Kiss Him, Not Me – Review
Kiss Him, Not Me:
Original Air Dates: October 7th, 2016 – December 24, 2016
Synopsis: Kae Serinuma is what you’d call a “Fujoshi.” When she sees boys getting along with each other, she can’t help but indulge in her own wild fantasies of the boys “getting together.” However, one day her favorite anime character dies and the sheer shock confines her to her room for a whole week. When her brother and mother finally force her out of bed, they discover not only did she miss school for a week, she also lost a crap ton of weight! Now the four hottest guys in school all want to ask her out– but that isn’t what she’d like at all! She’d rather see them date each other!
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Kiss Him, Not Me starts off a little shaky as we are treated to the sight of this overweight female character that is given the tropey ‘fat girl’ anime voice and the show literally has male characters who hate on her and make fun of her because of her appearance and weight. At the same time, the show makes it clear that Serinuma is a fujoshi first and foremost, regardless of her appearance. When she loses her excess weight, she doesn’t automatically turn into the perfect girl as well. She remains obsessed with all her specific interests and places them first, remaining completely oblivious to the boys’ attention. Yes, she now has the affection of guys who were mean to her or weren’t interested in her romantically earlier, but her weight loss doesn’t change Serinuma herself as a person, which has some positive notes and a message that weight doesn’t define the individual.
Tom: It’s Kiss Him, Not Me’s emotional core, exploring Serinuma’s character, and the boy’s affection for her, where the show is perhaps at its strongest. The characters experience growth, change, maybe evolve a little and feel more likable for it all. The show makes sure not to paint the proceedings as “Serinuma must learn to give up her fujoshi ways” allowing her to remain true to herself, but also allowing the rest of the cast to discover something about themselves. That speaks through more so than the show’s comedy, which gradually changes gears as the series steps past the midpoint.
Linny: As the show approaches its midpoint, the situations in which the characters get themselves into get extremely ‘fantastical,’ such as encountering and being attacked by ‘ghosts.’ In a story about a highschool girl and her harem, it feels out of place and the escalation to the fantasy elements felt rather extreme. While the show was never rooted in realism, this change sticks out like a sore thumb. And then, towards the end, the show introduces a student teacher character who comes onto Serinuma very strongly and given western sensibilities, that all might feel a lot more controversial and creepy than it would to say someone who is more familiar with Japanese culture and anime.
Tom: It’s quite odd the left turn Kiss Him, Not Me takes, veering into increasingly outlandish territory that almost feels like it’s jumping the shark. It’s not to say Kiss Him, Not Me’s premise was exceedingly grounded to begin with, and we’d already seen unrealistic elements early on, like with Serinuma’s rapid weight loss, but somehow the inclusion of ghosts, and seductive student teachers all feels out of place with the kind of series Kiss Him purported to be early on. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s wise to be aware that the show has little interest in holding itself back from increasingly absurd narratives.
Linny: For viewers who identify with Serinuma’s initial ugly duckling status, it might get frustrating to watch just how oblivious Serinuma can be towards the boys and their behaviour, especially before the transformation. Shinomiya in particular is very openly rude to her, making expressions of disgust and annoyance but then does a complete 180 the second she loses weight. When he is mean to her early on, Serinuma doesn’t mind at all claiming that it’s all part of his appeal. The show/story wants to make it clear that Serinuma is completely lost in her fujoshi world, stuck seeing it through fujoshi tinted lenses, but for the non fujoshi, it’s a disappointing sight as she doesn’t rebuff his insulting attitude.
Tom: While Serinuma’s fetish for fujoshi may be a bit perplexing for some viewers, it’s admirable how the show never has Serinuma step away from her own interests, only briefly entertaining the idea that Serinuma should give up being a Fujoshi and pick one of her many suitors to enter into a romantic relationship with. It’s refreshing, although potentially upsetting for anyone hoping for a more true to form harem. In fact, that’s what makes Kiss Him Not Me so interesting, we spend far more time developing the suitors than we do the lead, who never really seems interested in any of the many men pursuing her.
Linny: In case you are worried that the show is all about vapid suitors, there are actually some nice and kind characters in the mix too. We get Mutsumi who’s been nice and sweet to Serinuma all this time. Sure, his interest may not have been romantic but that makes it all the more sweet that he always liked her as a person in general and wasn’t just nice to her because he wanted to get it on with her. Then there’s another character who I will avoid mentioning too much to avoid spoilers. Basically this character really connects with Serinuma and helps her to enjoy her fujoshi interests. I like that the show has a nice balance of likeable suitors and friends to offset the bad taste some of the meaner characters might leave behind.
Tom: Serinuma’s five suitors each go through various stages of character development, events that help to flesh them out and perhaps redeem each members of the cast, including those who seem far less perfect, or perhaps even out right deplorable. There’s at least one occasion where this backfires however, with Serinuma assaulted by one of her suitors. The incident borders on mild sexual assault, where it’s then written off entirely as an innocent mistake, purely to ensure the show stays comedic and light-hearted. It’s an odd choice to venture through such a prickly route and attempt to downplay what would otherwise be a very serious and uncomfortable incident.
Linny: In general, some of the characters who came off the most unlikable early on don’t completely succeed in redeeming themselves by the end of the season. This might be be due to lack of time or my own personal prejudices but for others like me, you are most likely going to have your list of most liked and most disliked characters remain unchanged throughout the show.
Tom: Kiss Him, Not Me, despite its increasingly absurd plots and questionable handling of its more delicate scenarios, is a fine show. It turns a few harem norms on their heads and offers greater insight into the plethora of male leads pursuing Serinuma rather than focusing on her efforts to juggle the boys. It’s engaging if nothing else and is worth a look in, even if you’re not a harem aficionado.
Linny: Unless you are extremely averse to harem in general, Kiss Him, Not Me is approachable, especially if you want to see one that isn’t your typical stuff. Our protagonist’s one true love is clear from the start but it isn’t a boy or a girl and her devotion to her true love remains extremely steadfast. There are some controversial elements like the weight related content, the teacher hitting on student and the almost sexual assault which could rub some viewers the wrong way. However, for all its faults, there’s still plenty there to enjoy and for those of you who’d like to try a very comedic and not at all serious reverse harem, Kiss Him, Not Me would be my recommendation.