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''Love is war...and the one who falls in love loses!"
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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, comes from a family which owns 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: Love is War (Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai ~Tensai-tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen~, or Kaguya Wants to be Confessed to ~The Geniuses' War of Love and Brains~) is a manga by Aka Akasaka. It started publication as a monthly series in Miracle Jump, but was later moved to Shuukan Young Jump as a weekly series. By 2018, the series also gained three spinoffs; a Hotter and Sexier "Doujin Edition", a lower deck series focusing on two Shuuchin students looking at the plot from the outside, and a Yonkoma that covered miscellaneous topics with the characters, called K-agukoku!. In March 2018, Viz Media began its release of the English translation.

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On June 1, 2018 an anime adaptation was announced, coinciding with the release of chapter 100.note  This anime premiered in the Winter 2019 season, developed by A-1 Pictures.

A live-action movie is scheduled to be released on September 6, 2019.

Please place character tropes on the character page.


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This work contains examples of:

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  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Due to the fact that Kaguya's first study session with Ishigami was moved to before Shirogane's birthday in the anime, it cuts out any mention of her doing so due to owing him a favor and she is instead simply trying to keep him for tarnishing the name of the student council and inconveniencing Shirogane.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the anime, Kaguya and Ishigami's tutoring sessions happened in the span of one week before the second semester final exams. However, they still kept the "Ishigami plays games right before the exams" gag, despite the fact that Kaguya would never allow it while he was under her tutelage. This plot hole doesn't exist in the manga, where the tutoring sessions were for a later test.
  • An Aesop: The overall point of the series is that relationships are built upon communication and that there's no way to go about them without risking emotional pain. Kaguya and Shirogane's relationship hit a wall for a year because they couldn't muster up the courage to change the status quo. Maki lost her chance for the boy she liked because she couldn't talk to him. Ishigami and especially Tsubasa, on the other hand, seem to be doing well after their confessions even though their target didn't feel the same way at first, especially Tsubasa... not that Ishigami meant to confess.
  • Affectionate Parody:
  • 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.
  • Almost Kiss: Shirogane nearly ends up kissing Kaguya when they're locked in a storage shed, only for Miko to open the door right before anything can happen. It ends up throwing Kaguya's feelings into overdrive, to the point that she ends up fainting due to love sickness in the following chapter. This would directly lead to her developing her routine to keep her nerves under control.
  • 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.
  • Alternate Universe: Aka backhandedly mentions that the universe this series is set in differs around the ninth century, and is one where the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter actually happened in the past. This is how he explains why things like zaibatsus still exist and why students can get weird permits that normally have age restrictions.
  • Always in Class One: Subverted. Kaguya herself is in class 2-A, but Hayasaka is the only other character in her class (and even then, it's only because she is specifically attending the school for Kaguya's benefit). Everyone else (with the exception of Tsubame, Gigako, and the former Student Council President in class 3-A) are in their respective grade's class B or C. It's even a plot point on several occasions that Kaguya and Shirogane are in separate classes.
  • Anachronic Order: The Rap Arc is told out of order, jumping between chapters 94, 108, 107, and 97.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: In what may be the single most meta example of this trope, the inside cover for volume 3 depicts the inside covers for the previous two volumes as schoolgirls (complete with Sailor Fuku) in a Love Triangle. And then the inside back cover does the same thing, only with itself.
  • Animation Bump: The Dancing Theme ending from episode 3 had incredibly fluid Rotoscoped animation, to the point that many people confused it for being CGI. Of course, it was animated by a former Kyoto Animation staffer.
  • 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.
  • Artifact Title: Subtitle in this case. After a certain point, Shirogane and Kaguya kind of gave up on that "War of Love and Brains" in favor of dealing with their own feelings, with only chapter 54 being their last major throwback to their early series behavior. Even the "Real War of Love and Brains" as mentioned in the School Festival Arc is just the two becoming more honest with themselves and finally throwing away their pride, which was the exact opposite of why the "War" even started. Lampshaded in the extras, where Aka muses that the subtitle should probably be done away with at that point.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: During Chapter 56, Shirogane describes the star Vega when he's talking about Deneb. The volume release has him correctly referring to Vega.
  • Art Shift: Sometimes the art will change to better suit a joke from scary to more shoujo-esque. Up to Eleven in Chapter 74.
  • 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. This becomes way more obvious as the story goes on, to the point where it's subverted. Short of being actual lovers, they are at least friends.
    • For a played straight version, look no further than Ishigami and Miko. They both constantly get on each other's nerves, argue at every turn, and hate how similar they are to each other. However, they've both been secretly helping each other behind their backs but just won't admit it because they believe it wouldn't be truly altruistic to hold good deeds over people's heads.
  • 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.
    • When Hayasaka gets stuck at a mixer, she's able to successfully get Shirogane alone. Based on her frustration with Kaguya's disregard for her feelings, and her remembering her mission from last time she was with Shirogane, she looks like she's going to either steal him away or force a confession out of him... but all that happens is she goes down to Shirogane's horrible singing.
    • The end of the "Dual Confession" has Shirogane ask Kaguya to join him at Stanford instead of asking her out. He then thinks that he just bought himself time before he needs to confess, restoring the status quo...for five seconds until Kaguya kisses him.
    • From the same arc's epilogue chapter, Ishigami finds Kaguya's heart charm and goes to Iino. At first it appears that he's going to accidentally confess again, with special emphasis on the charm, but neither of them take it as such. The real Ship Tease moment comes immediately after, where Ishigami verbally commends Iino on her work for the festival and even gives her photos showcasing the fruits of her labor; Iino, meanwhile, is happy about the festival's success and looks at the charm fondly.
  • Batman Gambit: The premise of the series is two geniuses playing mind tricks to make the other confess first.
  • The Beard: Chapter 1 of the novel has the student council deciding to get Kaguya a fake boyfriend to deter a stalker. Due to Kaguya being convinced that Shirogane is coming down with a disease that might render him infertile if he doesn't get some rest, she choses Ishigami.
  • 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. When asked/interrogated in Chapter 138, Kashiwagi admits to Kaguya that they've had sex with each other 2 months after they first kissed.
    • Among the student Council, Ishigami and Miko Iino serve as the heavily teased foil to Shirogane/Shinomiya. They are equally as stubborn to each other as Shinomiya and Shirogane were in the beginning, but where the latter two tried to hide their feelings through little tricks, the former two are always unknowingly helping each other out.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: At the end of the Cultural Festival, Kaguya gives Shirogane their first kiss on the roof, surrounded by heart-shaped balloons, just after declaring that she'll abandon her family name to go to America with him.
  • 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.
    • Maki ends up striking a sort of kinship with Shirogane and Ishigami, due to their shared experience in being too shy and insecure to confess to their crushes first.
  • Birthday Episode: Volume 6 had a several chapter long story arc devoted to Kaguya wanting to celebrate Shirogane's seventeenth birthday without revealing her feelings for him.
  • Bleached Underpants: The mangaka of Doujin Edition, Shinta Sakayama, was an h-doujin artist before this project. He even did some doujins of Kaguya-sama as well!
  • Board Games: Fujiwara belongs to the game club, where they both play and create board games. Chapter 57 centers around the student council playing a Game of Life/Sugoroku mashup that Fujiwara's group had made.
  • Book-Ends: The anime begins and ends with a couple being surrounded by a large group of people.
  • 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.
    • In chapter 83, Shirogane's father tries to give him love advice by claiming that ladies love a fast sprinter (which Shirogane brushes off as only working in elementary school). Jump forward 3 chapters to the sports festival, and Kaguya is indeed love struck when Shirogane wins one of the running events.
    • In Chapter 91, Kaguya offers Fujiwara tangerines so that the limonene in the peel would pop the balloon in front of her, but the latter girl passes up the offer. After the balloon gets to its breaking point, and Kaguya and Shirogane are fighting over the pump, then and only then does Fujiwara decide to get a tangerine, with the juice from the peel flying across the room and popping the balloon while the former two are in its blast range.
