If you told me that two-thirds of this episode would be connected to a seemingly innocuous throwaway gag about Shirogane’s inability to rap only for that to be the setup for another dramatic emotional payoff… I would say that sounds about right for this series. Seriously, it’s so interesting how Akasaka calls back to previous skits that didn’t feel like set up at the time, organically fitting them into moments of character growth. The idea that putting on an act for the sake of getting by in life only makes it harder and harder to be honest about your true self is an important lesson that almost every character in the show needs to learn, but arguably none more so than Hayasaka. It’s clear now that her arc is going to revolve around how her different personas make it harder for her to enjoy a relatively normal school life. Yes, she does have friends, but we see her working and covering for other people more than we ever see her actually enjoying herself to the point where it’s hard to even tell if she’s ever happy during her moments on screen. It felt a bit weird for Kaguya to be the one to get through to her, but Hayasaka admitting her frustrations while also rightfully calling out Kaguya for being at least partially responsible for them was extremely cathartic. And can you believe that all of this was conveyed through rap? Oh God I am very much looking forward to how this episode is gonna be handled in the dub.
That said, I will cry a little foul about an inconsistency regarding Chika during the early part of this episode. While I thought it was really funny that she needed to be taught how to rap so that she could teach the president how to rap, we did see her rap all the way back in season one. Yeah, you can argue she wasn’t good at it, but I feel like she was framed as more clueless than she should be just for the sake of that set up. Also, if they were going to pay respect to rap as an art form like they said they were, it would’ve been nice to at least touch upon the origins of it so that it came off as a little bit less like a gimmick. But I can also see that bogging down the pace and drawing out the first act more than it needed to.
Still, everyone’s performances were amazing and this might be one of my favorite episodes of the entire show so far. The ending skit about Maki being put through the self-imposed emotional ringer but ultimately leaving satisfied after realizing that she has made two genuine friends that seem to care about her was sweet. It also tied into the former resolution with Hayasaka and Shirogane finally opening up to each other as friends. So much of Kaguya-sama is about people hiding their intentions from each other and going all in on the glamor of romance that it’s nice to see an episode’s message just be about genuine new friendships. It warms my heart and makes me look forward to what other payoffs are coming up next!
(P.S. that ending song was FIRE)
Kaguya-sama: Love is War Ultra Romantic is currently streaming on