Now that I finished up with the spring season final impressions, it’s time to move on and begin focusing on the new anime of summer.
When I did the preview post for this season, about a month ago, I focused on series I thought would be the best. By and large these ten titles (nine, actually, Kantai Collection seems to be MIA) have performed as expected. Aldnoah. Zero has, indeed, been as good as I thought it could be and is sitting comfortably at the top. Free! Eternal Summer has been the closest to being a surprise from the list by being so much more enjoyable this time around.
Most of those anime have been given plenty of attention by everybody and there’s little point to piling on now; so, instead, I want to call attention to those anime series that I did not intend to watch but have and found pretty good. The first series is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun or Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.
This shounen romantic comedy series follows Chiyo Sakura, a typical high school girl, whose poorly worded confession of love to a boy who secretly happens to be an author of a popular shoujo manga series results in a relationship with him that profoundly disappoints and excites her at the same time – he thinks she’s a fan of his work, though how could she possibly know he’s an author, and offers to let her be his assistant. She accepts, of course, and this series hits the ground running.
The Fine Print
Sometimes working exclusively with a certain genre’s toolbox of tools yields a really great show and sometimes poaching from other genre’s toolboxes is what’s needed to create a really great show. Chihayafuru is a shoujo series that appropriates the guts of a shounen sports series into itself and forms a truly classic anime series. However, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is no less memorable even though it stays firmly planted in science fiction. In the case of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, the shounen/shoujo mashup creates a fertile field of fabulous that the creators exploit again and again for fantastic results.
One of the perks of a mashup such as this is it creates multiple sources for the comedy which is not necessarily necessary for a good comedy – My Neighbor Seki-kun pulled it off – but it really helps. Broadly speaking, we have romantic comedy from our two main characters who don’t know they’re in a romantic comedy. There’s also the comedy from poking fun at common shoujo clichés for being absurd. And then there’s the character comedy that is derived from the various character’s faults and personality quarks. Followed by the comedy that occurs when the anime upends our expectations of how things are supposed to go based on shounen and shoujo genre standard operating practices. These four general areas of comedy allow the series to keep the laughs coming at a jaunty pace all while not feeling stale.
Another strong aspect to Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is its characters. Again, not necessary for a series to work but it’s so much easier when a show has great characters. The main characters are likable as themselves and in the role they play. The protagonist is Chiyo – not Nozaki, an example of how this series confounds expectations, in this case for a shounen series – who exhibits many shounen MC qualities (you know the ones) among her more normal personality traits. The refreshing result is that Chiyo just effortlessly chews the screen up. Nozaki is tall drink of water and a man of few words but one can tell that he has a lively, interesting mind from the few times he does speak up. Together they have a smooth chemistry that makes the eventual pairing a forgone conclusion, not that we’re complaining. The introduced side characters are just as great and help reassure me that the creator will be able to effectively flesh the world and the story out in the future.
I should have intended to watch this series from the start. I firmly believe in giving animation studios a chance when they have been on a roll, even if the series in question looks questionable. And yet, Dogakobo put out the hilarious 4-panel romcom last summer Love Lab which I loved and had to rewatch; then, this past winter they released the 4-panel romcom Engaged to the Unidentified which I loved to bits and have already rewatched. So when their latest 4-panel romcom, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, comes out what do I do? I ignore it like I initially did with Love Lab and Engaged to the Unidentified and regret it later. Good job self.
Actually, that’s a good way to explain the general vibe of watching Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, it’s very similar to that of both Love Lab and Engaged to the Unidentified. This will probably mean that I’ll like this anime enough to rewatch it in the future and hope that there’ll be a sequel. If I had to further compare Nozaki-kun to them then I’d say it’s not quite as well animated but that’s about the only deficiency. All three exhibit excellent vocal work by the seiyuu, snappy pacing, great comedic timing, and a pleasing animation style.
I definitely recommend Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun to anyone who hasn’t given it a chance yet. It’ll be a great counterbalance to all the serious anime airing this season.
Rating for episodes 1 to 2– 10/12 A
Animation: 3/5 – Good
Anticipation Level: 3.5/5 – Medium