Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 04

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is one series that was definitely truth in advertising.

This show seems to have left meta in the rear-view mirror some time ago, and is now immersed in some kind of ourobouros-like nirvana state few anime every aspire to.  I’m hard-pressed to think of another anime (or manga) that so comprehensively flips gender stereotypes on their head – certainly of one that does it so successfully.  In a medium that’s increasingly dominated by series focusing more and more narrowly on more and more specialized niche audiences, that’s something that should be celebrated.

The real-world and fictional sides of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun are hopelessly entangled, each a part of this subversion mentality that drives the series.  It’s interesting that the series is written by a female shoujo mangaka because there are times when I feel it approaches its story from a distinctly male perspective – but then I suppose that’s fitting, given how there’s a kind of bizarro reality asserting itself where males assume traditionally female roles and vice-versa.

Given the kind of series this is, the world of galge is a glorious subject to be mined for humor, and it works every bit as well as you might expect.  We have Mikoshiba – the boy who plays at real-life (inside the story) shoujo hero, while being depicted as shoujo heroine by Nozaki-kun – relating to 2D girls a lot better than 3D ones.  When he badgers Nozaki into trying “Girls Princess 3” Nozaki first uses the name of his manga protagonist, then proceeds to torpedo all potential relationships because he “only has eyes” for his manga heroine (who, let’s remember, is Mikorin).  Then, even better, he re-starts the game as himself, only to attack every situation using the logic perspective of shoujo manga – which leads to disastrous results at every fork in the road.

Seriously – the degree to which that’s pure genius is hard to overstate.  It works satirically on so many levels, and it’s a hilarious commentary on the difference in expectation between guys and girls, and how the popular media that market to them exploit it.  That’s not all, though – Nozaki-kun initially resists help from the games best friend character Tomoda – as in “Tomodachi” – (Satoshi Hino) because he’s sure it’s a trap (which it would be if this were a shoujo manga).  But then he and Mikorin become so smitten with Tomoda’s relentless helpfulness in giving up his three years of school life to be supportive they decide to write a manga with him as the hero, so he can finally get his own relationship.  And when they try and come up with the perfect mate they realize it has to be the male protagonist, so it ends up being a BL manga.  I think my brain just exploded.

The cast of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a very good one indeed, but for my money there’s no doubt Mikoshiba is the best… whatever he is.  His tortured consternation is the engine that powers the series’ funniest moments, and that continues as he tries to convince Sakura that he can relate to 3D girls, only to have to text her a plea for help when they won’t stop talking to him.  Then he gets himself roped into attending a mixer and has to go to Nozaki and Sakura for advice, which gives the normally tsukkomi Nozaki a chance for some distinctly boke moments as he applies his own warped perspective to the notion and even role-plays as a girl for verisimilitude (though not before initially giving the girl’s role to Mikorin, as usual).  Mikorin ends up bailing and getting the Prince, Kashima, to take his place – which the boys who invited him are initially happy about as it means less competition, but are in for a cruel surprise when Kashima’s true nature asserts itself.

All things considered this was probably my favorite episode of Nozaki-kun so far.  It focused on what seem to me the strongest elements of the series – full-bore gender-flipping satire and Mikorin.  I haven’t met a character here who I don’t like, but Mikorin is the one that really pops – Okamoto Nobuhiko is a fine seiyuu and underrated when it comes to comedy, but he’s absolutely murdering this role so far.  Watching this series makes me want to check out Tsubaki Izumi’s “straight” shoujo manga, just to see how seriously she plays it – and that’s as high a compliment as you can pay to an anime adaptation, I think.  This series is definitely a keeper.

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Nozaki-kun - 04 -11 Nozaki-kun - 04 -12 Nozaki-kun - 04 -13
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Nozaki-kun - 04 -34 Nozaki-kun - 04 -35 Nozaki-kun - 04 -36


  1. C

    BRILLIANCE! So many levels of satire working together in a 20 minute storm of hilariousness. I have no idea how the author manages to write both this and her HanaYume serial at the same time but honestly I think this her calling.

