Last time I continued a few volumes of a series I wasn’t sure about, it didn’t go that well; this time, with Kaguya-sama, Love is War (vols. 2-3), things actually improved. I still don’t like Kaguya herself, but everyone else gets a little more interesting and relatable.
The basic gist is that the top two students at school, Miyuki Shirogane and KaguyaShinomiya, like each other but due to pride etc. they keep trying to force the other one to admit it first. That’s it, the whole premise. Each volume is a series of short episodes which concludes with someone being dubbed ‘the winner’ to ‘the loser’, and I’m pretty sure it’s all supposed to be funny. There’s some mild entertainment, but giving a high-school girl an elementary school-level knowledge of sex ed just isn’t that funny, and neither is the overachiever’s reliance on caffeine (although at least Miyuki is doing this out of a strong work ethic, as opposed to pure ignorance in Kaguya’s case).
Kaguya is actually pretty mean spirited in a lot of ways, both in her own head and in public, even if she does openly defend Miyuki at one point. She’s a mean girl, and being sheltered does not excuse that, at least not to me. That’s also probably why it’s pretty satisfying to see Miyuki beat her both in the love competition (at least once) and in the school final exams. Miyuki gets some actual character though, given that how hard he has to work to be the top student is emphasized, as well as his willingness to work as well as showing an interest in the welfare of his classmates even if he has no idea what’s he’s doing or talking about in a few instances.
Of the three side characters introduced so far, I kind of feel bad for Ishigami as he is bullied by Kaguya a few times, and he’s presented as the type who always has the bad luck of someone walking into hearing range to hear him say something that sounds pretty terrible out of context. This latter quality isn’t funny and it’s also not very endearing. Haysaka is a bit of a stereotype as the hyper-competent companion (ie ‘servant’ helper) to Kaguya, although there’s some hints she’s got some more depth to her, and Fujiwara is just annoying with her ditziness that might possibly hide some actual ambition (unclear but possible at this point).
Overall, it’s getting a little better, but this series isn’t really that interesting to me. Admittedly, I’m definitely not the target audience though, so there’s that.