The spotlight turns away from most of the comedic heavyweights in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun this time, with most of the episode being devoted to the nominally “straight man” lead pair and the second-tier supporting cast. But it’s the strength of this series that it can do that pretty much without missing a beat, because there are really no weak spots anywhere you look. And both Nozaki and Chiyo have proved (especially the former) that they can carry a scene without having a boke to play off of.
Without a doubt, my favorite moment of the episode was when Nozaki was walking with Sakura, carrying an umbrella and dreaming about Suzuki dashingly promise he’ll protect Mamiko from the rain at any cost, when a car drives by and soaks them both. Without missing a beat, Nozaki muses “I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to prevent that” in a complete deadpan. A close second would be him tilting the umbrella (which has been loaned by daredevil Seo, who dashed home in the rain) such that he effectively uses it as a gutter spout on Sakura’s head.
It’s tough being Sakura, no question about it. She’s sending every signal in the book to Nozaki-kun but his receiver is turned off, which is bad enough – but he has an uncanny talent for unwittingly sending her signals back before crushing her dreams when the truth is revealed. Like when he echoes her internal “If only we could never get back to my house”, only to reveal that it’s because he doesn’t want to see the clothes he left to soak outside in the rain. Or when he asks her to take off her soaking clothes, only to follow-up seconds later by revealing that it’s one more attempt to get her to model the sailor uniform. Such a tease, and so completely unaware of it.
The B-Part turns its attention to Miyako-sensei (and boy, Kawasumi Ayako is a pro) and the two editors (ditto Miyake Kenta). Miyako, like Nozaki, is living a bit of a secret life in that most of her college classmates have no idea what she does for a living – which doesn’t stop them from coming up with some pretty wild guesses. Maeno may be well and truly the worst editor in the universe – he really does make Miura from Bakuman look like a saint. I give credit to Nozaki in that he’s fully aware of how lucky he is, and he even pushes Miyako to fight back – not just for her own sake, but for that of the poor newbies waiting to be abused by him in the future.
Poor Miyako is not only dealing with Maeno’s tanuki demands, but also with his “accidentally” changing all her titles into sexual innuendo (Nozaki similarly had to deal with such “mistakes”, though his were more random in nature) and now a demand for a male-female tanuki pairing. This leads to the tanuki getting more relationship development than the human pairing, and showing more common sense when things get silly. And it’s pretty easy to see what’s going to happen when Nozaki talks Miyako into a chapter with tanuki overload, in order to prove to Maeno how silly all this is. And it’s no surprise when Nozaki pushes Kiyako to call and lay into Maeno for messing up her latest title, and it turns into her apologizing for using too many Kanji in her manuscripts.
In the end, Miyako is left trying to come up with a character suited to wear the tanuki kigurumi her joke manuscript has roped her into inserting into her manga, and that ends up being Nozaki – which Chiyo thinks is the coolest thing ever. One might take heart from Nozaki-kun’s jealous reaction when Chiyo fangirls over the signed sketch of the new character Miyako gives her, but I think he’s offended as a mangaka, not a guy – it could have been Mikorin (OK, bad example) or Hori and he would have been just as freaked out…