  • The Bro Code: Discussed individually by Shirogane and Kaguya that if Ishigami were ever to get rejected, by obligation as his friends, they would abstain from confessing for a certain period of time while he heals.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Gender Flipped. Once you strip away all the mind games, the story is ultimately about a girl who has been mentally scarred by the environment she grew up in, and the kind boy who teaches her to love and enjoy life.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Kashiwagi forgoes dancing with Tsubasa at the bonfire to spend time with Maki instead. When asked why, Kashiwagi simply responded that she cares more for her best friend than him.
  • 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.
    • Iino becomes an even bigger one when she joins the student council with nearly every one of her chapters ending with her a shaking mess.
    • Fujiwara becomes this the longer the series goes, as the other student council members start calling her out on her crap more frequently.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 80's first and second pages have Iino introduced with the same paneling of one of Ishigami's introductory chapter.
    • Kaguya teases Ishigami by writing on his forehead in chapter 82, just like how Fujiwara did to Shirogane back in chapter 10.
    • The principal and a few students are still playing Pokémon GO during the sports festival.
    • Kaguya puts oysters in her fried rice during the cooking competion in chapter 96, as it had been established back in chapter 5 that Shirogane likes them.
    • Almost every face that Maki makes in chapter 98 is one that Kaguya has previous made (like so). It's rather appropriate, considering that they're cousins.
    • Chapter 100 shows all the pictures that Kaguya has saved on her phone. Every single one of them is taken from a previous chapter.
    • The sequence where Fujiwara notices Shinomiya's new smartphone and Shirogane's musings about the subject is almost beat for beat the same sequence from Shirogane's own smartphone chapter, with some of the same panels even. Touched on when Ishigami randomly muses about how "people don't learn from their mistakes"' right after the Chapter 101 sequence.
    • Chapter 105 contains several references to chapter 31, such as the "That was a lie!" running gag, the mention of frustration to the point of Tears of Blood, and Shirogane shadowboxing.
    • Chapter 109 has Ishigami explain to Maki the birds and the bees, much like her cousin Kaguya had to learn it from Fujiwara.
    • Miko texts to Osaragi that Shirogane a manwhore in chapter 114 after he seems to confess to both her and Fujiwara in rapid succession, in reference to when she walked in on him and Kaguya back in chapter 70. Osaragi's response references when she tried to talk down Miko's overactive imagination in chapter 80.
    • Maki's appearance on the cover of volume 13 is a mirror of Kaguya's on volume 1, and the color has been inverted (green instead of red). Even the background images are in flipped locations, though Shirogane and Fujiwara are replaced with Tsubasa and Kashiwagi respectivly.
    • Chapter 129 starts with Kaguya reading an article on the interviews Karen and Erika did in chapter 116.
    • In Chapter 134, Kaguya refers to her hunt for Shirogane as the "figure out what the President is thinking and guess where he went game", a direct reference to what he said to her back in chapter 45.
    • The entire plot of Chapter 138 is a call-back to chapter 98, mainly the fact that Kashiwagi and Tsubasa's French Kiss was the first romantic kiss that Kaguya had ever seen... which she then copied when she kissed Shirogane.
    • Chapter 145 once again has Kaguya trying to get some of the octopus-cut wieners in Shirogane's lunch like she did back in chapter 5. Kaguya also mentions how Fujiwara claimed to be a "low-sugar low-carb girl" back in chapter 117.
    • Chapter 147 has Shirogane be diagnosed with love sickness, just like how Kaguya was back in chapter 79. The doctor even notes that it's not the first time he's seen someone suffering from it.
  • 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.
  • 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 smartest 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.
    • Chapter 60 establishes that one of the perks of being Student Council President is a letter of recommendation allowing access to any university in the world. In Chapter 111, Shirogane announces his intent to study abroad. And then Chapter 137 reveals that because Shirogane was elected twice, he's allowed two letters of recommendation, and he wants to use one of them to let Kaguya get accepted into Stanford with him.
  • 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.
  • Club Stub: The volunteering club was originally founded by Kashiwagi as a way to get closer to her boyfriend. She later gets her best friend Maki to join after the club adviser told her that they needed more members (unaware that Maki has had a crush on her boyfriend from long before they started dating). Maki admits that it's pretty much hell for her as they make out with each other whenever they think she isn't looking.
  • 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).
  • Competition Coupon Madness: Chapter 75 has Miko get the entire student council to collect bellmarks (basically the Japanese equivelent to boxtops) for charity, with the added rule that they can only use ones from products that they've already bought. Ironically, Kaguya only manages to get 10 of them due to everything in her house being imported. She spends the rest of the chapter trying to render Fujiwara and Ishigami's much larger collections invalid so that Shirogane won't think that she's worthless (and so the fact that Hayasaka had to cut up a precious childhood memento to get her those 10 won't be for nothing).
  • Constellations: The opening for the anime features the Summer Triangle quite prominently, presumably referencing Shirogane's love of the stars and the fireworks arc (which took place during summer vacation).
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • In chapter 100, Kaguya thinks back to all the photos that were lost when her phone is destroyed. Every single one of them had been previously seen by the reader. And when the rest of the student council forms a group album so she has photos to put on her new smart phone in the following chapter, every single one of them is new, but they can all be identified at a glance for which chapter they came from and who took them.
    • The ending for episode 3 is a song sung by Fujiwara with most of her poses and lines taken directly from the manga.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • After the events of Chapter 20, Shirogane can occasionally be seen studying French.
    • 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.
    • Shirogane mentions in chapter 70 that his preferred underwear for women to wear are black panties, just like the ones that Kaguya was wearing during his dream sequence way back on the cover of chapter 10.
    • Chapter 80 has Osaragi mentioning that she's heard Miko's flower story 10 times before. Then she mentions having heard it 11 times when Miko brings it up again in chapter 103.
    • The end of chapter 112 references the fact that cat ear headbands were banned.
    • Kaguya mentions to Erika that she doesn't want to be photographed during her interview in chapter 116, as chapter 100 had established that her family has the policy of never being in a photo that will be released to the public.
    • Chapter 123 shows that Kaguya is far better at brewing tea than coffee, as was established in the extra page for chapter 13. Also, Hayasaka's friend who had her stand outside to attract customers as a marketing ploy had been established as being the daughter of an advertising executive back in chapter 29.
    • Chapter 129 shows an advertisement for Class 2-A's cosplay cafe, which had been the focus of chapter 123.
    • When Kaguya is trying to figure out where Shirogane is hiding, the massive balloon sculpture of a whale that Maki made for her can be seen when she passes by Class 2-B's classroom.
    • When the president of the Occult Research Club reads Shirogane's fortune in chapter 131, she lists his blood type and birth weight just like how Kaguya did in chapter 51. Kaguya is creeped out by the fact that she knows this.
    • Fujiwara tries and fails to whistle when Kaguya asks if everyone has been studying for the end of semester exams in episode 8, as the previous episode had established that she didn't know how to.
    • Fujiwara's report card in the fanbook lists Japanese as her worst subject. It had been established back in chapter 20 that her skill in the language had atrophied as a child due to spending so much time speaking other languages. Kaguya's report card also lists her with 2 absences and having gone home early once (referring to chapters 33-35 and chapter 79 respectively)
    • When Kaguya complains about Shirogane's poor coffee brewing skills in chapter 141, he mentions that he'll have to ask Fujiwara for help next time since she's the resident coffee person in the student council as shown in the extra page of chapter 13.
    • When Kaguya comes in with her hair down in chapter 143, Ishigami mentions that she hasn't done that since that time she put makeup on him on the extra page of chapter 82.
    • Shirogane is shown counting coffins instead of sheep in chapter 145, just like he had done 2 chapters earlier.
  • Cooking Duel: Chapter 96 has Kaguya, Ishigami, and Shirogane competing to see who can cook the best fried rice.
  • Cosplay Café: Kaguya's class does a cosplay cafe during the culture festival. Hayasaka just ends up wearing her actual maid outfit.
    Classmate: Wow, Ai-chan, you're really in character!
    Hayasaka: Thank you. I've spent a long time getting it perfect.
