I strongly endorse duct tape over the mouth for anyone who drops spoilers.
What They Say:
“Kaguya Wants to Undress Him / Kaguya Wants to Make Him Let Go / Miyuki Shirogane Wants to Make Her Read / Kaguya <3 Aquarium”
Ishigami has a biased opinion that “Guys who wear boxers are all man whores.” Kaguya takes his words to heart and is dying to know what kind of underwear Shirogane is wearing. She tries to come up with different strategies so that she can take a peek at his underwear without it seeming weird, but all her ideas are too naughty. She decides to ask him directly what kind of underwear he likes, but Shirogane misunderstands the question and thinks she is asking him what kind of lingerie he is into. Shirogane starts to imagine the kind of underwear that he wants Kaguya to wear.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kaguya-sama is a series that demands balance. There must always be an equal balance of all tones, genres, and subject matter that it explores. So after an episode with more serious material, more visceral emotion, and more intense character psychology than ever before in the series, it’s only natural that its internal laws of balance unleash the most drastic tonal whiplash by starting a cold open with narration about underwear fetishes, the girls walking in on a half-naked Ishigami, and a vision of Ishigami’s political platform in which he attacks all those who would wear boxer briefs as man whores. Yes, this is all before the opening, and it’s not an inaccurate representation of the episode to come.
Continuing on that theme, Kaguya must know if Shirogane fits into this category, once she learns what “man whore” means from one of the funniest moments of the episode, Chika putting the burden of educating Kaguya onto Siri. Whenever this episode seems like it’s going to return to some semblance of normalcy, especially in these early segments, it goes back to absurdity, such as when Kaguya decides it’s perfectly appropriate to ask Shirogane what kind of underwear he prefers (after ruling out other approaches in some more golden inner Kaguya material), and Shirogane decides it’s perfectly appropriate to answer with the kind of women’s underwear that turns him on, before realizing that this is not a casual conversation for the two of them to be having at all. This vignette is mostly a sequence of misunderstanding gags with more erotic themes than the series often explores. It’s not the most consistently hilarious piece the series has to offer, but it still works more effectively than it would seem to have any right to, given the somewhat juvenile premise.
The next segment is slightly connected in that it continues with the topic of Shirogane potentially being a “man whore,” leading to Hayasaka discussing sex more openly than the series likely ever has (and also with a scientific authority that could only come from the prodigious polymath that is Hayasaka). This naturally results in some great material of Kaguya’s embarrassment, which is even better due to Hayasaka’s pitch-perfect mockery of her innocence. The highs and lows of this are similar to its predecessor; while it largely drops its juvenility by the time it gets to its core material, it’s still at its funniest in the fringe moments and one-liners, rather than the main gags.
While nothing in this episode is essential to any future episodes (I assume), its most valuable material certainly starts when Shirogane’s sister introduces him to a poignant shoujo romantic drama manga, resulting in a reaction that those of us passionate about the medium can instantly relate to. Art that can make you cry is likely great art, and even if used for laughs here, the fact that everyone who reads this manga has the same reaction feels like a sincere celebration of that. Furthermore, a story that takes escapism and weaves in powerful emotional investment has a very real chance of causing its readers to wish for a life similar to the one depicted before them (perhaps without the trauma and tragedy), especially those navigating adolescence. Throw in some unforgivable spoilers and the conclusion of a gag that follows the “rule of three” regarding Miko’s position in the student council and it’s a good time.
However, the best part of the episode doesn’t arrive until after the ending sequence. This manga has had such a profound impact on all parties involved that we’re suddenly transported into an alternate, shoujo version of Kaguya-sama, and we’re treated to a truly brilliant parody of a trope-filled PV that shoujo-izes every aspect of the series. Although Chika was the biggest fan of the manga beforehand, it’s unsurprising that she’s the only one immune from the shift in tone, and repeatedly pulls the other characters back to the show’s normal style in multiple examples of consistently superb comic timing.
After the emotional highs of the previous episode, this one certainly won’t have anywhere near the same impact, but it’s hard to fault a comedy for returning to nearly flawless comedic material. Its first few segments are so out there that they may not work as well for everyone, but the parts about the impact of a shoujo manga are absolute gold. And don’t you dare stop watching at the ED, because the best of the episode comes only after that.
Streamed By: Funimation
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