Should You Watch 'Kiss Him Not Me'? Episode 1 Fall Anime 2016 Review

kiss him not me
Kiss Him Not Me. (c) Brain's Base

My strongest fear with fall anime 2016’s Kiss Him Not Me is it would feel mean-spirited. Episode 1 of Kiss Him Not Me does not exactly assuage that fear, for all that our main character, Serinuma Kae, has a relatable, devouring nerdiness that any self-described otaku, male or female, could recognize. Kiss Him Not Me is based on a manga, so anyone who’s worried about what comes next can just read it, but those who don’t want to do homework along with the fall anime season premieres may find themselves leaving this title off their watch list.

Kae is what you call a fujoshi - a girl who’s very into gay male relationships in her media. Kae’s passion for the homoerotic crosses over into real life, as she is quite happy to pair up her classmates in her head. Even though she’s a fat and unkempt otaku whose favorite activity is hovering like a freak and mouth-breathing near any Homosexual Activity™, the hot boys of the school appear to have some kind of connection to her.

When one of them accidentally collides with her at volleyball, his friend apologizes to her and her sempai asks after her, indicating that for all her freakishness, she’s not universally despised. She even has a cute, slender best friend, A-chan, who’s also an otaku and who colludes with her in giggle fests whenever the boys do anything vaguely friendly with each other.

However, I don’t love the voice actress – Kae literally has a “fat voice,” a wheezy, old-ladyish voice that makes her sound like she’s gargling mothballs in between jacking it to Free! . It’s mean; it’s not funny. We get it, Kae loves anime and gets hot off homoerotic affection, so she’s a real loser, which is of course why she’s both fat and wears glasses, classic marks of a loser. Mean, mean, mean.

Kae is such an otaku that when her favorite character Shion dies in her favorite anime Mirage Saga , she holes herself up in her room for a week and doesn’t eat. When she emerges from the oily, dank chrysalis of her grief, she emerges only to find that she’s dropped half her body weight and now has boobs, loads of thick long hair, and an all-new non-fat voice. Wow, now she’s so beautiful!!

(In the manga, she flip-flops back and forth between chubby and slender, and the boys learn to like her for what she is rather than the weight she’s at, apparently. But that’s in the manga, not in episode 1.)

As for the boys themselves, their hotness is debatable and their personalities are nothing to write home. Igarashi is nice and that’s it. Nanashima is a rude brute who spends all of his screentime throwing tantrums. He also looks just like Kae’s favorite character, Shion. In fact, when he insults her to her face by calling her a former fatty, she runs away crying – not because of the insult, but because of poor, dead Shion. Shinomiya is a cute but aloof first-year, and Mutsumi-sempai is the only one who recognizes Kae after her intense weight loss, because her kindness is still the same.

That’s the only aww-worthy moment in the whole first episode, which is unfortunate. Come on, everyone knows that any good otome media needs strong personalities and good aww moments with your love interests if it’s going to hook your interest. For an otome parody, Kiss Him Not Me sure missed its step there.

Eventually, Kae gets herself in a predicament: all four boys have asked her out. Solution: a group date at the movies, where she struggles not to reveal herself as an otaku freak who is constantly having fujoshi fantasies triggered by any of them touching one another, smiling, or showing any kind of affection or kindness. At one point, Igarashi drags Kae off for some one-on-one time in a photobooth, only for Nanashima to interrupt in a fury. The resulting photobooth photos are fujoshi gold. Kae swoons over the action: “A national treasure! Humanity’s pride!”

Just as she’s about to leave, a store announces that limited edition Mirage Saga merchandise is available. A bar flashes on the screen indicating her progress from Otome to Otaku, ultimately blasting through the Otaku ceiling. She runs into the anime store, only to emerge clutching a Shion body pillow. Through misty eyes, clutching the body pillow, she bravely announces that she’s an otaku. She apologizes for not enjoying herself due to her efforts not to reveal this fatal flaw, then walks away, still holding her pillow.

That’s when one of the boys comments that he doesn’t see the problem; isn’t it good to have something you like? He thinks it’s great that she has something that makes her eyes sparkle. Igarashi, trying to be hip, says he saw Evangelion once. All the boys agree that they’ll go wherever she wants; she can pick next time. Radiating hyperfeminine cuteness in her frilly outfit even as she grasps her anime body pillow, she nods and thanks them.

While the “fujoshi finds herself the main character of an otome game when all she wants to do is pair the boys off with each other” premise has some legs to it, I’m uncomfortable with how Kae’s weight loss is presented: not only is it supposed to be comical, not only does she have a “hilariously” unfeminine voice when she’s still fat, and not only is she beautiful when she suddenly drops half her body weight and mysteriously ditches her glasses, I don’t trust that her weight yo-yoing as the episodes progress will be treated kindly at all.

Kae herself is only barely treated kindly, and that makes me sad. Girls get shit on for the simplest of things, like the kind of coffee they drink or the kind of pants they wear. Passionate girls who nerd out about things they like get it even worse, and for them to get shit on in the very media they enjoy is miserable. The boys are tough to differentiate aside from the rude and unlikable Shion lookalike. Kae’s flip-flopping adherence to strict rules of femininity is supposed to be funny, but it just kind of gives me a headache. Are you supposed to laugh at her or feel with her? It’s a little unclear and very uncomfortable.

Kiss Him Not Me is simulcast on Crunchyroll every Saturday at 1 AM here. Will you be watching?


Join the Discussion
Top Stories