Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – Special – 02

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun’s Blu-Ray micro episode bonus feature number 2 is another just three minute-run and, like many long-form minis, it just feels like the carved 180 seconds out of a single full length episode.

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The Story: Waka is freaking out and stalking Seo around the school when he sees Chiyo and Kashima and Seo all agree to go on the drama club vacation and get swimsuits together!

Later, Waka intercepts them at the mall and gets brought along to try on swimsuits. He still doesn’t get it — even when Kashima goes in to try on a bikini!

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It’s funny that Kashima doesn’t like Waka and thinks he may be a pervert because I doubt the next mini will reveal Kashima’s gender… somehow. So I’m assuming this is all a setup for a future season maybe but I haven’t read the manga so I don’t know.

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Was this duo of specials a Pocky-like treat or was it just an empty box?

Mmmmmm… I’m leaning towards the empty box, personally. The eps are harmless, and make a lot of sense as bonus content for a disc-release but, if you’re going to miss any GSN dash K, this is what it should be.

If anything, just because hunting down all the chapters will eventually get more annoying that simply watching 30 seconds of flashback, if a flashback is even needed, at the beginning of a second season, is a second season every gets made!

Woo!

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – Special – 01

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It’s Pocky Day (11/11) and in celebration I’m posting some more short reviews! First up is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun’s Blu-Ray micro episode bonus feature. It clocks in at just three minutes long and contains a dizzying 5 scenes, each with a carded break.

The Story: Chiyo imagines Nozaki in costume. Waka is still flustered over the ‘Hot Guy’ who was with Seo at the festival and still doesn’t know it was Kashima. Hori and Nozaki aren’t helpful when asked about it.

Then everyone agrees to join the Drama club for a summer get away. Even Mikorin is coming.

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While nothing special, GSN dash K’s bonus contains all the elements of a normal episode. It’s cute, charming, full of people not understanding implications and unresponded-to love. The manga-notes Nozaki takes while talking to Waka are the funniest moment and probably the highlight of the whole 3 minutes.

Unlike Sabagebu!’s 11 minute bonus, This is way too short to be meaningful and it doesn’t add anything to last season’s finale. Nozaki doesn’t even resolve its own micro-story.

But if you’re feeling down, take a few seconds out of your day to give it a view. GSN dash K excels at building warm, happy smiles!

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 12 (Fin)

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Chiyo discovers the Valentines’ day candy she wanted to give to Nozaki. Then we take a trip down Valentines day memory lane from Chiyo and Nozaki’s unique perspectives.

It’s charming and Nozaki be so crazy!

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Finally secure enough with herself, Chiyo decides to give Nozaki the candies anyway… Only to collide with Nozaki in the hall and drop them to the floor! However, because Nozaki thinks he’s enraged Chiyo, and because he can’t comprehend a single sentence she says to him, Nozaki decides to eat the candies anyway, straight off the floor.

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Then its festival time and everyone in draw-manga club is there for various draw manga reasons — and food reasons too. Very little productive happens but everyone seems fully set in their relationships, even if only due to mometum.

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Waka will continue to chase Seo and she will be unaware but enjoy his company; Kashima will continue to love Hori, who will continue to be annoyed because he thinks she doesn’t like him, and Chiyou will stay with Nozaki because he doesn’t not like her and honestly enjoys having her around.

… and Mikorin will continue to be a secret Otaku… because we didn’t have time for him to get a love interest in the first place.

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Chiyo and Nozaki end the festival high above on a quiet play ground and Chiyo reminisces about their first meeting. As now, Nozaki was awkward, hard to predict motives, but adorable. As now, it was his contrasting characteristics that drew Chiyo to him: thuggish but wanting dainty things, mean but helpful, and strong but prone to awkwardly falling asleep.

