Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Volume One is a four-panel romantic comedy about a girl named Chiyo Sakura who has a crush on her schoolmate, Umetaro Nozaki. Unknown to her, Umetaro is a shojo manga artist who goes by the pen name of Sakiko Yumeno.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Volume One
Written by: Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Square Enix Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: November 17, 2015

Volume One immediately begins with Chiyo trying to confess her feelings to Umetaro by saying she’s a fan, and he responds by giving her an autograph with the name “Sakiko Yumeno.” This starts things off on a funny note, and it becomes more humorous when Umetaro invites Chiyo to his house and suddenly hands her his manga manuscript to work on. The whole premise is elevated to the next level of humor when it’s revealed that even though Umetaro writes and draws a shojo love story manga, he’s never actually been in a relationship and is clueless to pick up on Chiyo’s feelings for him.

Umetaro’s cluelessness creates some funny gags when he’s trying to come up with ideas for his manga. It’s especially hilarious when he tries things out in real life and asks Chiyo to help him. Some of the situations Umetaro comes up with are so absurd that they’re extremely funny.

Volume One also introduces several other characters into the story. Mikoto Mikoshiba is another of Umetaro’s assistants. He’s popular and flirtatious with the girls at school, but is actually shy and hides in embarrassment right after making bold statements. Yuzuki Seo is Chiyo’s classmate with a brash personality and cannot read the atmosphere or context of what’s going on around her. Yu Kashima is Mikoto’s best friend, and she’s a tall girl with a “prince” personality that makes girls fawn over her. She’s also in the drama club, but has a tendency to ditch club activities. Masayuki Hori is the president of the school drama club and another one of Umetaro’s assistants. He reacts violently whenever Yu skips club activities or makes inappropriate comments.

Even though the story in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Volume One is told in four-panel vignettes, the vignettes build up what’s going on and end up telling an overarching story. If you’re not used to reading four-panel manga, this could take a little getting used to. But the humor and situations presented in the vignettes make them very enjoyable to read.

When it comes to the art, there are a couple of things that really stand out to me. Tsubaki is able to successfully convey quite a range of emotions for Chiyo, and her various facial expressions really jump out at the reader. The other thing I noticed is just how detailed the art is when Tsubaki draws panels for Umetaro’s shojo manga, which helps to distinguish them from the art that’s used in the story of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. Tsubaki has also done a great job with the character design by giving the characters very distinct looks, so the reader has no way to be confused over which characters they’re seeing in each vignette.

I’d seen the anime adaptation of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun before reading the manga, so I already basically knew what to expect. However, I found the gags and humor to be just as funny now as I did when I first saw them in the anime.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Volume One is a very enjoyable manga, and it will be appreciated by readers who enjoy humorous stories.

Additional post about Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun: