SPOILER ALERT: Many spoilers follow, read at your own risk
Anime(2019-2020) Series, 2 Seasons, 24 Episodes, 24 minutes each
The Narrator Aoyam (青山 穣, Aoyama Yutaka)
Officers of the Shuchiin Academy’s Student Council
Miyuki Shirogane (白銀 御行, Shirogane Miyuki) President
Kaguya Shinomiya (四宮 かぐや, Shinomiya Kaguya) Vice President
Chika Fujiwara (藤原 千花, Fujiwara Chika) Secretary
Yu Ishigami (石上 優, Ishigami Yū) Treasurer
Miko Iino (伊井野 ミコ, Iino Miko) Financial Auditor
Ai Hayasaka (早坂 愛, Hayasaka Ai) Kaguya’s personal assistant and childhood friend
None to speak of unless the creepy head of Shuchiin Academy might be considered as such
Kaguya-sama: Love is War Trailer
The Battle of the Sexes :A struggle for power between women and men
while not generally considered a genre, is after all, a real grouping of stories which go back thousands of years.
Lysistrata(411 BC) by Aristophanes is generally considered the first of this kind of story where Greek women, in order to stop the Peloponnesian War(431 to 404 BC), plan to withhold sexual favors to men until they stop fighting. Also one of the first anti-war stories. The Tale of Genji(before 1021) by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, while a story about Master Genji, is actually about the activities of all the women as they interact with the men of the court.
Hollywood and the Brits have had an absolute fascination with this story form.
- Bringing Up Baby(1938)
- Gone with the Wind(1939)
- His Girl Friday(1940)
- Mr. and Mrs. Smith(1941)
- Adam’s Rib(1949)
- Hobson’s Choice(1954)
- When Harry Met Sally(1989)
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding(2002)
are just some of the excellent pieces in this genre that is not considered a genre. As one can see, while most are romantic-comedies, that is not necessary. A drama such as “Gone with the Wind” can be in the mix, as well as the family dynamics of out-flanking a dictatorial father as in “Hobson’s Choice” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”,
The main core of “The Battle of the Sexes” is the relationship between men and women and how one gender or the other, goes about gaining power over the other. It has often struck me that the very foundations of the story narrative are clearly illustrated in Asimov’s Foundation series where the Foundation engages in a mind game with the Mule, and how in this mentat conflict, one gains power over the other. The genre is also like “Inception” where a thought is planted in another, in order to have that other take a course of action which is desired by the protagonist.
Although stated in military terms, the conflict is not physical or violent, it is emotional and mental. To illustrate this point, most boyfriends/husbands have encountered the following situation with their girlfriends/wives. Boyfriend/husband to girlfriend/wife: “Would you like to go to dinner?” “Yes! Certainly!” Boyfriend/husband to girlfriend/wife: “Where would you like to go?” “Oh, I don’t know, why don’t you decide.”
Any boy or man who assumes the literal meaning of this conversation is a fool of the first order, or vastly inexperienced with the other sex. The girlfriend/wife most certainly has a definite choice in mind. The actual power play here is the final decision. Any young man who would go ahead, and make the choice on his own desires is committing a serious error for which he will suffer the consequences. What the woman really wants is not the restaurant, but that the man show his knowledge and love for her, by picking the correct restaurant that she really desires, and to sacrifice his desires for hers. And so we have a “Battle of the Sexes”. The naivety here is to assume that this is purely a functional decision which it most certainly is not! The decision is a power play. Whose desires get fulfilled? A man who makes the right decision, and chooses her restaurant, may think that he has lost, but often he is rewarded later that night. And this is not a conscious ploy, but rather the women responding to the feeling of being truly loved, and perhaps to the excellent wine at dinner.
In “When Harry Met Sally” something similar takes place. Harry and Sally get into a disagreement about the ability of women to fool and deceive men with Harry saying no and Sally saying for sure! So Sally goes into an extended skit showing how it is easy to deceive men about what is happening with women, with considerable emphatic sounds heard across the restaurant. A woman sitting at another table, sees all this, and tells her waiter, in one of the greatest lines in the movies, “I’ll have what she’s having.”!!!
What does all of this have to do with “Kaguya-sama: Love is War” you might ask, and the answer would be as follows. Kaguya is clearly in the long train of history about “The Battle of the Sexes”. Kaguya is certainly one of the funniest comedies in a long, long while that is simply gully whomper, gut punching, outlandishingly funny. And the constant score keeping by the narrator, Aoyam (青山 穣, Aoyama Yutaka) is brilliant, and he becomes like a special MC in this series. Because Kaguya does something few others can even accomplish. It’s humor arises as does all good humor, from a real sense of the absurdities of the male-female relationship. Mother Nature is still laughing about this joke.
And the War, the Battle is not really hostile, but arises from a sense of fun, and of love for the other, although sometimes when your faults are exposed even in an intimate relationship, bad feelings can be aroused. But seen as part and parcel of love making, where to be intimate, one must expose all strengths and weaknesses, it can increase intimacy and the love which follows.
For a highly successful rom-com, to do what the artists accomplished in S2, EP11 is stunning. Of course, this is the Ishigami story arc, and there is nothing funny at all there or here. The arc is high drama of a very serious nature, and will invoke some pretty intense feelings when it arises to its denouement, and faces change. (You will understand what when you see it!)
Ishigami learns something very serious about a girl who is friendly to him, and he responds violently. All those around him, students and teachers try to force him to apologize. To switch from high comedy to sudden, deep and dark tragedy, and to resolve it all out in the suddenness of The “go to hell, dumbass” thing is intense! Dumbass videos follow:
Well, the only word for this is story genius. The artists behind Kaguya can do real, painful, dark, emotional drama just as well as belly-ripping, gut-busting comedy. Their story chops are beyond reproach, and are on full display in this wonderful, brilliant, two season work. And even more special, a third season has been announced to be in production, but no release date has been confirmed. Most critics and fans are predicting a release sometime in 2022. A confession is rumored to be part of S3.
When S3 completes, Pywackett Productions will update this blog.
Live well and thrive!
© 2021 Folwine P. Pywackett (mox015)