Sunday, February 25, 2018

REVIEW: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Limited Edition (anime TV series)

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a comedy series based on a 4-koma manga. I bought the anime on a whim during a sale without bothering to really look it up much. I knew I liked the manga,and I knew, based on a couple complaints I'd seen, that the anime would not resolve the issue of Chiyo's unrequited love for Nozaki. Even though this series has romance in it, it really is best (and significantly less frustrating) to approach it as primarily a comedy.

The basic premise: Chiyo has had a crush on Nozaki since the first time they met. She finally works up the courage to tell him, but he misunderstands and thinks she's trying to tell him that she knows he's a manga artist and she's a fan of his work. He gives her his autograph and ends up inviting her to his house. She does the beta (filling in marked areas with black ink) for him and is shocked to learn that he's the writer and artist of a popular shojo manga.

As the series progresses, Chiyo meets more and more of Nozaki's assistants/friends, learns more about the life of a manga artist, and learns how Nozaki, in particular, does his work. He doesn't really have much of an imagination, so a good chunk of the series is devoted to Nozaki mining real-life situations and people for things he can use in his manga.

I didn't quite enjoy it as much as the manga, and I think part of the reason for that was that I had already seen most of the jokes before and knew which jokes were left out. For example, I was a little sad that the best parts of Wakamatsu's screentone jokes weren't used. Also, all of Nozaki's editor's backstory was cut out.

Still, this turned out to be a fun and slick series. The original 4-koma jokes made the transition to funny moments in full-length episodes very nicely. As with any comedy series, some jokes worked better for me than others. My favorite moments were probably the part where Nozaki and Mikoshiba played a dating sim and ended up creating a fan comic for one of the characters and the part that introduced poor Miyako's tanuki problem (unfortunately, just like Ken-san much of her part in the series was cut).

I had forgotten how fantastically stupid Wakamatsu was, and I found that I enjoyed his and Seo's storyline more in the anime than in the manga. Kashima and Hori were still fun, although apparently I completely forgot about Kashima's misunderstanding about Hori preferring women's clothing, or it was just emphasized more in the anime than in the manga. Or was this joke introduced solely for the anime? I honestly can't remember seeing it in the manga.

Although I could see why the ending would be frustrating for anyone going into this series expecting some sort of resolution to Chiyo's crush on Nozaki, I found that I actually liked the way it was done a lot. She was a bit disappointed that he still didn't realize her true feelings for him, sure, but she had also come to the realization that she was happy being his friend and getting to be around him every day, even if their relationship wasn't romantic. I really liked that.

All in all, this was a good series, if overly short. I didn't bother to check how long it was before going in, so the ending at episode 12 was a bit of a shock. One fun thing: if you pay attention and have read enough of the manga, you'll notice that Nozaki's younger brother has a brief cameo at the very end of the last episode.


I sprang for the limited edition boxed set, so there are quite a few extras. The main things you get in this edition that you don't in the regular editions are the CDs, stickers, and book.
  • A page of stickers of chibi-fied characters from the series: Chiyo, Wakamatsu, Hori, Nozaki, and Mikoshiba. They're cute, but I wish there were more of them, or two sets.
  • A 3-disc set of soundtracks: character songs and the complete soundtrack in two volumes. This was a gamble for me, since I had no idea if I'd like the series soundtrack, and unfortunately it's a gamble that didn't really work out. This wasn't a series that left me clamoring for its soundtrack. I liked less than a handful of the songs across all three of these discs.
  • Clean opening animation.
  • Clean closing animation. 
  • Six Nozaki-kun short episodes. Although they're included as extras, I consider them to technically be part of the main series, since the first part of them concludes a joke that was started at the end of the main series but never finished. These are a must-watch if you enjoyed the main series.
  • Japanese promos for the series.
  • Japanese commercials for the series.
  • An 80-page book with episode descriptions, character info, interviews and creator comments, and more. I haven't read much of it yet, but it looks great.

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