To the eyes of high school student Chiyo Sakura, classmate Umetarou Nozaki–brawny of build and brusque of tongue–is a dreamboat! When Chiyo finally works up the courage to tell Nozaki how she feels about him, she knows rejection is on the table…but getting recruited as a manga-ka’s assistant?! Never in a million years! But for someone who makes a living drawing sweet girly romances, Nozaki-kun is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to matters of the heart in reality. And so Chiyo’s daily life of manga making and heartache begins!
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun Volume 1
By Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a four panel comic strip about a girl who has a crush on a boy who draws romance manga. It is first and foremost a comedy with quirky characters in funny situations, but it also takes its pot shots at making shojo manga, which is often just as funny.
The volume starts with Chiyo’s attempt to confess her feelings to Nozaki which leads to her recruitment as one of his assistants. Chiyo is the “straight man” of the title. She is the most normal, often wondering about the strange people she finds herself surrounded by. The focus of her affection, Nozaki comes off as calm, bordering on indifferent. He rarely smiles, with a vein throb being the most emotion he ever shows. Despite being a popular shojo artist, he is clueless when it comes to girls and their feelings in the real world.
After being drawn into Nozaki’s world, she meets the other students he has recruited to help him. Mikoshiba likes to think of himself as a player, but he gets really embarrassed when he actually speaks to real girls. He draws all the flower for backgrounds. He is also who Nozaki based the heroine of his manga on. Hori is the president of the drama club and does most of the rest of the background work. Kashima is a girl in the drama club who is also known as “The Prince” for all the flirting she does with the girls, and causes a lot of trouble for Hori. Seo is a friend of Chiyo’s, who she introduces to Nozaki when he thinks of adding a new character. While Nozaki is clueless in the romance department, Seo is oblivious about everything, believing she is being helpful, when all she’s really doing is aggravating everyone around her.
Although watching this cast of quirky characters is fun, it’s all the gags about shojo manga that make this title really funny. Nozaki takes not portraying anything illegal very seriously. From delinquents smoking and drinking to just having two people riding on a bike, his solutions are often ridiculous. This even ends up paying off later in what was my favorite chapter in the manga. Nozaki and Mikoshiba play a dating sim game which ends with Nozaki drawing a boys love manga. Tsubaki did a great job calling back to it at the end.
Editors are not spared a ribbing as Nozaki’s previous editor, Maeno, is introduced while working with another mangaka, Miyako. Nozaki’s way of dealing with his interfering was amusing. Miyako is less fortunate as she must endure his personal quirk of having her put a tanuki into every story, no matter the genre. Like Seo, he is an example of what an editor shouldn’t be like.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is an off-the-wall look at shojo manga that hits the funny bone just right. The four panel format is perfect, with the punch line panels hitting the mark practically every time. Tsubaki’s art is well done. All of the character designs are varied, and the reactions shots, especially Chiyo’s, are great. The only regret you’ll have about picking up this volume of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is having to wait for the next one.
Review copy provided by publisher.