Kiss Him, Not Me
Episode 4

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?

Kae's love pentagon becomes a love hexagon in this week's Kiss Him, Not Me. Although her existing suitors reached an alliance at the end of last week's misadventure, yet another wrench has been thrown into the works with the arrival of Nishina Shima, a masculine fujoshi who attends the gang's school and takes a special interest in Kae. The romantic stalemate was cozy while it lasted, but it looks like the introduction of yet another rival for Kae's affection is going to heat things up in the coming weeks.

After dragging her harem to Winter Comiket and divvying up her extensive shopping list between the boys, Kae is saved from a pervy photographer by Shima, who she mistakes for a boy in light of her masculine composure and faux Sebastian from Black Butler (“Gray Butler”) cosplay. However, after encountering Shima at school the following Monday, Kae and her suitors discover that she's actually a girl—and a very popular one at that. While visiting her house, the gang is treated to even more surprises. Not only does Kae come from a fabulously wealthy family, she's also a master seamstress and a member of Kae's favorite dojinshi circle. Faced with a new rival who's a seemingly ideal match for their beloved, the boys are going to have to pull out all the stops if they wish to remain in the race.

After seeing so many otaku-centered anime showcase Comiket as a paradise (albeit a somewhat stressful one), it's great to see the event from an outsider's perspective, as Kae's suitors have no idea what they're in for. As usual, their reasons for doing anything outside of their comfort zone are completely shallow, but it makes for great comedy. Although to be fair, many of the event's more comical aspects—impossibly long lines and fish-out-of-water first-times—have been poked fun at in countless other series.

Shima brings a welcome influx of energy to a show that was already starting to stagnate. After all, there are only so many ways in which the same four boys can compete for Kae's affections. The fact that she shares so much in common with Kae—in addition to Shima being beautiful, rich, and immensely talented—makes her a triple threat to the existing stable of suitors. (They almost seemed like a group of five friends instead of a reverse harem at times.) Shima also helps bring Kae's fujoshi tendencies back to the forefront, resulting in the reemergence of Kae's bizarre fangirl voice and drooling visage. The kiss they share at the end of the episode should prove to be a particularly large obstacle for the boys to overcome in the immediate future. Plus, Shima and Kae posing the boys in suggestive positions to get their fujoshi kicks serves as a great reminder that Kae isn't much less shallow than most of her suitors.

With the introduction of Takarazuka-ish “handsome woman” Shima, Kiss Him, Not Me opens itself up to even more storytelling possibilities. The comfortable dynamic between Shima and Kae is a fun motivator for the panicked boys, who feel utterly worthless in comparison to jill-of-all-trades Shima. It will be interesting to see if Shima becomes a permanent addition to the harem or is simply a prominent supporting character.

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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