Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 03

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What an odd duck is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Historically I haven’t blogged very many 4-koma gag manga adaptations, and I’m starting to remember why.  Simply put, they’re damn hard series to write about.  Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou is about the funniest one I can remember – the first five episodes or so were legitimately brilliant – but even there it was often a struggle to try and communicate the experience of watching it through words (Kotoura-san is also a 4-koma, but not a gag manga – and the anime is conventionally story-driven).  And while I’m enjoying Gesshounoku, it’s certainly no exception to the rule.

These sorts of series tend to share a comic style that’s almost Vaudevillian, a kind of stream-of-consciousness effect that sees the narrative bounce from one absurdity to the other, always ending with a punchline (often ironically delivered by the straight-man – or woman in this case – and often a double-entendre).  Geshhounku is fascinating in that almost all of the humor is derived from the concept of roles – the expectations our social order places on them, and the disorder that arises when they’re subverted.  This is a double-barreled attack, as the shoujo manga theme means the jokes are working inside and outside the narrative pretty much all the time.  It also – so far at least – gives us two leads in Sakura and Nozaki-kun who are both basically straight men, which is an unusual comedic structure to say the least.

So we have the main couple acting as tsukkomi surrounded by a cast of boke, playing out against meta-satire of the shoujo manga universe. Interesting stuff, and the boke just keep on coming.  This time around it’s Kashima Yuu (Nakahara Mai), the “Prince of the School” who happens to be a girl, and Hori Masayuki (Ono Yuuki) here sempai and president at the Drama Club.  Kashima-kun is pretty much playing out the gender flip gag to the fullest here, especially when Mikorin is with her and slips neatly into the heroine role.  Despite her constant flirting with the girls and their adoration of her, though, it’s clear she has eyes for Hori – and equally clear that he has eyes for her.

Hori is an interesting addition, arguably more so than Kashima because there’s more going on with him than comic relief.  He’s a good actor who refuses to act, electing to stand in the wings designing sets and watching Kashima take all the male lead roles (she’s convinced it’s because he’s self-conscious about his height).  He also works on backgrounds for Nozaki-kun’s manga, marking areas needing beta work with either a smiling cat or a pair of briefs.  As for Kashima she’s another one like Yuzuki who has a gift for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, though in her case it comes down mostly to being highly opinionated about everything and having no boundaries whatsoever.  Interestingly Hori tends to comically assault Kashima with pieces of his sets whenever she pisses him off (so, pretty much all the time) which is yet another gender trope subversion, as while it seems perfectly fine to most viewers to have girls assault boys, we rarely see anime guys do so to girls.

This is another one of those episodes that never got any huge laughs from me, but had me chuckling pretty much start to finish – which I guess is just my happy zone with this show.  I don’t know if I’m going to continue blogging it, largely for the reasons enumerated above, but I’m certainly going to continue watching.  I believe we still have a few more wacky ensemble members to be introduced, and I’m quite curious to see which demographic and genre clichés they flip on their heads.

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  1. g

    I read the manga and I have to say everybody has played tsukkomi to somebody's else boke at last once, because they all have some blind spots.

  2. l

    "I don't know if I'm going to continue watching it, largely for the reasons enumerated above, but I'm certainly going to continue watching."

    Neat trick that. ;p

  3. That's just how good I am.

  4. f

    one thing i like from dogakobo is that they're consistently delivering well executed anime, take GJ-bu, love lab, majestic prince, mikakunin de shinkoukei, and now gekkan shoujo nozaki-kun.
    i also like the fact that they use new seiyuus to be the main cast, it's always good to see a new seiyuu's career getting kickstarted

  5. E

    This anime is a pleasant existence among current season's anime, because it crosses the boundary, it can be enjoyed by both gender just fine. The story has nothing groundbreaking to it, but 20 minutes flies by. It was interesting that Mikorin has never met senpai, even though both of them have been assistants longer than Chiyo?

  6. w

    As far as I know, we've got a kouhai character played by Ryouhei Kimura coming up, so I'll be looking forward to that. Mikorin's probably the best, but the whole supporting cast are really kicking ass so far.

  7. m

    Yuzuki "briefs" had her moment as well. This week is a step down from last week (i agree mikorin's the best and my fav) but Hori does make an interesting character who seems to have potential to be more than comedy.

  8. S

    Is it just me, or is Kashima almost exactly like Sugimoto senpai from Aoi Hana?

  9. Yes, because it's a very common trope in shoujo manga.

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