Kiss Him, Not Me Volume 2 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.
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)
Like all classic school anime, it’s school festival time and Serinuma’s class decides to do a cosplay cafe. Amongst all the excitement and work that comes with preparing for a school festival, Serinuma also has to continue juggling the affections of her group of admirers. Things come to a head when a series of one on one dates with the guys ends with Serinuma losing her cool and ending up being harassed by a group of boys from another school. Just as things are settling down, the guys find themselves at Comiket with Serinuma as part of their Christmas celebrations. Once again, Serinuma finds herself being harassed when a mysterious fellow comes to her rescue.Will the boys survive the madness of Comiket and is this new fellow going to be joining her legion of fans?
Volume 2 starts off as cliche as possible with a classmate suggesting a maid cafe so the guys can enjoy the sight of their female classmates in costume. A classic school manga trope which gets a little bit of a twist (not much tbh) when the class decides that they should do a cosplay cafe instead. Serinuma’s wildest dreams come true as she realizes this gives her a chance to dress all her male minions as her favourite fictional characters. It’s a cute and funny sight to watch her full blown fujoshi side emerge again especially when she seems to lose complete control and is reduced to a comical mess. It’s a great reminder of how despite her new and improved looks, Serinuma is forever a true and complete fujoshi at heart.
And of course being the crazed fujoshi/nice, timid girl, Serinuma finds herself stuck doing a LOT of the stitching..all of it, to be precise on her own that is until Igarashi comes hopping in through the window to be her prince charming and help her out. In true harem comedy style, his move to get some one on one time with her fails as the other guys join in and through an intervention, Serinuma is left all on her own while the guys find themselves hanging out together sans her. So far, Kiss Him seems to follow and execute some very familiar and common reverse harem comedy stereotypes but thanks to Serinuma being a rather vivacious and shameless nerd at heart, she helps to make the story feel a lot more endearing and comedic than its cliche content. This first chapter also ends on an ominous note as one of our four suitors declares that he has had enough of playing pals with everyone. For any avid reader, you’ve probably already figured out what he is going to say next but let’s keep the mystery alive for the newbies.
In the next chapter, things come to a head once again with some extremely heated confrontation among the boys which ultimately ends with them deciding that each of them gets a one on one date with Serinuma. This then leads into the school festival and Serinuma being the star of the show with her being used as the model on the poster advertising their cosplay cafe. Since this is a cosplay cafe, a lot of the classmates can be seen in costumes that are references to other real life anime and manga franchises. However, our heroine herself, whether to avoid copyright claims or just because maid costumes are manga cosplay’s holy grail, is dressed as a generic maid. If you’re a cynical bastard like me, you might start to feel like Kiss Him is really laying on just how desirable and attractive our heroine has gotten physically. Despite it being a cosplay cafe, they use the generic maid costumed character to advertise it.. EVEN though so many of them were against the maid cafe angle. It’s small complaints, nothing that is story ruining but enough to maybe rub a cranky reader the wrong way a couple of times. But I digress. the main event of this chapter is watching Serinuma going on four different dates back to back with each date producing some interesting results. Kiss Him emphasizes Serinuma’s awkwardness and lack of romantic feelings around these guys which is mainly for comedic effect but is also nice to not have a heroine who’s constantly upset because she loves one too many guys. Sure, she is still stringing along a bunch of guys but she isn’t being fickle about who has her heart which has been my major gripe against harem shows, a flip flopping heroine who seems to fall in love with the flavour, I mean guy of the day/chapter. Hopefully, Kiss Him continues to be smart about this aspect and doesn’t go the classic cliche way anytime soon.
The next chapter is potentially a little disturbing for some readers as a group of boys from another school find Serinuma alone and hiding after the awkward end to her last date. As she is lost in thought, these guys confront her and start demanding she give them ‘special service’. It makes the tone of the book suddenly so much darker than it has ever been up to this point. Obviously, this was set up so her four knight in shining armour, or maybe even just one of them gets to be her hero/es and appear all the more gallant and attractive. Yet it still feels like a major bump as the sexual harassment is extremely heavy handed and feels almost inappropriate in such an otherwise playful and cute story. However, I will note that Kiss Him surprised me by how the aftermath of the incident actually plays out. Rather than Serinuma going all starry eyed and lovesick from it, we get to see her have a complete meltdown and this incident play out less like a classic fairy tale and a lot more like a comedy of errors. The aforementioned sexual harassment is quickly dismissed and forgotten, and we’re back to being all goofy and silly at the end.
For our concluding chapter, it’s an all out nerd utopia as Serinuma and gang end up spending Christmas a little unconventionally by heading to Comiket as it just happens to be on the 25th of December. Seeing as she is headed to it alone, and everyone wants to spend the day with her, the guys decide to be her posse and errand boys for the day. It’s amusing watching the boys and their different approaches to purchasing BL doujinshi and are some of the highlights of this chapter. It is at this event, when Serinuma is on her own after they’ve all split up to make purchasing the large list of doujinshi a quicker process that she is once again harassed by a perverted and aggressive photographer. But unlike last chapter, she has a new mysterious cosplaying stranger rescue her. It’s a handsome guy cosplaying as Sebastian from “The Gray Butler” (bet most, if not all of you know the reference) and he keeps her company until her male friends show up, at which point he departs quickly, leaving her with a kiss on her hand. This wraps up the day for our group of friends and Serinuma is soon back at school telling her best friend, A-chan all about Comiket and her mysterious and handsome rescuer, only to have a shocking surprise waiting for them at the end of the chapter. This was one of my favourite chapters and a great ending for Volume 2, from seeing the guys buying BL material to the surprising ending, it all leaves a memorable impact on the reader, one that’s likely to have you reaching for the next volume immediately after. Kiss Him, Not me continues to be a little delight packing in just enough surprises to help it not feel generic while including enough cliches to feel like a familiar and comforting read to true harem fans.