Kiss Him, Not Me Volume 14
And here the series ends, although with more qualities in keeping with its unique premise than many other shojo manga series I’ve read.
Usually, a last shojo volume has a couple of chapters showing the main couple getting together, a flash-forward to show their wedding and/or happy future life, and then a bunch of side stories checking in with the supporting cast couples to fill out the book. Kiss Him, Not Me volume 14 has many of those elements, but they’re conveyed in abbreviated, accelerated form at the end of this volume. First, there’s another plotline that gets back to the core humor of the series.
And that is: Kae only knows how to interact with other people based on what she’s seen in her BL anime and manga. Which means a night together with her boyfriend is disappointing when it doesn’t follow the aggressive male lead template she’s expecting. In other shojo manga I’ve read, the heroine freaks out over not being ready for that much of a physical relationship while not knowing how to tell her boyfriend. Here, it’s the opposite, with the guy seeking out advice. I liked the role reversal and the light-hearted way it was shown, involving a bunch of the other characters for (bad) advice and silly suggestions. Kae binging shojo to find out what happened and what to do about it was right for her character. Plus, what she learns is actually pretty smart.
The next challenge for the couple is more typically dramatic, with the two having different plans for life after high school. The lessons here are about trust and loving someone enough to let them follow their dreams. That’s when things start moving at a really rapid pace (how much time did the author Junko have to wrap all this up, I wonder?) with a seven years later time jump. All the main characters get appropriately amusing occupations and some sweet “thank you” panels that I felt were aimed at the reader. (Particularly since they come after a character says, “The high school life we all shared… seems like it happened only yesterday… and also quite a long time ago.”) It all fits nicely under the cover, with the cast greeting the reader in happy ways.
I thought the series could have been a little shorter — there were some volumes in there that weren’t quite as entertaining as the others — but this is definitely a high point to end on that makes me glad I stuck with this series about a fan finding her real-life happiness.