Dance, my puppets, dance and provide me with boys-love dreams!
What They Say:
Kae Serinuma believes one thing – princes belong together! As an avid boys’ love fan, she loves nothing more than fantasizing about faux relationships between the boys at her school. But when she loses weight due to the stress of her favorite anime character suddenly dying, the boys want…her?! From pretty average to prettiest girl, Kae just wants these boys to date each other, not her!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English track gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is like a lot of romantic-ish comedies in that it’s loud and all over the place with placement of dialogue because of the size of the cast on screen at any given time and some of the wacky movements that are employed. The result is a fairly busy mix for both languages that keeps things moving and is well handled. There’s some fun placement throughout and the use of depth hits nicely in a few scenes as well. Overall, though, it’s a fairly straightforward mix when you get down to what it’s trying to do and it conveys the movement in a clean and clear fashion with dialogue coming across as problem free without any dropouts or distortions during playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Brain’s Base, the series definitely has an appealing look in some areas but largely sticks to more simplistic shonen-ish approaches with basic colors and easy movements reminiscent of your standard comedies. There are lots of bold and solid colors across this and some good detail to be had in the backgrounds while the more comical elements are definitely fun with how they’re presented in going cute and silly. I really like the approach taken to working the hair design for a few characters and was doubly glad that it wasn’t used for all of them. It’s essentially a nice looking show with a clean and problem free encoding.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card that replicates the case artwork. The o-card is naturally a bit more vibrant and colorful thanks to the cardstock and that works very well with this show and its use ot eh pink colors and others. Having Kae in the center in quite the royal looking chair with everyone around her, it definitely works well to highlight the style and intent of the show in a quick and easy to read form. The logo works well along the top and while it may feel a touch busy as a whole it’s an eye-catching cover. The back side goes for more of the polka dots with a cute image of Kae along the right while the left has a word bubble design to hold the summary of the premise and a six-block set with some shots from the show and what’s included. The extras are clearly listed and the technical grid breaks down both formats clearly and accurately. While there are no show related inserts we do get a bit more on the reverse side with a cute cast shot on the left that has all the episodes by number and title in a run-on sentence style word bubble while the right uses a pretty good key visual piece that makes it worth reversing the cover for.
THe menu design for this release goes for a simple approach where it’s the same static menu for each of the discs. It works the same general idea as the cover with the pink polka dot background and the logo that’s cute and silly in all the right ways so that it has a cutesy effect, particularly with the colored hearts all around. The rest of it has the cast themselves together that maybe a bit flat for my tastes and we get a navigation menu that had me checking to see if it was a DVD menu just because of how it looked. It’s all simple but easily functional and works well to accomplish what you want – watching the show after setting it up for your language preferences and checking out a few extras.
The extras for this release are the standards that we usually get with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as the inclusion of the Japanese promo to highlight the series before it was originally broadcast.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Junko, Kiss Him, Not Me is a twelve episode series that aired in the fall 2016 season. The manga itself got underway in 2013 and wrapped up in February 2018 with fourteen volumes to its name making for a good bit of fun and silliness for its fans. The adaptation is one that looks like it’s fairly faithful to the source material and has a good animation production put together by Brain’s Base and was directed by Hiroshi Ishiodori with the scripts written by the always busy Michiko Yokote. I hadn’t read the manga prior to watching this but I saw my youngest daughter completely binging on this a few weeks prior and having fun with it as someone that’s relatively new to anime after avoiding it for most of her like even with as much of it as I have around.
With an otome design behind it, the shojo series focuses on Kae Serinuma, an overweight young woman in her second year of high school that’s definitely happy with where she is in life. With her friend Amane, the two are totally into the fujoshi lifestyle and spend their time admiring all the beautiful boys in their school and imagining many pairings between them. There’s a fun bit that’s revisited from time to time where done in fairytale style she talks about how she doesn’t care about the prince and the princess but prefers the prince and the prince. That’s the rose-colored filters of her view into the world and she really embraces it, much to the detriment of her social interactions with many others. What sends her world into a tailspin, however, is when her favorite beautiful boy from an anime series ends up being killed off just as the show ends she basically goes into retreat from the world for a week. And just like a butterfly, she emerges in a completely beautiful way from what she was. Which is just one of many really bad signals that this show sends on a regular basis.
