Post Reply First Impressions 2: "Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun"
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Posted 2/1/15
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is another title based on a four panel comic, this time a romantic comedy centered on the life and times of main protagonist Chiyo Sakura. A lovestruck high school girl desperately seeking the affection of her crush, Umetaro Nozaki, is constantly and comically subverted in the endeavor by a combination of her own shyness, the zaniness of her classmates, and the apparently astonishing density of Nozaki's skull. The story's plot has two main foci as of its third episode: the advancement of Sakura's pursuit of Nozaki, and development of the latter's shoujo manga series by examining people for potential character models. Provided to Crunchyroll courtesy of Media Factory and directed by Mitsue Yamazaki, we're in for a real treat this time.

Animation/Visual Effects, Illustration

The animation and illustration quality in this series are both about average, with the usual corner-cutting methods to save on budget at play. Still frames with voiceovers, people freezing up whenever they're not speaking, recycled backgrounds, cutting away from complex sequences in the middle, use of key frames and zooming to generate the illusion of movement on the cheap, it's all there. Everything comes across as it should, but this isn't a visually dazzling work by any means. As for visual effects, they're abundant to the point of almost being overused (especially Mikoshiba's flowery backgrounds, for example, were entertaining at first, but became repetitive and lost their humor as time went on.

The opening sequence is nice and offer a wide range of colors and details to excite the eye, but the closing sequence isn't much at all in terms of animation since it's mostly a series of still frames and pans across them. In other words, the opening is what I'd call decent while the closing is more along the lines of acceptable.

Writing, Characters

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun boasts a vibrant, colorful cast of characters which pleasantly caricature a wide range of classic shoujo anime/manga tropes. From the titular character’s brick-like thickness, to Mikoshiba’s dualism as a bold playboy who is nevertheless embarrassed easily, to Kashima’s routine as a flirty “prince” character, there’s plenty of comedic potential to go around. The character designs are appropriate for the setting even if it forces them to feel a little stock, and the sort of character each person is to be satirizing effectively informs the designs without leaving a feeling of being led by the nose.

The first scene of an anime is incredibly important for setting its tone, and we’re given a very clear message about what sort of humor this series will be emphasizing: establishment of a series of misunderstandings which are then followed through to comically extraordinary or exaggerated consequences. Though some of the jokes become exceedingly repetitive at times (Mikoshiba’s embarrassment over his daring declarations felt a tad overused, for example) by and large the humor is kept new and relevant as the plot moves forward. I will say that I personally took great enjoyment in essentially any scene focusing on either Kashima or Seo. The plot of the first few episodes focuses well on each character's introduction, and unlike in Working!! I feel I've come to know each member of my main cast sufficiently well enough by the end of their introductory episodes to know who they are, where they're coming from, and where they're going.

Music/Sound Effects

The music sets a nice mood and accents the comedy well, but isn't anything groundbreaking. This is a fairly run-of-the-mill soundtrack as anime of its type goes, though there were some gems in the mix. Masayoshi Oishi's "Seems It Can't Be Anyone Other Than You" is an enjoyable (if a pinch generic) opening theme, but what really got me excited was hearing Giordani's "Caro Mio Ben" toward the end of the second episode. As far as the sound effects are concerned, they were well-used, but completely stock. All told, I would describe the auditory experience of the introductory portion of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun as alright with the occasional moment where my eyes got shiny.

Acting

I'm pretty happy with the voice acting in this series. Ari Ozawa is pleasant as Sakura, successfully establishing a connection with the audience and projecting our voice into the series exactly as she's supposed to. Nobuhiko Okamoto is a real heavy-hitter with extensive experience in voice acting, and it shows here in his performance as Mikoshiba. It hardly ceases to amuse when I hear Okamoto flipping back and forth between bragging about how studly he is and whimpering in embarrassment, and the speed at which he flips back and forth between these modes is impressive. Sawashiro projects Seo's brashness, rudeness, and self-importance wonderfully, keeping these characteristics readily apparent without pushing them so far as to make the character's obnoxiousness lose its charm. It's sort of a pity that Yuichi Nakamura, an actor with such a wide range of characters under his belt and the ability to really cut loose and get loud was cast as the deadpan Nozaki-kun, but he does well with it.

