Anime Review: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

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Shounen. Shoujo. Seinen. Josei. These are the typical demographics that are used in Japanese manga to gear the intended target audience of any given magazine. However, no projects are to be treated explicitly for boys, girls, men, or women; and having a demographic label is pretty arbitrary, albeit a pretty good indicator.

Having said that, this TV series became AT-X viewers’ Anime of the Year 2014, which is one of the premiere polls of what is most popular in Japan: the intended anime audience (not saying, of course, that input from non-Japanese audiences are not important; but it is what it is). And I think part of why it gained so much popularity is because this show, which was adapted from a 4-panel shounen manga publication, appealed to audiences from all the “typical” demographics.

But enough of me rambling on about the complexities of sex identities (I’ve been reading a lot of Simone de Beauvoir lately). This series was one of my favorites from last year too; and as strange as it sounds, my first exposure to it was not from the manga, Crunchyroll, or even a close friend. I first heard of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun from a Chiyo cosplayer at Anime Expo 2014 (right about the time the series aired), who just happened to also be an alum of a school that Latino Gamer and I attended!

Chiyo cosplay

Me as Taichi Tanaka (Tari Tari) with Chiyo Sakura and fellow alumni from **** College. Photo taken by Latino Gamer (right).

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun) is about Chiyo Sakura and her misadventures with Umetarou Nozaki. Chiyo is very interested in this classmate of hers and wants to get to know him better. She also likes reading shoujo manga (manga intended for girls), and avidly follows Sakiko Yumeno’s manga, Let’s Fall in Love. Little does Chiyo know, however, that her beloved crush at high school and the famous manga artist are ACTUALLY THE SAME PERSON!

Manga Law

Where are your gender barriers now?

The series itself is a compilation of snippets from the lives of Chiyo, Nozaki-kun, and their colorful friends, to say the least. But unlike all the elements that one typically finds in a romance, these are parodies that will flip everything we know about gender upside-down… or not, in case you already thought that the essences of masculinity and femininity were a delusion created by patriarchy; but that’s for another conversation altogether.

And when it comes to creating a story, Nozaki-kun uses his friends as examples for characters in his manga. And the results can be very surprising!

Mikorin and Mamiko

Mikoshiba’s life is juxtaposed as Mamiko in Nozaki’s manga.

But the romantic encounters that often go awry go beyond just the relationship between Chiyo and Nozaki-kun. The parody extends to their friends, their colleagues, as well as in Yumeno-sensei’s manga! I was laughing until my sides were sore with every episode of this anime; and I’m happy to note that a lot of my own friends have also watched this one with the same humor in mind. And as I talked with other fans about the series, a lot of memorable moments always surface, showing just how much joy this series brought to viewers. If that isn’t reason enough to make this series No. 1 in Japan in 2014, I don’t know what will!

So for the rest of this review, I will share some of these most memorable moments from Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, in no particular order. And yes, there will be SPOILERS!!

UmbrellaNozaki-kun, that’s NOT how you hold an umbrella for a friend!

Sakura and HoriChiyo Sakura and Masayuki Hori wearing the same expression: “we can’t let kouhai outdo us!”

TomodaThe “best friend” character in any dating sim is always the most loyal to you, but never a playable route! Tomoda needs more love!

Kashima and HoriNext time, Nozaki-kun, I want you to write a story about a prince that suddenly turns into a bull.

TanukiThere’s nothing more terrifying to put in a manga than a bunch of unnecessary tanukis… unless you’re Yumeno-sensei’s ex-editor, Maeno-san!

Hori-senpaiThat moment when you realize Mamiko from Let’s Fall in Love is actually “Mikorin!”

CurryThe only thing more surprising than a bento box full of nothing but rice? The curry that’s hidden underneath it!

Nozaki-kunThe best way to write about your characters is to figure out what it’s like to be them. But Nozaki-kun takes this to a whole new level!

Seo and WakamatsuYuzuki Seo and Hirotaka Wakamatsu: best unassuming couple 2014!

BoxesTo cover up his inability to understand depth perceptions, Nozaki-kun explains that seemingly taller characters are actually standing on boxes. Seems legit.

Kashima singsActually, Yuu Kashima CAN sing!

ValentineFeeling down because you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day this weekend? That’s fine. Nozaki-kun doesn’t even like it!

So if you’re looking for one of the best slice of life comedies out there that will turn everything you know about romance, gender constructs, and otherwise a completely different side of anime and manga stereotypes, watch Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. And in case you were wondering, I am also planning to be Umetarou Nozaki for some cosplay gathering in the future (probably at Anime Expo)! See you then!

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