We never knew how much we needed Bakaguya.
What They Say:
“Kaguya Wants to Know / Kaguya Wants to Give a Gift / Chika Fujiwara Wants to Confirm It”
Kaguya finally gets to go window shopping and watches vigilantly for her chance to befriend Shirogane’s sister, Kei. While the Fujiwara sisters get in the way, she eventually manages to position herself next to Kei. But then, she can only see Shirogane’s resemblance in Kei’s profile, making her heart beat wildly out of control. Kaguya still decides to take the opportunity to figure out what she should give Shirogane for his birthday when Kei mutters that she isn’t very close to her brother. What secrets will Kei spill about Shirogane?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Does this show still exist? More and more shows are dropping every week, so I’m always worried that it’ll be Kaguya-sama’s time, a deathblow to the barely surviving season should it happen, as it’s by far the best thing to make it through so far. Maybe by the time this is posted, we’ll have gotten an announcement of its indefinite postponement, but as of right now, I couldn’t be happier with this second season of Kaguya-sama.
One thing I appreciated about later parts of the first season was that there would start to be pieces of continuity running throughout multiple vignettes and even full episodes, weaving them together in a meaningful way rather than just firing off 3-5 one-offs each week that could easily be dropped. The second season has been on top of that since the beginning, introducing the imminence of Shirogane’s birthday in the first episode and capitalizing on that throughout this episode. Each of the segments of this episode is tightly connected through this common theme, and it makes them all feel much more important as a result.
While Shirogane is absent from the first part of the episode, he is of central focus, as Kaguya has a girls’ day out with his sister Kei and the Fujiwara sisters, ostensibly just window shopping but in reality covertly interrogating Kei as to her brother’s preferences for a prospective birthday present. The presence of the Fujiwara sisters only serves to round out the group (Kaguya wouldn’t just invite Shirogane’s sister out on her own, after all) and to get in Kaguya’s way, but Chika’s little sister Moeha steals the show early on in shockingly dark ways. Any illusion that she would be as sweet as Chika is shattered, and it sets her up as a character that absolutely has to be explored in greater detail when there’s more time for her to shine. For now, though, it’s all about Kei, and while her blunt answers to Kaguya’s hopeful inquiries aren’t as helpful as desired, Kaguya soon realizes that, despite Kei’s apparent disdain for her brother’s characteristics, she embodies a great number of them herself. When the opportunity for her to display the Shirogane family sense of humble heroism strikes, Kaguya sees her as a second coming of her brother, and ends up nearly as smitten, even to the point of being jealous of Chika for showing her affection.
Though not its final installment, the culmination of the Shirogane birthday arc, should one want to think of it as such, certainly arrives in the middle piece of this episode. The most important thing Kaguya learned from talking with Kei is that the Shirogane siblings don’t want extravagance, and while she takes that to heart for the gift proper (although Hayasaka’s suggestion of offering herself as the gift would’ve been even better). Love has had an even more profound effect on Kaguya than we’ve seen up to this point, though, and beyond just the cute, blushing, and slightly scatter-brained Kaguya we see when Shirogane unknowingly flips one of her switches, we get a Kaguya turned absolutely stupid from love. In this state, a wedding cake-sized birthday cake seemed appropriate, but just before making the lethal mistake of presenting it, the airheaded simpleton Kaguya has a comical epiphany that depicts the cake as one of the largest objects known to man. This triggers the highlight of the episode: the courtroom of Kaguya’s mind, where the extremes at the opposite ends of her personality spectrum battle it out. We’ve seen the Ice Queen Kaguya that existed before love turned her into the adorable tsundere of sorts that we know and love today, and now we’ve gotten the polar opposite in this Fool Kaguya. The debates between ultimately four facets of her personality is a delightful exploration of how much her pride conflicts with her romantic heart, and though played for comedy very successfully, it serves as a realistic representation of how people can struggle with incompatible aspects of themselves. A special mention has to go the fantastic range displayed by seiyuu Aoi Koga; she does an absolutely brilliant job with these drastically different interpretations of Kaguya fighting amongst each other. Ultimately, Kaguya reaches a compromise of sorts, and it delivers the most sincere moment of romance from the season thus far.
The final segment follows up on this, bringing Chika into the fray for each protagonist to attempt to use against the other as a means to make them appear as the one in love who initiated their intimate birthday celebration. This starts as one of the show’s usual back-and-forth battles, but it gets much more entertaining once Kaguya’s tactics are blocked by her own exuberance over seeing Shirogane use the gift she made for him. Compared to the previous segment, it’s merely a reminder of how good the series is with these battles, as it’s the only one in the episode, but it’s so excellent that it’s more than welcome.
The subject of Shirogane’s birthday comes to a head as Kaguya celebrates it with adorable hilarity. She absolutely stars in each part of the episode, first falling in love with Shirogane’s sister, then battling the very different versions of her personality, and finally finding herself distracted in comical ways. Her seiyuu kills it throughout, especially as she’s forced to voice several different versions of the character and does so magnificently. I really hope this show makes it through the season, because it’s funnier, cuter, and more heartfelt than ever.
Streamed By: Funimation
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