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  • Kaguya-sama is a series that's deeply concerned with conflict, in all of its forms.

  • As the opening narration describes, even romance, that oh-so-sacred space where human beings

  • can directly connect with one another, is ultimately a battleground, a place of division

  • where the strong conquer and the weak submit.

  • This is a very intriguing hook for a romantic comedy, a genre which typically shunts its

  • power dynamics off to the side, barring those cases where they're used to fulfill the

  • fetishistic desires of their audiences.

  • To pose a romantic relationship as one that bears significant similarities to that of

  • a master and slave or a boss and worker is a strong statement on the way in which all

  • aspects of society, including those that tend to be regarded as pure, are mediated by the

  • general social dynamics which are always present.

  • The satirical nature of this statement does little to temper the implications which are

  • present; in fact, it only reinforces them, bringing the work to its fullest conclusion.

  • What's key to understand is that the show does not portray the leads' error as being

  • their belief that there are tensions in a relationship, ones indicative of hierarchy

  • and class.

  • Rather, it posits that conflict is the incorrect way to resolve these contradictions.

  • Minor spoilers for the manga, though nothing that would ruin the story for you.

  • Shuuchiin Academy, the stage on which the entire series is set, is no ordinary school,

  • not even by upper-class private educational standards.

  • Having stood since the era of aristocracy, it has seen a shift in the mode of production

  • over time, remaining a space dominated by the elites in spite of that.

  • In this respect, it reflects the Japanese state itself.

  • For as many qualitative differences as there may have been, Japan, like Britain and unlike,

  • say, France, was able to weather the transition to capitalism with the state intact.

  • The aristocracy may have been abolished, but its sons and daughters often retained their

  • wealth, and were persuaded to accept the rising robber baron stock into the control room for

  • the levers which manage society.

  • Shuuchiin is a battlefield, absolutely, but a tempered one.

  • As with the state it stands in for, it has many warring interests.

  • The son of a major fast food chain and the daughter of a weight loss company's CEO

  • would have different goals, after all.

  • Similarly, the daughter of a major LDP politician wouldn't have the same interests as the

  • son of the leader of whichever opposition party formed two years ago.

  • However, there is still a common understanding that, as a class, these people are on the

  • same side.

  • Intraclass conflict may occur, it is after all a remarkably competitive school where

  • exam scores are paramount, but at the same time, it can not distract from the fact that

  • these students are the future rulers of Japan.

  • To put it in other words, Shuuchiin is a mock battlefield on which the conflicts between

  • the bourgeoisie can be set, teaching the not-quite-leaders of the nation how they should behave around

  • their fellow class, leaving open some room for conflict while still ultimately tending

  • towards the benign antics befitting a comedy.

  • However, Shuuchiin is not a place which bars all non-bourgeois voices, only one that makes

  • their appearance difficult.

  • Shirogane's existence is evidence of this fact; the state is a battleground on which

  • classes can attempt to assert their interests, even if it is necessarily under the control

  • of capital as long as it's the dominant mode of production.

  • Working-class representatives can make it into the state apparatus, even rising to the

  • top of its ranks with enough strategic know-how.

  • Similarly, workers who try hard enough, and find enough luck while doing so, have access

  • to some degree of class mobility.

  • For this reason, the Shuuchiin of the 21st century is demonstrably different from its

  • aristocratic incarnation; the working class is not barred from power as a result of their

  • ignoble birth, at least not as long as capital avoids a real threat to its very existence,

  • but through the simple fact that things are so stacked against any given individual not

  • born into the bourgeois lineage that their ascension is functionally impossible.

  • The series makes no attempt to hide the fact that things are weighted against those of

  • poorer means.

  • Bribery is a common method for getting into the school, and those who haven't attended

  • for their entire lives, known asimpurestudents, are ruthlessly mocked, making up

  • only 1% of the student body in spite of its official stance as a meritocratic institution.

  • The class struggle of society at large is just as present here, but with a caveat.

  • Impure students are totally incapable of toppling the hierarchy of the pures, as they make up

  • a miniscule amount of the populace, a marked difference from the world as a whole, where

  • the proletariat far outnumbers the bourgeoisie.

  • This puts anyone who would want to change things in a precarious position.

  • Formally, the school is equally open to all who put in effort, but entry is not actually

  • possible for the vast majority of common people, and in fact, it is actively discouraged by

  • the blatant cheating by those in power.