Then Chiyo confesses her love for Nozaki, who doesn’t understand her over the fireworks and confesses his love for fireworks too. Instead of breaking her heart, Chiyo laughs with this pure, consistent Nozakiness and comes to love the moment for what it is: fun, even if he doesn’t love her.

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GSN dash K strolls out the door with a graceful charm that almost hides how little it has evolved over these past 12 episodes. Sure! It’s a slice of life piece and those almost never go anywhere, but good grief! Not even Kashima’s singing side plot gets resolved!

Still, episode 12 was a solid piece of story telling. The use of flashbacks were especially effective at reminding us how much has happened, antics wise, if not emotionally for the characters. (I dont remember why Nozaki was always in bandages in the beginning!)

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Thanks to Zane for handing this one off to me. always charming, usually funny, only a few girl-hitting bumps along the way. GSN dash K deserves a place in the top pics of the summer season.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 11

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GSN dash k roars into the final stretch with an episode so packed with charming content and humor that even Sabagebu would blush! I laughed, I smirked, and I appreciated that an end game plot seems to be coming together, which is kinda rare for this genre actually!

First the synopsis!

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Nozaki tells Chiyo about the first time he met Ken-san. In typical Nozaki fashion, he was completely crazy and refused to get close enough to reach, gets ‘puma mom’ over potential changes to his manga (baby) and totally annoys Ken. However, it all turns around when Ken shows a clear knowledge of Nozaki’s cast. Then Nozaki gets a little too friendly…

Interesting note, even though this scene is being told to Chiyo by Nozaki, we see it from Ken-san’s perspective. I don’t know what to make of that decision — not sure if it’s meant to have meaning — but it piqued my curiosity.

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While working on next month’s strip, Nozaki thinks aloud at Chiyo on ways to make the strip more exciting or memorable. In typical Nozaki fashion, his ideas are completely crazy. He proposes the characters have a typical day, featuring a helicopter rescue from a rock wall or everyone carrying knives. 

His final attempt is close, featuring many warm moments with the female lead always zoomed in but totally ruins it when he reveals she’s been riding her love’s shoulders all day long…

Nozaki wants to experiment, as he always does, and promises to show Chiyo something tomorrow.

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“Excitement is hard” – a straight faced Nozaki

The follow school day, Chiyo sits down at her desk. Then she realizes she’s sitting on Nozaki’s back and freaks out! Then Nozaki does a magic trick and offer’s her flowers. This goes well until his hand falls off as part of the trick.

Then they have lunch together and Chiyo is surprised to receive a bento. Then surprised the bento only contains white rice. Then surprised and delighted that curry was hidden under the rice.

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The day rolls on and Nozaki tries many things and, by the end of the day, Chiyo is on constant alert for wacky antics. So much so that she can’t enjoy their nice walk home together. She’s so flustered when they reach his bus stop that she shouts at him ‘Where’s the surprise??’ but Nozaki totally surprises her by saying he just wanted to walk with her. No ‘surprise’ needed.

Sadly, when Nozaki presents his new script to Ken-san, the delivery falls short of his real world experience and Ken politely rejects it.

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Approaching storm metaphor!

Mikorin, Hori and Waka all end up at Nozaki’s to escape the rain and, even though they can all guess the others work on Nozaki’s manga, no one wants to admit it. In typical Nozaki fashion, he takes advantage of the situation and uses it to frame a sleep-over scenario for a future manga.

Hori notices and, being the only one who knows that Nozaki bases his characters on his friend has a mixture of curiosity and terror watching the night unfold. (special note on terror as Mikorin’s dialog is immediately turned into girl talk in Nozaki’s sketches)

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The night wears down and the guys try to talk about some relationships. Hori and Mikorin immediately think about Chiyo and, knowing the time is right, ask Nozaki if he actually likes her. Unfortunately, Nozaki is asleep and the guys get into a rough house moment of excitement over bravado which poor Nozaki had wanted to see and take notes on all this time!

Dun dun duuuuunnnnn!

