What's “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”?
Choosing a new anime to watch is not as difficult as producing a monthly romance manga, but a little guidance can't hurt. If anime fans are the budding mangaka in this metaphor, let “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” be the editor that helps guide their pens. Each week we provide additional info and cultural context to help otaku decide whether or not they'd like to take an unknown series for a test drive.
What's Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun?
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a 2014 TV anime with direction by Mitsue Yamazaki and animation by Doga Kobo. The series is based on the Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun manga by Izumi Tsubaki, which is serialized in Square Enix's Gangan Online digital manga magazine. Crunchyroll describes Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun as follows:
"Chiyo Sakura, a high school girl who fell in love with the unrefined boy schoolmate Umetaro Nozaki, decides to be courageous one day and asks him out. Her feelings weren't conveyed properly, and before she knew it she ends up helping a particular job of his as an assistant... The series is a shojo manga boy comedy which centers around Nozaki, a high school boy that is a popular shojo manga artist, and has a story woven by very individualistic characters."
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a romantic comedy with the additional twist that all of the main characters – from art club member / female romantic lead / inker Chiyo Sakura to basketball club member / whipping boy / chief eraser Hirotaka Wakamatsu – end up involved in the production of the fictitious monthly girls' romance manga, Let's Fall in Love.
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a joy to watch because of the frisson that results from so many clashing personalities. For example, Chiyo is petite, proper, and caring with a classical art background while Nozaki is tall, athletic, aloof, and steeped in pop culture. They make an unlikely couple, but the series thrives on surprises. Since shōjo manga is the pattern, though, it's always two steps forward, two steps back.
A Comedy of Errors.
The humor in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun also relies on the defiance of expectations. Miscommunications and misinterpretations are the name of the game, as Nozaki and company routinely use works of fiction (shōjo manga, dating sims, etc.) to gauge how to interact with other people in social scenarios, and just as routinely they make hilarious mistakes.
The defiance of expectations extends not just to the situational comedy, but also to the characters themselves, as outward appearance rarely matches up with inward persona. Mikoto Mikoshiba, for example, projects the image of a handsome playboy but in reality he's painfully shy, and while Yuzuki Seo is a terror on the basketball court, she's not so much wicked-hearted as terrible at reading the room.
Of Love and Shōjo Manga.
Throughout the series, the chaos and confusion of high school life is contrasted with the idyllic fantasy world of Let's Fall in Love, with Nozaki and his assistants pulling inspiration from their various school and club activities and translating it into comic book form. The end result is educational as well as entertaining, giving a close look at the division of labor (penciling, beta, backgrounds, applying screen-tone and special effects, etc.) that goes into creating sequential art.
Ars Gratia Artis.
Crunchyroll currently streams Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun in 45 territories around the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The series is available in Japanese with subtitles in English, Latin American Spanish, and Portuguese. An English language version of the original manga is also published by Yen Press.
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is also released on Bluray and DVD in North America by Sentai Filmworks. The home video release includes an English dub, and the Bluray release comes in both a regular edition and a limited edition collector's version that includes extra goodies such as audio CDs, stickers, and a booklet.
If you're in the mood for some gentle romance and some impeccably timed physical / situational comedy combined with a dash of dramatic irony, you can't go wrong with Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. It's easy to fall in love with the entire cast of characters and their charming idiosyncrasies, and the series holds up very well to repeated viewings.
Is there a series in Crunchyroll's catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to [email protected] or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.