Kiss Him, Not Me
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?
The spotlight is once again on Nanashima as things start to heat up on Kiss Him, Not Me. Although the headstrong blond gave off the impression of being a primary player in the first few episodes, recent weeks have seen him taking a backseat in favor of his rivals. However, with the exception of Shima, he's easily the most willful and direct member of the main group, so it's only natural that the stories built around him are among the most eventful. While not the strongest episode the show has given us, this week's outing contains some memorable moments and signals a slight evolution in the dynamic between Kae and Nana.
When Kae gets a part-time job performing in a stage show at a local theme park, the members of her harem are quick to follow suit. Fortunately for Nanashima, he finally has a leg up on the competition. Thanks to his younger sister, he's intimately familiar with Puri Puri Moon, the magical girl franchise that inspired the aforementioned show. While his frenemies are relegated to other positions around the park, Nana is given the role of the male lead and allowed to perform alongside his beloved. However, after coming down with a cold, Nanashima becomes delusional and confuses fantasy with reality, causing him to forcefully kiss Kae—thus giving her his cold. Although Kae ultimately forgives his transgression, Nanashima is kept on pins and needles throughout the latter half of the episode.
While Nana's intentions (or lack thereof) at least save him from being completely irredeemable, it doesn't change the fact that grabbing Kae, pinning her down, and forcing a kiss on her constitutes sexual assault. His actions being the result of a fever dream and the fact that he later attempts to do the same thing to Igarashi don't change this. (Seriously, if his fever is that bad, get him to a hospital. How many people completely lose control of their inhibitions when stricken with a cold?) Even Kae is able to draw realistic parallels between Nana's actions and similar scenarios featured in the yaoi she devours, acknowledging that while she finds such situations titillating in fiction, they're quite scary in real life. I'm glad there were no attempts at making the kiss anything but a mistake on Nana's part, even if there are slight overtones to his aggressiveness being sexy. Still, the fact that Nana genuinely regrets what he did and attempts to make up for it without being overly forceful lead me to believe the kiss probably won't hurt his chances in the long run.
Episode 8 also provides us with the most detailed glimpse into Nanashima's life yet. Since he's always been the one least likely to accept Kae when she's overweight, it's nice to get an extended look at some of his better qualities. He adores his little sister to the point of religiously watching a children's mahou shojo anime with her every week, and he doesn't seem remotely embarrassed by this. While he auditioned for the theme park show to be near Kae, the fact that he knows Puri Puri Moon so well indicates a genuine interest in his sister's hobbies.
The big climax of the episode, with the perverts wreaking havoc at a stage show intended for small children, was forced and clunky. It seemed like Nanashima had already redeemed himself by this point, but I suppose the goal may have been to make him seem extra cool in light of his questionable actions. (Does this theme park have no security guards? These guys were snapping photos of the performers' underwear, for Pete's sake!)
Kae's assault seems somewhat at odds with the general tone of the show, but if this incident had to be included, it was handled about as well as you could expect from a comedy. While it's difficult to forgive Nanashima entirely, the rest of the episode does a nice job of painting a positive, well-rounded picture of the young man. Episode 8 makes a worthy addition to Kiss Him, Not Me's run.
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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