Kiss Him, Not Me
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Kiss Him, Not Me ?
After being used as background dressing for the bulk of series, Shinomiya Hayato finally gets his own episode. Aside from his short fuse and various other surface quirks, we've don't really know much about the least developed member of Kae's harem. Even though Mutsumi has yet to headline his own episode, his personality has been consistent, and he's served as a strong enough supporting presence in the other stories to make this forgivable. After seeing this week's episode, Shinomiya ought to have been fleshed out sooner, since he comes across as genuinely likable and more emotionally vulnerable than his previous appearances would suggest.
When the gang takes a trip to the Nishina family's beachside villa, it isn't long before Shinomiya starts feeling insecure. Not only is he scrawnier than his more physically intimidating frenemies, his athletic skills and general courage leave much to be desired. Believing that he doesn't stand a chance against Kae's other suitors, Shinomiya becomes lost in the woods when he attempts to return to the villa ahead of the group. While trying to locate their dejected compatriot, Kae and company become separated—inadvertently giving Shinomiya some one-on-one time with his beloved. In an effort to redeem himself, he gives a chilly Kae his jacket and protects her against a trio of thugs who had given the gang trouble earlier. By the time the group is reunited, no one's particularly upset at Shinomiya, and Nanashima informs him that an apology is unnecessary.
While I like the idea of giving each character some individual attention, certain story elements in the suitor-centric episodes are becoming repetitive. For example, Igarashi, Nanashima, and now Shinomiya have all had Kae pinned beneath them in a “humorously” suggestive manner. Episode 9 also marks the third instance in which Kae is nearly molested by questionable characters, facilitating the need for a rescue from one of her suitors. (In fairness, Shinomiya kicking the latest would-be molester in the junk was probably the most entertaining of these rescues.) Although this show is anything but boring, it also needs to ease up on the tropes.
I'm curious as to why the stories focusing on the individual boys are being presented out of order in this adaptation. (Having now read the latest manga volume in English, I now realize the island mushroom adventure was not an anime-original creation.) The anime adds a few lines here and there to make the swaps seem more natural, but certain character actions now seem out-of-place. For example, after what Nanashima did last week, seeing him get angry with Shinomiya over the surfboard incident seems hypocritical.
It's a shame they held off on developing Shinomiya, as he just might be the most three-dimensional of Kae's suitors. His doubt and self-consciousness make him relatable, particularly to anyone who's felt unworthy of a crush or romantic partner. While I still think he's the least likely to win Kae's heart, his actions this week more than justify keeping him in the running.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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