Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun Review

What an absolute breath of fresh air Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun [Dogakobo, 2014] was for this season of anime. From beginning to end, from Sakura’s confession to the finale’s fireworks, from the groovy first notes of the OP to the final line of dialogue, Nozaki-kun has been nothing but warm, relaxing, and hilarious. Whether it was engaging in parody, using character-driven comedy, cracking jokes about writers, or just being pleasant to watch, Nozaki-kun stands as one of the top anime comedies I’ve seen. I’m happy to give it an 8/10 (Ranking) and I can confidently say that it was my favorite show of the season.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Before I begin to gush, let me just get my qualifiers out first. Nozaki-kun isn’t quite a perfect show. The pacing of the jokes and episodes fall a little towards the slow side at times, and episodes tend to fall into the pattern of one half being utterly hilarious (often dangerously so) and the other being merely amusing. In another show, this might have been an unfortunate quality, but Nozaki-kun‘s highs are so often spectacular and the lows so solidly smile-generating that my complaint is really only a matter of degree. And while I don’t think you have to be an avid anime fan to watch and love Nozaki-kun, having at least a little bit of knowledge of the genre tropes and conventions it consistently undermines contributes greatly to the overall entertainment value of the show.

But enough of that. As a comedy, Nozaki-kun‘s humor depends almost entirely with its characters—and because the cast is so diverse and so likable, this is a great thing. The seven main characters of the show (3 girls and 4 guys), all high schoolers, are an endless source of hilarity because they’re each a little bit crazy. Keeping humor fresh is a struggle many comedies end up losing, but Nozaki-kun is adept at cycling through pairs of characters, alternating match-ups, and switching straight men. This is probably the element I admire most in Nozaki-kun: the constant shifts in framing that highlight just how nutty each of these characters are, and then spin things around and make them look like the normal ones. It’s a fantastic technique, one that allows the audience to see multiple sides of each character. At any moment a character can be staggeringly oblivious to their own craziness, and in the next be perceptively seeing their friend’s foolishness.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Dee over at The Josei Next Door has an absolutely fantastic piece of gender criticism on Nozaki-kun, and I couldn’t say it any better than she already has, but I just want to note in my own words how much I personally appreciated Nozaki-kun‘s willingness to go outside of traditional gender roles in its eagerness to parody the shoujo genre. Like a negative photo of how Nozaki sees his friends as characters in his manga, in Nozaki-kun I see myself and my own friends reflected in varying degrees. In Nozaki, I see much of my own dysfunction as a writer. In Mikoshiba, I see some of my own tendency to totally stick my foot in my mouth. In Hori’s responsibility, I see a friend of mine. In Kashima, I see another. Nozaki-kun‘s willingness to set traditional archetypes in characters of the opposite gender not only provides ample opportunities for humor, but also (I think) stocks the show with a much wider range of more realistic characters.

And all of this exists within a rom-com format that both gives us three (I say this with love) disgustingly cute couples to ship and endless romantically-tinged hijinks. Nozaki-kun‘s humor is impressively smart, and it’s also happily varied. We get totally absurd situations, we get clever reversals, deadpans, characters trolling each other, ironies, and a plethora of amazing reaction faces. We get jokes about editors and the struggles of authors and Nozaki’s delightful blurring of the lines between reality and fiction.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

For me, this is the classic brand of Dogakobo 4-koma adaptation that I love—lots of clever, clean humor in a show entirely devoid of fanservice. On the production side of things, there are a number of tracks on the OST that I love; the OP and ED are great and wonderfully matched to the show; the artstyle is packed with Dogakobo’s stylings and the animation with solid throughout, occasionally brilliant; and the vocal performances are great (huge props to Sakura’s VA, Ari Ozawa, a newcomer in only her fourth role ever). It’s a rare anime these days that can bring this sort of complete package to the table in terms of content and presentation, but Nozaki-kun really is a gem of a show, even more so in this abysmal season.

And that about sums it up. Nozaki-kun is many things, but first and foremost it’s a comedy anime with a really kind heart. You can see it in the way it cracks its jokes, in the way it portrays its collection of loony characters, in the way that it teases the audience with hints of romantic progression without being frustrating or annoying about it. And that sort of authentic warmth goes a long way in pushing a show past the realm of funny into the realm of lovable.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

RECOMMENDATION:

A highly recommended comedy among the best anime comedies I’ve see to this point. It’s a charming watch, filled with bright personalities and clever subversions of gendered genre tropes. A much smarter show than it appears on the surface, and no less hilarious for it.

