Sunday, December 9, 2018

REVIEW: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vols. 6-9) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey

This is another one of my "vacation reads" posts, so be warned that there are spoilers in the sections for individual volumes.

I was hesitant about getting back into this series, since I'd had trouble getting into it during my last vacation. Thankfully, it seems like 4-panel comic burnout really was to blame, because I very much enjoyed the series this time around, at least up until volume 9. I think burn-out was again to blame for that, since I didn't notice any kind of significant difference between volume 9 and volume 6.

I do wonder if Tsubaki has any kind of resolution planned for this series, but even if it's one of those works that's designed to go on forever (ignoring the fact that the characters need to graduate at some point), I don't see it getting old for me for a while yet.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 6) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey - (This isn't all of the things that were covered in the volume, just the things I managed to write down.) Nozaki attempts to find inspiration for a special horror issue of his manga. Miyako's male classmate and one-time date totally misunderstands her relationship with Nozaki. Chiyo (or Sakura - I'm totally inconsistent about the name I use for her, sorry) misses Nozaki when he goes home for a bit. Nozaki pretends to be a female basketball coach. The editors at Nozaki's magazine pick a theme for a special edition. Mikoto needs a fake girlfriend to get a girl who likes him to go away. Mayu, Nozaki's 15-year-old brother, is forced to text Mikoto for hours - both of them think the other is a girl.

This was a really refreshing read. I had forgotten how enjoyable this series could be. The artwork was great, and the humor usually worked for me.

Nozaki, as usual, was entertainingly dense, and I was amused at the realization that, by this point, Chiyo probably wouldn't believe him if he flat-out told her he was in love with her and wanted to go out with her.

Hori and Kashima are my favorite possible couple, even though Kashima would probably give Hori an ulcer. I enjoy Hori's relative normality and the moments when he and Kashima almost click as a possible couple. Of them all, he's the least over-the-top character.

The part of the volume where Mayu texted Mikoto for hours was funny but seemed a bit out of character for Mayu. I couldn't believe that a guy who's generally pretty lazy wouldn't somehow find a way to bow out of a never-ending texting session.

The one part of the volume that had me going WTF was the revelation that Nozaki once wrote a pedophile romance in an effort to push the envelope in a "love with an age gap" special manga. You'd think even Nozaki would have realized that that was going to far.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 7) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey - (This isn't all of the things that were covered in the volume, just the things I managed to write down.) Nozaki is considering upgrading his characters' flip phones to smart phones. Hori realizes that Waka and Seo are in Nozaki's manga, as well as who they are. Miyako goes out drinking with her college friends, who still think she works as a hostess, and ends up with embarrassing pics of her and Seo's brother, Ryousuke. Chiyo and Mikoto ask Mayu to help them exercise. Waka gets set up with Seo by his teammates and learns that he can make her run away by asking her out. Nozaki wants firsthand experience with bullying for his manga. Hori doesn't realize that Kashima has his ideal legs.

I continue to enjoy this series. I love it when Tsubaki gives readers views of both what really happened (for example, Mayu saying stuff Nozaki could say to Chiyo to motivate her) vs. what others see and how they interpret it (Mayu's friends thinking he's asking a high school girl out while they're both running).

I also kind of liked getting to see more of that idiot editor, Maeno, vs. Ken, Nozaki's current editor. I can't help but wonder what sorts of experiences Tsubaki based Maeno on. Considering how awful he is, it's a wonder Ken gets anything done while he's around. I laughed at the revelation that Maeno's mangaka turn their stuff in early because they know he's a flake who probably wouldn't even think to build a cushion into the due dates he gives them. Poor Ken is forced to suffer because he's actually good at his job.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 8) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey - (This isn't all of the things that were covered in the volume, just the things I managed to write down.) Nozaki tries to pick a theme for a short story. Waka learns that Mikoto is one of Nozaki's assistants, the one who does the flowers and who is the unwitting inspiration for Mamiko. Kashima helps out at Ryousuke's cafe. Ryousuke meets Waka and thinks Waka and Seo are in love with each other. Mikoto and Mayu go on a group date. Seo tries to be "nice" to everyone equally. Nozaki tries to come up with extra material (sidebars) for his manga. Hori gets drunk on Kashima's brandy cake. The volume ends with several pages of 4-panel comics mostly focused on Yumeko, Nozaki's shojo fan younger sister who refuses to believe he's the creator of her favorite manga.

This volume was a bit short compared to the previous few, but still fun.

Drunk Hori was adorably loving, and he and Kashima were cute together. I realized at the end of the volume that both Kashima and Chiyo get hugs from their crushes (if you count Hori as Kashima's crush) in this volume - Hori because he's drunk and Nozaki because he's crushed that his assistants think working for him is embarrassing.

I laughed at Ryousuke's pity for Waka. Even though his interpretation of the situation isn't quite correct (Waka's feelings for Seo are complicated and debatable), Waka really is an idiot.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 9) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey - (This isn't all of the things that were covered in the volume, just the things I managed to write down.) Mikoto can't bring himself to tell Waka he owns figures and plays dating sims. The girls try to figure out how to do a proper sleepover. The Drama Club has an improv day. Waka keeps randomly falling asleep, and Seo discovers her power over him. Kashima dresses more femininely, and Mikoto kind of hopes he'll get to see Hori acting jealous. Hori realizes Kashima is physically both his ideal guy type and his ideal girl. Bonus: the volume ends with comics featuring Chiyo's little brother meeting Nozaki. He misunderstood and assumed Nozaki was a model, so he's surprised at how ordinary Nozaki is.

As a Hori/Kashima fan, my favorite part of this volume was when Kashima dressed more femininely and Hori had his revelation. Will Tsubaki go anywhere with this? Who knows.

I liked getting to see Chiyo's brother, and there were a few good moments throughout the volume, but it's probably a good thing that this was the last Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun volume in my pile, because I suspect I reached my burn-out point. It seems it's never a good idea for me to read too many 4-panel comedy volumes in a row.

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