Manga / Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai
''Love is war...and the one who falls in love loses!"

Shuchi'in Academy is one of the most prestigious schools in Japan, attended by only the wealthiest families. Our protagonists are the student council of this school. The vice president, Kaguya Shinomiya, is the heiress of one of the largest companies in Japan, mastering multiple forms of artistic and intellectual subjects. The president, Miyuki Shirogane, while of common birth, is a Teen Genius with one of the highest grades in the country.

These two geniuses slowly fell for each other, yet their gigantic prides would not let them be the one to confess. So, they secretly began a battle. That is, the battle to make the other side confess first!

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~ (Kaguya Wants to be Confessed to ~The Geniuses' War of Love and Brains~) is a manga by Akasaka Aka. It started publication as a monthly series in Miracle Jump, but was later moved to Shuukan Young Jump as a weekly series. In 2017, Viz Media announced they would release an English translation, subtitled Love Is War.

Please place character tropes on the character page.

This work contains examples of:

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Kaguya and Shirogane are this. They are the top students of their year and very popular. But they both look down on the rest of the students, mentally calling them animals.
  • Affectionate Parody: Chapter 74 as a whole to Shōjo (Demographic) romance stories. Kaguya goes from a calculating person to a typical shoujo heroine, she's in a Love Triangle with Shirogane and Ishigami (of all people) and has to choose between them to go to the aquarium, and Bishie Sparkle is rampant. And it's all because they starting reading Today Will Be Sweet together. Extra points go to Aka for trying to imitate the large advertisement space of shoujo magazines during the chapter.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-Universe. When Shirogane and Kaguya talk about "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter", Shirogane thinks about the tragedy of Kaguya's lover burning the immortality elixir she gave him. Rather than the cutter being upset that he'd be living forever in a world without his lover, Shirogane thinks him to be mistaken; the elixir was given to him with the intent that she'd come back, but because he didn't understand her intent, he burns the elixir.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Miyuki does this to force Ishigami not to leave the student council.
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: The election arc, of course, has everyone take their positions a little too seriously (up to and including acts of industrial espionage). Shirogane ends up looking like a giant and threatening obstacle in the race, while Kaguya strong-arms and intimidates any potential threat to Shirogane's victory.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: For all the mind battles they engage in, Kaguya and Shirogane are shown to actually like each other.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Shirogane boasts that he has second highest grade in the entire country, passed very high level tests, is a certified hazardous material engineer...and an appraiser of chickens. Even the illustrations show this, with various professional certificates drawn along a cartoon-style chicken.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: During Chapter 56, Shirogane describes the star Vega when he's talking about Deneb. It's possible this was just a energy fueled mistake on Shirogane's part, since Akasaka usually points out his mistakes after a chapter's been released.
  • Art Shift: Sometimes the art will change to better suit a joke from scary to more shoujo-esque. Up to Eleven in Chapter 74.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Does it twice for "I Can't Hear the Fireworks" (Chapters 44 and 45). At first, it looks like, thanks to Hayasaka taking her place at home, she'll be able to watch the fireworks with the student council, but she makes it just in time fore the festivities to be over. Disheartened, she goes to cry under a stairway, where Shirogane finds her regardless and gets her on a taxi to watch the fireworks from Chiba with the student council.
  • Batman Gambit: The premise of the series is two geniuses playing mind tricks to make the other confess first.
  • Beta Couple: Kashiwagi and her boyfriend are this. While they have their issues and come to the Student Council for help; they are dating and openly communicate with each other. While Kaguya and Shirogane refused to admit their feelings and are stuck in a constant war to make the other confess. Chapter 48 even implies that they did something intimate over summer break, which if Chapter 76 is any indication, is entirely plausible.
  • Birds of a Feather: Miko brings this up in regards to Kaguya and Shirogane in chapter 66, though it's actually averted. Every time a quality that one of them likes about the other is brought up, it's always something that they themselves lack.
