Chiyo re-evaulates her relationship with Nozaki after finding old Valentine’s Day chocolates she had planned on giving him. The Girls make plans to attend the school festival and sparks (OK, fireworks actually) fly when they run into the Guys.
What a beautiful final episode. The festival was both hilarious and heartwarming as the swell of violins and fireworks came tumbling down into one last, intimate scene between Chiyo and Nozaki. The bait and switch in their final moment might seem harsh at first, but in a series built on smashing anime clichés I think I’m comfortable with a knowing smile between friends over a grand, dramatic confession. Their relationship has grown into something so much deeper than just attraction that you really do believe Chiyo when she says this is OK for now.
Of course the rest of the cast pulls their weight as well. Kashima steals her scenes, as she tend to do, with her openness and uninhibited spirit. It’s rather refreshing to hear her express how much she likes Hori in contrast to everyone else who are still sorting things out. Waka’s imaginitative fascination with Seo is as adorable as ever, and I couldn’t help but smile as she continued to lead him around against his better judgement. Overall it was a lovely and appropriate ending for a series that is one of the most well written and charming shows I’ve seen in a good long while. I’m going to miss it very much.
Jel’s Final Thoughts
Shonen and Shoujo, Seinen and Josei – if you think about it, it’s kind of sad that words meant to simply describe an age/gender demographic have become adjectives for the content of most anime and manga. Fans have certain expectations for each word, certain tropes and clichés that have been in place for decades and more often than not the creators are happy to oblige them. Ultimately those standards stem from the idea that boys are universally going to like certain things and girls are going to universally like certain, different things. As we stand here in 2014, this is a silly and outddated notion and Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is here to remind you of that.
Rather than get up on a soapbox and preach though, Nozaki-kun is a hilarious and sweet comedy that never stops making you feel good. It doesn’t say the old ways are horrible and you should feel bad for ever liking them, it says, “check out our way, which can be so much better!”. The expertly written characters defy convention simply by living their life the way they want and enjoying it. It’s OK for girls to be assertive and strong and passionate about their interests, look how much fun they’re having! It’s OK if boys are concerned with their looks or want to talk about their feelings or take an interest in romance and drama, look how much fun they’re having! Better yet, look at how much fun they’re having together! There’s hardly any conflict in Nozaki-kun as all the characters genuinely care about each other with hardly a whiff of jealously or melodrama, and that love is infectious enough to carry over to the audience.
That may sound overly idealistic or naive, but it is ultimately what elevates Nozaki-kun above so many other anime series. I could gush for several more paragraphs about how funny the jokes are or how sweet the individual relationships can be, but those are details I will eventually forget. I will not, however, forget the joy of watching Nozaki-kun deliver it’s simple, lovely message: Be passionate about what you like, care about the people around you even if they’re a little different, and don’t worry too much about what you’re “supposed” to be feeling or doing. That’s something everybody should be able to get behind, and everyone should watch this series.
Marlin’s Final Thoughts
As much as I like seeing things from the guy’s perspectives, it was cute to see the girls hanging out and being so open for once. Kashima’s energy is infectious, and it’s cute to see someone so honest about their feelings when every shoujo show seems geared to locking those emotions behind thought bubbles. As always, looking in the little details is half the fun with this show. Even though Waka continues to gripe about Seo’s presence, he still cares that she might be on a date, and even though she starts to drag him around again, you can kinda see a smile on his face. It’s too bad their energetic personalities leads them to be kinda flakey this episode, leaving Chiyo to her devices, and eventually to Nozaki.
I always thought it was weird in the first episode how Chiyo talked about wanting to get picked up, and this episode we finally got an explanation. Even from the very beginning we see these characters, interacting naturally despite the bizarre circumstances. It’s easy to see how Chiyo could fall in love with someone like Nozaki even with his eccentricities. Any time he isn’t thinking about manga, his caring side is always at the forefront, whether its playing host to his friends or giving them advice. Some long time readers may remember I’ve had some volatile reactions to fakeouts after romantic buildup or other such nonsense. That’s why the moment it really hit me how good Nozaki-kun is was when we got that cliche moment, and I was totally fine with it. Instead of a frustrating status quo that is maintained for tension, Nozaki-kun has let us see these characters grow closer naturally. We can believe that Chiyo is okay with how things are because she still cherishes Nozaki, and even if we don’t know how far his feelings go, he clearly cares for her as well.
It does help that the entire scene prior was absolutely flawless. Everything about the presentation and the music just made my heart pound right out of my chest. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this kind of emotion from a shoujo show that it really surprised me. It just speaks to the great strength of Nozaki-kun’s writing that even though it’s billed as a comedy, especially one specifically intended to lampoon the shoujo genre, it manages to bring out the same feelings you get from a top tier shoujo show. It proves that it isn’t the tropes that make romance good, but what a writer can bring to the table beyond them. I’ll always remember Sawako and Kazehaya walking home, I’ll always remember Shizuka looking up at the sky and confessing her feelings, and now I’ll always remember Chiyo and Nozaki sharing a moment as they take in the scenery.
For being the resident romance watcher, its actually kind of ironic how few shows I deem to be outstanding examples of the genre. All too often romance tends to mire itself in melodrama. Stagnation is the death of any story, and yet so many stories are so afraid to take the next step that they end up forgetting what makes us fall in love with characters in the first place. That’s why It’s such a breath of fresh air to get a show as unabashedly frank as Nozaki-kun. Sure, at the end of the day comedy is the name of the game, but it’s able to incorporate its laughs into so many tender moments that they end up strengthening each other for it. It’s this union that will keep Nozaki-kun on the top of my recommendations list for a while to come.