Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

nozakikunLead VAs: Ari Ozawa  as Sakura, Yuuichi Nakamura as Nozaki
Director: Mitsue Yamazaki of Media Factory
Episodes: 12, complete
Genre(s): Romance, comedy, school life, shounen
Based On Web manga of the same name (ongoing)

Rating: ★★★★★
Review Spoilers:  Mild

As an avid consumer of shoujo (girly romance) manga and anime, I have become all too familiar with the tropes and characters that inhabit the genre. The prince-type character, with his legions of fangirls and propensity for absurd one-liners, the clumsy and over-dependent heroine and the one-note mean girl rival have all been done to death. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun uses these old characters in a new way, putting them in the center of a comedy that both parodies and pays homage to its source material. The ideas may be familiar, but the comedy is fun and original.

Sakura chose the wrong guy to fall for, let me just say.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, translated as Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, follows high school student Sakura Chiyo and her attempts at kindling a romance with Nozaki, her classmate. The significance of the title is made immediately clear when it’s revealed that Nozaki is actually the popular artist behind Let’s Fall in Love, to Sakura’s astonishment. He immediately recruits her to slave away at his apartment after school, blacking out sections of manga pages for him. Together they traverse their unruly cast of classmates, perilous deadlines and bad ideas.

The main cast, in all their glory.

Gekkan Shoujo’s aim to parody shoujo expectations is established within five minutes of the first episode. Sakura’s nervous confession to Nozaki is immediately shut down by the latter’s obtuse nature and Sakura’s own propensity for bad phrasing. As the series continues on to introduce new characters, nobody is ever who you’d expect them to be at first glance. Every cliche situation you’ve seen in a shoujo before is played for laughs in Gekkan Shoujo, and each episode stands strong and introduces a new set of jokes.

You’re going to be seeing a lot of this.

The most refreshing thing about the comedy in Gekkan Shoujo is that it doesn’t rely on sexualizing its characters. It’s funny without needing to resort to fanservice like other shounen (male audience) offerings. The cast is diverse, and their interactions with one another lead to interesting scenarios and a host of running gags. Sakura’s deadpan humor and dry wit brings the rest of the cast down to earth, sometimes acting as mirror for the watcher’s own reactions to the antics in the anime. All of the characters, including bit parts, are likable and funny, and none feel superfluous to the flow of the anime.

The opening is also infectiously catchy.

Final thoughts: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is an anime I can recommend to anyone. It’s hilarious, has good production values, and is loaded with original characters. It’s everything one can expect out of a comedy anime. Appreciating it fully might require a working knowledge of soujo tropes, but it’s humor is universal enough to make it enjoyable regardless. To produce an anime that can appeal to people who enjoy shounen, shoujo, or none of the above is impressive in itself. And if you weren’t sold, the first episode contains fat anime cats. So, what are you waiting for? Midterm stress isn’t going to relieve itself.

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