  • Courtroom Episode: On two occasions, Kaguya has had mental battles in her subconscious that are visualized as court cases, with her Superego as the prosecutor, her Id as the defense, and her Ego as the judge. Chapter 53 has her agonizing over whether to give Shirogane a birthday cake, and chapter 141 has her trying to figure out what her relationship with him is after giving him a french kiss during the culture festival.
  • Credits Running Sequence: The ending for episode 12 has Kaguya chasing after Shirogane in an attempt to clear up a misunderstanding. It takes them through most of the school and past most of the supporting cast (including Miko and Osaragi) before shifting to the standard running loop from a side perspective.
  • Criminal Mind Games: During the first night of the culture festival, a Phantom Thief steals a bunch of balloon's from class 2-B and later leaves behind a note with some clocks on it that nobody can make heads or tales of. Fujiwara, who has long since been established as a lover of games and riddles, spends most of the second day trying to figure out it's meaning and catch the thief. It later turns out that the clocks didn't have any meaning whatsoever. Shirogane just threw a bunch of meaningless symbols together in the hopes that she would be distracted long enough for him to get his Grand Romantic Gesture for Kaguya ready.
  • 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 Boarding School Juliet 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.
  • 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.
    • Shirogane ends up passing out after seeing Kaguya cosplay as a Cat Girl maid in chapter 112.
  • 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.
    • Shirogane's sister Kei has 2 chapters devoted to her.
    • Osaragi has Chapter 85 from her perspective, shedding some light on Ishigami and Iino during middle school and giving off more of Osaragi's own personality.
    • The Chapter 98 has Maki come in for advice instead. In truth, all she wanted to do was vent. Interestingly a case of using a "Day in the Limelight" to upgrade into a real recurring character.
  • 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.
  • Ditzy Genius: Both Kaguya and Miyuki are legitimately very smart, but there's a good reason so many of their "battles" end in stalemates; they happen to have very little experience in the real world, and are often thrown off by variables that they can't account for.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Makkii-sen's dialogue with Miko as she uses her as a model to gather binaural audio for their class' haunted house in chapter 125 was clearly meant to resemble a certain genre of Hentai.
  • 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.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The "Open Hearts Festival and the Double Confessions" arc not only refers to Kaguya and Shirogane basically admitting their love for one another, but also to the fact that Ishigami (accidentally) "confesses" twice under the Festival's rules; once to Tsubame by winning and giving her a heart shaped cookie, and symbolically to Iino by giving her Kaguya's lost heart charm for Lost and Found.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Both Ishigami and Iino helped each other back in middle school, and neither is aware that the other did so. Ishigami sent Iino an anonymous letter of encouragement that continues to inspire her in the present, and Iino protesting Ishigami's continued suspension is what allowed him to graduate.
    • Kaguya mentioned to Hayasaka in chapter 121 that she doesn't think she'd be able to get along with along with a truly selfless person. By that point in the series, it had long since been established that she had fallen in love with Shirogane precisely because of his kind and selfless nature.
    • At the end of chapter 12 of We Want to Talk About Kaguya (set just before chapter 14 of the main series), Karen and Erika comment on how pure Kashiwagi was. The chapter of the main series that came out that same week (set about five months later) had her getting caught making out with her boyfriend in a locker.
    • Both Kaguya and Shirogane fell in love with each other's true selves but are afraid that the other only loves them for how they present themselves to others.
  • Dub Name Change: Fujiwara's pet fish Philly is renamed Tartare in the English release of the manga.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the English translation, Kaguya refers to Shirogane by his last name instead of "President" and is on a First-Name Basis with Fujiwara. Both of these lead plot holes in volume 6, since Kaguya mentions in chapter 52 that Kei was the first person she was ever on a First-Name Basis with, and her inability to call Shirogane anything other that "president" in chapter 60 set the entire re-election arc in motion. The official subs for the anime had the same issue when the first episode was released, but fan outcry resulted in them going back and changing it along with all future episodes. This is, additional to the fact that Japanese customs denote the level of formality in addressing a peer, the person's title being the most formal form of address, followed by the last name, while the least formal would be the first-name basis. Kaguya never addresses Shirogane by either his first or last name, as it would denote a level of fondness for him that she does not want to either admit or relent.
  • Duel of Seduction: Kaguya and Shirogane are in love with each other, but a combination of pride and shyness keeps both of them from confessing. So they both try to force the other into a situation where they'd be forced to admit they're in love. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Edible Theme Naming: Fujiwara named the fish that she got to help Shirogane overcome his fear of blood "Philly" (based off of "fillet"). The English version kept the theme, but renamed it "Tartare".
  • Elevator School: Shuchin Academy goes from Kindergarten to university-level schooling, so pretty much everyone in the school is acquainted with each other. Being an "impure" (someone who didn't start at the Kindergarten level) carries something of a social stigma.
  • Elite Four: Played for Laughs with the "Four Ramen Emperors of Tokyo", the four greatest ramen eaters in the city.
  • Every Episode Ending: Chapters normally end with the narration giving the results of the current Battle of Wits (plots that span multiple chapters usually save it until the last one). The anime kept this format, though it happens multiple times per episode due to each one adapting several chapters.
  • 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.
    • Pretty much the only one who can't see it is Erika, and that's only because she's completely oblivious to anything related to love.
    • The entire Student Council knew about Ishigami's crush on Tsubame pretty much from the moment he fell in love.
  • Face Doodling: In chapter 10, Fujiwara decides to play a prank on a pretending to be sleeping Shirogane by writing on his forehead. Kaguya is aghast at this since she couldn't comprehend the idea of pranks being a sign of closeness. When she does the exact same thing to Ishigami in chapter 82, it's a subtle sign of both her Character Development and her growing closeness to him.
  • The Faceless: Happens every now and again, but with Ishigami most frequently. There's a reason for this— he "closed his eyes" to people after the middle school incident, only perceiving people not close to him as faceless.
  • Fanservice:
    • Played for Laughs in chapter 64.5, but it's averted the rest of the time.
    • The Doujin Edition spin-off serves as a different version of the trope; yes, the characters are a little more sexy than usual, but the main draw comes from plots common to the series' fanfics and fancomics.
  • Fast-Forward Gag: The first two episodes have a minute long segment explaining the premise of the series before the opening credits (the second time being an adaptation of a joke from when the manga changed magazines). The third episode starts off looking like it would repeat the segment again... before fast forwarding about ten seconds in and dropping it altogether for the remainder of the series.
  • First Kiss: Kaguya initiates her first kiss with Shirogane after witnessing his Grand Romantic Gesture during the culture festival and agreeing to go with him to Stanford. Unfortunately, a bit of miscommunication from Kashiwagi earlier on leads her to give him a full french kiss and her attempts to run damage control after realizing her mistake just leave him confused.
  • First Love: The narrator stated that Kaguya and Shirogane are each other's first love.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Kaguya is introduced as being a daughter of the Shinomiya family, but it's expressly not said that she's set to inherit the conglomerate. It's later explained that Kaguya's brothers have more involvement in the business and are implied to be the heirs, and as such, that her own importance in the family is more tenuous and dependent on her compliance to their whims than it appears.
    • When Kashiwagi and Tsubasa first hook up, Maki is depressed and Karen is looking at her with a "this won't end well" expression. About three years later real world time, Karen's spin-off reveals that she was responsible for the events leading to Tsubasa asking out Kashiwagi... while trying to get him to ask out Maki.
    • In chapter 14, Kaguya mentioned that her first kiss was with her infant nephew, and the accompanying photo in The Stinger shows that she was already at least middle school age. This is the first clue that she suffers from Parental Neglect, since one would have expected her to say that her first kiss came from her mother or father if she meant it in a platonic sense.
    • When Ishigami is giving Shirogane advice in chapter 47, he tells him something to the effect of "there's no need for a man to apologize if he's done nothing to make him guilty." During the Sports Festival arc, it's revealed that he was suspended for months back in middle school because he refused to write an apology letter for attacking Ogino.
    • Kaguya becomes uncharacteristically defensive of Ishigami in chapter 55 when the subject of his middle school fiasco comes up, stating to two girls who were badmouthing him that she judges people based on what she's personally seen rather than rumors. 34 chapters later, it's revealed that she already knew the full details of what happened to him in middle school (with the most important detail being that he was innocent) before he even joined the Student Council, and was the one who had the rest of the council look into the story in the first place.