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Goodness! Episode 11 was packed with development, relationships, a few reveals and an obvious set up for Nozaki and Chiyo to have a romantic showdown in the near future! Between the on coming storm and 2/3 of Nozaki’s boy friends now being curious (and making assumptions) a show down just seems unavoidable.

Will anything come of it? Will Waka/Lorelei or Hori/Kashima get some final screen time? Not likely but I greatly appreciate the show making the effort to get everyone set up. Honestly, I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out!

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 10

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Seo and Waka go on a movie date but Waka is blissfully unaware of his own feelings of love for Seo. 

The movie is laughably terrible, of course, and Seo semi-tortures Waka all the way through by stealing his arm wrest and eating his popcorn and not actually having payed attention during the movie and thus has nothing sane to say about it afterwards.

Nozaki benefits greatly from Waka’s retelling of the date, but shuts down Chiyo, who doesn’t realize which people he’s drawing character stories from, suggests the dates should continue and get deeper.

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Meanwhile, Kashima freaks out because she can not sing and Hori wants to do a musical theatre piece. With great effort, she convinces Seo to take her own and teach her to at least be a terrible singer. (as opposed to her black and white film drama inducingly terrible level of singing now)

By the end, she’s still terrible but, through a misunderstanding, Waka believes Seo is the bad singer and feels sorry for her.

Tragic Waka!

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On stage, Kashima and Hori have a great sword-fight show down but the theatre club doesn’t think they are a good fit for the dueling roles. First Nozaki (who wrote the play) tries to help out but he’s a useless actor and ultimately decides to wear a bear suit during the fight scene.

However silly and useless Nozaki turns out to be, Kashima picks up on Chiyo’s admiration for the big oaf and we can see things unfolding for Chiyo in the near future…

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Deciding Nozaki is no good, Mikorin is enlisted and does very well in the role. (Even Kashima knows how to manipulate him easily) 

However, Kashima is less happy when she realizes Hori is cheering Mikorin on more than he is her. For an instant she fears the two may be a couple she didn’t know about but quickly realizes Hori isn’t even saying Mikorin’s name correctly and as quickly banishes the thought.

Meanwhile, Hori has figured out Mikorin is Nozaki’s female protagonist, which he thinks is awesomely funny and everyone is only a few steps away from figuring out what everyone else wants and thinks and who they actually like. Maybe.

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GSN-k 10 is all about people starting to figuring things out, even if the things they figure out are about other people’s relationships and not their own. Kashima knows Chiyo likes Nozaki and that Nozaki doesn’t know it; Chiyo and Nozaki known Kashima has a thing for Hori; Nozaki knows Waka likes Seo but doesn’t know it, and Hori joins Chiyo as the only people who know Nozaki’s characters are gender flopped versions of people around school.

None of this helps their immediate relationships, certainly. However, it will only take one slip up — one verbalized observation — and the pieces could start falling into place…

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That said, we still have no idea what Nozaki wants or thinks, truly. (Nor Hori, honestly) Since he and Chiyo are the central cast, that’s a bit perplexing if you consider how few episodes are left in this season.

Could there be another season in the works? Sure… but I’m not sure I’d be up for it no matter how funny and much I’ve enjoyed the characters this time around. Other good shows that went know where in a season only to be terrible and not funny in their second seasons have my guard up on that front! (I’m looking at you season 2 of Working!!)

For now? Fingers crossed!

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 09

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Chiyo and Nozaki forget their umbrellas during a 100% chance of rain day. Bored, the couple considers various manga scenarios for rainy days. Nozaki attempts to ‘spin’ the manga cliche of walking home together under a coat, but fails miserably. Later, while walking under Seo’s umbrella, Chiyo keeps getting Nozaki’s head stuck.

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Nothing goes the way they both would hope but, light appears at the end of the storm and Nozaki is about saying ‘ill protect you from the rain no matter what’ only to be drenched by a passing card and totally unable to protect Chiyo in any way. Progress!

