There's a thin line between love and hate, but in this case, that thin line's more of a crazy squiggle!
Whether your love life is limp or your love life is popping, Kaguya-sama is sure to add spice to your life. Volume 2 begins with a short recap of the current situation: both Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya are cream-of-the-crop leaders of the Shuchiin Academy’s student council. Devilishly talented, unjustly intelligent, disproportionately popular–all make Shirogane and Shinomiya the perfect match. However, they are also exceedingly proud, and unwilling to confess their feelings. So ensues a tug-of-war to get the other to reveal their love first, and needless to say, neither wants to lose!
Kaguya-sama takes the tried-and-tested rom-com formula and adds some freshness by making love a competition. Volume 2 has plenty of adolescent episodes that highlight Shirogane and Shinomiya’s dogged determination. With classmate Chika’s third-wheeling antics, their ploys never seem to work out as expected. At least each little vignette reveals another sliver about the main characters’ lovable personalities and upbringing.
Shinomiya’s aristocratic rearing has made her amazingly sheltered and naive. She's got all the privilege and resources in the world at her disposal, but she knows squat about assigned movie theater seating and LINE text messaging and sex ed. Such lack of street smarts reveals the dramatic gap between the manga-reading masses and the conglomerate elites. It also reveals the hilarity of love lost in mistranslation.
As for Shirogane, he is incredibly book smart but also kind of clueless, especially when it comes to affairs of the heart.
My favorite segment from this volume involves an encounter with a sister high school in France. Much like with his feelings for Shinomiya, can Shirogane hide his utter incompetence in speaking French? As student council president, he cannot dare show intellectual weakness. However, the Shuchiin principal and an ominous French exchange student have a plan to test the limits of Shirogane’s defenses…
The preceding “battles” (as each chapter is called) focus on the preparations made for this joint event, such as shopping for party favors and exploring cosplay options. Every opportunity is a chance to make the other fess up. Can Shirogane and Shinomiya survive each other’s violent cat-ear-enhanced cuteness? Will Shinomiya wait for Shirogane to text her first or make the first move? Can Shirogane survive a cross-cultural exchange with his nonexistent French skills and prove that he is worthy to lead Shuchiin Academy as class president? All these scenarios are deftly explored with wit and humor.
My favorite character by far would have to be the nameless narrator. Never short on interjections and commentaries, this nameless narrator excels at giving a play-by-play of all the over-the-top antics that the two would-be lovers cook up. Great humor hinges upon impeccable timing, and this narrator knows exactly when to make a statement. Definitely the best matchmaker Shinomiya and Shirogane never asked for.
Can these two youngsters find love despite themselves? No one ever said modern romance would be easy!
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Vol. 2 by Aka Akasaka is available here.
by Jessica Kim
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