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Manga Review: Kiss Him, Not Me vol. 1-5 by Junko

Watashi ga Motete Dousunda, translated to Kiss Him, Not Me for it’s English debut, is written and drawn by Junko. The series won Best Shojo in the Kodansha Manga Awards in 2016.  It was originally licensed for digital translation and publication on Crunchyroll Manga in 2014. The series was then licensed for print publication by Kodansha USA last year in 2015.   The first volume was printed in October 2015, with the most recent release, volume 5 happening on June 7, 2016. The fourth volume finally broke the long dry spell of shoujo not making the NY Times Manga Best Seller lists this past April 2016. (There had not been a shoujo manga on the list since July 2015.)

 

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The Gist: Kae Serinuma is what you’d call a “fujoshi.” When she sees boys getting along with each other, she loves to indulge in wild fantasies! One day her favorite anime character dies and the shock causes her to lose a ton of weight. Then four hot guys at school ask her out, but that isn’t exciting to her at all — she’d rather see them date each other!  With a reverse harem at her beck and call, and a yuri prospect as well, Kae has a ton of romantic options to choose from. Is there just one person that Kae will fall in love with, or will she continue to love only her 2D bishies?

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A look at panels and text – some great exaggerated expressions from Kae and fujoshi humor.

The Review: If you don’t take it seriously, Kiss Him, Not Me is a rather fun read. There’s elements of the story I’m not thrilled about – such as the rapid weight loss and weight gain scenarios. Looking past that though, the fujoshi elements as well as the references to anime and other geek culture woven into the story are fun and enjoyable. The story is situational at best – there’s not much of a plot happening besides the boys constantly trying to get Kae’s attention. And the characters are not very deep, they’re pretty standard stereotypes. But this isn’t a drama, it’s a comedy, and Junko does a great job of making readers laugh at the drawings and situations the characters get into.

This series reminds me of the romantic shounen series that use fan service to get laughs – but it’s drawn for the fujoshi audience. So the laughs come from the boys’ situations and references that girls might know. It’s a smart twist on an old trope. I’ll also add that one of my favorite aspects of this manga is the translation notes in the back. Every volume has a few explanations to help fully understand the story, so kudos to Kodansha USA for that.

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The Art: I know Junko has been publishing yaoi for a few years now. Her male character designs show mastery of that anatomy. However, I thought her full body drawings of Kae were lacking at the beginning of this series. For instance, take a look at Kae’s legs in the picture above. They are quite distorted.  On the other hand, the chibi and exaggerated drawings of the characters are quite funny and are this series’s strong point. The digital colored art for Kiss Him, Not Me is really cute and attractive as well. The panels tend to have a lot of dialogue, which requires some cramming of text at times. Most readers aren’t reading this series for gorgeous artwork, though, but rather the comical aspects.

The Audience: The series is rated 13+ and for good reason. There are yaoi references and situations in the series – for parents that means there are boy with boy romantic fantasies by the main character. Nothing inappropriate, but you would want an older teen with some knowledge of relationships to read this, and not a tween. I highly recommend this series for those who enjoy romantic comedy. I think guys who tend to like rom-com like Nisekoi and Ichigo 100% would like this series.

The Media: Kiss Him, Not Me is currently available in print up to volume 5 from Kodansha USA. You can also read the most up-to-date chapters digitally on Cunchyroll Manga with a membership. Kiss Him, Not Me had a drama CD adaptation in Japan, and will also be getting an anime in Fall 2016.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥

Light-hearted comedy with a fujoshi twist will have readers loudly snorting at Junko’s Kiss Him, Not Me.

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Laura

Author/Editor
Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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