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        1. Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2
          Episode 3

          by Amy McNulty,

          How would you rate episode 3 of
          Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 ?

          Kaguya and Miyuki temporarily put the brakes on their perpetual battle of the minds in one of Kaguya-sama: Love is War's sweetest episodes yet. Rather than serve as a showcase for the main duo's usual mental jousts, the latest installment primarily focuses on Shuchiin's 67th student council as a group and gives us a chance to see them casually hang out as friends. Fortunately, in Kaguya-sama's case, the absence of meanness doesn't mean the absence of laughs, and despite the episode's relaxed atmosphere (at least in comparison to the usual fare), the proceedings are still littered with perfectly-timed jokes and hilarious personality clashes.

          This week's first segment finds the gang having a moon-viewing party at the behest of the astronomy-obsessed Miyuki. After providing a distraction for Chika and Ishigami, Kaguya is able to enjoy some alone time with Miyuki and attempts to initiate a number of romantic interactions. However, Miyuki, whose mind is completely focused on the stars, effortlessly remains one step ahead of Kaguya at every turn. For example, he loans her his jacket before she has a chance to ask for it and sips tea out of a cup she just used without a second thought. Miyuki later deals Kaguya an inadvertent deathblow by waxing poetic about Princess Kaguya and sharing his thoughts on the folktale's tragic ending. Unable to withstand his charm any longer, Kaguya points out how mortifying his words and actions have been, causing him to become hopelessly embarrassed.

          In addition to giving us some tender moments between Kaguya and Miyuki, this segment provides an interesting twist on the usual formula. With Kaguya being the only party interested in playing the duo's usual game, all of Miyuki's deflections come off as entirely innocent. It's rare for either party to score a victory over the other without even trying, and as Miyuki proves, the secret to coming out on top is simply to take yourself out of the game. When he's fully immersed in his hobby and completely unconcerned with tripping Kaguya up, Miyuki comes across as genuinely charming, and his true nature shines through. His embarrassment after the fact is a great callback to the end of the previous season.

          This story also serves as a perfect demonstration of how the war between Kaguya and Miyuki constantly turns expectations on their head. Kaguya keeps thinking of the perfect way to get Miyuki flustered, yet Miyuki, smooth as butter, acts like a Casanova before she has time to set her plan in motion, ruffling Kaguya's feathers at every turn. However, at the very end, Kaguya completely loses it and makes Miyuki aware of all the embarrassment he's caused them both, thereby handing her the victory.

          The final two segments deal with the dissolution of the 67th student council. With the schoolyear coming to an end, the gang has to grapple with the prospect of no longer interacting with one another on a daily basis. Although everyone approaches this with an air of sadness, Kaguya takes it particularly hard. Since she and Miyuki are in different classes, they're unlikely to see each other very often, and seeing as both parties have yet to confess their feelings, the end of the student council may spell the end of their relationship. Despite trying to appear unaffected, the idea of losing Miyuki ultimately causes Kaguya to “selfishly” request that he make another run for student council president—a request he responds to by revealing that he's already filled out the paperwork.

          Since the season's only just begun, few viewers are likely to believe that this is truly end of the student council, but the bittersweet mood and general air of sadness help sell the idea that the gang's time together is coming to a close. Even Ishigami, who lives in abject terror of Kaguya, isn't particularly happy about the prospect of bidding adieu to his student council cohorts and seems genuinely saddened upon hearing about the all the misadventures for which he was absent. Drifting away from friends is an inescapable part of growing up, and this portion of the episode is likely to resonate with anyone who's parted ways with classmates who played an important role in their adolescence. Even though the status quo will more than likely be restored in the coming weeks, the group's family restaurant afterparty truly feels like the end of an era, and the anxiety each character experiences is palpable.

          Of course, this isn't to say the final two-thirds of the episode are short on laughs. Kaguya trying to decide how she should address Miyuki now that “President” is no longer applicable (as Chika and Ishigami instantly start calling him by overly-familiar nicknames) is a particularly cute bit. When Kaguya imagines a reformed student council—with Kashiwagi replacing Chika as secretary—Chika looms in the background in a funny nod to Kaguya's yo-yoing opinion of the girl. Miyuki planning to whip out the completed paperwork form should Kaguya ask him to run for president again—and revealing he wouldn't have actually turned it in otherwise—is so perfectly him. He'll do anything it takes to emerge as the victor, even if it means going against his best interests.

          With the end of the episode teasing the arrival of a new character (one who appears in the opening and ending, no less), next Saturday can't come quickly enough. The dynamic between the student council is already well-balanced, with Chika and Ishigami now feeling as important to the comedy as the central duo, and it will be interesting to see what a potential addition to the main cast brings to the table.


          Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 is currently streaming on Funimation.

          Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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