Overview (Spoilers Below):
The student council members are surprised when the principal of Shuchiin Academy asks them to model for photos that will go in the school’s brochure it’s producing. Kaguya’s family has a strict rule that she can’t be photographed for publicity purposes, so she doesn’t participate, instead reflecting on her friends and the memories they’ve made.
They decide to take one final photo for fun purposes only, and Kaguya is about to use her flip phone when a gust of wind blows it off the roof, breaking it and losing its photos forever. She buys a new phone later, but thankfully her friends still have their photos and memories to pass on to her. After that, the gang plays a weird game that involves blowing up balloons.
The final episode of Kaguya-sama is not a big deal. It doesn’t present any big new obstacles or final bosses for the student council to fight through. Instead, it provides viewers a few brief moments of remembrance of the past season and then quickly moves on to a simple scene that could’ve taken place in almost any previous episode. Even though the season is over, these kids will continue having good times off screen.
The first half of the episode is the one that feels most like a finale. The opportunity that the photography plot line presents is one of remembrance. The members of the student council are captured in moments in time while Kaguya looks on and relives memories of her own from the past. She always looked down on girls who put too much stock in pictures, but realizes that she’s enjoyed documenting her journey to acceptance and friendship with her old flip phone.
It’s almost heartbreaking when the phone falls, but Kaguya quickly shoves her emotions beneath the surface and retreats into an uncaring depression. It’s very characteristically Kaguya, but it’s also an event that could’ve shown how much she’s changed and grown over the past season. It would’ve been nice for the group to have an emotional conversation with her about all the good times they’ve gone through, but instead, the resolution comes more restfully in the form of her friends sharing their memories with her virtually.
While the first half was a great showcase of the new group dynamic that includes Miko now, the second half is more focused on the standard old dynamic between Kaguya and the president. The gang plays a weird game (that Fujiwara billed as being even weirder) that involves pumping up a balloon until it bursts. Of course, it devolves into a contest of sorts between Kaguya and Miyuki, with both of them afraid of what failure will do for them in the eyes of the other. It’s a fine collection jokes and gags, but it definitely doesn’t stand out at all and felt more like a bonus/deleted scene.
In the end, Kaguya-sama makes the decision to go out not with a bang but with a continuation of the classic “will they won’t they tension” it’s known for. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it feels a bit like the coward’s way out to me. Sure it may be the whole point of the show up until now, and sure it may be based on an existing property that hasn’t ended yet, and yes it’s getting another season — but I can’t help but wish for a more dramatic finale after two seasons of fun and games.