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Nozaki and Chiyo head upstairs to visit Miyako, who’s battling Maeno-san over adding yet another superfluous Tanuki to her manga. (If battling means agreeing to do it no matter how absurd!) While Miyako chronicles the various abuses she’s taken at the hands of Maeno-san, the group tries a few alternative treatments to lessen the impact of needlessly injected Tanuki.

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Each idea is hilarious, for us, but obviously not helping Miyako, who ultimately creates a new character — a dour faced Nozaki-kun clone to wear a Tanuki suit — which instantly is coveted by Chiyo to Nozaki’s bewilderment. Nozaki tries, but he can’t create she’s willing to trade for the drawing and feels down that she doesn’t like his work as much. Progress!

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Saying this week’s GSN-k was laugh out loud, spill vulcan-hot ramen all over your pants but keep laughing anyway funny seems redundant at this point but, honestly, that’s what it was!

Episode 9 really shines because it puts everyone on the cast exactly where the need to be most effective. Chiyo and Nozaki are at the story’s center, where there silly thoughts and shattered expectations get our full attention. Kashima and Seo are pass through, giving Nozaki gender flipped inspirations for manga. Hirotaka and Hori are barely in the episode, just there to remind you that there is a larger cast, that lives in a world, and has it’s own agendas, loves and hates.

It’s just beautifully balanced.

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And if the first act wasn’t enough, act two exploded with totally out of place Tanuki humor and chances for Nozaki to express his emotions. Sure those emotions were mostly anger over Meano being a one-man absurdist comedy of professional torture, but we got a hint of jealousy too.

If nothing else, this episode was flooded with Nozaki emotions. We still have no idea if he’s just crazy or on the spectrum, but it’s starting to look like he wants Chiyo’s approval — and to support her because he wants to, which could be the signs of actually liking her! Maybe.

Progress!

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 08

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“Prince” Kashima discovers Hori’s copy of Team-Nozaki’s work and misinterpreters the extensive notes he’s made in it and conversations with Nozaki to mean that Hori is looking for love-guidance and/or wants Kashima to treat him like a princess.

Meanwhile, Hori is swamped with background rendering work for Nozaki’s next chapter. Nozaki isn’t helping, as he doesn’t think very hard about his character’s settings and gives vague directions for Hori to follow.

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Chiyo suggests Nozaki take a swing at rendering his own backgrounds, which results in ‘floating’ characters, and character heights being off due to bad perspective. Nozaki ‘solves’ this problem by drawing boxes under various characters’ feet and by adding a page where the heroin explains that everyone is really into boxes these days.

These scenes are hilarious and make excellent use of simple, barely animated art (we’re just looking at pages of manga) so GSN-k can spend its money where and when it matters: Running around a school wearing a bull mask!

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Still believing she’s helping Hori, Kashima continues to ‘harass’ him about wanting their play’s princess role and even makes him a thought out girls outfit, which she delivers one piece at a time to his locker, each with a note cheering him on. 

Conflict between the two comes to a head after an all-nighter at Nozaki’s, where a passed out Hori finds himself riding on the back of a bull, racing across the school. After arriving at the nurse’s station, and revealing her identity, Hori appears marginally appreciative if not totally bewildered. (end episode)

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GSN-k is all about how funny and absurd life gets when people don’t ‘get it.’ Specifically, it pokes at each character’s ignorance of romantic interest from another or ignorance of their own romantic interests. Of GSN-k’s 3.5 couples, Kashima and Hori collectively ‘get it’ least. (in no small part because Kashima knows nothing about the manga group)

Because their bond is the most ‘confused,’ it makes a fair amount of sense that Kashima x Hori’s relationship is the most juvenile. (re:violent, the ultimate response of the confused) Unfortunately, the relationship is also the least interesting.

