Kiss Him, Not Me! Volume 3
The new character briefly introduced at the end of volume 2 becomes a new friend in Kiss Him, Not Me! volume 3, and her presence is a welcome addition for shaking up the relationships with a bit more conflict.
Although Kae first met Shima at a comic convention where Shima was cosplaying, it turns out that they go to the same school. (Yay for manga coincidences! Which is actually called out in the book, amusingly.) Shima is amazing. Everyone wants to be her friend. Her house is like a fan museum. She has all the manga Kae wants to read. AND she’s a talented artist.
All the boys competing for Kae’s attention are jealous, while Shima seems too good to be true. I’ve seen perfect boyfriends in manga before, but this is a clever take on the perfect friend. And anyone who likes boys’ love stories — or things that make fun of them — will appreciate how the girls interact with the guys.
The main occurrence in this installment, though, is one of those ideas where it seems so perfectly obvious in retrospect, but I wouldn’t have guessed it was coming: Kae gains back the weight she lost to become cute. The guys have to then confront how they feel about her. Are they so shallow as to only want to be around her when she looks pretty (as defined by cultural stereotypes)? Will Shima show them up again by reacting in a more substantial way?
It’s a great twist with plenty of opportunities for humor yet expanding the characters along the way. Those kinds of options are my favorite parts of this series by Junko, when you get the comedy but with something more substantial underneath as well.