Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 01
OP: 「君じゃなきゃダメみたい」 (Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai) by 大石昌良 (Ooishi Masayoshi)
「その恋は、少女漫画化されてゆく。」 (Sono Koi wa, Shoujo Mangaka Sarete Yuku.)
“This Love… Is Being Turned Into a Shojo Manga”
Solid romcom antics with a comic bent. If you like your romance with a heavy helping of laughter and laid-back pacing, know that this Dogakobo anime is going well so far.
I’m on record as paying more attention to an anime’s staff (especially the director and script writers) when trying to anticipate a series’ quality, because the studio name doesn’t always mean a whole lot (Ex: Madhouse –> No Game No Life, Mahouka). There are exceptions though. Studios like KyoAni, Trigger, Bones, and SHAFT have consistent enough staff that they can be judged as entities, and Dogakobo counts among their number.
Dogakobo is highly specialized in the light romcom and slice-of-life genres, and they’re very, very good at it. They’ve had a string of successes, including Yuruyuri, GJ-bu, Love Lab, and Mikakunin de Shinkoukei. To me, their success comes down to two interwoven things: Obsessive attention to detail in both animation and storytelling.
Dogakobo’s animation always surprises me, because even though they adapt simple source material, they never skimp on animation even when they could easily get away with it–and in instances it would engender no ill will. Simple things like protagonist Sakura Chiyo (Ozawa Ari) running up the stairs are exquisitely animated because…well, because they can. From the clean character designs and luscious background stills to splurging on character movement when they don’t have to, Dogakobo seems to take pride in delivering excellent animation in the most understated way possible. It’s a lucky series that gets a Dogakobo anime.
Dense Boy, Goofy Girl
In romcoms, the dynamic between the main pair is always key. How can the story keep the relationship from developing too rapidly–otherwise the story would end–while still keeping us entertained? Here, they throw out the dreaded dense male protagonist in Nozaki Umetarou (Nakamura Yuuichi), and it…works. For several reasons. One is that it’s simply the first episode, but there’s also the contrast between Nozaki-kun’s blunt attitude and his ultra-sensitive work Yumeno Sakiko. That–combined with his comment about giving romantic advice to female classmates, when asked–makes him sound like someone who is intellectually suited to romance but emotionally immature. That makes sense to me, because it’s always easier to see what’s going on in a relationship when it’s not yours.
The second reason is that it’s not only Nozaki-kun who is (inadvertently) blocking their relationship’s progression. I’ll forgive Sakura her first fumbles, but her second confession/autograph request shows that she’s more than capable of blocking their development herself. And that’s good! If it was all one or the other, it would feel like that character’s “fault” that the relationship is stalled, but when it’s both that’s not the case. It’s neither’s fault, they just haven’t gotten over their own issues yet.
Plus, I’ve come to enjoy female protagonists/male love interests more and more. It’s nice to see the ladies being goofy and silly instead of it always being the guys. Between Sakura’s reactions, her optimistic delusions, and her occasional out-of-left-field quirk, she gives us that.
Taking Their Time
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei shocked me early on because of how quickly it moved. Here they’re taking their time. This makes Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun a certain kind of comedy, namely not a shocking, laugh-out-loud one. Compared to the club introduction scene from the first episode of Free -Eternal Summer-, the jokes here were more understated. I still sported a wry smile most of the time, and did indeed laugh out loud, but the comedy wasn’t so uproarious as to surprise me most of the time.
I like it. The comedy is centered more on the characters rather than absurd situations, and that’s a more dependable and deeper way to tell a tale. It’s more laid-back, which is a kind of comedy I enjoy. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is starting out strong in all of the things its trying to do.
Looking Ahead – Mikorin?
I don’t know if I’ll be blogging this series, but I’ll be watching it, so if another post doesn’t appear next week then feel free to check in with me on twitter. Thanks for reading!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Solid romcom antics with a comic bent. A funny doki doki episode. Dogakobo strikes again! #nozakikun 01
- Both the OP and ED had a nice vibe, both musically and visually, but the OP wins for me. How they wove musical imagery into the sequence was clever.
- Tall guy and a short girl. I like it!
- In the season preview Zanibas noted that Sakura’s seiyuu was going to have a lot to prove. So far? She’s doing a pretty good job.
- Side rant: It’s ridiculous that you can’t show something illegal things like underage drinking or riding behind someone on a bike in manga, because it could give kids the wrong idea, but it’s okay to show murder. (In other series, obviously.) That double standard.
- I liked how even the manga characters were voiced. Especially with Miyano Mamoru as the male protagonist of Nozaki-kun’s manga!
- So all I need to do is lift women into the air to, well, pick them up? I’ve been doing it the hard way this whole time!
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: Anchor, Expectations & different types of stories, Book update: Off to see the editor, and The gap.
I’m looking for an artist for some commission work. If you’re a talented illustrator, email me at stiltsoutloud(at)gmail(dot)com with some samples. If I like what I see, I’ll explain what the job entails. (Or if you’re just really curious.) And yes, this is a paying gig.
ED: 「ウラオモテ・フォーチュン」 (Ura Omote Fortune) by 小澤亜李 (Ozawa Ari)