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 – 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 – 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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