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Simple point: Kashima x Hori’s have no chemistry. (Kashima put more fire into clowning around with Mikarin over who was a stronger womanizer than anything she does with Hori)

Worse, you could argue that they have no real conflict. Hori isn’t consulting anyone to figure out how to be closer to Kashima. Nor is Kashima explicitly trying to express love for Hori. Good intentions and friendship, sure. Romance? Not so much.

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Compare this to Seo x Hirotaka, where Hirotaka deeply loves the singing voice of the woman he deeply hates yet doesn’t know the two are one in the same. (And Seo is very confused about all of this) That drama has legs and a narrative path to resolution that could be interesting!

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And then there’s the girl hitting, which fellow reviewer Zane was so deeply put off by. I’m certainly less offended by it but, in all fairness to Zane, I have to agree that it doesn’t add to the show. Not humor wise at least.

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In closing, week eight brought us several good scenes. Kashima’s interviews with Mikorin and Nozaki, the box gags and Kashima’s mad-bull-run verged on snot bubble funny and the boxes in particular got me to play the episode a second time through, just to see if they snuck any into ‘the real world.’

So, sure, the plot didn’t advance and we learned nothing new about Hori and Kashima but in the end, my laughter more than made up for the Ranma 1/2 style ‘i’m hitting you because l like you but you make me angry all the time’ slog.

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Stray Observations:

  • The bull head was totally absurd and fantastic!
  • Watching Mikorin get ‘out charmed’ by Kashima was fantastic and her comment that the Hero was a push over? Spot on!
  • I have no idea where this sub plot is going? Will it resolve? I’m taking Nozaki’s inner thought as a sign that it wont be!

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 07 (Take Two)

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Nozaki asks Chiyo out, but that turns out to be a reference gathering and art supply run. Frustrated but hopeful embarrassment ensues. 

During the “date,” Nozaki attempts to get Chiyo to pose in a sailor suit. Failing that, Nozaki tries to model in the sailor suit himself. Hilarious embarrassment and heaven-sent curses for being manly-muscular ensues. 

Mikorin, who is shopping in the same mall, is discovered in the naughty Bishoujo model isle and asked to model the sailor. Double embarrassment and exasperation ensues. (End Act 1)

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Mikorin refuses Chiyo’s request to model for the art club only to accept the request from another girl he doesn’t know. (and accept with great flourish he does) Chiyo is not amused.

At home, Mikorin prepares by posing in an S shape (the wrong way) and by mimicking his sexy Bishoujo figures but even he knows this is all wrong. (nicely looping us back to act one) If Chiyo were there, she would not be amused.

At Art Club, Mikorin takes many humorously specific pose requests, is humorously not rescued by Nozaki when he shows up and ultimately flirt-agrees to pose for art club again… next time in the nude. Miserably embarrassed with himself, Mikorin crumples in a terror ball and, again, Chiyo is not amused.

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I’m double-reviewing GSN-k this week in prep for Zane’s hand off next week — and what a week to start reviewing this lovely show! While I giggled like it’s 1493 during Nozaki’s sailor antics and Mikorin’s bedroom confusion, episode 7 is all about the romantic teen drama. Lite-Drama, to be sure, but the confusion and believable frustration felt by the two emotionally present characters is there at every turn.

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Because we view the show largely from Chiyo’s perspective (I could even argue we see Mikorin’s POV scenes as Chiyo would imagine them) we’re only getting her hopes and doubts about Nozaki liking her or not and, since Nozaki is extraordinarily weird AND stoic, it’s impossible for us to tell if he really does like her and is going about it in a Nozaki-be-crazy way, or if he only considers Chiyo a professional ally. Color me less entertained, laughs-wise this week, but I’m gonna stream this show until I get an answer!

