Kiss Him, Not Me! Volumes 6-8
Now that we’re firmly into the run of Kiss Him, Not Me!, the series about a yaoi fangirl with four potential boyfriends and a potential girlfriend, it’s settled down into typical harem antics, only with a fannish twist.
Volume 6 continues from the previous book, with Mutsumi planning to confess his feelings to Kae. His determination spurs everyone else to realize they should do the same. As he tells them, “You’re all free to do whatever you want.” That is, they need to make their own choices instead of hiding within the safety of the group.
It’s risky, though, so first, we have the comedy of everyone else trying to stop him from being alone with her so as not to rock the boat. And then, to help Kae decide, each of them go on a date alone with her, in a setup reminiscent of an otome (dating sim) game. The art by Junko plays this up, with parallel situations, popular choices for couples’ outings, and videogame-like design elements, as the short incidents emphasize each potential’s strengths.
But forget all that! There’s a new anime character to fall in love with! Kae and Shima both adore the new show and its lead pairing (which is, believe it or not, the master and the personification of his armor), but their passion gets in the way of their friendship. They can’t reconcile their debate over which character’s on top, a disagreement that makes no sense to anyone else.
(Even the artist doesn’t think it’s that important, as their argument is accompanied by an adorable kitten with the caption “Reading this part is not essential… so please enjoy this picture of a cute cat!”)
How to reconcile this? Of course, a fan-fiction showdown. That doesn’t work out that well, but it does allow for flashbacks of how important Kae’s support of her work had been to Shima, before they even knew each other.
Volume 7 takes everyone out of town, as the new favorite anime is loosely based on an historical figure, and it’s the anniversary of his death. They all stay at a small inn near his shrine, which allows for outdoor bath scenes, ghost stories, and struggling for survival during a thunderstorm during a visit to a nearby island. It’s all ridiculous and a tad overly familiar to shojo manga readers. This is my least favorite installment of the series as a result.
Then comes the need to make money for fan merchandise, which means everyone gets a job at the local amusement park. Nanashima gets to work on the magical girl show, thanks to his knowledge of the characters from babysitting his little sister, but overwork makes him sick, allowing for nursing scenes.
That plot continues in Volume 8, as the amusement park show risks being ruined by grown-up male fans getting in the way of the kids. That realism vs. fantasy theme is echoed in Kae dealing with an unexpected kiss. It was the kind of event she welcomes all the time in the shows she watches, but when it happens to her, it’s more scary than exciting. That’s a fascinating plot idea to explore, but this is too lightweight a series for that, so instead, it’s treated as a friendship test.
Kae’s father makes a one-chapter appearance to vet her friends before the next storyline, which features one of the boys being told that his family is moving away. He doesn’t want to go, and his working through the announcement is complicated by his pet iguana, Thor (who’s a girl), going missing. It’s overwrought, but Junko draws the lizard well.