    • In chapter 58, Shirogane is shown buying "The official guide to the TOEFL test". Though it's later shown that he's been trying his hand at languages, in chapter 111, it's revealed that he's planning on attending Stanford.
    • When Kaguya gets taken to see Dr Tanuma in chapter 79 after collapsing in school, the hospital is identical to the one that Tsubasa's father was shown to run in chapter 29. Chapter 147 would reveal that Dr Tanuma is actually Tsubasa's grandfather.
    • The Phantom Thief that stole the balloons during the Culture Festival left a calling card with the name Arsene on it. The name Arsene can be translated to "like a man", the same thing that Shirogane said when the Mass Media Club interviewed him, making it the first clue that he was the one responsible.
    • The explosion of hearts during the anime's opening foreshadowed Shirogane's Grand Romantic Gesture in the manga, something that hadn't even happened yet by the time the first episode aired.
    • Also in the opening, the newspaper Shirogane is reading has pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, hinting at him and Kaguya going to America.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: During the school festival, Kaguya's class did a cosplay cafe. Hayasaka, also a part of this class, decides to attend the event in her usual maid outfit and no one is the wiser.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Erika (oblivious to all manners related to love and the least studious of the four), Maki (a Tsundere and the only one with male friends), Kashiwagi (the only one with a boyfriend and an active sex life), and Karen (the mediator of the group, though not without her own obsessions). That said, this only really applies in the We Want to Talk About Kaguya spin-off due to Karen and Erika rarely showing up in the main series.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Kaguya is the Cynic, Shirogane is the Realist, Fujiwara is the Optimist, and Ishigami is the Apathetic. Miko joins later on as the Conflicted.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: While most combinations of the student council members have had focus chapters, Fujiwara has never been shown to have any major interactions with Ishigami or Miko.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Kaguya is helping a young girl walk to school in episode 3, the girl mentions that she normally walks with one of her friends who goes by the nickname "yeti". Right after she says this, an actual yeti can briefly be seen crossing the street on the left side of the screen.
    • Every single instance where Maki is shown painfully pining for Tsubasa after he and Kashiwagi became an item, usually hiding in the background; this somewhat stopped after she was formally introduced.
  • Gambit Roulette: The series: romcom version.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: One Doujin Edition chapter has Miko go around town trying to prevent students from performing indecent behavior. For most of them, the situations were non issues or taken care of appropriately, but the last one (with Kashiwagi and Tsubasa) is the only real incriminating incident since the former had a hickey on her neck. Unfortunately Miko was too tired and spent from guessing wrong the whole time that she took their words at face value and called it a day.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: During the first term, the student council had two boys and two girls (there where two others, but neither of them were ever seen and their genders are unknown). The gender ratio would be skewed in favor of women after Shirogane's reelection when he appointed Miko to be the auditing officer.
  • The Ghost: The General Affairs Officer and original Auditing Officer are never seen at any point in the series. According to the volume 4 extras, they're both third year students that don't get along well with the rest of the council.
  • The Girl Who Fits The Slipper: Parodied in chapter 14 of the "Official Doujin'' where Maki is playing the role of Cinderella. The shoe doesn't fit when she tries it on, since her lack of experience with wearing heels caused swelling. Meanwhile, it fits Kashiwagi just fine.
  • Girls' Night Out Episode: Chapter 77 has Fujiwara and Kaguya throw a party to celebrate Miko joining the student council (they would have held it sooner, but her work on the public morals committee meant that they had to push it back).
  • Girly Run: Chika does one in the anime opening, though the camera zooms quickly away from it and then shows several other characters also running.
  • 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 interestnote  before he kicks the bucket.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture:
    • Ishigami unwittingly gives one to Tsubame at the school festival by giving her a large heart-shaped chocolate, demonstrating his romantic intentions towards her. Thing is, he was unaware that there was undertones to giving hearts to a significant other during the festival, so he remained unaware of what he did for most of the arc. To make things worse, he also gives a heart locket to Miko, as he hasn't quite grasped that hearts don't only apply to Tsubame.
    • The school festival arc is this big time from Shirogane to Kaguya, as he stole all of the heart shaped balloons and put on a phantom thief persona to shower Kaguya in them on the festival's final day in his attempt to finally convey his feelings.
  • 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 imagined Shirogane with Fujiwara and was furious. She didn't take implication that it meant she cared for Shirogane well.
  • Group Picture Ending: Chapter 101 (and -by extension- volume 10) ends with the student council taking a group photo with Kaguya's new cell phone.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted. Promotional material for the series often has Kaguya with knives and Shirogane with a pistol as a visual representation for their Battle of Wits.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Kaguya and Shirogane have the standard black/blond contrast, along with contrasting red/blue eyes.
  • Hate Sink: Kaguya's father. He drags her a quarter of the way across Japan (causing her to miss out on a chance to hang out with her friends), and barely even acknowledges her presence when she shows up. This is immediately followed by the reveal that he has never given her even the most basic form of parental affection. Then he forbids her from attending the fireworks festival, sending her into a Heroic BSoD. And all of this is in his first appearance. To add insult to injury, it's not even shown what the hell he wanted Kaguya at Kyoto for.
  • Heart Symbol: The Japanese logo for the series features a heart which is usually superimposed over someone's eye on the volume covers. Hearts are also a major motif during the culture festival arc, as there is a legend that if someone give another a heart shaped object during the festival the two of them will be granted eternal love. Said arc's climax has Shirogane showering the school in hundreds of heart shaped balloons as a Grand Romantic Gesture for Kaguya.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Episode 12 has the sound of Kaguya's heartbeat drowning out the sound of the fireworks show the Student Council is watching as she stares at Shirogane in complete awe of everything he did to get her there (thus the title of the segment, "I Can't Hear the Fireworks").
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Go Kazamatsuri (one of Those Two Guys who's occasionally seen with Shirogane) is an impure who entered Shuchi'in in order to find information about his missing older brother. He's also the assistant to a famous detective and helped solve multiple cases. This is only ever mentioned in the volume 10 extras.
    • Ishigami is referred to as such (more specifically, the "secret hero") in his character description.
  • High School A.U.: Doujin Edition presents us with a younger version: the Kindergarten AU. Shirogane works for a daycare with a Hayasaka (the only main cast member who's still a teenager) helping out as well and has a crush on Shirogane. The rest of the cast are still rich, but toddlers and children.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Referenced in Chapter 109. While Maki finds the idea of teenagers having sex before marriage incredilous, Ishigami points out the "1 in 3 teens have had sex before" statistic and surmises that Kashiwagi and Tsubasa are deeply entrenched in this trope.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Every other chapter, as it provides for a significant part of the humor in the series due to Shirogane and Kaguya's manipulative natures:
    • This little tidbit from Chapter 47:
    Fujiwara: "We don't get to have the rest of our classes together, so we should pick the same elective!"
    Shirogane: "This is your chance to learn something. You should make a choice based on what you feel it is you need to learn.'
    Kaguya: "He's right. Wanting to be in the same class as someone simply isn't a good reason to pick an elective."
    Shirogane: (thinking) Now then... Which selective is Shinomiya (Kaguya) going to pick?
    • 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.
    • Any time Kaguya criticizes Kashiwagi's extreme clinginess and insecurities whatever her boyfriend troubles come up.
      • In Chapter 76 when 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 the girl herself on a daily basis. The art even lampshades it by giving Kaguya Hayasaka's expressionless face.
      • Chapter 97 has her think to herself that she'd never be as paranoid or distrustful as Kashiwagi was. And then proceeds to agree with every insane action and thought that Kashiwagi had to prove that her boyfriend wasn't cheating on her. Keep telling yourself that, Kaguya.
    • In Chapter 110, Fujiwara criticizes invokedMoe characters for being cutesy and childish but well endowed and high pitched, while exhibiting all of the traits herself.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Chapter 13 ends with the reveal that the coffee that Kaguya and Shirogane were drinking was actually Kopi Luwak (i.e. processed from civet droppings).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • The chapters of the main series and Doujin usually start with "[Character] Wants to XXX".
