Anime Spotlight: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is based on a four-panel web manga written and illustrated by Izumi Tsubaki. The anime is produced by Dogakobo, and is directed by Mitsue Yamazaki. The series aired on Japanese television from July 6-September 21, 2014.

As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution license for Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.

Chiyo Sakura has a crush on her classmate, Nozaki Umetaro. When she goes to confess her feelings to him, she becomes so flustered she gets out that she’s always been his fan. After a moment, he gives her his autograph; however, instead of signing his name, he signs it as “Yumeno Sakiko.” When she says that’s not what she meant and that what she meant to say is that she always wants to be with him, he asks her to come with him to his place.

Sakura goes with Nozaki to his place, and learns that he’s an author of shojo manga. She also figures out that “Yumeno Sakiko” is his pen name, and that she’s seen his work in the monthly shojo manga magazine that she reads. Nozaki asks Sakura to help him out with the art; he also later reveals that he’s been keeping an eye on her, because he’d seen the work she’d done on a poster at school. She also comes to learn that nobody else at school knows what he does; while he’s tried telling others, they don’t believe him.

As Sakura works with Nozaki, he starts being inspired by some of the things she says. And the more that Sakura helps Nozaki, she learns that he hasn’t experienced his first love yet, but that he’s given quite a bit of love advice to girls when they ask.

The cast of characters for this comedy grows as the series progresses. There’s Mikoto Mikoshiba, who helps Nozaki with his manga by filling the backgrounds with flowers to bring out a character’s charms. Mikoto is popular and flirtatious with girls, he’s actually shy and is prone to embarrassment after making bold statements.

Yuzuki Seo is Sakura’s friend, who has a brash personality that often offends others. She also cannot read atmosphere or context when dealing with other people.

Yu Kashima is Mikoshiba’s best friend and classmate; she’s a tall girl with a “prince” personality, and she has a lot of girls who fawn over her because of it. Masayuki Hori is the president of the drama club, as well as Nozaki’s assistant on background work. Yu is in the drama club with him, and tends to react violently if she disrupts the club; however, he does favor her.

Hirotaka Wakamatsu joins Nozaki’s staff to do screentones, and he has issues with Yuzuki because of the stress she’s put him under from her participating with the boys’ basketball team and causing problems.

There’s also some supporting characters who are involved with Nozaki’s manga, such as his current editor, his former editor, and his upstairs neighbor who is also a shojo manga artist.

After watching the first episode of the series, I thought it was off to a good start. I liked the main characters and how they interacted with each other. The story also kept my interest, and the humor was very enjoyable.

Episode Two did a good job of building off of Episode One, and the story continued to be amusing. That episode introduced Yuzuki, who ended up being the only character who never truly grew on me; I found her to be rather annoying.

I have to admit that my interest started to wane a little with Episode Five, because the humor in that episode wasn’t quite as amusing as it had been in the previous four episodes. This slump in the humor lasted for two episodes, then started getting better for a couple of episodes, and then there was another minor slump in Episode Nine. Fortunately, the final three episodes of the series help to make up for the slump in the humor that appeared around halfway through the series.

But even with the episodes that weren’t as amusing as the rest of the series, the stories presented in those episodes weren’t bad. My main gripe, though, is that seemed to be too many characters, so some characters couldn’t get the development and screentime that they needed. The characters who really felt as if they didn’t need to be there are Nozaki’s tanuki-loving former editor, and his upstairs neighbor who’s also a shojo manga artist. In the long run, those two particular characters really didn’t add a whole lot to the series and didn’t contribute much to the overall story.

Even though there was no real conclusion to the story, I think the series needed to end the way that it did. This is due in large part to the fact that the manga is still ongoing in Japan; also, if any of these potential couples did officially get together by the end, it would have had a strong effect on the series’ humor.

Overall, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun was an enjoyable viewing experience from start to end. In fact, I would have to say that this would be one of my overall favorite series that I watched during the Summer 2014 anime season. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a series that I’ll want to add to my anime home video collection at such a time that it’s released on home video in North America.

I would definitely recommend the series to viewers who appreciate humorous shojo stories that are able to poke fun at various shojo tropes.

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