Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a Japanese romantic comedy manga series by Aka Akasaka. It began serialization in Shueisha’s seinen manga magazine Miracle Jump in May 2015 and was transferred to Weekly Young Jump in March 2016. In North America, the manga is licensed in English by Viz Media.
A 12-episode anime television series adaptation by A-1 Pictures aired in Japan between January and March 2019, and a 12-episode second season premiered between April and June 2020. An OVA episode will be released in 2021, and a third season has been announced. It was also adapted into a live-action film directed by Hayato Kawai, which was released in Japan in September 2019. The anime series is licensed in North America by Aniplex of America.
As of April 2021, the manga had over 15 million copies in circulation. In 2020, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War won the 65th Shogakukan Manga Award in the general category.
In the senior high school division of Shuchiin Academy, the student council president and vice president, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, appear to be the perfect couple. Kaguya is the daughter of a wealthy conglomerate family, and Miyuki is the top student at the school and well-known across the prefecture. Although they like each other, they are too proud to confess their love, coming up with many schemes to make the other confess.
Halfway through their senior high life, Kaguya and Miyuki finally admit their feelings for each other and start dating. The story then shifts to cover their budding relationship, while also dealing with their own personal issues and those of their schoolmates.
Aka Akasaka launched the series in the June issue of Shueisha’s Miracle Jump magazine on May 19, 2015. The series last chapter in Miracle Jump was published in its February 2016 issue on January 19, 2016. The manga was then switched to the publisher’s seinen manga magazine Weekly Young Jump on March 24, 2016. A special chapter ran in the debut issue of Young Jump Gold on May 18, 2017.
North American publisher Viz Media announced their license to the series during their panel at San Diego Comic-Con International on July 20, 2017.
A spin-off manga by Shinta Sakayama, titled Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Dōjin-ban, was launched on Shueisha’s Tonari no Young Jump website on June 14, 2018, and it was serialized on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. The spin-off finished on June 25, 2020. Shueisha released four tankōbon volumes between December 19, 2018 and July 17, 2020.
A yonkoma spin-off, written by G3 Ida and titled Kaguya-sama o Kataritai, launched in Weekly Young Jump on July 26, 2018. The yonkoma focuses on two newspaper/press club girls who idolize Kaguya and the gang but have no clue what really goes on inside the student council. Shueisha released the first collected tankōbon volume on March 19, 2019. As of February 19, 2021, four volumes have been released.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War had over 6.5 million copies in circulation as of April 2019, over 8.5 million copies as of October 2019, over 9 million copies in circulation as of December 2019, over 13 million copies in circulation as of October 2020 and over 15 million copies in circulation as of April 2021. It was the ninth-best-selling manga in 2019, with over 4 million copies sold. The series won the 3rd “Tsugi ni Kuru Manga Awards” in the comics division for manga published in print book format in 2017. In 2020, along with Aoashi, the manga won the 65th Shogakukan Manga Award in the general category. On TV Asahi’s Manga Sōsenkyo 2021 poll, in which 150.000 people voted for their top 100 manga series, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War ranked #50.
Rebecca Silverman of Anime News Network gave the first two volumes of the manga a positive review, calling it “one of the more unique rom-com premises out there”. She noted that the second volume was better than the first, indicating development on the part of the author, and commenting that it boded well for the lastingness of the series. She was more ambivalent about the art, saying that it lacked polish and that faces in particular tended to suffer.
At the 2020 Crunchyroll Anime Awards, the Kaguya-sama: Love Is War anime was selected for Best Comedy, Best Couple, and Best Ending Sequence (“Chikatto Chika Chika”). The character Chika Fujiwara was nominated for Best Girl in the awards. At the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards, the second season of the Kaguya-sama: Love Is War anime was selected for Best Comedy, and the main character of the series, Kaguya Shinomiya, was selected for Best Girl. The anime’s opening “DADDY! DADDY! DO!” by Masayuki Suzuki was nominated for Best Opening Sequence in the awards.
Akasaka was writing the manga Instant Bullets for Young Jump and wanted to come up with another series. In an interview on Livedoor News, Akasaka said the original plot for Kaguya-sama was more of a fantasy and game of death, but his editor wanted something more mainstream and, at the time, Young Jump did not have a casual romcom series. It was Akasaka’s first manga in the romcom genre.
Akasaka set the series in high school as it was a time when he did not have much experience with dating and romance himself. He was thinking of high school relationships while smoking some food, and came up with the concept of wanting to reclaim some of his emotions of his youth in a fantasy. He envisioned “two tsunderes who like each other having battles of the mind”. He thought that was a very common concept, but was surprised to find that readers were telling him that his premise was innovative. Also at first, he wanted to do more intellectual battles like Death Note but the theme changed more to “clashing of romantic emotions”. He has also cited School Rumble as an influence on his work.
The characters’ names were from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. He liked princess stories, and Kaguya-hime was one of the most famous princess stories. In developing the characters, he said that Kaguya and Miyuki initially have the same personality and thought process, like twins, which made their exposition to the reader easier to understand. He then developed more divergence between the two. Other characters were developed in the same manner, starting as shallow and template-like, but being filled with realistic feelings and drawn from the experience of the author and of others he knew. He especially liked contrasting characters whose internal personalities differ from their external portrayal.
Development and themes
In developing a chapter or story, Akasaka would think about emotions first and then write about experiencing the emotions, such as what Kaguya would feel if she were jealous. He would then arrange the characters and events around that emotion. When he thinks of some emotion that he hasn’t developed into a story yet, he writes it on a sticky note or notebook to be used later.
Akasaka said that he originally wanted to make a manga that would help office ladies relax, but since he is an otaku, it seems to follow in that. He also believes the manga is more about providing the reader with something exciting and conveying meaningful messages about human relationships rather than to showcase a number of character gags and reactions.
Akasaka said that Miyuki and Kaguya’s becoming third-year students marks the second half of the story. When asked about the ending, he said he does not know whether he will go with the bad ending as with Kaguya-hime, but wouldn’t mind if it did. He is also considering giving each character a curtain call chapter like they do in the dating sims.