• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Anime Review: Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic (2022)

ByJohn Wintroub

Aug 16, 2022

Photo courtesy of Crunchyroll

Kaguya-sama: Love is War has dominated the romantic comedy anime scene for four years now. With its third season, Ultra Romantic, the conclusion of the story is on the horizon.

How does this climax pay off? Kaguya and Shirogane’s war over each other’s hearts may never be the same.

Spoilers for the first two season of Kaguya-sama: Love is War ahead.

Adapting chapters 95-138 of Aka Akasaka‘s manga, this season of Love is War is the first to have a serialized structure. While it still has the multi-chapter adaptive structure for episodes, there is a continuous narrative. The majority of the main cast, especially Shinomiya, Shirogane and Ishigami, feel like they have consistent character development episode-to-episode. The comedy, while still present, feels like it is in service of their development.

Kaguya-Sama Love Is War Season 3 Episode 2: Will Miyuki's Trap Work? Release Date
Kaguya Shinomiya messing with Miyuki Shirogane in episode 2.

Because of this, Ultra Romantic is the most dramatic season thus far. Love is War was always entertaining before, being one of the best comedy anime/manga of the last few years. However, ever since Ishigami’s development at the end of the second season, Love is War seems to have embraced it’s dramatic undertones and pushed them to the forefront.

Shirogane and Shinomiya have always been the core of Love is War, but the development they both received this season was incredible. That is not to say they aren’t still overthinking, ridiculously oblivious high schoolers. Despite that, they manage to grow in maturity.

Add in the impeccable direction, once again, by Mamoru Hatakeyama (Sankarea: Undying Love, Descending Stories), and the animation by the team at A-1 Pictures (Your Lie in April, Erased), and you get one of the best sequel seasons of the last few years. That is quite significant considering just how big of a step up the second season was compared to the first.

However, what shined most about the series’ production was its art direction and after effects. Love is War relies mostly on its writing and cast. However, this season gave the animation team much more to work with thanks to the culture festival. The finale, especially, allowed art director, Risa Wakabayashi (Cells at Work!, Ms. Koizumi loves ramen noodles), and director of photography, Masaharu Okazaki (86, Gate), to work their magic.

Kaguya-sama: Shirogane Raps His Feelings to Hayasaka
Miyuki Shirogane busting a rhyme while Chika Fujiwara lays down the beat in episode 5.

The English voice acting for Love is War has certainly shaken the pot due to its unique direction choices. It’s variance from the original Japanese voicework makes it one of the more creative dubs of recent years. Scriptwriter Jessica Sluys(Horimiya, Sabikui Bisco) choice to prioritize adapting the comedy for a Western audience allows it to land better comparatively. This season, that voice direction is in the hands of returning directors, Aaron Dismuke (Nanbaka, Cheer Boys!!) and Michelle Rojas (Higurashi: When They Cry- GOU, Love Live! Superstar!!), and rising star Morgan Garrett (Fruits Basket, The Helpful Fox Senko-san).

Ian Sinclair (One Piece, Fruits Basket) continues to steal the show as Love is War‘s overdramatic narrator. His line delivery in the finale is quite possibly the best in the whole show.

Although, that narration would have less impact if it wasn’t for the performances of the main cast. Alexis Tipton (Fire Force, Takt op.Destiny) continues to shine as Kaguya Shinomiya and Clifford Chapin (My Hero Academia, Dr. Stone) (standing in for Aaron Dismuke this season) matched her energy perfectly. Chapin had large shoes to fill considering how much love Dismuke gave to this series. Yet, he is an absolute delight as Shirogane.

Kaguya-Sama Season 3 Episode 12 Release Date, Plot, Preview, and How to Watch | Camel Clutch Blog
Yu Ishigami offers a heart-shaped cookie to Tsubame Koyasu in episode 10.

However, the show stealers for me this season were Austin Tindle‘s (Assasination Classroom, Snow White with the Red Hair) Yu Ishigami and Tia Ballard’s (Fruits Basket, One Piece) Tsubame Koyasu. Their relationship through this season stole the show, and much of that was due to Tindle and Ballard’s chemistry.

The rest of the main cast get their moments to shine as well. Ama Lee (Ai Hayasaka), Jad Saxton (Chika Fujiwara), Madeleine Morris (Miko Iino), Bryn Appril (Nagisa Kashiwagi) and Brandon McInnis (Tsubasa Tanuma) each had their moments to shine. Hope Endrenyl (Love After World Domination) was also an excellent new addition to the cast as Maki Shijo.

Love is War -Ultra Romantic took the series in a more dramatic direction. Shinomiya and Shirogane’s new relationship dynamic serves as a major shift in the series. I have never been more excited to see where the series goes next.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War -Ultra Romantic is available to watch both subbed and dubbed on Crunchyroll.

Rating: 10/10