The transformation is shocking (and obviously incredibly unrealistic on so many levels considering what she was before) and everyone in school can’t believe it’s her when she returns there. What happens is your standard 80’s romcom bit where all of a sudden all of these guys that barely gave her the time of day, for the most part, are now completely smitten with her because she’s the hot beautiful girl. The design work is definitely there and Kae hits all the right buttons but it highlights the shallowness of almost all involved, save Mutsumi as he actually liked her before but is now in a real struggle because he’s far less competitive when it comes to what happens. Mutsumi’s the kind of guy that, in a sea of guys that don’t work in general, works better because he’s the type that doesn’t see what others consider Kae’s weaknesses as a person, such as the fujoshi thing or other otaku moments.
The show works a fairly traditional group of guys when you get down to it. Igarashi is the overly competitive type that’s intent on acquiring her from the get go though he eventually learns of her actual charms. Nozomu is the sports guy who doesn’t play anymore and has his own struggles that never really land in a significant way beyond a character identifier. Hayato is the youngest of the group as a first-year that’s a bit more effeminate than the others and very uncertain about himself like most are at that age which has everyone basically accepting him as the group klutz that they look out for. The most interesting and not well used is Shima, however, as she’s a first-year girl that comes from wealth. She’s a lot like Kae in a lot of ways, including the fujoshi thing, but her looks allow Kae to have all sorts of visions with the guys that keeps her firmly in that group even though she’s not really defined one way or the other. She does end up largely sticking to the traditional girls outfit in the school though with the short skirt so she’s able to add a little more female color to the series so that it’s not exclusively Kae and the guys. But she does fit into how they all are together and the way that Kae can envision things.
The show segues quickly into a kind of competitive norm as after the first episode there’s little to no mention of how Kae was (or how she really changed in the span of a week). It doesn’t draw out the time, which was a plus, as it moves across the year pretty quickly in some cases. We get things like the culture festival episode and a Christmas episode by the third and fourth episodes and fun with Kae having to up her studies a good deal otherwise she’ll be stuck at summer school and she doesn’t want to miss out on stage events, concerts, and other meet and greets along with the rest of the daytime otaku activities. So much of what we get are familiar pieces that you really do feel like you’re just checking off boxes. They do use it like most shows do to get to know the characters in different combinations but you do keep coming back to the central piece of how they’re all vying for her while not realizing that she doesn’t want a prince.
And that’s where the show both succeeds and fails at the same time. It gets more serious toward the last couple of episodes with the competitive side as a new player makes a bold move but that’s par for the course with these shows. It really makes it clear to Kae just how competitive they are and that leads into the final episode where they really want her to make a choice and be clear about it since they’re all frustrated by how everything has gone. First, that continues to show that none of them can read the room because that’s not how she sees them. Second, they’re demanding that she pick one of them, forcing her to decide on something she may not be ready yet, if at all, to do. The series does opt with an ending as it should as it’s the most true to how Kae is but at the same time it just made the guys all come across worse because of it as it shows that they never really understood her and just wanted to be wanted by her.
While Kiss Him, Not Me isn’t a bad show it is one that’s going to feel increasingly out of step at a time when I find myself frustrated with just how stagnant a lot of relationship comedies are in the anime world (and have been for far too long). There are a lot of fun bits here and Kae is definitely very true to herself which is a good thing. The silliness works nicely and there are some very amusing moments along the way that connect well, particularly through Kae’s vision of how things should be going. But beyond that, it’s generally a familiar kind of show with some awkward moments along the way that made me cringe. Funimation’s release is solid with a good dub, a clean encode, and some standard extras to bring it all together. Fans of the series will be pleased to own a solid quality edition of it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Promo Video, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: March 6th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widecreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.