Kiss Him, Not Me takes on familiar shōjo anime tropes and turns them on their heads from the moment the show begins. Following Serinuma Kae, a fujoshi and otaku who’s all about pairing men up as couples in her head, it’s shaping up to be one of the season’s funniest so far. But, interestingly enough, it’s also one that takes potentially harmful stereotypes and breathes new life into them. For that, it should be applauded.

[This article contains spoilers for the first episode of Kiss Him, Not Me.]

Serinuma is respected and admired by all of the beautiful male students in school, from upperclassmen to fiddly newer students, and she’s built a rapport with them as classmates. The kicker is that, at the beginning of the series, she’s overweight and what many viewers might call unconventionally attractive. She wears baggy clothes and doesn’t spend much time on her appearance–and all she does is ogle the men around her hoping they’ll slip into a deep kiss or passionate embrace. It’s clear the men around her at school have a special kind of respect for her, taking her to the infirmary after she’s injured while ogling guys, and casually chatting with her as though they’ve known her forever even while other girls struggle to find the courage to talk to them.

This wouldn’t normally fly in most anime, let alone one where the female protagonist is the comic relief of the series. Take The Wallflower for example, where “ugly girl” Sunako’s appearance is constantly made fun of and it’s implied many times over that she’s somehow less of a person due to her lack of hygienic practices and love of creepy items. The same principle applies somewhat in Kiss Him, Not Me after Serinuma goes through a life-changing transformation, but it’s not as if the men weren’t interested to start with.

While Serinuma enjoys positive male attention in droves and promptly ignores it, after she’s shocked into massive weight loss following the death of her favorite anime character, she can no longer ignore it. It seems her weight loss was the catalyst for spurring on additional male attention, as she suddenly finds herself the target of every male student’s affection.

However, it seems as though many of the male cast was already thinking about asking her on a date or at the very least saw her as a woman “worthy” of their love. The fact that she’s an otaku doesn’t even bother them, which goes to show that this bunch of gorgeous men exist in stark contrast to so many other series, where being vain is the order of the day and dating a girl who is or was overweight is out of the question.

Because of this, it’s easier to laugh at the bizarre situations Serinuma finds herself in, as she adjusts to being thin and chased after by more and more attractive men. She didn’t have to lose weight to be noticed or treated well by the men around her, and she’s treated like a real, multi-dimensional human being throughout the rest of the series. In fact, her brother seems to be the only person thus far to have anything negative to say about her regarding her weight, which is refreshing and quite surprising.

Kiss Him, Not Me’s treatment of a (formerly) overweight female otaku is more in line with what you might expect from real-life personalities in our own world–and for that, it should be praised. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here, especially if it continues to treat its protagonist in a fair and respectful manner no matter what she ends up looking like.

Kiss Him, Not Me can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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