Scores
Animation/Visual Effects 5/10
Illustration 6/10
Writing 8/10
Characters 8.5/10
Music/Sound Effects 7/10
Acting 8.5/10
Personal Enjoyment 9/10
Overall Score 7/10

NEXT TIME: Ping-Pong the Animation
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Posted 3/10/15
Yeah, the characters were definitely the selling point for this show and I could tell that was the intent. They had varying relationship strength and catalyzed each other sensibly. Usually, only the main character is a catalyst because it's easier to write.

One thing that struck me was how subjective Sakura was toward her friend Seo. The writer consciously decided that Sakura would have a bias, while Nozaki's opinion of Seo was much more negative. We're shown a difference of opinion that's sensible and humorous. That doesn't happen very often. Often, an opinion about a character is held universally by all the other characters, since it's easier to write.

Anyway, I read your Q&A about the rubric you're using. Personal enjoyment doesn't affect the overall score, but here it ended up being higher than any other category. Any explanation? Just up your alley?

Your reviews seem lonely and Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun was one of my recent favorites, so I thought I'd offer to discuss and see what kind of feedback you're looking for. Hope to see the hiatus end because I really enjoy thinking about and discussing the rare strong points of anime storytelling.
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Posted 3/31/15

Kavalion wrote:

Yeah, the characters were definitely the selling point for this show and I could tell that was the intent. They had varying relationship strength and catalyzed each other sensibly. Usually, only the main character is a catalyst because it's easier to write.

One thing that struck me was how subjective Sakura was toward her friend Seo. The writer consciously decided that Sakura would have a bias, while Nozaki's opinion of Seo was much more negative. We're shown a difference of opinion that's sensible and humorous. That doesn't happen very often. Often, an opinion about a character is held universally by all the other characters, since it's easier to write.

Anyway, I read your Q&A about the rubric you're using. Personal enjoyment doesn't affect the overall score, but here it ended up being higher than any other category. Any explanation? Just up your alley?

Your reviews seem lonely and Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun was one of my recent favorites, so I thought I'd offer to discuss and see what kind of feedback you're looking for. Hope to see the hiatus end because I really enjoy thinking about and discussing the rare strong points of anime storytelling.


Oh, geez. Wow. I'm sorry this reply is coming so ridiculously late, but I hadn't noticed your post. Go ahead and quote me from now on so I get a notification. If I don't respond in a reasonable amount of time, go ahead and give me a poke with a PM.

Now, to business. That's an interesting insight concerning differences of opinions on Seo. I hadn't really given the matter much thought since it seemed natural that Nozaki and Sakura would feel differently about her.

Regarding your questions about the personal enjoyment score I applied, you've more or less got the idea. I really enjoy comedy of the sort that Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is playing at, and it generally did pretty well at keeping me engaged. I keep personal enjoyment out of the final average because it kind of already works its way into the more subjective parts of the other categories, and I don't want it to be overrepresented by giving it its own category.

As for what sort of feedback I'm looking for, you've provided exactly that. Questioning why I rated this or that the way I did, offering your own insights into a title, all of that. Anything you feel you want to say about what I've written or the series I've spoken about. The hiatus will end, but I'm not sure when that will be. I'll post an announcement once that happens.
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Posted 4/6/15

BlueOni wrote:Oh, geez. Wow. I'm sorry this reply is coming so ridiculously late, but I hadn't noticed your post. Go ahead and quote me from now on so I get a notification.


Hey, no problem.


I really enjoy comedy of the sort that Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is playing at, and it generally did pretty well at keeping me engaged.


Yeah, I've seen quite a few of the old Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock romantic comedies, so I enjoy watching a few of the animes that make a stab in that general direction. The ensemble cast is one of the pluses of animes like this one.


Anything you feel you want to say about what I've written or the series I've spoken about.


Great. I like that attitude.

You write well, so I'll check back for that hiatus ending.
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