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Tear Jerker / Kaguya-sama: Love is War

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  • The end of the Heart-Throbbing Shopping arc. After all the tension and maneuvering of the banned word game and sending "the first text", the assigned day is rained out. Kaguya still wants to go and she would have if Hayasaka hadn't physically held her back. Hayasaka said that there is no way he waiting for her at the assigned location. Cut to Miyuki standing in rain, soaking wet. The cancellation text comes 30 minutes later, and he considers it a consolation prize, because it is the first text he received from her. That hurts.
  • Chapter 43 suddenly turns from funny to sad as the ramen connoisseur laments not being able to drink the broth because he has to worry about his blood pressure. He cares so much about something so simple, but can no longer enjoy it to its fullest due to health concerns.
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  • Chapter 44 in its entirety, providing the image for this page up above. We get to see just what Kaguya's family life is like. In short, not only her father has never once given her any form of parental affection, but is implied that he treats her more like a piece of property than a daughter. The fact that he bans her from going to the summer festival makes it clear that her life is basically a prison...
  • Chapter 45 has Kaguya sneak out of the house to be with her friends, only to arrive just as the fireworks show has ended, leading her to go cry under stairs in an alleyway. Of course, this only serves to make Shirogane finding her all the more heartwarming.
  • Chapter 53 has a subtle moment during Kaguya having a flashback to Fujiwara's birthday party where it's almost offhandedly revealed that she's never actually celebrated her own birthday.
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  • Chapter 88 shows exactly how Ishigami became a pariah. His attempt to help Kyouko ended with her boyfriend Ogino, who was really cheating on her, painting Ishigami as a Stalker with a Crush while he came out of it as the victim. We see Ishigami begging for everyone around him to believe him as they look on him with disgust, the chapter ending Kyouko calling him a psycho.
    Ishigami: She was right. There was something wrong with me...
  • Kaguya crying over her cellphone breaking in chapter 100, due to the loss of all the photos on it (and what those photos represent to her).
  • Ishigami after the second semester exams. Despite all his efforts, his grades raise only a little bit and he excuses himself to the bathroom to let out his frustrations.
  • Maki's depression over her Love Triangle with Kashiwagi and Tsubasa in chapter 109, even if it is Played for Laughs.
    Maki: I don't feel like I've done anything wrong... but it feels like I lost my crush and my friend all at once.
  • While chapter 141 is mostly silly there are two rather sad moments in it.
    • This chapter really shows just how broken the Shinomiyas are with Kaguya even having Hayasaka hack one of her brothers' laptops to use as a weapon against her father and the fact that despite Kaguya being hurt by her father's neglectful nature, she's partly relieved by the fact that they aren't that close.
    • Ice Kaguya's explosion when Dumb Kaguya said she didn't love Shirogane. She yells that she fell in love with him first and her dream of Shirogane initiating their first kiss is ruined despite all the effort she puts into protecting their future. It really shows how desperate Kaguya is for Shirogane's love.
  • In chapter 144, Kaguya bluntly observes that Nagisa is the only person bold enough to address her as "Kaguya-chan" (even Fujiwara doesn't go for anything less formal than "Kaguya-san"). Flustered and intimidated, Nagisa immediately apologizes, while Kaguya sadly notes that she didn't actually mind. This is one of the first hints of Ice Kaguya's major issue: her blunt honesty is frequently misinterpreted as cruelty and haughtiness. Kaguya's expression indicates that this kind of misunderstanding happens often.
  • Chapters 146 and 147 really cut into why Kaguya and Shirogane are Insecure Love Interest to each other
    • Kaguya was raised to never rely on anyone or even show emotions thus she knew understood people. Due to her own crazy standards and her teachings, she would see people that weren't as skilled as the class as fooling around thus advised them to take things seriously. This lead to her hurting her classmates without meaning to and this continued till one classmate in frustration revealed her mother told her to get close to Kaguya. Kaguya then isolated herself from her classmates out of fear of their intentions and while lonely she was relieved that she wouldn't hurt anymore and no one would hurt her anymore. As such she feels she's too cold, mean, evil and unfeeling to truly deserve Shirogane's love.
      Ice Kaguya: I'm selfish and aggressive! Jealous and deceitful! A coward who fears other people! I always hurt people, and there's not a kind bone in my body! I have to conceal this part of me! Who would fall in love with such a disgusting person?! I could never become cute!
    • Shirogane knew that his mom valued intelligence over everything but he couldn't succeed and he could feel her interest in him decrease with each failure. She eventually abandoned the family but only took Kei because she did well on her exams, Shirogane became obsessed with succeeding believing she would come back for him if he did. After getting into Shuchi'in Academy, he was still ignored due to his low grades and he only got Kaguya's and the school's attention when he hyper-focused on his grades. But now he feels that the only reason Kaguya likes him is because of the idealized version that he pretends to be and she could never love his flawed, true self.
      Shirogane: I'm worthless unless I push myself to the limit... so I'm always desperately straining myself... but I can never talk to anyone about it.