Reasons to Watch:

  • Do you like shipping? This show is a shipper’s dream.
  • A diverse, likable cast, each with their own quirks.
  • Wacky comedy; good for at least one tear-inducing laugh an episode.
  • Clever comedy; parodies and trope takedowns abound.
  • It’s also pretty cute; the flashback to Sakura and Nozaki’s first meeting that occurs in the final episode is a triumph of heartwarming anime.

15 thoughts on “Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun Review

  1. Nozaki-kun trolled us to the very end, and I’m glad it did. It wouldn’t be Nozaki-kun otherwise. But I really, really felt sorry for Chiyo in that last one. In between the laughing, of course. I wholeheartedly agree with you, best show of the season!

    I find it very interesting the amount of people who seem to identify themselves within the characters here. It feels like we’re seeing more of that than with other series. I think it paints things in an interesting light that people see themselves more clearly in the series that skewers gender roles rather than one which doesn’t. I personally see a lot of myself in Chiyo, Mikorin and Wakamatsu.

    I hope to see a lot more of Ari Ozawa in later seasons, hopefully in a second of Nozaki, to start with!

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    • Haha yup, it sure did. Although, anyone who was expecting Nozaki to actually confess…after everything…LOL.

      That being said, I loved the heck out of that final scene underneath the fireworks. It was about as conclusive and satisfying a romantic ending as you’re going to get with a show in this genre, and I though Dogakobo nailed making it more than just another joke.

      As far as identification with gender roles/characters…I think it just says a lot about the tendency to stereotype people into boxes without looking at their full personalities. For example, Mikorin may have some more “traditional feminine” qualities in his behavior, but he’s still a guy. That’s a lot easier for someone like me, who grew up with three sisters and has a much larger number of female friends than male friends, to identify with. I think it also, generally, just makes for more well-rounded characters. Few people are 100% traditional masculine or 100% traditional feminine; Nozaki-kun being willing to blur those lines gives us a much wider range of character traits and behaviors to recognize in ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • He ate chocolate off the floor for her! If that ain’t love, what is it? 😛

        And yeah, that’s kind of the point I’m getting at. It goes to show how wrong gender is portrayed in general. The series that parodies gender roles ends up being much closer to reality. I think it’s a little funny how that happens. And as someone who coincidentially also grew up with three sisters, I think it kind of hammers in for me that gender roles are a dated concept.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you mean the dude who looks like he could be Nozaki’s little bro at the festival? I caught that one, but there very well could be others that flew over my head.

      I think it’s sold pretty well and I heard the anime boosted manga sales, so I’m guessing our chances of seeing another season are pretty good.

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  2. I’m a bit sad that my favorite Summer anime has ended. Nevertheless, this anime is truly one of a kind and I’m glad that I watched it even without prior knowledge of what it has to offer 🙂
    Here’s to hoping for more seasons because Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun definitely deserves it!! 😀
    On the other hand, I’m still wondering if there will ever be a new character that will be paired with Mikoshiba, seeing that all other main characters have one. But in the end, Mami-koshiba is adorable even on his own!

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    • Mikorin is a strong, independent Best Girl who don’t need no romantic partner to validate his self worth! (He just needs compliments.)

      I’m eternally grateful to Guardian Enzo for writing about this show in his season preview for summer, as I probably would never have picked it up without his influence. He’s also pretty confident that a second season is inbound eventually (it sold well and boosted manga sales—both good indicators of potential for a future season). We can only hope! 🙂

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      • You’re right, Mikoshiba is a great character all by himself. I could probably watch an episode or two with only Mikoshiba and Sakura in it.. haha..
        I’ll be waiting patiently for that well-deserved season 2 😀

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  3. I ended up giving this series the same score you did – and for a show that I hadn’t even originally planned on picking up at the start of the season, I’d say Nozaki-kun well and truly earned that number. I don’t even go in for shipping all that much, and I often tend to find comedy anime repetitive (sometimes even offensively stupid) as well. But to my surprise, the vast majority of the gags in Nozaki-kun genuinely worked for me. It’s not too often that I find myself laughing out loud at least once during every episode of a show, so for that alone I feel like I have to give Nozaki-kun serious props.

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    • It truly is, I think, a very funny and a very clever show. And the variety of humor that they go for keeps all of the jokes fresh and does keep things from getting repetitive.

      You say that you don’t normally go for shipping that much. Does that mean that Nozaki-kun got your shipper’s spirit working? 😀

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      • Hmm… not really. I certainly found the pairings cute and funny, but I personally won’t be engaging with them on any deeper level than that. It’s more that I didn’t mind the pairings being shown off, whereas that kind of thing often just mildly annoys me.

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  4. I was reading about that one, but decided to not watch it, in part, for what motivated that article you linked there, and, because that “school prince” that has the girls infatuated with her.

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