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 – 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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