  • Board Games: Chapter 57 centers around the student council playing a Game of Life/Sugoroku mashup that Fujiwara's group had made.
  • Brick Joke: Chapter 73 has Shirogane try to recommend a shoujo manga to Kaguya, in the hopes that she gets the urge to fall in love like in a manga book and confess to him. Chapter 74 has his plan succeed, in the weirdest way possible.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ishigami. By god, he can't seem to go one chapter without worsening his reputation with Kaguya, which he admits he's seriously afraid of. Even when he's not there, people generally don't have a good opinion of him.
  • Call-Back:
    • Chapter 56 has a sequence where Shirogane is stargazing with Kaguya during the moon viewing. It hearkens back to an Imagine Spot from an earlier chapter, where Shirogane pictured a camping trip ending with stargazing and a confession. However, in Chapter 56, he's barely even paying attention to Kaguya (even though he's romantically and unknowingly blowing her socks off) because he's so fascinated by astronomy.
    • In Chapter 74, Ishigami asks to take Kaguya to the aquarium as thanks for her help in tutoring him, chapters and chapters ago.
  • Cat/Dog Dichotomy: Kaguya is the Cat with her aloof nature, and Shirogane is the Dog with his tireless work ethic. Interestingly, both of them like the opposite animal, and describe their positive traits in a way that also describes what they like in the other person. Dips into Female Feline, Male Mutt as well.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Kaguya phone didn't work when she tried to call the rest of the student council during the fireworks arc. She briefly wonders if it's due to her phone being out of date.
  • Character Check: As the manga continued, the "Genius' War of Love and Brains" effectively ended and the two leads become a little more honest about their feelings. However, every once in a while there will be a moment where they act like their old prideful selves. Chapter 54 in particular was a whole throwback to how they used to act.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Kaguya and Shirogane would originally refuse to express even the slightest implication of interest for each other. As the series progresses, they become gradually more honest about their feelings and even forget to read the meaning behind their actions when caught up in the moment. This leads to some obvious flirting moments and both are shown to be completely fine with it.
    • Fujiwara is introduced as the only normal high schooler in the student council who would refrain to acting as an oblivious Spanner in the Works but her friendship with the other members, as well as her Hidden Depths, have made her character more complex to the point fans theorize that she might be the smarter member of the student council, even better than Kaguya and Shirogane.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Kaguya's Twitter account ends up playing an important role as a cry for help in chapter 44.
  • Clip Show: Chapter 59 has the student council disbanded, and in true clipshow style, going through items that reminded them of previous chapters and taking a walk down memory lane. It even does the Stock Sitcom Grand Finale ending of turning off the lights and leaving the room in a bittersweet fashion.
  • Close on Title: Used in Chapter 45 (I Can't Hear The Fireworks pt. 2). Given the circumstances, it doubles as a Title Drop.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Chapter 70 starts with Fujiwara and Kaguya walking in on Ishigami getting changed in the Student Council room (though the narration and camera angles initially make it look like one of the girls is getting changed).
  • Continuity Nod: Chapter 57 has Fujiwara saying that Ishigami is a man that beats women with logic, referring to the many times that Ishigami has made her cry when he points out the flaws in her logic.
  • Cringe Comedy: Chapter 79 is this in its entirety, as Kaguya is baffled as to why love sickness caused her to faint in school and pretty much professes her love of Shirogane to her doctors (in denial of course) while Hayasaka gets embarrassed on her own behalf.
  • Crossover: Has a couple of short comic encounters with other manga in Young Jump. Shirogane and Kaguya briefly met with the leads of Tejima-senpai in order to manage their club's funds, and encounters the cast of To Love or Not to Love in one one-shot.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: What Ishigami's plan to take down Iino's campaign boils down to. He wants an overwhelming victory in Shirogane's favor to take her down a peg, but the blow be so devastating that all the bullying she had been suffering from before, during, and after the election is turned to pity—that she didn't lose just because she was inept, she lost because her opponent outclassed her in every way. However, Shirogane making her focus on him and letting her get her points out softened the blow and turned her into a formidable opponent, ending the election with dignity and newfound respect.
