Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

When I wrote my original review for this show many years ago, I seriously slept on it. It was honestly pretty surprising how apathetic and harsh I was towards it back then, to the point of not really remembering much about it until rewatching it a few days ago. In fact, I criticized what is now one of my favorite comedic moments in the show (which I’d rather not spoil for you). Anyways, the basic premise; Chiyo, a high school student, has a massive crush on one of her fellow classmates, Nozaki. Nozaki just so happens to be a famous manga artist who goes by the pen name of Yumeno Sakiko, writing a romance shoujo manga called “Let’s Fall in Love” under the guise of being a female writer. When Chiyo tries confessing to him, her poor wording makes Nozaki mistakenly believe that she’s one of his fans, a development which leads to Nozaki recruiting Chiyo to help with his manga and the two of them becoming friends. Now that we have the basics down, let’s talk about something important; the romance. Given the show’s premise, you’d expect it to be a little more heavy on the romance aspect, but it’s actually not. There’s a lot more focus on the humor here, and the show ends up using Chiyo’s feelings for Nozaki as a tool to create humor by turning seemingly romantic situations on their head. In general, Nozaki is depicted as being extremely oblivious to Chiyo’s feelings, with his own manga being the only thing he is genuinely passionate about most of the time. Despite that, though, their relationship does meaningfully develop throughout the show, and it’s not the only one that takes center stage; one of this show’s best aspects lies in its characters, all of which are fantastic, likeable and extremely memorable. The only unlikable character in the entire show is that way by design, and you’ll quickly grow to easily recognize and care about everyone. Like any Slice-of-Life, there isn’t really a plot, but the little mini stories that unfold throughout the show and the way each one loosely but smoothly connects to the next makes it difficult to stop watching. Not only is the humor great, using the classic Nyaruko tactic mentioned prior often to create comedic scenes that do their job really well, but there are also moments where the show recognizes opportunities for romantic scenes that it doesn’t feel the need to spoil. It’s so well done—especially given how the show constantly makes fun of romance tropes while masterfully putting its own unique spin on the medium—that you’ll find yourself rooting for the relationships of all of the characters, Chiyo and Nozaki’s slowly developing romance being just one of many. I really can’t praise the writing and characterization enough; it’s funny and well thought out with excellent pacing, turning it into one of those “feel-good” shows where you’ll find yourself stupidly smiling and laughing throughout. Yet despite that general relaxed vibe, it’s incredibly clever and sharp in its humor, as opposed to, say, a show like Kiniro Mosaic which is more of a classic “cute girls doing cute things” type of deal. Then you have shows like Seitokai Yakuindomo, a non-stop gag reel that doesn’t have anywhere near the same sense of narrative cohesion that this show does. This doesn’t really fall into the same category as any of the other “feel-good” shows that I’ve seen, among them being the aforementioned Kiniro Mosaic and Seitokai Yakuindomo along with others such as K-On, Iruma-kun, or even Interviews with Monster Girls. If I had to try and pick a show I’ve seen that I feel is similar to this one, I’d probably go with Sakamoto desu-ga, which I really wouldn’t consider to be a “feel-good” anime. There’s just something about Gekkan Shoujo that’s so incredibly charming that it leaves a really positive impression on you right from the start that never goes away. The original soundtrack is surprisingly great with an excellent motif used throughout, not to mention the show’s opening song is great and I didn’t find myself skipping it at all. The art and animation is great with a unique looking and charming style (and I especially enjoyed the manga centric sections where a lot of the really silly scenarios that would otherwise be limited only to Nozaki’s imagination are put on display for the viewers to see). Given how well the show manages to tie all of its otherwise self-contained episodes together, creating a sense of narrative cohesion that takes the viewer for a ride and gives the show a sort-of grand sense of scale similar to what we see in K-On, it’s actually quite sad when it ends because it leaves you desperately wanting more. Like, I’d literally pay to see the remainder of Chiyo, Nozaki and everyone else’s high school lives animated in full. Despite there not being any actual plot beyond “Chiyo tries and keeps failing to get with Nozaki”, I still feel like I have the desperate need for actual closure entirely attributed to the show’s short length. You know me well enough at this point; I’m usually not the guy you’d expect to be begging for more content or additional seasons, so this is really, really high praise coming from me. I mean seriously, when I reviewed Samurai Champloo I commented that a second season would be to the show’s detriment and it didn’t need any more than what it already had, and when I reviewed Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, I mentioned the show didn’t even need the second season it had—which ended up just being the icing on the cake—because the first wrapped everything up so neatly. Anyways, enough gushing about the show, if you like Slice-of-Life, comedy, romance, etc or if you just want a recommendation for a generally good show, go give this a watch, it’ll be worth your time.

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