Kiss Him, Not Me
Episode 10

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?

Now that the rest of the harem has had a turn in the spotlight, Kiss Him, Not Me shifts the focus to Mutsumi Asuma, the second-least prominent member of the group. Unlike Shinomiya, Mutsumi had a well-defined role in the show prior to being given his own episode—the pacifist nice guy. While the other guys (and gal) vying for Kae's affection more or less tolerate one another, Mutsumi appears to genuinely enjoy spending time with the entire group and views his rivals as friends. However, when his amorous, bisexual brother appears on the scene, the soft-spoken Mutsumi is finally forced to examine how he truly feels about Kae.

This first half of episode 10 finds the gang embarking on a bogus treasure hunt cooked up by Kazuma, Mutsumi's older brother and the former president of the History Club. Although none of the non-History Club members are particularly interested in tagging along, they aren't about to let Asuma spend the day alone with Kae in a dark cave. Surprised by how nonplussed he is by their presence, the other boys demand to know whether Mutsumi truly harbors romantic feelings for Kae, prompting him to answer that he's never really thought about such things. However, when Kazuma shows up as a student teacher in the second half, Asuma begins to show his first signs of jealousy. After Kazuma takes Kae to lunch and gives her a limited-edition Mirage Saga figurine as a gift, Mutsumi decides he's had enough and proclaims that Kae is his girlfriend.

It's strange to see Mutsumi's time in the limelight receive the two-episode treatment, especially considering he's already had his share of tender moments with Kae. The revelation that Asuma isn't sure if his feelings constitute a romantic attraction and the introduction of Kazuma open the door to some intriguing story prospects, but I wonder if these particular plot points can carry another whole episode. At the very least, the fallout from Asuma boldly declaring that he and Kae are an item should prove amusing to watch. (Even if this was done purely to dissuade Kazuma.)

As the only member of Kae's harem to consider her a friend prior to her cartoonish weight loss, you'd think that Mutsumi would already have a leg up on the competition. In addition to never displaying jealousy, he always has Kae's personal safety and best interest at heart. Despite all this, he seems to have less of an effect on Kae, possibly as a result of her growing so accustomed to his niceness. Even when he embraces her in the cave, she doesn't regard this act with the same shock she's shown Igarashi and Nanashima in similar situations. Kazuma flirting with Kae brings out Mutsumi's confidence—something Kazuma himself finds surprising, prompting him to tease them both even more—which helps add some depth to this relatively passive character.

Episode 10 focuses more on Mutsumi coming to understand himself and becoming more confident in his efforts to woo the girl at the center of all this drama. Kazuma's introduction is a great way to throw a wrench in the works. Had things continued in their usual fashion, there's a good chance Asuma never would have come to terms with his feelings for Kae or posed a significant threat to his rivals.

Rating: A-

Kiss Him, Not Me is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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