“Serinuma-san is my girlfriend. And I won’t let you make a pass at her!”
Asuma Mutsumi to Kazuma Mutsumi
High school! The happiest days of your life – but not always for fujoshi Kae Serinuma, who is still being ardently pursued by her four would-be boyfriends and fellow fujoshi/doujinshi-artist and kohai, Shima. Out of all her admirers, quiet, history-loving Mutsumi-senpai has always been the most supportive and the most restrained. But when a new (and good-looking) student teacher joins the school and falls for Kae’s charms, Mutsumi reveals a very different side to his character. Because the new teacher just happens to be his older brother Kazuma – and a serious case of sibling rivalry erupts with poor Kae the unwilling object of their affections. How will they resolve the situation? (You can be sure that the Mutsumi brothers will find an ‘unusual’ way to duel for Kae’s affections!) And how will the other members of Kae’s entourage react to the appearance of yet another contender?
By the beginning of Volume 6, Kae (prompted by her friend Ah-chan) tries to respond honestly to Asuma’s declaration of love by going on a date with each member of her entourage.
Kae, however, still a true otaku through and through, is utterly distracted by the launch of a stirring new anime series: Katchu Ranbu/Katchu Love (Junko cheekily referencing Touken Ranbu, the fujoshi-favourite card game based on the anthropomorphization or ‘personification’ of famous historical swords into attractive bishonen – only here, it’s armour). Overnight, she is smitten – and so is Shima! But as they are ecstatically fan-girling together, it slips out that they hold totally opposing views when it comes to the correct way to ship the two central characters. The boys look on, mystified, as the two girls – such firm friends – fall out and stalk away. (A nice little touch is Junko’s insertion of the drawing of a kitten as the girls argue with the caption ‘Reading this part is not essential…so please enjoy this picture of a cute cat.’) As a BL mangaka herself, Junko knows her readership well enough to do a little gentle (and genuinely funny) satirizing here of the terrible rifts that can erupt over such matters. The boys, bemused, do their best to patch matters up – but are the girls irreconcilable?
Kae Serinuma is a sympathetic central figure but still utterly clueless, it seems, when it comes to understanding the boys’ feelings for her. Which is good for extending a long-running series, although by now, readers will have their own favourite potential ‘One True’ for our heroine and will be hoping for some development. It’s interesting to see Junko’s comment in the (amusing, as ever) author’s notes that ‘It seemed like the penultimate volume but there’s still more to come!’ (Four more volumes and counting, according to Kodansha.) But I can’t help wondering how much longer this idea can be extended before it becomes old. The arrival of big brother and student teacher Kazuma in Volume 5 pushes the believability boundaries way off – such inappropriate behaviour towards his students would have him instantly removed from the school in the real world (but where would the fun be in that from a mangaka’s point of view?)
The Kodansha translation by David Rhie flows fluently and, as ever with Kodansha, the Translation Notes provide fascinating and invaluable explanations of cultural references in the text.
The autumn will bring the anime TV series of Kiss Him, Not Me!
Who will provide a resolution to Kae’s dilemma first: Junko or the anime script writers?
If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, just enjoy the art, the fun and the fantasy in this romantic comedy set in and around the world of high school fujoshi fandom.