First Look: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

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Alternate title: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Manga Adaptation by Dogakobo
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Chiyo Sakura tries to confess to the grown man boy she likes, but through a series of misunderstandings she discovers he’s secretly a popular shoujo manga artist and accidentally agrees to be his assistant.

Jel’s verdict: #1 Bestseller

The plot of Nozaki-kun is founded on two things I hate: art about artists and romantic misunderstandings. And yet as the episode drew to a close there was no question in my mind that this was the best thing I’ve watched so far in this young season. It manages to spin those two tired plot devices into something thats funny, sweet, and totally fresh.

The most unique aspect of the show is the subject matter. Shonen or Seinen themed parody comedies are a dime a dozen these days but by contrast I can’t think of any series totally devoted to making fun of/paying homage to shoujo manga. That’s pretty much what Nozaki-kun does, from it’s round eyed visual style and quirky OP with male vocals to goofy spins on generic shoujo dialogue in Nozaki’s writing process. Rather than a self indulgent look into the struggles of a manga artist, Nozaki’s profession turns into a deep well of comedy gold. The double bike scene in which he researches the material and then hashes out a manga plot was one of the funniest bits I’ve seen in awhile and gives me hope for more in the future.

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The romance aspect is also handled well as each misunderstanding is carefully crafted to make Nozaki-kun look reasonably oblivious and Chiyo understandably nervous, doing wonders toward easing audience frustration. You don’t feel so bad about them not hooking up because it’s clear Chiyo really doesn’t know him that well. Putting her in a position to be his friend first feels more natural than aggravating. I have to wonder if they can keep that balance going forward, but so far so good. It also goes without saying at this point that Dogakobo makes this show look gorgeous, with fantastic animation and direction that rivals the best of any other studio out there. I’m really looking forward to seeing more.

Marlin’s verdict: I’m a Fan.

This episode started out in all the right ways. It is definitely more on the comedy side of the romantic-comedy spectrum, but what comedy it had was expertly executed. You can tell off the bat that Sakura’s crush is a very uninformed one, and Nozaki’s lack of contact, as well as confusing phrasing from Sakura, makes his misunderstanding very believable. I enjoy shows that know how to dismantle cliches in a smart way, and Nozaki-kun had that in spades. The bike riding scenes had me laughing from start to finish. Sakura is a smart character, in the fine tradition of Dogakobo leads she’s got a nice balance between endearing sweetness and funny snark. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also cute as a button. I’ve got a good feeling about this show, and with the way this season has been going, I’m really hoping I’ve got this right.

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Life’s verdict: I’m in Love

Deadpan faces make for great jokes in Dogakobo’s latest work. Sakura’s crush leads in to a dozen hilarious jokes, the misunderstandings caused by her confession provide an excellent way to introduce the story. Nozaki’s brilliance with emotions in manga adds fuel to the jokes where his dense nature is the punch line. There are lots of little things I appreciated about this first episode, such as attention to detail and overall animation quality. Sakura is as expressive as Nozaki is deadpan and I love how animated she is.

Nazaki-Kun gave me several good laughs. The event that really did me in was the bike and all the jokes that came from it. Ridding the bike not only gave us some insight into the way shoujo manga is made, but also delivered some hilarious punch lines. The horrified faces in the background as Nozaki and Sakura experiment with his multi-seat bike had me rolling. If that wasn’t enough the manga Nozaki made as a result of their experiment did me in too. I hope this anime will focus on more hilarious misunderstandings as Sakura undergoes experiments with Nozaki Kun to better his manga. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the cast. It seems the way Nozaki views the people around him is a bit… odd? But I wonder if he doesn’t actually notice the true feelings of those people. We can kind of see that when he introduces Mikoshiba as a sensitive person.

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If you can’t tell, I’m pretty hyped for this show. I hope the rest will be this funny and maybe we will get some romantic developments from the cast as well? Or maybe Sakura will just get more autographs? It could be hilarious either way, but I am hoping for some development and humor. Dogakobo haven’t let me down yet.

Aqua’s verdict: C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER

Switch the gender roles on the classic “my favourite manga artist is actually a cute girl!” plot, add a dash of Love Lab and a healthy serving of Poe’s Law and you get Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, a rather unimpressive rom-com by Dogakobo, the guys who seem to have made colourful physical comedies into their trademark. As with Love Lab and Engaged to the Unidentified, main character Chiyo Sakura’s antics are a sight to behold, yet unlike the former two, Nozaki-kun fails to properly hide its roots as a four-panel gag manga. The lack of any sort of plot thread turns the episode into a sequence of bizarre vignettes rather than the Fawlty Towers-esque pandemonium of misunderstandings it could have been with a bit more focus. The same goes for the humour, which is mostly grounded in Nozaki’s imaginative takes on shoujo clichés. Occasionally, it hits all the right marks, but most of the time, the shoujo-bashing stops short of being real satire. Not once does the show address how superficial Sakura’s crush on Nozaki is, for instance, and if the show doesn’t devolve into the thing it is trying to be a send-up of down the line, I’ll eat my proverbial hat. There’s little that can save Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun from being mostly bland and inoffensive, but hey, at least it looks nice.

3 thoughts on “First Look: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

  1. I went into this show with negative expectations where I saw the run time. By the end of my painful laughing fit during the entire bicycle gag, I was as sold to this show as Germany are to their win over Brazil.

    • Yep. I was really disappointed with the description of this when I first read it since, as noted in the post, it’s based on a couple of premises I normally hate. Now it’s my favorite thing going this season by far.

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