Episode 8, a turning point for drama and escalating the action and in this episode of Kaguya-sama: Love is War. We face the most daunting task in the world, something so horrible and so awful it makes us tremble with fear. Lose hours upon hours of sleep! The absolute horror that is, Final Exams. First though, a cute mini-bit focused on Shirogane’s sister visiting the student council!
Part 1: “Kaguya wants to hear her say it” begins with Kei Shirogane showing up to the student council. Kei is Miyuki’s little sister, she is on the middle schools student council and came to speak with her brother about some files. Miyuki is absent from the room, at a club budget meeting so Kaguya offers to help. Of course, her offer to help is part of a larger ploy to become practically like a sister to Kei so she can spend time with the Shirogane family and become closer to the president. Life itself seems to want to get in her way though, as Ishigami comes in and starts helping Kei with the papers.
Okay fine, this isn’t even her final plan. Instead of coming off as reliable by helping with the papers. She’ll come off as friendly, become such good friends with Kei that Kei will consider her basically a sister and she can get close to the presidents family. Oh wait, Chika has already done this. Since Kei goes to school with Chika’s younger sister, she is already super close and already considered a sister like figure by Kei. The absolute hate and murderous intent towards Chika from Kaguya is intense until Chika invites Kaguya to go out with all of them to shop in Harajuku. Then she switches back to “This is why you’re my best friend.” mode and hugs Chika with joy.
Back home, after the events of the day. Kei and Miyuki talk, Kei says that Chika was the same as always. Ishigami was a little creepy, but kind and helpful to her and that Kaguya, well Kaguya was someone that flustered her and she wasn’t sure she could hold a proper conversation with her. Wait a second, is that a blush? Does Kei have a small crush on Kaguya? That’s really cute!
Parts 2 and 3 “Miyuki Shirogane can’t lose” and “Yu Ishigami closes his eyes.” are both parts of the ‘Final Exam’ arc. The first half focuses on the absolute need that Shirogane has to come out as number one so he can stand as Kaguya’s equal. A natural genius vs someone who puts in genuine hard work and effort, who comes out on top in the end? After immense studying and psychological warfare between the two of them that poor Chika gets caught up into because she’s a sweet bean who has no reason to think that the two best students in the school would have a reason to lie to her. The final exam comes up at last and in the end, it’s Shirogane’s hard work that comes out on top.
Kaguya is upset, but won’t admit it in front of everyone.
Shirogane is extremely pleased with himself, but he won’t show it in front of everyone. Everyone on the student council passed their exams, if only just barely in Ishigami’s case and that’s where time rewinds.
Yu Ishigami, is at total risk of being held back if he fails one more test.
So Kaguya, so he won’t cause trouble for the president by making the student council and Shirogane look bad. Decides she’s going to tutor Ishigami and make sure he passes, no matter what. Honestly, this is where the episode shines the most because it relies heavily on the thing that makes this show great. The fact that despite being a romantic comedy, it often looks and is animated to look like a horror. The scary faces, the coloring, the dramatic angles and the fear from Ishigami are all immensely fun to watch. Along with his many escape attempts from Kaguya as she tracks him down day by day to make him study.
The core heart of this segment though is actually a rather mundane scene of them studying in the library and some girls in there gossiping about them. Ishigami did something in middle school that severely muddied his image, and by associating with him and studying with him. He’s concerned that she is going to rake her own image through the mud.
Who does he think he’s dealing with?
She doesn’t care what rumors are start, it is of no concern to her and besides. She is willing to stand up for what she believes in no matter what, she is capable of making her own judgements. She has judged that studying with Ishigami is worth her time and nobody is going to tell her otherwise or let past history sway her. This is where, deep down she is extremely kind. In the end, Ishigami passes. Though just barely, she’s rightfully mad that he only scraped by after all the work she put in on him but at least he passed.
At the very end of the episode, we get a quick image of middle school Ishigami and I can’t help but wonder if we’re going to get a little more backstory on him. Overall, I really liked this episode. In particular, the quiet blush from Shirogane at the end of all of the stuff with Ishigami as he thinks about how this is what he loves about Kaguya and the very subtle “Shirogane loses.”
He’s so cute.