Kiss Him, Not Me
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?
Kiss Him, Not Me goes out with a bang in an energetic but seldom surprising finale. Given the show's short length and gag-heavy premise, I don't think any of us expected the leading lady to select a suitor in the span of a single cour—or possibly ever. Even viewers unfamiliar with the parent manga probably expected the status quo to be restored by season's end. Fortunately, the show does a satisfactory (albeit somewhat cliché) job of getting us there.
Now that Mutsumi has confessed his true feelings for Kae, he encourages the others to follow suit. Unable to choose, the shared object of their affection decides to go on a solo date with each member of the group. Each individual outing goes about as well as possible, with every date reflecting the personality of the suitor who organized it. Since there were no duds to speak of, Kae finds herself unable to choose between the various members of her harem. However, once she catches wind of an upcoming second season of Mirage Saga—in which her beloved Shion is likely to be resurrected—she decides that the dearly departed Shion is the only one for her. As expected, the gang reacts to this news with comical surprise, and everything returns to normal.
I have mixed feelings about the decision to rearrange the storylines from the source material. Since this story originally took place before the recent spate of suitor-centric episodes, many of their actions during those stories have added meaning in the manga. On the other hand, this is also a good story to end the anime on. It's conclusive (in an open-ended sense), and I can see how ending the season on a random suitor-of-the-day episode would be unsatisfying. The mostly-oblivious Kae being confronted by her suitors and pressed to make a decision is about as good a curtain call as one could hope for in a series of this type. (The continuity being muddled, however, makes her constantly flopping between Shion and Akane somewhat strange; before she fell in love with Akane in the manga, she was mostly over Shion once and for all.)
Of course, this isn't to say that rearranging events with minimal adjustments didn't have its disadvantages. The fact that Kae decided to stick with Shion in spite of everything she's been through with the harem makes her solo adventures with each suitor (minus Mutsumi, whose confession that he loves Kae did come before this adventure in the manga) less impactful. Originally, Kae understood these characters were in love with her before embarking on individual misadventures with them, so when she saw them in emotionally vulnerable states or wound up almost kissing them, there was a sense that she was beginning to warm up to them. However, in this version, we're led to believe that even at this late date, she barely had any inkling that the boys and Shina were interested in her romantically.
Despite the restructuring of key events, episode 12 ends on a mostly-satisfying note. Since she never showed much favoritism to any one suitor, it wouldn't have made sense for Kae to make a definitive choice. Still, given all she's been through with them by this point in the anime continuity, I would have liked to see her less oblivious and take their feelings into account a little more when turning them down.
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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