    • Chapters in We Want to Talk About Kaguya are titled "I/We Want to Talk About XXX".
  • In the Style of...: The series has often been described as being Death Note as a romantic comedy.
  • 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 Bystander Series: We Want to Talk About Kaguya is a mundane version of this, focusing on the Mass Media Club misinterpreting Kaguya and Shirogane's Battle of Wits.
  • 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".
  • Internal Homage:
    • In chapter 11 Shirogane buys a new smartphone, and in chapter 101 Kaguya buys one. Many of the panels are changed only slightly to fit the new events, and the composition is exactly the same in some cases. Dialogue is reflected by the different circumstances, but in some cases almost the same.
    • Chapter 144 does this for Chapter 38. Both deal with Kaguya and Shirogane seeking advice regarding their relationship in a Two Scenes, One Dialogue manner, both have Kaguya asking Kashiwagi in the Student Council room, and both have Shirogane asking for advice while lying under a tree. The only real differences (aside from the specifics of the discussions) are that Shirogane is asking Maki for advice instead of Ishigami, and the fact that it's the middle of winter. Both chapters even end with Kaguya touching Shirogane on the lips.
  • Intimate Artistry: This is used as the subject for one of Kaguya and Shirogane's many Battle of Wits when they're paired up in art class. Kaguya ends up producing a photo-realistic drawing with roses on the side without even thinking about it, then deliberately tries to make it less appealing in order to hide her feelings for him (but keeps on finding the end result attractive no matter what she does). Shirogane, meanwhile, becomes engrossed in his work and accepts nothing but perfection, repeatedly tearing up his work until he manages to produce something that he feels captures her beauty.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: A flashback shows Hayasaka brushing Kaguya's hair alongside a caption talking about how they're Childhood Friends.
  • Irony:
    • When the student council collects bellmarks only using things they've already bought in chapter 75, Kaguya only gets 10 due to everything in her house being imported. In other words, she was too rich to win a contest that involved spending money. To take the irony even further, Shirogane ended up collecting more than everyone else put together.
    • Maki is the one character in the series who is shown to outright dislike Kaguya. Naturally, two of her closest friends are the resident Kaguya fangirls Karen and Erika. This is due to the fact that she has spent most of her life being compared to Kaguya and actively comparing herself to her, being a "Shinomiya" but much more familiarly removed than Kaguya.
    • Kaguya is established as being a Clingy Jealous Girl in regards to Shirogane, getting worried whenever another girl is shown to be close to him. When she discovers that Moeha (whom she has previously been established has having a hard time interacting with) also has a crush on him, the two of them use it as a bonding experience as they both gush about all the things they like about him.
    • Miko, in spite of being on the public morals committee, is shown to have the absolutely kinkiest thoughts of anyone in the student council.
    • One of the series premier Running Gags is Shirogane imagining Kaguya giving him a condescending "How Cute" over any sign that he likes her. The one time she actually does this, it's because he isn't acting on his feelings for her.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot:
    • Played for Laughs when Kashiwagi gives a rather lewd kiss to her boyfriend after receiving definitive proof that he wasn't cheating on her with her best friend. They're only shown from the neck down, while the Student Council provides reactions.
    • Kaguya and Shirogane's first kiss has their lips blocked off by one of the hundreds of heart-shaped balloons from Shirogane's Grand Romantic Gesture, though it is shown in full at the end of the following chapter.
  • Language Barrier: In chapter 20 Shuchi'in Academy hosts a party for their sister school in Paris. It's only after the party starts that Shirogane realizes he's the only one there that doesn't speak French, forcing him to try and hide it with what little he memorized from a phrasebook. This actually ends up helping him when a French girl gives him a Breaking Speech as part of a Secret Test of Character, since he has no idea that she's even insulting him, let alone what she's saying.
  • Large Ham: The narrator. He will happily describe whatever the current scheme is with full force.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In chapter 3 of Doujin, Fujiwara uses a hypnosis app on her phone to make Shirogane and Kaguya more honest with each other. After finding them both freaking out in the nurse's office, she uses it to wipe their memories of the chapter.
  • 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 (mutual First-Name Basis in the English translation).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The special chapter has Ishigami read a romcom seinen manga Momo-chan Doesn't Think, and comment that it's an oddball in the magazine because it's completely devoid of Fanservice. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it?
    • In the Young Jump 100th chapter, Shirogane and Ishigami celebrate the anime adaptation announcement of Momo-chan, and has the chapter end with Shirogane instructing the Student Council to say "Anime Adaptation banzai!" repeatedly, just to drive the point home. Shortly before this chapter was published, Kaguya-sama announced that it was getting its own animated adaptation.
    • Chapter 140 did the same thing for the announcement of the live-action movie, complete with having the same actor in the lead male role.
  • 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.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Chapter 3 has a variation when Shirogane is trying to figure out how to make sure he and Kaguya end up sitting next to each other in the movie theater without directly telling her his seat number. He sees a mascot costume of a character named Pen-tan (who is the star of a show called 12 Great Penguins) and chooses seat G-12, subtly trying to pass on the information to Kaguya by pointing out the mascot after he gets his ticket. Unfortunately, her train of logic goes from Pen-tan to Pentane (C5H12), comes to the conclusion that he's sitting at seat H-12, and picks seat H-13.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: In chapter 101, Kaguya shows a QR code on her phone so she and Shirogame can exchange LINE IDs. Scanning it will pull up a link for purchasing the series' official LINE stickers.
  • Lonely Together: Maki preemptively offers to do this with Ishigami during the Culture Festival arc, promising to hang out with him if Tsubame turns down his love confession so they could both wallow in misery over their failed love lives together.
  • Loophole Abuse: Subverted in chapter 85. When Iino threatens to confiscate Ishigami's game console, he points out that he's currently underneath the student council room (which is treated as being outside of the school grounds and therefore exempt from the rules). Rather than leave him be, she just drags him several feet so that he is on school grounds and confiscates the game.
  • 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.
  • Lost in Translation: One chapter focuses on the double meaning of the word "chinchin", which can mean a dog begging stance, but is also a slang for penis. The official translation went with "wiener", but that still makes Fujiwara randomly talked about her dog's penis instead of his odd behavior.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • When Shirogane is talking to Ishigami about girl trouble that "a friend" is having in chapter 38, Ishigami eventually yells "Shut up, stupid!" after getting frustrated with how annoying the girl sounds. Jump forward to chapter 89 in the Sports Festival arc, when it's revealed that Shirogane had originally told him to write this when he had to make an apology letter for Ogino. And then he uses it again against Ootomo when she continues to hold a grudge against him due to being oblivious to everything he did to protect her.
    • When Shirogane pulls off a Grand Romantic Gesture for Kaguya in chapter 135, it ends with him telling her "this is how I feel". When Kaguya gives him a kiss in chapter 136 after agreeing to come with him to Stanford, it ends with her telling him "this is how I feel".
    • In chapter 10, Kaguya tries to whisper to a (pretending to be) sleeping Shirogane that she loves him as part of a ploy to influence his dreams. She does this again in chapter 144, except Shirogane is actually asleep and she actually means it.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • As mentioned in Theme Naming below, most of the major characters are named after story elements from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. For the various members of the student council, their personalities were based off of the author's interpretation of their counterparts.
    • Karen and Erika are unique in that they are named after a real life poet and artist respectively, which both fits their status as members of the Mass Media club and demonstrates how they are looking in on Kaguya and Shirogane's story rather than actually being a part of it.
  • Mood Whiplash: Chapter 87 is mostly just a collection of short looks into certain sports festival activities with a lighthearted tone. Ishigami rounds out the last couple of pages, noting that he's been having fun this time around and that he's glad he joined the cheer team, just as the girl who helped get him ostracized shows up and calls to him.
    • Another one at Chapter 131. It was mostly about Kaguya and Miyuki's time around the Culture Festival. It ends with Miyuki telling her that he's going to skip a year and go to Stanford for college and that the current Culture Festival is his last one.
  • 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.