  • Cute and Psycho: Moeka, Fujiwara's little sister, shows some signs of this in chapter 52 when she says that she would like to lock Kei up and torture her when she thinks of how pure she is.
  • Cuteness Overload: The sight of Kaguya wearing cat ears caused this reaction to Shirogane, enough to make his speech get reduced to nonsense. Kaguya later made him wear one, too...and experienced the exact same reaction.
    • Kaguya also ends up frozen in place for an entire chapter when a sleeping Shirogane ends up leaning on her shoulder.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Chapter 30 revolves around Hayasaka, and her efforts to keep everyone away from the student council room after one of Kaguya's plans goes awry.
    • Chapter 76 actually has the Once a Season Kashiwagi and/or Boyfriend consultation go to her boyfriend for once. It also gives another glimpse into the pair's relationship problems.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: In Chapter 48, Kashiwagi and her boyfriend see the Student Council for some more love advice, and because of their demeanor around each other and how they talk about their vacation together, it sounds like they've gotten more intimate. By the end of the chapter, neither one of them gives a straight answer, even though they both tricked the Council into thinking they were going to be a couple of Makeout Kids when they got alone time in the Student Council room.
  • Downer Ending: Chapter 41 ends with the couple too nervous to text each other and just missing each other when they both decide to visit the school during summer vacation.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: You can see Ishigami in one spread page in chapter 11. He doesn't appear until chapter 24.
  • Elevator School: Shuchin Academy goes from Kindergarten to university-level schooling, so pretty much everyone in the school is acquainted with each other. The sole exception, of course, is Shirogane.
  • Everyone Can See It: Kaguya and Shirogane are so obvious about their feelings that are many rumors flying around that they're dating.
    • Chapter 50 shows the audience just what everyone else can see; in the eyes of a neutral party (in this case, Kashiwagi), all of the serious, mind-wracking battles that Shirogane and Kaguya go through and their extreme efforts to deny their feelings to themselves and each other end up looking like awkward flirting and thinly veiled confessions.
  • Fanservice: Played for Laughs in chapter 64.5, but it's averted the rest of the time.
  • First Love: The narrator stated that Kaguya and Shirogane are each other's first love.
  • Gambit Roulette: The series: romcom version.
  • Glurge: In universe example with Today Will Be Sweet, a tear jerking manga the cast has read. According to the brief plot summary, the male lead is an Ill Boy with a terminal disease while the heroine lives in an abusive household and suffered from isolation and anorexia before the male lead breaks her out of her shell. She also hasn't eaten decent food in a while, and the one decent meal she gets is a curry dish made by her love interest before he kicks the bucket.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Fujiwara invokes this on Kashiwagi in chapter 16. She asks for Kashiwagi to image her boyfriend with another girl and if she feels bad or annoyed then that means she loves him. The hilarious part is that Kaguya also imaged Shirogane with another girl and was furious. She didn't take implication that it meant she cared for Shirogane well.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kaguya regards Fujiwara as her best friend. Also as her biggest rival for Shirogane's affection.
  • Gone Horribly Right: One of Kaguya's plans involved tricking Shirogane into using tips from "Textbook of Love" from a girls magazine so she'd have plausible cause to claim that he read it to get her to fall for him. All three steps end up working on her perfectly (she even ends up having a Heroic B.S.O.D. when he gets to the "say you hate them" step) despite the fact that she knew he was faking it.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • After Shirogane has one good night of rest, Kaguya muses to herself that the student body would throw themselves at him simply because he looks more attractive. Not only failing to realize that her love for Shirogane also extends to her major preference for his exhausted look, and that she was just as unresponsive when he tried to coax her into confessing while he still had his well-rested eyes.
    • Chapter 76 has Kashiwagi talk to Kaguya about her relationship problems. Kaguya finds it annoying how Kashiwagi can obsess over things so trivial, when Hayasaka has to deal with the exact same headaches from Kaguya herself on a daily basis. The art even lampshades it by giving Kaguya Hayasaka's expressionless face.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapters usually starts with "[Character] Wants to XXX".
