Kiss Him, Not Me Volume 1 Review
Kiss Him, Not Me:
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: Serinuma Kae is a dedicated and overweight fujoshi who loves to fantasize about her handsome male classmates romancing each other. ( Fujoshi, which literally translates to rotten girl, is a Japanese term for female fans of manga and novels that feature romantic relationships between men.) However, the death of one of her most beloved male anime character in the show causes her to go into shock and grieve which then causes her to lose a lot of weight. When she returns to school, she finds herself being suddenly surrounded and romanced by the very men she had been fantasizing about all this time. Despite her new look, Serinuma remains a fujoshi at heart and tries to find a balance between her old fujoshi fantasies and her new found popularity.
You can read the first chapter for free here.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Kiss Him starts off extremely comedic as we witness Serinuma in full blown fujoshi mode, lost in her fantasies as she pairs off her goodlooking male classmates while watching them play volleyball in PE class. For those less familiar with the concept of fujoshis, it might seem a little strange to read as this girl seems to passionately enjoy the thought of these guys dating each other instead of fantasising about them dating her. And for those wondering if this story will be showing home erotic content like some other series dealing with fujoshi fantasies, I can assure you that for the current volume, there’s never the slightest hint of sexual content. Given the lighter and more innocent tone of the story so far, for better or worse, you might not ever see any.
Serinuma makes for an adorable protagonist thanks to her kind and innocent nature. She seems to take jokes directed at her weight in a positive manner, seemingly more focused on her fujoshi fantasies than the comment directed at her. It could potentially feel a bit unrealistic to have her be so devoted to her fantasies and be so positive despite some rather rude attitude from certain boys in her class but it is a fictional story after all. Thankfully, just as quickly as the story introduces mean characters, it also introduces some kind characters so the sting of annoyance from previous encounters is immediately replaced by relief and happiness at seeing that Serinuma is not just some bullied outcast. The volume and translations do a great job of explaining all the terms and concepts that might puzzle those unfamiliar with them. If you come across a term you have never heard before, you are likely to find an exposition or translation note within that very panel or the following panels itself. It might seem like over explanation to more seasoned anime and manga fans, but it helps make the series approachable to any and all readers.
Now let us get to the most unbelievable part of the very first chapter which is Serinuma’s weight loss. It happens over a single week and while it is a fictional story, I am sure it will make many a reader jealous if they have ever attempted to lose a lot of weight themselves. However, this is a comedy, it is a fictional story, so let’s not dwell too much on it. We shall just chalk it down to the miracle of manga. Heck, even the story itself cracks several fourth wall breaking jokes about itself on a regular basis so ten points to Kiss Him for being self-aware.
Moving onto the rest of the cast that we encounter in the volume, the readers get a good handful of stereotype male characters to choose from. You have the cold and haughty Shinomiya, the kind and older Mitsumi,a less vain but somewhat brash Nanashima and his friendly counterpart and buddy, Igarashi. The lack of originality might irk those who crave mold breaking characters but their familiar and well tested characteristics are not surprising given the content and subject matter of the series. This is basically a reverse harem so there’s no way the creator could have avoided giving the readers some classic male character types. In fact, just from their stereotypes, most experienced reader will be able to predict which male characters will undergo what kind of personality change or growth. It doesn’t help the case that barring one of them, all the other male characters seem to notice her and want to date her based solely on the fact that they now find her hot. It’s a shallow premise and sure to irk readers.
When it comes to non romantic interest characters, we have Serinuma’s mother and her brother, Takuro and her best friend, A-chan. All three again do not get much character definition yet but it’s cute to watch A-chan and Serinuma go all out together with their fujoshi fantasies. It’s also nice to have our protagonist have a loyal and helpful friend as given her fujoshi weirdo persona, there was a chance the author would make Serinuma a loner who would then struggle all alone. However, there was something that puzzled me a little. When first introduced, A-chan seemed rather oblivious and unable to understand Serinuma’s fujoshi talk. As the story proceeds, she then seems to be rather well versed in the otaku lifestyle and terms, and even later admits that she hides her otaku side from her boyfriend. It’s not a major issue but it did leave me with a sense of inconsistency between her initial appearance and her later behaviour though on the other hand, it could be that I just misunderstood their initial conversation.
Takuro, Serinuma’s brother is shown to be the crude and brash older brother who doesn’t act int he gentlest manners and doesn’t treat his sister in the best ways. He comes off rather verbally abusive, and does some rather questionable things later on that seem like they would hurt his sister’s feelings and humiliate her. What his true intentions were in doing them is yet to be known but he does make a meek attempt at an apology afterwards so I guess for now the readers are to presume that he does care about his younger sister.
What is noteworthy about this story so far is that despite it’s shallower themes, there’s also some deep and realistic notes sprinkled throughout the volume. Despite Serinuma’s new slender body, she and the readers are given a painful and true reminder that simply because she has lost all that weight does not mean that she is completely flawless and perfect. She pushes herself too hard and comes to realize that a sudden and drastic weight loss isn’t going to magically fix all her physical issues. And even though it is the entire point of the story and the comedy, it’s nice to see that becoming physically appealing and attractive on the outside doesn’t mean that Serinuma’s personality also drastically changes to suit her new popular status amongst the boys. Though these points are usually played for comedy, it’s still interesting to read as Serinuma initially tries to hide her inner fangirl and fujoshi self but ultimately caves in and embraces who she is. Of course this is fiction so the guys accept her secret without much hesitation and the reveal barely phases any of them. If this all seems too convenient for you, it’s best you stay away from the manga and the upcoming anime series so as to avoid being frustrated by how everything always seems to work out for our protagonist.
Another thing I enjoyed so far is seeing how Mitsumi is constantly the one male character who’s been kind and considerate to Serinuma from the very start. It is a little puzzling when he asks her out on a date later as he seems to be doing it to go with the flow and fit in with the joke. However, from all the men wooing Serinuma, he seems like the one that saw her inner personality and charms from the very start. Even during the more controversial moments, he is always the one taking action, pulling off small but meaningful gestures and taking the lead in reassuring Serinuma that she is fine the way she is, even when she was heavier and mistreated by some of the others. It won’t be surprising if he turns out to be a popular potential boyfriend choice among most readers.
For those of you who are on the lookout for a reverse comedy harem with a rather unique female protagonist, Kiss Him, Not Me might just end up your latest favourite manga. As most manga comedies go, there is a lot of fantastical elements at play here alongwith cliche personalities and stereotypes. But there is also enough humour and nerdy elements to amuse an equally nerdy reader. For those who shudder at the harem tag and the often resulting emotional romantic drama and turmoil, Serinuma seems to not be harbouring any actual romantic feelings towards any of the guys so for now, there is no pained and lengthy internal conflict over which boy to choose. Even though she goes on a date with all four of them, she spends the entire date drooling over pairing them up with each other so this harem tag only makes it all the more comedic for now. For now, Kiss Him is an enjoyable and light hearted read, one you shouldn’t take too seriously but will hopefully have you chuckling throughout.