  • The shot of Shirogane's room in chapter 148, and all the various "motivational" things written on the wall. Even after he's literally just been hospitalized for overworking, he's still trying to push himself harder.
    • In addition to the wider shot of the room completely covered in "motivational" phrases, we also get a shot of a single poster by itself. Papa Shirogane later reveals that this is the very first motivational poster Miyuki puts up: "Become a man who can stand alongside Shinomiya".
  • While easily drunk after eating alcohol-flavored chocolates in chapter 154, Iino reprimanded Ishigami for being a jerk to her despite him treating everyone elses fairly. Two chapters later, Ishigami became depressive from rejecting Tsubame's Pity Sex and would had died from a Staircase Tumble (which he actually saw it coming in a manner suggesting that he's Driven to Suicide), only for Iino to save him in the nick of time. Since then, she had been exploiting the injury with Ishigami being her unquestioning servant. Even Maki of all people genuinely disturbed by this despite her obsession for Tsubasa.
  • Chapter 168 reveals that the bad blood between Kaguya and Maki is due their families despising each other with Maki's father telling her to stay away from Kaguya despite Maki originally wanting to befriend Kaguya.
  • Chapter 179:
    • The chapter goes into detail about how Hayasaka working for the Shinomiya family makes her a slave in all but name (including reporting everything about Kaguya to her family in secret), and that escaping that life means that she'll have to abandon the person she loves most.
      Every single day since she became Kaguya's attendant 10 years ago, she has been crushed by her own feelings of guilt. Which is why it was then that Hayasaka realized what her final job would be... cutting the apron strings, and letting go of this adorable, spoiled child.
    • Kaguya's reaction when she finds out that Hayasaka is retiring. The two of them show up at the meeting place for leaving on the school trip and she's hiding behind her and refusing to let go of her sleeve, like a shy little girl who's afraid of being separated from her older sister in public.
  • Chapter 185:
    • Hayasaka's nightmare scenario playing out before her. Kaguya learns that the woman she considers a sister has been going behind her back since the day they met and is furious, calling her "the most despicable kind of traitor".
      Hayasaka: I didn't want Kaguya-sama to get wrapped up in this. I know I don't deserve it after all I've done, but I wanted to part ways without her finding out. I don't care what happens to me. I'll take all the blame. I'll carry the guilt for the rest of my life. There's only one thing I'm scared of... I'm scared that she'll hate me.
    • Hayasaka's fantasy that Kaguya would downplay learning about her being a traitor.
      (Imaginary) Kaguya: What's the big deal? I've known for ages.
      (Actual) Kaguya: I can't believe you would betray me.
      Hayasaka: (Monologue) I clung desperately to that fantasy. But of course, that would never happen. She trusted me too deeply to even suspect me. And I've been walking all over that trust for years.
  • A minor one from Chapter 186, but the implication that Kaguya's and Hayasaka's relationship mirrors that of Unyo's and Nao's. We don't get a lot of details, but what little we have seen seem to indicate that Nao was Unyo's valet before she betrayed him. Considering his utter contempt for her now, one can imagine how close they might have been, and this act of betrayal might very well be the thing that caused him to be the way he is. Just as Kaguya might have turned out like he did, one must wonder what would have happened if he turned out like she did. Even he seems aware of it, referring to himself as a piece of shit and being disappointed Kaguya turned out to be the better person despite seemingly being dealt the same hand.
  • Chapter 188 gives a wacky plot of Shiritori gave prepared by Fujiwara, but Iino's choice of words (which Shirogane instantly picked up) is simply her asking the details of Ishigami's date with Tsubame despite their earlier squabbling. Ishigami refused as Iino has no real importance to it and simply counters her and win the game by listing all of his pent-up complaints about her being oppressive and a loser.
  • Chapter 189 is mostly humorous, except when Iino is involved. When she hears that Ishigami's date with Tsubame went relatively well, to the point that they're going out again, she just spends the entire chapter in forlorn silence. Even if she doesn't realize the extent of her feelings yet, she's watching the boy she loves run off with someone else before her very eyes.
  • Chapter 190 continues the Bathos by having Iino go so deep in denial over her feelings for Ishigami that she looks like she's going insane. Then she sees Ishigami and Tsubame together outside the window, and goes silent. Shirogane asks her if she loves him, and...
    Iino: I hate him. That jerk. He doesn't take anything seriously, he doesn't follow the rules at all, and he's dumb. He's absolutely not my type. And yet... when I heard he went on a date with Tsubame-senpai... (tears up) I felt a lump in my throat, and I couldn't breathe. President, what should I do?
  • Chapter 202:
    • As a whole there is rather bittersweet in tone due all the younger students saying goodbye to the graduating seniors, though special mention has to go to Ishigami's tearful thanks to Kazeno for everything that he's done for him in the short time they've known each other.