  • I Have This Friend...: When Kaguya goes to Kashiwagi for love advice, she tries this to skirt around the fact that she's talking about her and Shirogane. Kashiwagi is so used to this by now that she sees right through her lame excuse.
  • Indirect Kiss:
    • One chapter has Kaguya switching her and Shirogane's cups to watch him squirm over this. She didn't realize that means she's also having an indirect kiss, causing her to squirm.
    • Played for Laughs. Kaguya considers sharing earbuds to qualify as this.
  • Innocent Innuendo:
    • Chapter 14 is built on these. Due to thinking that "first time" means kissing, Kaguya ends up implying that she had sex with her newborn nephew on camera (among other things).
    • Chapter 22 is sort of a continuation to that. Due to her inexperience, she started seeing every word and action as an innuendo. In particular, she described the act of sharing earbuds as "penetrating a membrane with a foreign object".
  • I "Uh" You, Too: A platonic variant in Chapter 77. After Fujiwara finally spits out how much Kaguya means to her (even using the word love during this), Kaguya merely responds that she tends to keep the things close to her around her.
  • Large Ham: The narrator. He will happily describe whatever the current scheme is with full force.
  • Laser Hallway: Chapter 30 opens with Hayasaka dodging lasers to break into the student council room in the middle of the night and swap out Shirogane's personal supply of coffee beans for decaf. Why a high school of all places would have laser security isn't really specified (even if it is a school for rich kids), so it can probably be chalked up to Rule of Funny.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone is referred to by their last name. The only exception being Fujiwara, who is on a one-sided First-Name Basis with Kaguya.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The special chapter has Ishigami read a romcom seinen manga, and comment that it's an oddball in the magazine because it's completely devoid of Fanservice. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it?
  • Lemony Narrator: The narration in this series takes itself way too seriously at times, and other times it's directly responding to what the characters say in a snarky fashion.
    Shirogane: What am I, some lovestruck teen in a third-rate romcom?!
    Narration: Yes.
  • Loser Protagonist: Inverted and and then subverted. Kaguya and Shirogane are both brilliant individuals who can expertly debate highly complicated and intricate subjects like philosophy without blinking an eye and are adored by the school the go to as model students by both the faculty and the staff. Despite this, both of them are repeatedly mocked by the narration for their simplistic views of romantic relationships and their inability to confess to one another, which turns them from intelligent chessmasters into bumbling idiots.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Just as Kaguya and Shirogane finally got to feed each other after fighting about who gets the last strawberry shortcake, Fujiwara comes out of nowhere, simply eats their pieces and the rest of the cake (from their forks, no less) and scolds them for fighting. This is just one of many moments that Fujiwara interrupts.
    • A big one at the end of Chapter 78, where Shinomiya and Shirogane are trapped in the gym utility closet and looking at each other while Shinomiya's pinned to the floor when Iino comes in.
  • No Name Given: An odd example for Kashiwagi's boyfriend as not only is he a Recurring Character but he even appeared before Kashiwagi. But we haven't gotten his name at all, the extras only list him as Kashiwagi's boyfriend and nothing else.
  • Noodle Implements: One of Kaguya's plans involved a tape measurer. We never find out what she was going to measure since Shirogane leaning on her caused a Cuteness Overload.
  • Once a Season: The closest manga approximation would be once per volume. Every volume, about 10 chapters, we have a chapter of Kashiwagi and her boyfriend asking the student council for relationship advice. Later chapters have the reverse situation, with Kaguya coming to Kashiwagi for advice instead.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Chapter 74 for the student council (save Fujiwara), as they all start acting like Shoujo romance characters after reading a sappy shoujo manga. In particular, they note that Ishigami is much more forward with Kaguya even though he can't so much as make eye contact with her in a normal setting.
  • Painting the Medium: Chapter 74's Art Shift accompanied by obnoxiously large ads for other series, as if it was printed in a Shoujo magazine.
