Monday, January 1, 2018

REVIEW: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vols. 4-5) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a 4-koma comedy series. I had a large stack of it available during my vacation, but after I burned out so badly on My Neighbor Seki, a comedy series that feels like it could be 4-koma even though it isn't, I was reluctant to plow through them. What if I burned out on this series too?

I wasn't quite as into this series this time around as I was during my last vacation. Maybe I was just burned out on comedy in general. At any rate, I still enjoyed it and plan on reading more during my next vacation.

As usual for these vacation reading posts, there are spoilers from here on out.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 4) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey - Nozaki and his male friends play an otome game (and get pretty into it) because Ken, Nozaki's favorite editor, offers it to him and Nozaki desperately wants to be friends with him. Readers get to meet Nozaki's good-looking but lazy younger brother, see how his parents reacted when he decided to move out for his own convenience, etc. The joke about Wakamatsu loving Lorelei (who he's never met) and being aggravated by Seo (who he doesn't realize is Lorelei) continues. Nozaki uses Mikoshiba and Sakura to test out a manga idea about meeting up and using cellphones as little as possible, and there's a joke about Nozaki trying to learn to do backgrounds. He can't seem to get characters' heights right, so he keeps having to put them on boxes.

I recalled previous volumes being better, but that might just have been comedy burnout. Still, there were good bits. I laughed at the parts with Nozaki's brother, who Miyako liked to draw without his shirt on. I also enjoyed the bit about Ken trying to win Nozaki over when he first became Nozaki's editor (Nozaki expected Ken to be like his previous editor, the one who now forces Miyako to put tanuki in all her manga). The only thing Ken had to do was know the names of five characters in Nozaki's manga, which underscores just how bad his previous editor was.

As far as manga creation goes, Hori really comes across as a more serious manga creator than Nozaki. In his volume he kept stopping to take reference photos for his background work, whereas Nozaki couldn't seem to get the hang of doing his own backgrounds.

Oh, and I enjoyed the otome game bit, especially since I've played so many visual novels in the past year. This particular otome game was bizarre. The most normal seeming guy in the game turned out to secretly be Satan.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 5) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey - Sakura tries to be more appealing to Nozaki but just ends up behaving worrisomely. Kashima loses her voice and has others read her words for her, Mayu (Nozaki's little brother, who, judging by a quick image search, everyone ships with Mikoshiba) tries to depict judo moves using cute/hot girls from Mikoshiba's manga collection, Nozaki has to try to come up with something cute to put on merchandise for his series, Wakamatsu thinks Kashima is Seo's hot boyfriend (and maybe two-timing Sakura), everybody goes to the beach and all the guys lose their swim trunks because of Seo, and then there's a bit about manga cover illustration. Oh, and we get a flashback to Sakura's love for Nozaki before the start of the manga, plus how they met.

Eh, it was okay. The swim trunks bit really made me laugh, though. "I based Mamiko's expressions on Mikoshiba's. It was the perfect mix of despair!" Oh, Nozaki. Anything and everything is fodder for his manga.

I also really liked the bit about manga cover illustration. This series is really at its best when the humor is directly related to manga creation. I felt a bit bad for Mamiko, who was stuck putting tanuki on her covers even though Maeno isn't her editor for those, just because people thought she's the one who likes them.

The bit about Mayu trying to illustrate judo moves made me wonder if he might get added to Nozaki's roster of assistants. Probably not, since he's so utterly lazy, but he seemed to have enough talent to be useful.

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