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!
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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.