  • With this, Kaguya-sama acknowledges the essential nature of the bourgeois state as corrupt at

  • its core, incapable of being truly won over in spite of its public-facing attempts to

  • claim otherwise.

  • Shirogane poses a unique perspective in this broader system.

  • His role as the soleimpuremember of the cast, born outside the bourgeois hegemony

  • that controls the school, is a key one in interpreting how the show believes class dynamics

  • must be mediated and what the unique classes look like.

  • Shirogane is, above all else, notable for the degree of work he puts into anything he

  • does.

  • His sharp eyes reflect the amount of time he devotes to studying, student council duties,

  • and working jobs to support his otherwise income-less family.

  • His presence is indicative of individualist impulses, those which claim that anyone could

  • make it to the top if they just try hard enough.

  • Imbalanced as he may be in many fields, Shirogane has gotten where he has in Shuuchiin by applying

  • himself towards higher positions, something which to most working people would not only

  • be an unfavorable prospect but an impossible one.

  • However, him having done this does not cause any structural change in the way the school

  • works.

  • He may be an inspiring representative of theimpuresas one of the few student council

  • presidents to come from that caste, yet as you would expect, there's no discussion

  • of otherimpuresattending on account of this.

  • The system of bribery and exclusion that occurs at the school does not disappear; even when

  • running for re-election, there are those who won't vote for him purely due to his emergence

  • from outside the school.

  • In the battleground that is the bourgeois state, the workers can put forth their hard

  • working delegates, and yet the system will not fundamentally change through voting and

  • individualist rising-up-the-ranks.

  • If anything, Shirogane begins to be subsumed into the attitudes of the rich students who

  • surround him.

  • At the same time, his identity as a part of his own class is clear; he maintains a belief

  • that his relationship with Shinomiya is one of struggle on an inherent level and as a

  • result, refuses to confess to her.

  • In many ways, the series appears deeply ambivalent about the value of his actions; while he brings

  • a moral center to the council as someone from a humbler background, his personal fortunes

  • show little sign of changing, indicating the futility of even attempting to move up the

  • class pyramid.

  • Despite this, he continues to engage on this bourgeois battlefield, conceding to the principle

  • that workers can gain fromtrying their bestyet refusing to fully capitulate to

  • capital and acknowledge its victory over him by confessing to her.

  • She is equally important, of course.

  • As the opening description says, Shinomiya is the daughter of a family whose total assets

  • equate to 200 trillion yen.

  • This would make them the 10th largest nation by GDP, composing more than a third of Japan's

  • wealth all-told.

  • In short, she's rich on a scale that can not even be imagined, practically a personification

  • of the bourgeoisie in herself.

  • As with Shirogane, her depiction is characteristic of her class as a whole; for while most of

  • the school's students are quite rich, that trait is far less important to the personalities

  • of those aside from Shinomiya.

  • Above all else, she is an incredibly sheltered girl.

  • Take, for instance, the case of thefirst time”.

  • Not having been educated on what sex is, she assumes that a “first timeis kissing

  • someone, inadvertently implying that her family regularly has sex with one another to the

  • rest of the council.

  • This joke is referred back to frequently throughout the seriesthough that's true for many

  • gags, and part of what makes it such an effective romcomand it's characteristic of how

  • Shinomiya is treated as a representative of her class.

  • While her initial description ofdoing itwith family members regularly implies

  • to the others that she's a deviant, a common stereotype of the rich, the reveal that this

  • was all a misunderstanding paints her instead as naive.

  • Essentially, it's saying that the customs of the world's rulers are not, in themselves,

  • particularly strange, but appear as such due to their estrangement from the rest of society.

  • Compared to Shirogane, who's been forced to learn about the world as a result of his

  • upbringing, Shinomiya has not a hint of how things might work outside what her family

  • deigned to tell her.

  • She is, at the same time, quite capable, holding her own against Shirogane when it comes to

  • exams, possessing talent in nearly every field she participates in, and serving as an excellent

  • vice president for the school.

  • She's not useless, merely soaking up the value of others' labor; she herself may

  • not have earned where she is, in fact, she certainly didn't, but she does deserve the

  • spot she's in.

  • Her cuter traits only serve to accompany this; for as much as the ruling class may seem snide

  • and uncaring on the outside, there's a core within them that demonstrates their care for

  • the world at large, albeit one accompanied by a healthy degree of elitism.

  • She is in essence a being made of contradictions; rightfully proud and powerful on the one hand

  • while utterly estranged from the goings on of the vast majority of the population on

  • the other hand.

