「かぐや様は交換したい／藤原ちゃんは出かけたい／白銀御行は隠したい」 (Kagu ya-sama wa Koukan Shitai/ Fujiwara-chan wa Dekaketai/ Shirogane Onkou wa Kakushitai)
“Kaguya Wants to Trade / Chika Wants to Go Somewhere / Miyuki Wants to Hide His Ignorance”
We’re only two eps in, but I can already tell Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai is going to be a vexing series for me. Some shows are slam-dunks one way or the other, some you feel indifferent about, but this is one of those that pulls you in two different directions. It’s a matter of whether you’re willing to take the bad (as you define it) with the good – whether the toll to cross the bridge is worth paying or not. Or you hope that things improve enough that it becomes a moot point.
A few things strike me after watching the second episode:
- The first 4:15 of the episode was almost entirely narration and EP, and if that weren’t enough it was pretty all recycled from the first episode. That’s certainly easy on the production budget, but I sincerely hope it’s not going to be the case every week (apparently this was content from the first chapter after the series changed publications – though choosing to leave it in was a fairly bogus move by the anime staff).
- This is basically a gag comedy, and it seems to fall into the bucket many gag manga adaptations do – some of the gags work a lot better than others. I haven’t hated any of the chapters so far, but it’s two weeks in a row where only one of them really made me laugh hard. Still, any comedy that can make me LOL is unusual. But that’s the nature of comedies that take the volume approach – throw a ton of jokes out there and some of them are bound to hit the target (unless the writing is incompetent, which is not the case here).
- Last week it was the bento chapter that really made me laugh, this week the love advice chapter. Commonalities:
- Very little narration. Is that a coincidence? Surely not.
- Major focus on non-protagonist characters. Coincidence? Almost surely not.
- Third and final chapter of the episode. Probably a coincidence (but that’s not as obvious as it might seem).
One thing is clear, this is certainly a change of pace for Hatakeyama Mamoru after Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Very much a return to his roots in fact, which is not entirely a boon for me but will surely please fans of Shaft, because for all intents and purposes Kaguya-sama is a 100% Shaft series in terms of style, just with a better director and less corner-cutting on production. That is what it is, and it seems very unlikely that it’s going to change. That means it really comes down to how funny the gags are, and how one feels about the two protagonists.
That’s a complicated question, in point of fact. In using Miyuki and Kaguya as leads, is this series committing itself to basically using them as objects of ridicule – on other words, is the humor here effectively at their expense? Or is a matter of them becoming more likeable as the series progresses? They’re both pretty pathetic to be certain, but that’s surely part of the joke if not all of it – these elites held up as paragons of grace and maturity by their classmates, but in point of fact both clueless and petty when it comes to romance and totally unmade by their feelings for each other.
That last part would be another reason why the “Confession” chapter worked so well – it perfectly epitomizes the disconnect between the perception of Miyuki (and by extension Kaguya) and the reality. The first two parts are more or less just two petty children trying to outdo the other at making their rival uncomfortable, with Chika being cute and silly in the background. What worries is that might be the meat of what Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai is, for the most part – and anything above and beyond that an occasional exception.
*Note: The irritating subbing decision were Miyuki and Kaguya addressed each other by their names rather than titles was fixed – and apparently retroactively for the first episode too. A good response to be sure.
ED: 「Sentimental Crisis」 (センチメンタルクライシス) by (halca)