actually do like each other.
Everybody loves Chika Fujiwara, and I reluctantly admit that includes me. Ishikami annoyed me. Kaguya’s ignorance paired with arrogance made me feel bad for her; what will a character like her do when she wakes up to reality? And I never say this, but the president, Shirogane, needs to get some backbone already and ask the girl out!
I have three main complaints. A) The story seemed interesting and was amusing at first, but quickly became dull and repetitive. By episode 8, I was already so “done” with the whole confess-or-be-confessed-to thing. It clearly wasn’t going anywhere, and there were no new or exciting developments. B) This show was recommended to me as a “psychological” show, which it isn’t. Definitely not. Myanimelist still has it tagged as “psychological” for some reason. Psychological series are those that take surprising twists and play with your mind, or those that explore dark or unusual themes and character psychology.
And finally the third complaint. C) The lack of resolution at the end of the story was like a punch in the face. Or, it was like eating a parfait and saving the delicious strawberries for last, only to have them taken away by the unknowing waiter. I expected a big payoff at the end, but nothing happened. The status quo remains. This leads into the enjoyment category.
For the first three episodes or so, my enjoyment was very high, about 8/10. For the last episode, in contrast, enjoyment ranked at 3/10. So as you can see, 6/10 or Fine is the score for my enjoyment overall, through the whole series. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I’ll say a bit more anyway. The characters often got on my nerves. The story became boring quickly and dropped me off a cliff of disappointment in the final episode. On the other hand, the seiyuu were good, the music nice, and the art innovative for its low budget. The comedy wasn’t a total loss, either, as there were a few things I actually did find funny.
Overall Score: 6.4/10 Fine
I personally don’t recommend this show, especially not if you’re thinking of watching it for psychological elements. If you like school romantic comedies in general, then you might try 1 or 2 episodes to see if it’s a form of humor you enjoy. Now… please don’t roast me over this. I know I’m giving a 6.4/10 to a popular anime scored 8.5 on MAL, but I’m only being honest with my opinion as a hobbyist anime critic. I appreciate comments and I’m up for discussion… just not for hate. Ja ne, bye now!