  • Pet the Dog: In Chapter 54, Kaguya gives Ishigami her genuine thanks and an IOU after he unknowingly stopped Shirogane's mental assault. As expected, Ishigami is horrified and confused.
  • Popularity Food Chain: Shuchi'in Academy actually has two separate ones, the first being the standard one and the other being determined by the parents' social standing. This means that Shirogane is simultaneously at the very top and the very bottom of the food chain.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Conversed. Chapter 75 has Iino getting the group to do some actual onscreen work after noticing the trend of them not performing their duties while in the council room. They actually do work, but Shirogane points out that she's never around when they work.
  • Pride: Why Kaguya and Shirogane don't confess. They're both so arrogant, they refuse to accept the idea that someone has any form of power over them even something as simple as a crush. Their ideal of dating is the other begging to date them. Later chapters, however, show that this is mostly just an excuse and they're just two awkward teenagers too shy to confess.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Some "victories" end up with the winner being in worse condition than the loser. For example, chapter 15 is labelled as Kaguya's loss, despite Shirogane suffering more the entire chapter and ended up fainting. All Kaguya suffered was accidentally getting her breast groped.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Kaguya and Shirogane have one on separate occasions from, of all things, a horoscope website. It tells them (based on their birthdays) what their problems and faults exactly are, and that they'd probably never get together if they don't set aside their pride and just ask each other out. On Kaguya's part she just doesn't believe the negative qualities in herself exist, while in Shirogane's case he's just insecure.
    • Hayasaka gives her one in Chapter 64, shutting down her Tsundere "I don't like him at all" line with noting that she probably doesn't considering that if his physical appearance is enough to sway her heart, she's probably very fickle with love. Fujiwara (indirectly) gives her another one, saying that true love is unconditional, regardless of looks.
    • Iino gives one to the whole student body, bringing up their lack of morals and their terrible reputation despite their fantastic grades.
  • Recap Episode: The first half of chapter 11 is basically reiterating what chapter 1 said. It's because the series moved magazines, so the concept needed to be explained again to potential new readers.
  • Running Gag:
    • A shot of Kaguya with a sarcastic smile, looking down and muttering "How cute". They're all also in Shirogane's imaginations and we never see her actually do it. One chapter had the situation reversed, with Kaguya having the condescending delusion instead.
    • Ishigami getting terrified of Kaguya or just being depressed and coming up with excuses to go home for the day.
    • Chapter 31 has the line "That was a lie!" repeated multiple times.
    • Maki stalking Kashiwagi and her boyfriend.
    • People refusing Kaguya's offers of cake.
    • Miko walking into the Student Council room at the worst possible time.
  • Serious Business: Kaguya and Shirogane turns pretty much everything into mind battles, from Old Maid, discussing where to go on vacation, to exchanging LINE ids.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black: Averted with most of the characters, on their days off they wear normal clothes. The only exception is Shirogane which has been lampshaded before.
  • Second Year Protagonist: Kaguya, Shirogane, and Fujiwara are in their second year by the time the series starts. Only Ishigami and Miko are younger than them on the Student Council.
  • Serious Business: One chapter has Kaguya faint an go to the doctor's for examination. Why, you ask? She's come down with a case of lovesickness, much to Hayasaka's complete surprise and embarrassment.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Many chapters end with their mutual defeat, usually thanks to Fujiwara or Kaguya's lack of common sense.
  • Shipper on Deck: Given the sheer number of people who gathered when a rumor spread that there was going to be a confession, it wouldn't be that much of an exaggeration to say that the entire student body of Shuchi'in Academy ships Shirogane/Kaguya.
  • Sibling Triangle: In chapter 39, it's revealed that the president's younger sister also has a crush on Kaguya.
  • Ship Tease: Chapter 73 is a zigzagged one for Ishigami/Fujiwara. When Shirogane asked about various girls Ishigami likes, he brings up Iino and Kaguya, both of which Ishigami doesn't care for romantically. Then Shirogane brings up Fujiwara, and we're treated to two panels of Ishigami's non-response, with a subtle blush in the second one. He then reacts in horror that he could fall in love with her and refuses to.