  • While for Shirogane, the text concerns itself with the paradoxical struggle of waging war

  • for bourgeois betterment while refusing to fully concede to capital, for Shinomiya, the

  • principle challenge is in finding her place as a member of the bourgeoisie, eschewing

  • both the aristocratic tendencies of extreme wealth and the proletarian temptations of

  • Shirogane, finding a place as a proper inheritor of modern society.

  • The other students occupy an interesting space in light of this.

  • Their place is not to directly represent the bourgeoisie in a single individualthat

  • role is already taken by Shinomiyabut to demonstrate the normalcy of their broader

  • numbers.

  • Many members of the school bear names which are incredibly prestigious, if not as much

  • so as the Shinomiya clan.

  • Fujiwara, for instance, comes from a long line of politicians, including prime ministers.

  • Yet they're all shockingly normal, at least as the members of romantic comedies go.

  • The bourgeoisie in Kaguya-sama is so similar to members of the rest of society that the

  • difference could scarcely be noticed if we were not informed of it.

  • This allows Shirogane to fit in more easily, though he still has difficulty doing so at

  • first, and it also make clear the fact that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie would

  • be able to interact peaceably if they were to drop their guards as the council does around

  • one another and recognize that the inherent class tensions are not end-all be-all.

  • Shinomiya and Shirogane are, of course, shy.

  • This is the trait that, at least to a large extent, motivates their continued refusal

  • to confess to the other, one which the series mocks.

  • The narrator's' insistence that all love is conflict is naturally satirical; it grounds

  • the reasoning behind the leads' so-calledgame of love and war”, yet the continued

  • mocking of them for their shyer and cuter elements is an essential element of disproving

  • the idea that they must struggle.

  • Shyness, here, is a lens through which we can view class relations.

  • The two primary classes of our period, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, are caught

  • at an impasse, and in many ways their interests do not align.

  • This is something acknowledged by the placing of Shuuchiin as a space meant entirely for

  • the rich.

  • However, Shirogane's entrance marks the opening of possibilities.

  • The shyness exhibited by the pair is conditioned by their beliefs that they must not lose this

  • struggleany concession would be a deadly defeat.

  • To resolve these things, however, both must lose and put their differences beside them.

  • The conflict that they pose is not a real one, but to end it, the pair must unite.

  • Essentially, Kaguya-sama accepts Metropolis's characterization of the heartor, in this

  • case, the heartsas the mediator between hand and brain.

  • It essentially poses its utopian future as one of class collaboration, where the two

  • struggling classes unite in order to create a situation which is mutually beneficial,

  • a romantic relationship on a grand scale.

  • Of course, this possibility is as always a fraught one.

  • Dating will not ultimately upset the system, especially as the other students remain secluded

  • from the proletarian masses, and Shirogane's ascent being necessarily individual limits

  • this potential further, a signal of the work's inability to fully believe that class collaboration

  • is a possible or positive outcome.

  • Perhaps above everything, the notable existence of other prestigious schools, including those

  • which are far less exclusionary of those of proletarian birth, challenges the potential

  • of Shuuchiin as a grounds on which a utopian vision of collaboration can thrive, and serves

  • to indicate the ways in which revolutionary sentiment remains in this work if on the margins.

  • It would perhaps be useful for someone to conduct a nationalist reading of this, though

  • I'm not fit to do so.

  • Regardless, its point remains clear.

  • The power struggle of relationships is a constructed one which exists due to misunderstandings

  • between potential partners.

  • While real tensions may be present, only by coming together and dropping your own guard

  • can they be properly resolved.

  • Also, it's a damn great show and a fantastic manga, really hope everyone enjoys it.

  • Focused on conflict School a stage for rich

  • Kaguya traits Shrogane traits

  • Other character traits Satirical nature

  • Resolution though romance I cannot wait to see all the comments saying

  • Kaguya-sama isn't marxistnot realizing that Marxists can analyze anything.

  • Anyways, thanks for my patrons, especially my $10 patrons, Alice

  • Vey Annalisanig

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  • A Huge Pair Of Cats Who Are Friends With Anime Characters

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  • Rimu You can also gimme a one-time donation with

  • the Ko-Fi link listed below, find where else I'm at in the description, and I'll see

  • you next time.

  • Byeeeeeee.

Kaguya-sama is a series that's deeply concerned with conflict, in all of its forms.

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Kaguya-sama: A Marxist Analysis

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    二百五   に公開 2019 年 09 月 11 日
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