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Meanwhile, team Mikorin has to wonder if he’s harboring confused interest in Chiyo as well. I may be reading too much into it, but Chiyo is the only only female Mikorin talks to seriously — the only one he ever show’s his embarrassment to — and he’s come to her for childish emotional support on more than one occasion. He went so far as to panic and tantrum at her after she left him alone in the art room (to get him a drink no less) this week. Who knows if that clinginess will turn romantic or not but, given GSN-k’s playful jabs at the genre, I expect at least an episode dedicated to the art of tragic romantic triangles.

Or squares.

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What continues to make GSN-k so much fun is how absurd the characters are — sincerely bizarre. Not absurdist plays on modern culture sprinkled with anthro-characters, just people with unusual ways of looking at the world and unexpected ways of behaving. It’s great and very effective at keeping us in the dark over what they all want (in relation to Chiyo) and, usually, keeps an amused smirk on my face while doing it.

GSN-k is taking it slow but, sometimes, slow is a good thing. If this were Love Stage!!, Chiyo would have raped Nozaki by episode 3 and I’d be all make the bad bad dreams go away mommy by now. And that’s something I can do without.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 07

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Besides the fact they’re now friends and she helps him with his manga, one of the reasons Chiyo hangs around Nozaki so much is that she hasn’t let go of the hope that one day he’ll notice her as a romantic interest; even requite her feelings for him. It’s gestures like agreeing to hang out with her on his off day that lend fuel to the long-burning flame she carries for him.

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Unfortunately, in every such instance Chiyo is ultimately disappointed, and part one of this episode is no exception. He picks the movie they go to so he can see a school building from multiple angles; he picks out clothes for her to wear so he can use her as a reference for Mamiko; he picks out a resin doll to be a Suzuki reference; and he makes an art supply run.

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This isn’t the date Chiyo wanted; it’s errands, and she’s not his companion, she’s his assistant. We watch much of this show from Chiyo’s perspective, and she has an idealized version of Nozaki whose thoughts and actions are motivated by things other than shoujo manga, but episodes like this make me wonder if that vision of Nozaki is just her mirage. The last nail in the coffin is when he invites her to his place…because he has too much food.

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There’s always a practical reason for Chiyo in Nozaki’s life, but never an emotional one, aside from acknowledgement of and gratitude for her hard work, never realizing she’s doing all this because she likes him. In a comedy that purports to satirize shoujo manga, I’m actually okay with Nozaki being so single-minded and unromantic; it subverts that genre’s usual formula. But it also makes me feel a little bad for Chiyo.

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Unfortunately it is also hamstringing Nozaki as a character. Chiyo and Mikorin have many sides to them, but while Nozaki sometimes reveals strange tastes, he remains stubbornly static. Happily, the show seems to be aware of this as well, and chooses to put Mikorin at the center of the second part. An ironic indication Chiyo and Mikorin are good friends is how easily he refuses her request.

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Were she any other girl, he’d have put on the playboy charm and accepted, which is exactly what happens with the other art club members, much to his dismay. During the session each member of the club gives him a pose to do, and they’re all hilariously specific, including Chiyo’s request for him to pose like Nozaki writing a manuscript.

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When the real Nozaki pops in, he ends up drawing what he wants, then takes over the club by making everyone else pose for him. In the end, Mikorin has fun, and the club members, mostly girls, are very appreciative. He gets more comfortable and confident around them, but goes too far, offering to be a nude model for them next time. Godspeed, Mikorin!

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Stray Observations:

  • It was pretty adorable watching Chiyo try in vain to keep up with Nozaki’s massive gait!
  • Nozaki over-thinking: planning to break the arm off a resin bishoujo model because it’s covering her ear. Just buy a different pose, dude!
  • I don’t know why, but I feel a bit cheated that Chiyo never dressed up in that sailor suit. I guess Nozaki was a little too enthusiastic about snapping photos of her in it. Also, through his eyes/lens she’d only be Mamiko.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 06

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The first half of this week’s episode introduces us to the last member of the ensemble, Wakamatsu Hirotaka. He’s on the basketball team, but is always getting rammed by the out-of-control Seo Yuzuki. It’s stressing him out and leading to insomnia.

