Kaguya-sama: Love is War -The First Kiss That Never Ends- Review

Bro, I didn’t even realize this movie was getting a TV version, let alone that it was already out! I legit just opened Crunchyroll and bam! New Kaguya-sama! Feels like I’m a kid discovering Christmas for the first time!

Now, I never got to see the film version of ‘The First Kiss That Never Ends.’ If there are any dramatic changes made between that and the televised version, I’m not gonna know about them. For me, this is basically just a mini-season of Kaguya-sama.

Which I couldn’t be happier with, if I’m being honest.

Picking up right where season three ended, we rejoin the Student Council of Shuchin Academy as they prepare for the holidays. Just one problem: after their ‘grown-up’ kiss, neither Kaguya nor Shirogane have any idea where they stand with each other! Just when their relationship seemed to be developing, a gap opens up between the two. In order to close it, they must finally be open and honest not just with their feelings, but with themselves. Can either one of our socially anxious geniuses pull it off?

Meanwhile, Ishigami and Ino go to a Christmas party with Tsubame. I wish I could say more on that matter, but we don’t get to see it. Maybe in season four…

This little arc of the story was the only time I was ever frustrated watching Kaguya-sama. After the momentous ending of season three, the story back-pedals to squeeze out just a little more will-they-won’t-they drama out of Kaguya and Shirogane. This approach was a double-edged sword. On one hand, it made for some great jokes and good character development. On the other, it is really annoying to watch a relationship go backwards just as it finally started to go forwards.

At the heart of it all is the cold, icy side of Kaguya’s personality. We’ve seen plenty of hints pointing towards it for the show’s entire run, and actually seeing it take center stage is the perfect pay-off. How does she deal with the fear of being rejected for her nastier qualities?

It’s not just her, either. We get a deep look at Shirogane’s insecurities as well. His confidence, his intelligence, his hard work ethic, he wears just as many masks as Kaguya does to hide his vulnerable side. Man is so afraid of seeming weak that he doubles, triples, and quadruples down on the Love is War nonsense at the heart of the series.

Persona is at the heart of this story. Everyone wears a mask around others. Sometimes without even realizing it. Learning to take that mask off, to show someone you love your true self? To love yourself? That right there is far more terrifying than confessing could ever ben.

Unless you have a Hayasaka. Alas, real life lacks cheat codes that strong.

Of course, Kaguya-sama is still a comedy. And if you thought it was funny before, this arc isn’t likely going to change your mind. There are some top-tier gags in here. The god damn handcuff bit in particular had me gasping for breath, I was laughing so hard.

Visually speaking, things are still as strong as they’ve ever been. Stronger, even. The use of lighting here is above and beyond anything else in the show. When its bright and colorful, it’s as delightful as ever. But when the mood gets dark and gloomy, you can feel it more than ever before. They even managed to find a clever use for phone lighting, like in the texting scene!

Surrealist visuals are back once again. Only this time, they’re used less for the comedy and more for the dramatic moments. Honestly, I’m more than happy with this shift. Seeing the emotional struggles of these teenagers brought to life with such interesting and stunning visuals adds a lot to the narrative.

Oh, and of course, the OST is still a banger. The OP and ED slap as hard as ever.

As a whole, I really enjoyed ‘The First Kiss That Never Ends.’ I wouldn’t call it my favorite bit of Kaguya-sama, but it’s still damn good. If nothing else, it should sate my hunger for this series until the next season.

You know there will be a next one. I saw a lot of people praising this arc as the ending. Which, I can get, but why? It can’t end here! Ishigami still has chad stuff to do!

Who knows? Maybe one day he’ll realize he’s doing it.

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