  • Movie Theater Episode: Kaguya and Shirogane go to the movies in chapter 3, though their attempts to sit next to each other without overtly asking the other where they're sitting fail miserably. Chapter 2 of We Want to Talk About Kaguya shows it from Karen's perspective.
  • Miss Fanservice: Fujiwara's older sister in chapter 87. She comes to the sports festival wearing a deep neck line with her huge breasts, midriff and hot pants.
  • Mukokuseki: The Shirogane family is fully Japanese without any mixed bloodline mentioned so far, the author himself says in the character's bio that he only made Miyuki Shirogane have blond hair and blue eyes based purely on artistic freedom, the reader is made aware that the Shirogane family is fully Japanese despite their obvious European features.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Shirogane's attempts to convince Tsubasa to get a job in the anime are so full of fiery passion that they causes temperatures across Japan to skyrocket.
  • Mythology Gag: The principal is briefly shown playing on his phone during the credits of the final episode, referencing his love of Pokémon GO in the manga.
    N-Z 
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The description of Shuchi'in in the beginning of the manga is understood by Japanese as a not-so-veiled reference to the real-life Gakushūin, the school established for and exclusively used by the Japanese noble class between 1877 to 1947, and continues to be the "default" school for the descendants of the same people.
  • No Export for You: Fujiwara discusses this In-Universe when she reveals her status as an Omniglot.
  • 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. This changes in chapter 109, when Maki finally reveals his name (with the Narrator stating that after 109 chapters, we finally learn his name). Shirogane and Ishigami lose focus of the conversation due to this fact.
  • 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.
  • Not So Similar: At first glance, Kaguya and Shirogane appear to be Birds of a Feather as prideful, intelligent teenagers with the same views on love. It quickly becomes apparent that this couldn't be any further from the truth, as the two differ in just about every other aspect. It's even a major plot point, since the reason they fell in love is because they admired attributes in the other that they themselves lacked.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Ishigami basically tells Maki that her crush will go nowhere if she doesn't act and expects the other party to come confess to her first, and she has even less chances of realizing her love if her crush felt the same way. Shirogane was right behind him as he said all of this, and suddenly felt terrible.
  • Off-Model:
    • Hayasaka is shown with darker hair in chapter 12.
    • Kashiwagi is missing her hairpin throughout chapter 38. This was fixed in the volume release.
    • Ishigami has six fingers when acting like a villain in chapter 65.
    • Shirogane is drawn using the wrong arm when he arm wrestles Fujiwara in chapter 117, resulting in his wrist being rotated 180 degrees.
  • Offscreen Romance: Played for Laughs when it was casually revealed during the culture festival that Osaragi had been dating the captain of the cheer team for the past several weeks (whom she had previously interacted with onscreen a grand total of once). This comes as a complete shock to Miko.
  • Once a Season: The closest manga approximation would be once per volume. Every volume will have a chapter that focuses on someone asking for love advice from the Student Council.
    • Kashiwagi's relationship with Tsubasa is a frequent topic, or Maki's jealousy over their relationship comes up. Beginning in Chapter 98, Maki has joined the fray, but coming to Shirogane and Ishigami instead.
    • The school festival arc has Tsubame come to Kaguya for love advice, since she's conflicted over accepting or rejecting Ishigami's accidental confession.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations:
    • Kaguya asks Shirogane what kind of underwear he likes in Chapter 70 in order to find out if he's promiscuous. Of course, she ends up wording it poorly, resulting in him thinking that she's talking about women's underwear instead of men's, leading to a hilarious misunderstanding.
    • When Tsubame talks to Ishigami about setting a deadline for her to accept or decline his "love confession" in chapter 133, he's under the impression that she's talking about setting a date for cherry blossom viewing.
    • Kaguya gets buried under a mountain of embarrassment due to the fact that she thought that a couple "doing it" meant kissing. Both Shirogane and Fujiwara were thinking that Kaguya was a little too cavalier when she admitted that she had "done it".
  • Only Child Syndrome: Averted. The only characters who are confirmed to lack any siblings are Hayasaka, Miko, and Osaragi (two of whom have parents that are busy all the time, and the third's father is dead).
  • Operation: [Blank]: Chapter 103 revolves around "Operation Friendship", Shirogane and Osaragi's plan to have Ishigami and Miko get along.
  • Opposites Attract: At first glance, Kaguya and Shirogane appear to be Birds of a Feather, but as the series goes on it becomes apparent that they're Not So Similar. Their contrast is even a major plot point, since the entire reason they fell in love was they admired virtues in the other that they themselves lacked.
  • 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.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Fujiwara is seen making one in chapter 29 after Ishigami continually talks about the girl's breast sizes. She then repeatedly smacks him over the head with it. The same fan makes a reappearance in chapter 59 when the student council is reminiscing over the past year, and Fujiwara hits him with it again when he repeats the breast comment.
  • Parental Neglect: Kaguya's father doesn't show her any sign of affection, while Shirogane's mother left the family when he was young.
  • 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.
  • Playing Card Motifs: The anime assigned individual cards to the starting members of the student council. Kaguya and Shirogane share the Ace of Hearts, Ishigami is the Ace of Spades, and Fujiwara is the Joker.
  • Playing Hard to Get: The Series. At least the early and middle parts of it; they've since become more honest with themselves, but they're still too stubborn to confess outright.
  • Playing Sick: Meta example with the author feigning sickness to avoid having to draw any gags for the inside cover of Volume 5.
  • Product Placement: The 110th chapter takes a little time out of its day to promote the Young Jump digital app, justifying this with Shirogane being too poor to afford buying anthology manga every week.
  • Power Is Sexy: Discussed by Kaguya. No matter what kind of power a person comes across (wealth, physical, mental, etc.) ultimately she argues that it's the main attraction factor for men. Since they're secure in their field, a woman would feel safe under their care, and feel like they can depend upon them for whatever comes next in their relationship.
  • 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.
    • Also why Ishigami and Miko won't just tell each other what they've done for each other. They have their own version of justice they uphold, and they wouldn't consider their actions selfless if they just hold it over each other's heads.
  • Production Throwback: A character dresses up as the Vocaloid IA in Chapter 123. Aka Akasaka was responsible for her character design.
  • Punny Name: One of the members of the Tabletop Games club is named Gigako. It used to be Terako, but she was demoted.
  • 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.
  • Real Place Background: Events set outside of the school use actual locations from Tokyo for it's backgrounds. For example, Kaguya's mansion is set in the Minato ward.
  • Reality Ensues: Ishigami's plan to win over Tsubame is essentially to get such a good score on the final exams that everyone notices how intelligent he is, leading into her getting interested in his powerful mind. After weeks of genuine studying and hellish coaching from Kaguya, he finishes twenty places higher than he did on his last exam (which genuinely is impressive for him)...but he still failed, and he's nowhere on the roster for top scores. Remember, this is a boy who wasn't accustomed to studying because he just didn't feel like doing it. This is the best he could do in such a short amount of time.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The 110th chapter released at the same time the anime adaptation was announced. The topic of the chapter is Ishigami and Shirogane discussing their favorite manga getting an anime.
  • "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.
  • Related in the Adaptation: It's subtly implied that the counterpart for the emperor (Kaguya-hime's primary Love Interest in the original story) is actually Maki's unseen twin brother and -by extension- Kaguya's cousin, given that there was a character by the name of Mikado Shijo listed on the test scores in chapter 4.
  • Right Behind Me: Ishigami making fun of Kaguya's and Fujiwara's breast sizes in chapter 29. Miyuki starts freaking out, but Ishigami is completely unaware of them until Fujiwara starts talking. She then makes a Paper Fan of Doom and smacks him with it, while Kaguya hints that she'll probably kill him later for his insults. He decides to go home to update his will.
  • Rotoscoping: Fujiwara's dance in the ending for episode 3 was rotoscoped, resulting in a massive Animation Bump.
  • 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. Several chapters had the situation reversed, with Kaguya having the condescending delusion instead. It actually happens to him on Chapter 142 verbatim.
    • Ishigami getting terrified of Kaguya or just being depressed and coming up with excuses to go home for the day.