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Nozaki provides a remedy, if technically by accident, when Wakamatsu is over at his place. He switches on his iPod and a recording of Yuzuki’s beautiful singing voice comes on, putting Wakamatsu to sleep instantly. Yes, the source and solution to his stress are the same person; he just doesn’t know it.

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This is not at all a bad premise for a shoujo manga, and Wakamatsu decides to confront Yuzuki with methods used in manga: leaving a note in her locker that Chiyo thinks is a love letter; meeting her atop the school at dusk; even using gloves to challenge her to a duel. But even if Waka executed all of these perfectly, Yuzuki takes everything precisely the wrong way.

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Even when he yells at her, she’s too busy thinking of a nickname for him, and when he gives her gloves, she believes the whole meeting was so “Waka” could give her a gift. It’s a case of two people who like each other, but are on such different wavelengths they’re unable to connect.

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Part Two deals with another common shoujo scenario: the girl lovingly nursing the sick guy back to health. Naturally, there’s a twist to it, as Chiyo isn’t the only one the ill Nozaki sends an SOS text to. Waka and Hori also arrive. Nozaki doesn’t need medicine; he just wants someone to stay in bed for him, as if following the spirit if not the letter of doctor’s orders made any sense.

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Instead, Chiyo insists he stay in bed himself, and she and Hori decide to finish his manga for him before tomorrow’s deadline. Being the seasoned manga senpais to Waka is of no avail when they discover screentone has to be applied to the pages, something they’ve never done. Waka proves better at it than either of them.

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When Nozaki is too rambling about the dialogue, the three decided to add their own, with Chiyo and Waka using Yuzuki as a template for Mamiko, while Hori uses the same shimmering background for Suzuki, projecting Kashima. They finish the manga and it’s technically fine, but content-wise it’s a hot mess, and Nozaki has no choice but to ask for an extension.

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Yuzuki-as-Mamiko is pretty funny, and a nice call-back to the first half story. It seems the show will rarely combine all seven members of its ensemble for one story, unless of course all of them end up going on a trip together or something. having a different combination of strong, quirky personalities each week is keeping things fresh.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 05

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Nozaki gives his apartment a thorough cleaning for his extremely curt editor, Miyamae. Chiyo doesn’t think the editor likes Nozaki at all, but Nozaki is totally in love with the guy for the punctual and straightforward nature of their communication. We learn why Nozaki feels this way in an episode that explores the mangaka-editor relationship, which can be a treacherous sea.

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Nozaki has been scarred by his previous editor, Maeno (whose name means “previous”): who always suggested and took credit for obvious ideas Nozaki had either already come up with, or ones he hates. After a subtly manipulative, self-important boob like Maeno, Miyamae seems pretty darn “cool and mature”, as Nozaki describes him.

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Nozaki is also troubled by the fact his neighbor and fellow mangaka—the beautiful college student Miyako Yukari—is still suffering under the affable boot heel of Maeno, who forces her to put random tanukis in everything she draws, regardless of genre (her apartment is also full of the things). The website set up ostensibly for artists’ benefit is full of posts of him describing what he’s wearing or abusing Miyako’s manuscript.

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Miyako should get mad—indeed, when Maeno shows up unannounced and teases Nozaki, Nozaki very nearly hulks up—but she doesn’t. Such is the insufferable, inscrutable power of Maeno, something Nozaki is very glad to be (mostly) rid of. From there, Nozaki receives criticism from Miyamae that he isn’t revealing enough of Mamiko’s emotions to the reader. Believing the only way to understand Mamiko is to become Mamiko, Nozaki decides to do just that.

