Kaguya and Miyuki and back, and they are still battling to somehow make each other be the first to confess their love. We had no resolution to this conflict by the end of the first season, and don’t expect one by the end of the second as well, because a third season has already been announced. Their friendship deepens quite a bit, and there is also some examination of what attracts Kaguya to Miyuki in particular and whether that is shallow or meaningful, but if you were finding their avoidance of a relationship frustrating then this is very much more of the same. Luckily, it’s still very funny. This remains the only anime I have ever watched that makes me laugh out loud virtually every episode. Normally Japanese humour is lost in translation, often depending on wordplay that does not really work well as subtitles, but this series is a wonderful exception to that rule.
So if this second season doesn’t resolve the question of Kaguya and Miyuki’s attraction to each other, what does it do? There are two important answers to that question, and both of them are utterly glorious and compelling to watch.
The first is an introduction for a major new character. The writer gets plenty of mileage out of the question of whether Miyuki will stand for a second term as president of the student council or not, and once that is settled we are introduced to his main opponent, Miko Iino. She is highly driven and earnest to a fault, and would appear to be an even better potential candidate than Miyuki, despite being a first year student, but she goes to pieces when she tries to deliver a campaign speech. The way Miyuki handles that, determined to fight a fair fight, is heart-warming. We gradually learn a lot about Miko, what makes her tick and the struggles she has had to face, and she’s a great character and a perfect addition to the line-up. When she eventually becomes part of the group, she is an ideal character for funny situations, as she doesn’t yet understand the people she is working with, and keeps walking in on them at the worst possible moments and jumping to the wrong conclusions.
The second, very important thing this second season does is to deepen our understanding of the existing characters, particularly Kobachi. In the first season he was very much the fourth of four main characters, an entertaining, depressive emo but with little more to his character than that. In a superb arc towards the end of this season, we learn all about his backstory and why he is so ostracized by nearly all his peers. It’s a shocking tale of a teenage boy trying to stand up for a girl he liked and putting her happiness ahead of his own, even if that means she ends up hating him forever. His bravery in admitting that he’s actually not OK, despite appearances to the contrary, is a significant moment and I think this tackles a very important issue that may help some viewers who have experienced similar problems. It’s lovely to see how some of the students recognise how much he is struggling and gradually draw him into a social group and improve his feelings of self-worth and belonging. For an anime that is superficially a silly little comedy, Kaguya-sama is exceptionally good at dealing with emotional storylines like this, and the tonal shifts between comedy and drama are seamless.
The final episode of the season focuses, perhaps slightly belatedly, on Kaguya’s own isolation, and how much the photos on her phone mean to her, because they are a record of the only moments of happiness in her life. I think a lot of people can relate to that, and share her horror and grief when the phone is accidentally destroyed. The way her friends rally around and not only sort out the problem but also find a solution that makes Kaguya feel like she finally has a place she belongs really sums up the point of this whole show. It’s not really about love. It’s about friendship. RP