    • Chapters focusing on end of semester exams will have each character claim something before the next page has the narration claiming "That was a lie!". There will always be one person telling the truth instead.
    • Maki stalking Kashiwagi and her boyfriend.
    • Characters making overly generalized statements, accompanied by a caption box that says "Individual opinions may vary."
    • People refusing Kaguya's offers of cake.
    • Miko walking into the Student Council room at the worst possible time.
    • Kaguya (and Maki's) inability to say the word "sex".
  • Sanity Ball: The sanest person in the room varies from chapter to chapter. Usually, it will be whoever is impressed upon during the chapter.
  • School Festival: The sports festival is a big arc for both Ishigami and Iino, since it elaborates on the reason why Ishigami is treated with disdain in school and looks at Iino's middle school years. The culture festival is also a major arc for Kaguya and Shirogane, culminating in their First Kiss.
  • School of No Studying: Downplayed. Shuchi'in is an academically focused school, studying is mentioned multiple times, and there are entire chapters devoted to end of semester exams, but the closest the series ever gets to showing the characters in class are a drawing session in art and cooking in home economics (the latter of which isn't actually shown).
  • School Play: In chapter 24, Kaguya and Fujiwara are revealed to be assisting the drama club with their production of "Women of Love and Hate". The actual play is never seen during the events of the main series (though Karen and Erika are shown watching it in their spin-off), but Kaguya takes the chance to spook Ishigami and Shirogane by coming into the Student Council room covered in stage blood and wielding a rubber knife.
  • 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 is both lampshaded and justified due to all potential money for new clothes going towards supporting his family.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: When Ishigami and Shirogane are discussing manga early on, Ishigami thinks seinen romcom manga with little to no fanservice are a horrible idea. And even when it seems like there might be some, instead there's some kind of lame effect that ruins the point. Gee, I wonder how fanservicey Kaguya-sama is?
  • Self-Parody: Chapter 110 themed itself with the then upcoming anime adaptation by having Ishigami and Shirogane talk about a manga series they like, Momo-chan Wa Kangaenai, getting an animated adaptation in-universe; said series shares several parallels to Kaguya-sama itself, as it is pointed out that is a romantic comedy that does not rely on Fanservice and further strong sexual themes despite running in a Seinen magazine thus meant for adult males, so it is seen as a waste by some detractors in-universe but the fans were charmed by the setting and characters nonetheless so it ended up getting an Anime due its increasing popularity.
  • 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.
    • One chapter has Kaguya faint and 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.
  • Shadow Archetype: One can argue that Kaguya and Maki are one for each other each having what the other desires. Kaguya deeply desires to be loved whether by friends or family due to her upbring while Maki is pained by her romantic life as she sees her crush happily date her best friend. Kaguya has the undivided attention of her crush Shirogane while Maki has three best friends and what seems to be a healthy family.
  • Shared Family Quirks: The entire Shirogane family are revealed to share the same scary eyes and enjoy drinking coffee.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: A lot of readers were uncomfortable by how nice the cheer team was to Ishigami and were worried that their plan to have everyone cross dress for the sports festival was an attempt to embarrass him (not helped by the fact that they all have Hidden Eyes). But by the time the sports festival actually came around, it turned out that they really are that nice and their lack of eyes was a visual representation of how Ishigami reflexively shut everyone out (leading to a heartwarming moment when he finally sees their faces after the relay race).
  • 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.
    • The principal of Shuuchin tells Kaguya straight to her face that she and Shirogane should be together, and pushes Ishigami and Miko together for one photo.
    • Kaguya and Shirogane are one for Ishigami and Tsubame.
  • Sibling Triangle: In chapter 39, it's revealed that the president's younger sister also has a crush on Kaguya. Subverted once we learn via Kei's focus chapters that she simply admires Kaguya as a person and as a future sister-in-law.
  • 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.
    • Another zigzagged case in Chapter 114; while Fujiwara says she wouldn't date Shirogane because she finds him childish, she does blush when she realizes that he hits all her criteria for a good man (i.e. someone who will build himself up and determined enough to not give up on himself).
    • 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.
    • In one of the extra chapters, Ishigami finds himself very fascinated with the girl who looks like Fujiwara in the fanservice manga chapter he's reading, but skips over the Kaguya-lookalike entirely (while Shirogane tried to sneak a peek at her).
    • Shirogane's father tells the kids that running is a guaranteed way into a woman's heart. When Ishigami runs in his team's relay race, the manga puts specific focus on Iino cheering him on.
    • On their character profiles, Ishigami and Iino are labeled the "secret protagonist" and "secret heroine" respectively.
    • The game Aka comes up with gives Iino the ability of "Childish Justice". When Ishigami's ability is used in tandem with hers, it becomes "True Justice"— showing that they bring out the best in each other.
    • The chapter where Iino reveals that she keeps and treasures a mysterious letter she got in middle school has Ishigami as the chapter's title character. Ishigami is barely mentioned and doesn't even appear that chapter, all but stating outright that Iino's Mysterious Benefactor (and the one she holds so dear) is none other than him.
    • When Miko is asked to describe what type of person she's attracted to, she says Sho Hirano, who just so happens to resemble a certain black haired treasurer. She also says the type of man she wants would always look after her, understand her, and come to her rescue when she's in distress, which perfectly sums up her relationship with him.
    • Osaragi likes to remind Ishigami and Iino that people often pick on and pester the ones they love. Both times it's brought up, they deny it, but the point still persists.
    • Chapter 144 ends with Maki hugging Ishigami and crying that he's the only one for her (admittedly, she means this in a completely platonic manner).
  • 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 TerraforMARS.
      • The same chapter features Shirogane using what he calls the "Karma Akabane technique" of biting his tongue til it bleeds. In this case, it's used so he doesn't pass out when he sees an cockroach, rather than the pain not allowing him to be stunned like how Karma used it.
    • 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.
    Hayasaka: STOP PLAYING POKEMON GO!
    • In chapter 58, Kaguya mentions that Hayasaka watches videos of things being crushed in a hydraulic press.
    • Kaguya's gift to Shirogane references the story of Sang Weihan.
    • The saying that "the one who falls in love loses" seems to be a reference to the heroine of Special A, who said the same thing.
    • Miko's Catch-Phrase during the Election Arc was "Make Shuchi'in Great Again".
    • Shirogane and Ishigami are playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in chapter 72, with Shirogane playing as Link.
    • Fujiwara's "Love Detective" hat is the same one that Sera wore in ib: Instant Bullet.
    • The introduction of Kaguya's doctor plays similar to Team Medical Dragon's "Daimyo Procession".
    • At the end of chapter 86, Mr. Shinomiya is referred to as "Karakai Jouzu no Otou-san".
    • The manga has a cameo of Nusret "Salt Bae" Gökçe during Chapter 96.
    • In Chapter 102, we see a LINE sticker of a bunny with a very Pop Team Epicesque vibe.
    • In chapter 109, Ishigami references the #MeToo movement.
    • Fujiwara and her little sister get into a Turf War with some young kids in chapter 2 of Doujin, complete with being drawn in a way that clearly resembles Inklings.
    • After accidentally turning down Shirogane's offer for a date, Kaguya tells Hayasaka to find a way to turn back time. Hayasaka responds with "Who do think I am, Doraemon?"
    • Gigako wears a Spetsnaz Helmet in chapter 116.
    • Two of the girls in the cosplay cafe dress as Hatsune Miku and IA. Other cosplays during the event included Marisa Kirasame and Haruhi Suzumiya.
    • The Phantom Thief who stole all the heart shaped balloons in chapter 128 left a calling card referring to themselves as Arsene. Of course, the name wasn't chosen because of the reference, but rather what it translated to.
    • The anime adaptation of chapter 28 references, of all things, a Trivago ad.
    • When the narrator is talking about summer vacation plans in episode 10, a shot of some boys playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the Student Council as playable characters can be seen. An earlier scene also has a classic Batman (1966) scene transition, but with Fujiwara's head on a sunflower instead of the bat signal.
    • In chapter 149, the cast is shown playing Scotland Yard.
