Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review: KISS HIM, NOT ME!

Of course, with the rise of the fujoshi market we're seeing a gradual increase in fujo-friendly titles.  That not only means more BL (or BL-friendly) works, but also manga about fujoshi like today's selection.

KISS HIM, NOT ME! (Watashi ga Motete Dosunda), by Junko.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2015.



PLOT:

Kae Serinuma is a chubby fujoshi who's content to spend her days gazing upon her handsome male classmates and dreaming of pairing them up...at least, when she can spare some time from her favorite show.  Tragedy strikes for her when her favorite character is killed off, and she goes into such a funk over it that she doesn't eat for a week and emerges from her room slim and beautiful.  This draws the attention of her classmates, but their attentions only leave Kae baffled as to why they're hitting on her and not each other.

STORY:

Kiss Him, Not Me! is ostensibly a comedy, but I found myself having a hard time laughing at it.  The story's fine, many of the physical gags are fine, but much of the premise becomes kind of sad once you starting thinking about it.

At least the story isn't terribly cruel towards Kae for being a fujoshi.  A lot of manga about fujoshi are merely content to point and laugh at the sidelines about their weird behavior and poor appearances and for the most part this manga does not indulge in that.  Kae certainly has no qualms about her fandom and is even willing to go so far as to try and explain it to her unexpected harem of suitors.  While I'm glad that Junko didn't pile Kae with a lot of internal anguish over her fujo tendencies, I was still terribly (and I suspect unintentionally) struck by how sad Kae's situation is.  Here is a girl who is so used to being ignored that she has subliminally accepted that she has no right to be with attractive men.  Thus she channels all of her romantic and sexual yearnings into her fujo fantasies where she can safely indulge without fear of rejection, even after her transformation.  I get that this is meant to be much of the joke here, but I just found myself wishing that someone would let her know that it's OK to have desires of her very own.  At least things lighten up for her as the volume goes on.  I actually rather liked the chapter where she tries her hand at soccer based solely on what she's seen of shonen sports manga.

Mind you, maybe her oblivousness to the romantic potential around her is for the best because honestly most of her harem are kind of dicks.  Most of them are barely aware of her beforehand, and fewer still are willing to give her the time of day.  Post-weight loss, though, they're all over her like white on rice.  All but one don't recognize her and it's clear that all these boys care about is that Kae is pretty.  Even when she starts to share just how much of an otaku she is, they seem to go along with it not because they're starting to understand her as a person but simply because they'll accept anything if it means getting close to her.  It's as if you can see them all thinking "Uh huh, that's nice, now let me touch your boobs."  Otherwise, they're fairly standard and rather lightly sketched clichés of every high school boy in manga ever. 

It's always so sad when a potential comedy is derailed because you can't help but find yourself seeing all the weird, sad, and cynical stuff that's lying just beyond the premise.  Doing so kind of killed whatever potential Kiss Him, Not Me! might have had.

ART:

At least Junko's art is light and loose enough to make up for what the story lacks.  Her character designs are cute, even if it's hard to believe that Kae's transformation from what looks like a crude fat dwarf to a more conventional shoujo heroine complete with long, heavy hair, saucer eyes, and a large bust.  She's also very good at comedic expressions.  Most everyone gets at least one good double take or bug-eyed moment and they're deployed perfectly.  Otherwise it's a pretty straightforward looking book.

RATING:

Kiss Him, Not Me! wasn't a total strikeout, but it was nowhere as funny as it could have been.  I suspect that most of the issues I had with it were all in my head, but they are enough to merit a more cautious rating.

This series is published by Kodansha Comics.  This series is ongoing in Japan with 5 volumes available.  2 volumes have been published and all are currently in print.  This series is also available digitally through Crunchyroll.

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