Kiss Him, Not Me
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?
Asuma is finally forced to confront his feelings for Kae head-on when Kazuma continues his attempts to woo her in this week's Kiss Him, Not Me. Although I was skeptical about whether or not the Mutsumi brothers' quarrel could sustain another episode, it turns out my worries were unfounded. Episode 11 brings the Asuma-centric mini-arc to a funny and satisfying conclusion that provides Mutsumi with the character depth he's lacked throughout most of the series.
Since he knows his little brother better than anyone, Kazuma immediately sees Asuma's bold declaration at the end of last week's episode for what it is: a well-intentioned lie. (It doesn't help that everyone else, including dumbfounded Kae, gives away the lie within seconds.) As such, he shows no sign of ceasing his efforts to put the moves on Kae—and the rest of his brother's friends. Even though he's historically put his older brother's needs before his own, Asuma ultimately decides that Kae isn't someone he wants to share with Kazuma. Hoping to settle things once and for all, the brothers face off against one another in a Japanese history-themed trading card game. In what comes as a shock to Kazuma (and the few onlookers who understand the rules of the game), the reticent Asuma wins by almost bending the rules. Much to the group's surprise, the newly-confident Asuma confesses his true feelings to Kae after emerging from the match victorious.
Initially, I was baffled by the anime staff's decision to adapt the individual suitor-centric stories out of order, but saving Mutsumi for last actually makes a fair amount of sense. As a bold and flirtatious outsider, Kazuma functions as a formidable antagonist that Kae's entire harem can unite against. Still, this being Asuma's turn to shine, he's the one who gets Kazuma to back off—and Kazuma reveals that his goal was to make his brother more confident all along. (His methods certainly make him a terrible older brother and a horrible student teacher, though. Plus, Asuma wasn't even present for a lot of the flirting he did.)
Although it's painfully obvious that five people are in love with Kae and want to date her, Mutsumi's bold declaration at the end of the episode is the first time he acknowledges his own feelings—and the first time a member of the harem has outright confessed to Kae. Making the laidback and non-confrontational Asuma the first to do so is particularly surprising, as he's the least forthright of Kae's suitors. While I doubt this whole ordeal has changed the way Kae feels about him, seeing Mutsumi conquer his fears and come out a winner is satisfying nonetheless.
With only one episode left and an ongoing manga, we aren't likely to see much in the way of resolution next week. However, kicking the finale off with Kae and the harem's reactions to Mutsumi's confession should pave the way for plenty of comedy and faux-drama. It'll be interesting to see if the ever-genial Kae can outright reject (or accept) one of her followers' feelings for her, forever changing the dynamic of the group.
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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