Anime Review: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (2014)

TL;DR – Nozaki is a manga writer/artist who specialises in romance manga. He bases his material from observing his fellow students around him. Even though his monthly publication is a hit, he actually has no experience in dating or how to have a relationship.

Review (warning: spoilers)

In order to appreciate Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, you will need to understand the show’s silly title, which translates to “Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun”. The translation itself doesn’t provide much light, and you could be forgiven for thinking this is a harem anime based on the English-translated title.

In truth, the show is about a high-school manga artist and writer, Nozaki Umetarou, who works on a monthly shoujo manga series. For those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, shoujo manga are stories aimed at the teenage girl market and focuses extensively on romance and relationships.

But this is not a shoujo anime, rather this is a comedy about a bunch of characters that surround Nozaki from which he obtains inspiration from.

The show begins with a high-school girl named Sakura Chiyo, who is nervously trying to build up enough courage to ask Nozaki out because she has a crush on him. When she confronts him alone after class, she can barely get a word out without stuttering. Nozaki misinterprets her actions and thinks Sakura is after his autograph, so he gives one much to her confusion.

Through this initial mishap, Sakura learns that Nozaki is the creator and artist behind one of the most popular shoujo manga currently being published. And as the series unfolds, it is clear that what inspires a shoujo manga artist is not what you expect.

The comedy is generated from the colourful and eccentric characters that interact with Nozaki and Sakura throughout. And the humour is generally due to the reactions Sakura has when finding out what Nozaki and fellow students are really like.

For example:

  • Nozaki is actually clueless. For a guy behind one of the most popular romantic manga, he has little to no idea of how relationships work. He obtains his ideas and material from observing those he interacts around him.
  • Mikoto Mikoshiba is one of Nozaki’s assistants and also goes to the same high school. Mikoto attracts the eyes of many of the girls and shamelessly flirts with them, only to regret his actions afterwards and feels internally awkward. Mikoto is the primary inspiration for Nozaki’s leading female character.
  • Yuu Kashima is a popular drama student. Even though she is female, she’s incredibly handsome and has many female admirers. Not the brightest spark in the school but very athletic, Kashima is like a female jock. Her interactions with Hori Masayuki (president of the drama club) are very funny, as she is often hunted down by Hori for slacking off.

One can view this series in one of two ways. Either the whole show is ridiculous and the characters so unbelievable that you’ll make a solid pass, or you can accept the silliness and enjoy the absurdity.

One could view Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun with an astute eye and point out the fact that shoujo manga itself is romantic fantasy, and the series seeks to reveal to Sakura that relationships in the real world do not operate like that. However, I don’t know if it ever intended to be that clever. The supporting cast are all caricatures in a sense, exaggerating personality traits as a means to inspire Nozaki in his own fantastical (and often ridiculous) story-telling for his manga.

The animation is clean and appealing, and all the characters are quirky and amusing in their own way except… Nozaki.

Yes, the title character lacks any discernible appeal. While it is arguable that Sakura shares the screen as much as Nozaki, for a male lead, Nozaki is incredibly bland. His obsession with getting his manga published and complete disinterest in anything else makes his stoic demeanour a complete bore.

Yes, he’s tall and handsome, but his personality is so dull that my opinion on Sakura diminishes because I have no idea why she would put up with him. Even his acts of kindness towards her are to gain further material for his manga in some way. The guy is an imbecile and this is meant to be funny.

As a result, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun never goes beyond being a comedy and never delves deeper to reveal what relationships are really about (and contrasting it against shoujo stories). Poor, suffering Sakura grabs your sympathy at first, but by the end you just want to tell her to find another guy that will treat her right.

5 out of 10

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