    • Episode 2 of the anime changes Shirogane's dialogue ever so slightly from the manga to sneak in a line from Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Everyone important to the plot has a name referencing The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter:
    • Kaguya, Shirogane, Ishigami, Fujiwara, and Iino all reference Kaguya-hime herself and the princes trying to court her.
    • Osaragi, Tsubame, and Momo all reference the gifts sought by Kaguya-hime as part of her impossible tasks to her suitors (each of which has some sort of relationship with the student council members that share their respective suitor's namesake). In Tsubame's case, she becomes part of the ongoing saga of "Kaguya Shinomiya's Impossible Requests", deliberately invoking the theme.
    • The mock exam results in chapter 4 has someone by the name of Mikado Shijo (implied to be Maki's twin brother) references the the emperor who tries to marry Kaguya-hime.
    • Ootomo also references one of the suitors, interestingly the same one as Shirogane's.
    • Kaguya's mother is named Nayotake (Supple Bamboo), meaning that Kaguya was metaphorically born from bamboo, just like her literary counterpart.
  • Sick Episode: Chapter 79 has Kaguya fall ill and get sent to the hospital suddenly. As she's loaded into the ambulance, it's stated that that she has the capacity for heart disease given her mother suffered from it. During a checkup at her doctor's office, it's revealed that it wasn't even clinical heart problems that caused her to faint in school this time; it was love sickness.
  • Starfish Language: In chapter 20, to demonstrate the language barrier, all unfamiliar French from Shirogane's point of view is portrayed as various shapes in the speech bubbles.
  • Stargazing Scene: In chapter 56, the student council are watching the Autumn Moon. Kaguya tries to turn it into her latest Battle of Wits with Shirogane, but -in true You Were Trying Too Hard fashion- Shirogane's innocent love of the stars turns him into a full blown romantic that reduces her to putty in his hands.
  • Stealth Insult: Under her breath, Fujiwara criticizes Kashiwagi for her constant trysts with Tsubasa, calling her "Most likely to get pregnant".
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Fujiwara and her sisters look pretty much the same, the only difference is the obvious age differences.
  • Stylized for the Viewer: "Kaguya-chan" is drawn in a Super-Deformed art style, making her look much smaller and child-like. The narrator even lampshades that this trope is in effect and to everyone else she just looks like an absent-minded Kaguya. Taken to a hilarious degree when Shirogane copied her. While the readers see two adorable Super-Deformed characters, Iino sees two young adults behaving in a really creepy manner.
  • 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.
  • Teasing from Behind the Language Barrier: In the aftermath of the French Exchange party, Shirogane cheered Kaguya after she regretted what she had done in the party. She replied with something said in an unspecified language. It's unvoiced in the anime, while manga just covers the word with symbols.
  • Technician vs. Performer:
    • This is the biggest difference between Kaguya and Shirogane in their Battle of Wits. Kaguya is a schemer who tends to come up with her plans ahead of time and favors being Crazy-Prepared, while Shirogane tends to prefer Indy Ploys. They end up swapping roles when they finally admit their feelings to one another, with Shirogane spending weeks planning out a Grand Romantic Gesture and Kaguya spontaneously initiating The Big Damn Kiss.
    • This also comes up when Kaguya and Fujiwara both try to help Shirogane learn a dance for the sports festival. Kaguya has him go through the motions and memorize the proper moves, while Fujiwara tells him he has to understand the feeling of being pulled.note 
  • Tempting Fate: When Kaguya and Shirogane inspect all of the sports equipment, Kaguya mentions that the Tug o' War rope is worn down and old, with Shirogane replying that it can "survive another [year]". The next major arc after that chapter was the Sports Festival, and it's unlikely that that's going to go unnoticed... and it doesn't do anything. The rope stays intact through the whole thing.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Hayasaka can be heard humming the beginning of "Love Dramatic" while preparing her bath in episode 11.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Karen and Erika start off this way, though they both got a lot more development in their spin-off series.
    • Saburo and Go are both shown to be friends of Shirogane, though very little is shown about their personalities outside of one of the extra pages in volume 10.
    • Hayasaka has two unnamed friends in her class that occasionally show up, though nothing is known about them other than them being Gyaru Girls and their parent's jobs.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 135 does this with the series' Japanese title "Kaguya Wants to be Confessed to", when Kaguya mentally points out the reason why she could never confess to Shirogane.
      Kaguya: If you were to reject my confession, there's no doubt that our friendship would be ruined. That's why I want to be confessed to. Because if I were to confess, I might fail. However, if you were to confess to me, your chance of success is 100%!
  • Title Theme Drop: Episode 11 has a soft piano cover of "Sentimental Crisis" playing when Kaguya starts going into depth about just how much of a Stepford Smiler she is in regards to her family life.
  • Too Clever by Half: The two, supposedly genius characters are repeatedly kept at arms length from a likely very happy romance because their method getting there is so needlessly complicated.
  • 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.
  • Training Montage: Chapters that focus on Fujiwara helping Shirogane improve a skill always feature a montage showing the two of them performing ludicrous training acts together.
  • 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.
  • Uncovering Relationship Status: Kashiwagi's relationship with her boyfriend was set in motion when she asked him if he had a girlfriend. Spin-Off series We Want to Talk About Kaguya revealed that Karen was trying to invoke this, though she had meant for Maki to be the one to ask him. She knew that Maki had a crush on him and was trying to help her get past the Cannot Spit It Out stage, and Kashiwagi didn't know about said crush and innocently offered to help instead. Things pretty much spiraled out of control from there.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The riddle left behind by the Phantom Thief during the culture festival proved to be completely unsolvable, even to someone who loves riddles (like Fujiwara). As Kaguya realizes near the end of the arc, this was deliberate. Shirogane just threw together a bunch of meaningless symbols to keep Fujiwara occupied while he worked on his Grand Romantic Gesture.
  • Uptown Girl: Kaguya is from 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).
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 111 reveals that Shirogane plans to study abroad following graduation, giving the pair a very limited deadline to confess their feelings for each other. The story describes this as the real war of love and brains beginning.
  • Wham Line:
    • Shirogane gives one at the end of chapter 111.
    The last day of the culture festival. If Shinomiya hasn't confessed by then, I will confess to her.
    • Kaguya gives a pretty big one during Chapter 120.
    Hayasaka: Well, I'm sure you'll just make up some crazy excuse, and go on about how you don't really like—
    Kaguya: I like him.
    Hayasaka: ...What?
    Kaguya: I... like Miyuki Shirogane.
    • Shirogane gives another one at the end of chapter 131.
    I have been accepted by Stanford University. So I'll be skipping a year and going overseas. I'll be leaving Shuuichuin a step ahead of you guys next year. This is the last festival I'll be doing at this school.
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • Chapter 88 finally tells the full story of why Ishigami was ostracized.
    • Chapter 121 details why Shirogane initially decided to run for Student Council President.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The series is basically a modern day retelling of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Most of the major characters' names and personalities are derived from the story in one way or another.
  • Win Her a Prize: Ishigami wins a large heart-shaped cookie during the culture festival and gives it to Tsubame as thanks for all the times she's helped him out. What he doesn't know is that giving someone a heart shaped object during the culture festival is a sign of eternal love, so the entire school interprets it as a love confession. And in a bit of a variation, he gets it on the first try.
  • 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.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Kaguya puts on some Crocodile Tears and claims Miyuki was being a jerk when she wanted to see a photo of him when he was younger on the Line app in his new smartphone, which he shared with Chika. She successfully guilt trips him, and he shows her the photo for a brief moment before snapping it away after realizing her ploy. Unfortunately for him, she saw it long enough to memorize it. Chika then unintentionally destroys the moment when she mentions that Kaguya can't use the Line app since she was still using an old flip phone, shocking both of them.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Shirogane's strategies often involve quickly taking advantage of situations to attract Kaguya. In the event things do not go as plan or Kaguya tries to turn the tables on him, he is usually quick-witted enough to improvise and adapt to the new conditions.
  • 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)
TROPER'S LOSS

Alternative Title(s): Kaguya Wants To Be Confessed To, Kaguya Sama Wa Kokurasetai

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