    • The "Shoujo mindset" affliction on the main cast (sans Fujiwara) in Chapter 74 had Kaguya actually considering Ishigami as not only surprisingly attractive but also as a romantic rival for Shirogane. It also made Ishigami himself get over his usual fear of Kaguya enough to offer to eat a dessert with her actually ask her out to the aquarium.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Chapter 15, the cockroach that shows up makes a "JOHJ" sound in reference to the language of the Hyper-Evolved cockroaches from Terrafor MARS.
    • Kaguya is holding Umaru's hamster hood at the beginning of chapter 17.
    • Fujiwara was playing Settlers of Catan in the beginning of chapter 29.
    • Fujiwara is playing Pokémon Go in chapter 30. The narration later in the chapter also references the lyrics of Mezase Pokémon Master.
  • Sick Episode: Episode 79 has Kaguya fall ill and get sent to the hospital suddenly. We learn that she has the capacity for heart disease given her mother suffered from it. During a checkup at her doctor's office, we now learn it wasn't even clinical heart problems that caused her to faint in school this time; it was love sickness.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Fujiwara and her sisters look pretty much the same, the only difference is the obvious age differences.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: As the narrator explains the entire reason behind this war, accompanied by a blushing Kaguya:
    The war of love and brains. The battle where they put their honors and pride and stake. Naturally, reasons like "It would be too embarassing to confess" or "I might get rejected" obviously have nothing to do with it.
  • Survival Mantra: In chapter 44, Kaguya repeats "It's okay" over and over so she doesn't cry after not being allowed to go to the fireworks with her friends.
  • The Talk: Fujiwara ends up having to do this for Kaguya after a hilarious string of Innocent Innuendos.
  • Title Drop: Kaguya's narration reveals that she "Can't Hear the Fireworks" (title for Chapters 44 and 45) because her heart's pounding loud enough for her not to hear anything else while she's busy staring at Shirogane, awestruck at how much he's done for her to get to to see fireworks. Doubles as Close on Title.
  • Tsundere: Both main characters, but Kaguya displays the trait more. She tries to hide it with her graceful demeanor, but she slips into a maiden-in-love when nobody's looking. Both even said the classical "It's not like I like him/her or something!" tsundere line at some points.
  • Twice Shy: Inverted. Both Kaguya and Shirogane are aware of each other's love and want nothing more than to provoke a Love Confession to be the dominant one in the relationship (in a non-sexual way). However, they are entirely unaware of -and can't admit- their own feelings.
  • Uptown Girl: Kaguya is the heiress to one of the richest families in Japan. Shirogane is, while very intelligent, a commoner and his obsession with saving money implies that his family is not that well off. While nothing has come of their infatuation yet in the school since most students are too afraid of Shirogane to say anything, it remains to be seen what problems will arise, given how Kaguya's family often looks down on common traditions let alone common people.
  • Voodoo Shark: Played for Laughs. The reason that Shirogane is able to be a licensed appraiser of chickens is because the story takes place in an alternate history where the tale of the bamboo cutter is real (among other things).
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Shirogane is extremely terrified of insects. Of course, one chapter has him dealing with a cockroach.
  • Win-Win Ending: Chapter 47 ends in this as Kaguya was successful in her plan to copy Shirogane's elective, so they would be in a class together, which was both their goals.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Shirogane is blond and Fujiwara has silver hair despite being Japanese. Lampshaded in Shirogane's character profile.
    "His hair color is merely manga artistic expression. He is fully Japanese."
  • You Need to Get Laid: With all of the sexual tension and constant longing for Shirogane, Hayasaka explicitly tells Kaguya this almost word for word in Chapter 71.

Result of today's battle:
(Due to spending too much time on TV Tropes)

Alternative Title(s): Kaguya Wants To Be Confessed To