  2. H

    "It's interesting that the series is written by a female shoujo mangaka " Not only that but it has a female director too I just found out, same lady who did Hakkenden and a few episodes of Penguindrum. And I do feel like you're giving shojo a bit of a short stick here the way you keep saying it's funny partially because it's completely different from usual, I don't disagree that the series is hilarious but I don't think that all or most of the fun comes from the gender-flipping of the various tropes, I think a lot of the situations would have been funny if the characters had been guys or girls and then the gender-flipping only adds to it.

  3. I'm not clear on what you mean by "keep saying it's funny partially because it's completely different from usual". I love the fact that the series obliterates demographic borders and crosses the streams at will, yes – though I don't see how that could possibly be taken as a dig at any specific demographic or genre.

  4. H

    I feel like you keep saying "it's funny because it's TOTALLY DIFFERENT from other shojo" while shojo is a pretty big area and it's not the first to mess with these ideas. It's not a dig, and I know that you don't mean it meanly at all, but shojo is much more than just romance/rom-coms and it feels like you're forgetting that here.

  5. OK, fair enough. Let me just state for the record that I don't think that has any relation in any way to anything I wrote, in regards to Nozaki-kun or anywhere else.

  6. m

    I've read Oresama Teacher and I would say Gekkan Shoujo is way better and sharper. I think what the author does best is comedy and she's really nailing it here.

    In Oresama Teacher, there's quite a number of anti-stereotype and expectation-defying characters. But in Oresama, everyone's a troll of sorts. I think the mangaka made a good call to make the two mains straight-up normal, as they play out the audience role for us (with all the hilarious comments)

  7. i

    Aaannd Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun continues to be the highlight of my week.

    As for Oresama Teacher, Tsubaki Izumi's other work, it honestly seems like a shounen repackaged with sparkly art and pretty boys. To wit: the length (over 100 chapters with no signs of stopping and nary a glance of legit romance in sight); the ludicrously OP fights of juvenile delinquents; the focus on the power of friendship; and the struggle against a big-bad organization, one boss at a time. LOL

    It doesn't quite reach the comedic heights of GSNK, but it does have its moments. BDSM? Ninjas? Cross-dressing? Message-carrying pigeons? You name it, it's got it all. The closest comparison I can think of is Ouran High School Host Club, but I don't think that it ever toyed with shoujo cliches the way Oresama Teacher does.

    Either way, Tsubaki Izumi is a comedic gift to mankind and deserves all of her recent success.

  8. R

    I lost it completely when Nozaki and Mikorin were trying to create a manga for Tomoda and inadvertantly turned it into BL

    Like completely lost it. It actually reminded me of Tokyo Majin somewhat, which is another galge that got an anime adaptation but lost almost all of the normal romance and cranked up Tue bromance to max. Pretty funny. Or Jun from Happiness. The trap everyone plays for and ignores all the other girls for XD

    That aside, I didn't realize Oresama Teacher was the 'straight shoujo' in question. That explains so much. I love that series for being a shoujo that really doesn't follow shoujo convention at all (or even has much romance) but still manages to hit some wonderful shoujo tropes in a hilarious way. As in girls obviously still love it (its over 100 chapters now,so someone's gotta be reading)

  9. w

    Heroine. Mikoshiba is the best heroine. I like that he's actually really fleshed out, but it just happens that almost every facet of him happens to be funny.

  10. It doesn't surprise me to hear that Izumi's "serious" shoujo has a lot of absurdity, and bends demographic convention. I'll check it out when I have time.

    And yes, Mikorin is best girl.

  11. S

    The part where I almost spat my breakfast across room was when after playing the galge he made the comment of graduating from 2D to 3D … and then held up a figurine!

    This series is so much gold. I loved the part when shoujo tropes were being applied to the galge games. It was just too funny

  12. w

    I think my brain short-circuited while watching this show. It was too hilarious that I think I could die of laughing!! lol

  13. D

    I've been working on an essay about "Nozaki-kun" so I avoided reading your posts until now (I didn't want to accidentally idea-borrow), but YES, PERFECT, you nailed everything in this post. I especially love your description of the series as "ourobouros-like" – I referred to it as a "perpetual motion machine," which is similar, but I think I like your description better. Little mad I didn't come up with it myself, in fact. ^^;

    This was the "wow" episode for me with this show, when I knew we were dealing with something that was beyond good comedy and entering the realm of brilliance, so it's great to read another's opinion and know I'm not just over-analyzing over here. Thanks as always for your thoughtful posts!

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