    • The chapter takes the time to focus on each of the main characters (including Karen and Erika), yet Kaguya is nowhere to be seen. Why? Because she never had an older student to look after and nurture her, once again emphasizing how alone she was before Shirogane came into her life.
  • Chapter 204: After what seemed to be a moment of hope at the end of the last chapter, Ishigami's attempts to ask Tsubame out are finally met with her rejection. Fortunately, Ishigami showcases his Character Development by respectfully agreeing to Tsubame's wish to stay as friends and giving her a proper send-off, but once she leaves his sight? He breaks down.
    Ishigami: I've made fun of so many guys for crying over being rejected before... (sits down) But damn, it really hurts...
  • Chapter 205: Ishigami displaying his knack for manzai jokes in the Student Council Office is a rather shallow attempt at coping with his heartbreak in the previous chapter, with the others instantly see through it. Iino's joke in relating to Tsubame only adds fuel to his depression, though Fujiwara managed to (read "Achievements in Ignorance") snap him out of it.
  • Kaguya's hand to cheek routine is revealed to have had a sadder origin that was shown in one of the anime's 4koma extras that came with the 2nd season's Blu-rays: it used to be how her deceased mother lovingly caressed her back when she was just an infant, subconsciously reminding Kaguya of her. No wonder this routine calms and comforts Kaguya whenever she does it. In the same 4koma, she actually cries herself to sleep doing this as she remembers her mother before drifting to sleep.
  • Chapter 208: During their grocery shopping, Shirogane's dad provides the full details of his mother to Kaguya; Like Shirogane, he once met his future wife in a university and managed to win her heart through hard work. Although he managed to become a company president and have two children, the shutdown of said company turned her into an extreme Education Mama who's Parental Favoritism towards Kei negatively affected Shirogane.
    Papa Shirogane: Miyuki was left behind. That wound, I can imagine that he'll carry it forever.
    • Earlier before said discussion, Shirogane's "motivational posters" were revealed to be an idea suggested by his father. At first, it only started as one, he increased it further until it covered most of his studying space, causing Shirogane's father to blame himself for the mess.
    • During their bath time, Kei admits to having run away from her own mother. The full context behind it was never explored, but she admitted that "running away doesn't permanently solve her problems".
    • In general, the relationship between Shirogane's parents was implied to mirror Shirogane and Kaguya. Like Shirogane, his dad pushed himself to the limit to impress his future wife, and eventually, their married life broke when he became incapable of fulfilling her standards. It only makes Shirogane's efforts to hide his weaknesses from Kaguya in Volume 15 all the more tearjerking and horrific.
  • Chapter 209: Kaguya revealing to Shirogane that she rescinded her Stanford application. Although readers would have expected this coming up, but its made clear that the Shinomiya family would not release Kaguya that easily. Especially since Oko has been setting up Kaguya to be his tool again, this time preventing her from going to Stanford and even planning an Arranged Marriage in the future, wanting her future son to be his tool. Despite Hayasaka being released from her service, Oko still uses her freedom as a bargaining chip against Kaguya.
    • She later breaks down into tears because, in spite of the fact that her family is responsible for cheating Papa Shirogane out of his company, leaving his family deep in debt, the latter does not treat Kaguya with any sort of malice or hostility, but with kindness and respect.
      Kaguya: Such a wonderful family... Why does mine have to be so different?
    • To top it all off, Kaguya decides to put her plans of going to Stanford with Shirogane on hold in hopes of reforming the Shinomiya family from within. Despite Shirogane willing to abandon his upcoming study to America, Kaguya protests for the sake of both their dreams - Shirogane to go into Business Management to take back his father's company, and Kaguya to reform her family from within and spend the rest of her life with Shirogane's.
  • Chapter 232:
    • This chapter reveals that back in middle school, Ishigami and Iino were actually pretty amicable with each other, even if they weren't quite friends yet at the time. Ishigami understood her mentality towards enforcing the rules, and Iino was somewhat lenient towards his chronic rule-breaking. Their relationship progressed so smoothly that you'd think they'd have been an Official Couple by now... if the incident with Otomo didn't happen. As Ishigami heads home afterwards, Iino catches up to him and simply asks him if the rumors that he stalked Otomo and attacked Ogino were true. Ishigami, determined to keep the truth behind the incident under wraps, bluntly refuses to answer her, causing Iino to storm off.
    • Knowing the true history between them paints their first on-screen interaction back when Iino was first introduced in a different light, as it was not merely a disciplinarian giving a known troublemaker the cold shoulder, but rather something akin to two former friends meeting again with bitter feelings still lingering. It also explains Osaragi's Shipping Torpedo attitude towards them; She already saw their relationship fall apart once before, and she has little faith that it won't happen again.
    • In Osaragi's monologue, she calls out Iino for not believing in Ishigami when the accusations began flying about. The Dramatic Irony being that she was wrong, Iino did stick up for Ishigami when he needed her to, and her intervention is what allowed him to enroll in the high school in the first place. In the end, Osaragi is just as blind to the ways Iino has helped Ishigami as he himself is.

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