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!