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The results are unsurprisingly hilarious, though not as over-the-top as you’d think. He makes a bunch of bentos to give to friends to try to capture Mamiko’s feelings, but ends up conjuring a somewhat sinister Mamiko. He also tries to understand what it’s like to have girls for enemies. In an inspired choice, he does this by speeding Kashima around on a hand cart; her hordes of worshipers in hot pursuit.

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The chase sequence is a hilarious peace of physical comedy, and the little moment the “spurned” Kashima has with Hori afterward is pretty cute as well. Ultimately all of Nozaki’s research only leads to an even more confusing, unrealistic version of Mamiko that further frustrates Miyamae. Even so, it was neat to watch the creative process in action.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 04

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Mikorin reveals himself as far more comfortable around fictional girls than real ones, as evidenced by his love of dating sims. When he tries to get Nozaki into them as well, a hilarious send-up of the genre ensues. As an accomplished shoujo artist, Nozaki enters the game as the protagonist fom his own manga, who isn’t the slightest bit interested in any of the girls in the game. He also serves as skeptic to Mikorin’s true believer, picking the sim apart as he plays.

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Nozaki sees ulterior motives in the characters that don’t belong in the game’s genre, but on one point manages to convert Mikorin with the sentiment that the game’s protagonist’s best friend Tomoda is way too selfless, sacrificing his own youth to support them. Suddenly motivated to pull an all-nighter drawing a manga in which Tomoda is the protagonist, the most suitable person to pair him with turns out to be the protagonist from the game, making it a BL manga and thoroughly confusing Chiyo when she arrives in the morning.

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After subverting the dating sim by pointing out the sidekick best friend is the most compeling character in it, GSNK moves on to a new story in its second half, in which Mikorin must prepare for what is, despite his playboy persona at school, his first mixer ever. He solicits advice from Nozaki and Chiyo, who turn out to be ill-suited to the task, as both of them would prove insufferable at a mixer. Nozaki, posing as a girl, gives conversation-killing answers to Mikorin’s questions, while Chiyo is only interested in meeting someone who matches Nozaki’s description exactly.

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Nozaki also insists on “going to the toilet” with Chiyo to talk “in private”, but when Mikorin insists on joining them, they’re all just in Nozaki’s bathroom for no reason, which is great! Ultimately, Mikorin sends Kashima (who thankfully escapes physical abuse this week) to the mixer in his place. The Prince ends up conquering all four of the other girls, leaving the three guys in the dust. Not that having Mikorin there would have resulted in a dramatically different outcome, but Kashima sure seemed more into it.

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 03

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This week introduces us to two more characters who appear from the OP rainbow heretofore unknown to us: the short-statured drama club president Hori Masayuki, and the dashing, statuesque, academically and athletically gifted “Prince of the School”, Kashima Yuu.

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Interestingly, Chiyo assumes both of them to be the opposite gender, getting angry at Mikorin for “cheating” on the guy in Nozaki’s shoujo manga with this Prince, who turns out to be a girl, and worried about Nozaki spending late nights with the mystery background artist, who turns out to be a guy.

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With six of seven listed main characters now introduced, rankings are inevitable, and sadly it’s been a game of diminishing returns. We like the pair of Chiyo and Nozaki the best, followed by Mikoto and Yuzuki, and finally Kashima and Hori. And we like Kashima considerably more than Hori. Hori’s a bit of a dick!

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Maybe he’s a great actor trapped in the wrong body, and he’s got that chip on his shoulder. He certainly likes Kashima far more than he lets on and genuinely wants her to shine on the stage (which she does). But what’s with all the physical abuse? None of the instances where Hori hit Kashima were what I’d call abhorrent…but they weren’t that funny, either.

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Let’s just call them..awkward, shall we? If she’d hit him back once or twice, maybe it wouldn’t have rubbed me the wrong way, but it’s very one-sided and repetitive: she pisses him off, he draws blood. Too often Kashima came across as a big dumb lovable punching bag for Hori’s frustrations, which overshadowed her more positive qualities and sapped some but not all of the comedy.

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