This review will contain spoilers for the manga and anime series Kiss Him, Not Me. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to fat-shaming, kidnapping, and assault, as it appears in the manga.
Kae Serinuma is a BL fanatic (can relate). She spends all day and all night consuming all manner of BL content, and when she isn't enjoying BL, she thinks about it, buys it, fantasizes about it, and even spends her time shipping the boys around her together. As a result, she isn't the most popular girl around. She's also a bit chubby, which doesn't earn her any points with the pretty boys in school, but that doesn't matter. She isn't interested in boys unless they want to be with boys themselves!
However, one fateful day, Serinuma's world is rocked when her favorite character, Shion, from her favorite anime, Mirage Saga, is unexpectedly killed. Unable to handle the loss, Serinuma holes herself up in her room for a week. She doesn't go to school, she doesn't eat, she doesn't sleep, and even her mother and brother don't see her for the entire week. Finally, her brother breaks her out of her stupor, but what emerges is not the lovable, chubby Serinuma. No, what comes out is a gorgeous lady that even Serinuma herself fails to recognize.
When she returns to school, everyone except history club president Asuma Mutsumi fails to recognize her, and once people realize who she is, they don't believe it! But there is no denying that Kae Serinuma is this gorgeous creature. As a result, she draws the attention of some of the hottest boys in her school, including history club president and third-year Asuma Mutsumi, classmate and soccer club member Yusuke Igarashi, bad boy Shion-lookalike Nozomu Nanashima, and first-year student Hayato Shinomiya. They are immediately attracted to her new look and make it clear that they all plan on winning her heart. Things get even more complicated, though, when she also draws the attention of Shima Nishina, an androgynous girl who is also a BL fanatic and as equally drawn to Serinuma as all the boys.
While Serinuma enjoys her time with all her new friends, the pressure of their love causes plenty of trouble for all involved. What is worse is that she would rather the boys fall in love with each other rather than her! She promises to consider all of them as possible love interests and promises to give them all an answer in time, but how could she possibly choose? Why can't they just love each other? Can a BL-fanatic actually fall in love with a boy (or girl)?
I have to first express how happy I am with the outcome of this series. I was pretty convinced Serinuma would end up with the Shion-lookalike Nanashima just because he looked like her favorite character from her favorite anime, which would have broken my heart. I hate the trope of the “ugly girl” suddenly becoming beautiful and ending up with these men who would have never chosen her had she still been “ugly.” Thankfully, she did not end up with any boys who only liked her when she became “pretty,” which was a major relief. They didn't deserve her, no matter which version of her she was in.
I was even more ecstatic when she ended up with Mutsumi. He was definitely the best of her male suitors. He loved her before her transformation; he was the only one who recognized her when she did transform, and he was one of the few who was totally fine with her never changing back into her thinner self. I also can't express my joy when they were getting married, and she had gained all her weight back. Mutsumi was still all lovey-dovey and cuddly with her. They had the most honest and genuine love for me out of all the possible couplings. Mutsumi never gave up on Serinuma, but he also never went out of his way to make her feel bad or force her to like him. He was always willing to wait for her to decide, even if he wasn't her choice. I am officially adding Mutsumi to my “beans we must protect” pile.
However, I am glad it didn't just end with them confessing their feelings and living happily ever after. There was still the issue of Serinuma's obsession with BL and whether or not she would ever choose Mutsumi over that. It was really lovely to see some of the pressure get put on the female lead this time around, as usually the male lead or male leads, in this case, are all putting in all the effort while she just receives. Not for Serinuma, though. She won her man, but now she has to keep him by putting in some effort herself, which is a really nice addition and change of pace.
One more thing I have to praise is that we have a female love interest mixed into all these guys, and she actually had a pretty good shot of taking home the gold. She was also one of the few love interests who loved Serinuma regardless of her weight, making her a worthy contender. I can't say I would have been disappointed had they ended up together. I am not a big fan of GL, but I would have happily supported Serinuma and Nishina getting together.
Now, I've done a lot of praise thus far, but there are some things I have to bring up that still bother me. I hate the trope of the “ugly girl” becoming “beautiful” and then finding true love. I was relieved when she gained her weight back and was living her best life however she saw fit, regardless of her body size, and I was also hoping this would cull out some of the bad eggs that only loved Serinuma for her body size. Unfortunately, this arc doesn't last long as some of the worst guys in Serinuma's harem make it a point to help her lose weight, and she ultimately does. I really, really hated that so much. I wish she had just stayed whatever size she wanted to, and if she did go and lose weight, I wish it had been more on her own terms. That whole arc really cheapened this series for me, and if they were trying to have some message about body positivity or loving oneself, I feel it was thrown out the window here.
Something less troubling but still worth bringing up is the art style. I really don't care for this art style. There are times that it looks adorable, but the way the mouths are drawn really irks me. They're too wide, and the shading around them looks weird. It's not ugly by any means, but it isn't a style I am personally drawn to. Still, the story was good enough to push through and read it.
I would ultimately say this is worth a read, though a few glaring issues make it hard for me to really recommend this. I guess I can't say I wouldn't recommend it, seeing as I've already purchased the next work from this author, primarily because I've heard that two of the male suitors from this series appear as a couple in the other series (and much like Serinuma, y'all know I love my BL romance). So, I suppose as long as the fat-shaming doesn't bother you, I could recommend this. The romance really is sweet once it gets going, and it is a cute series overall.
Have you read Kiss Him, Not Me? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!