OP Sequence

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.

Dogakobo Animation

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?

Next episode will see the proper introduction of Mikoshiba “Mikorin” Mikoto (Okamoto Nobuhiko), along with a second heroine.

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

Random thoughts:

  • 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 Sequence

ED: 「ウラオモテ・フォーチュン」 (Ura Omote Fortune) by 小澤亜李 (Ozawa Ari)

Preview

47 Comments

  1. I really needed this after watching Akame ga Kill, this was such a nice change of pace. I’m really enjoying this series so far, it looks to be a lot of fun.

    Level6Shift
  2. Ah a very good replacement for Bokura indeed! I really feel for Sakura trying to confess to Nozaki. It’s not easy when the guy looks like he’s going to eat your soul with that deadpan stare. Series is surprisingly funny especially the whole bicycle bit (that practically killed me xP).

    While it’s nice that this is romance, since it’s shounen I really hope that the confession doesn’t take the entire series to happen. I know building up the relationship is the main thing that takes precedence but it kind of sucks to have the “going out” part of the relationship purposely delayed for so long. That’s kind of what i liked about Golden Time. They got that petty stuff out of the way early which was rather refreshing (even if the show fell pretty short of it’s overall potential).

    But with shounen romcoms I suppose that’s just part of the territory. Not enough of a reason to keep me from watching :).

    leatherhead333
    1. I didn’t think Nozaki-kun was that scary! This does feel like a good replacement for Kawaisou though. That was another one where the main characters didn’t get together fast for reasons which really worked.

      Stilts
  3. “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!” <– Totally gotta try this. And if they ask why, just state that you're doing a Psych 101 lab experiment report for university 🙂

    I laughed so much during the bicycle scene, that made bike dating to a whole new level!

    Sakura rolling around in her mind was animated very cutely too!

    Sakamoto
      1. Based on my experience, some girls don’t like being lifted by guys because they don’t want the guy thinking that they’re heavy. And I only say “some” because I stopped doing it after the third try (yeah, I’m a slow learner), so my sample size is small, though it did include one American and two Japanese, all of whom I knew quite well, of course.

        tabitabi
  4. I have enjoyed almost every Dogakoba show I have seen (GJ-bu being the exception). My favorite so far has been Mikakunin de Shinkoukei. I think this anime started with a great first episode and the chemistry between the two leads is quite a site to behold. Though after playing Mind Zero for a while, it’s kinda jarring to hear Nakamura play a stoic male lead in a comedy anime. Thank you for blogging about this one, Stilts.

    Spike Terra
  5. As a fan of the manga, this was the anime I was most excited for this season (along with Barakamon) and so far I haven’t been disappointed. The pacing for the first episode was great and I hope they can keep it up.

    I really like Ozawa Ari as Sakura, she seems like the perfect choice so far.

    Zannafar
    1. Looking forward to the Lorelei and Kashima. This series is classified as “shoujo” (at least where I read it), but it pokes fun at its own genre. So the characters do fit into major stereotypes, but at the same time they’re awesomely hilarious.

      ReverseTales
  6. I’ve been trying to get into the 4-koma for ages (because I’m a big fan of Oresame Teacher and I’m really digging the mangastyle for some reason). But I’m not the biggest 4-koma fan in general. After watching the first episode I had to sit down and read up on the source material (MY DISLIKE OF 4-KOMA BE DAMNED!), and I’m really loving it!

    I believe the thing that really sold the anime for me was the opening actually. It’s quite catchy and I’ve always liked scenes where they show the development from manga to anime. So there’s that… I’m really looking forward to the next episode.

  7. I really like it when those who have not yet read the manga call this series as “romcom”. Although admittedly Douga Koubo added some of that flavour into their adaption, this series has little to do with romance..if they don’t change a lot. For this first episode I feel it is not as “lol” as the manga, hope that is just for this episode.

    Also
    Show Spoiler ▼

    goldcut
    1. Well, I did say that it has a comic bent. You’ll have to excuse me for assuming when nearly all of this episode was devote to the romantic aspect, even if it was obvious that it was being mined for comedy more than feels.

      Like with Love Lab before it–which I called yuri until it became clear a few episodes later that it was not–I’ll call it what it seems until it decides to show its different colors.

      Stilts
      1. Oh I’m not against you Stilts..this episode does feel like what you said. I just have an urge to clarify some deviate expectations. We have too many generic romcoms and I don’t want the series that I enjoyed a lot to be categorised together with them.
        Still, hope that in the next episode the true style of this series will be revealed.

        goldcut
    2. I haven’t read the manga but I totally enjoyed it. From what you said, should I be happy or not if they turn this into a romcom or is the original source (which you claim is not romcom) more interesting?

      The Story You Don't Know
      1. Ideally, I would not like this series to turn into a romcom because that is exactly what the original source makes fun of. Practically though, adding more romantic flavour might be the easiest choice in order to adapt a 4-coma into a full-length series.
        I consider the original source to be more interesting than this first episode personally.

        goldcut
  8. >Dogakobo
    >Dogoboka
    >Dogokoba

    Stilts, choose one 😉

    Thanks for the intro man, I’m going to watch this. Dogosomething draws very, very beutiful and expressive characters, expecially girls, their style is one of my favourites when it comes to moe.
    And they proved to be really good with the stories too, I need more Mikakunin de Shinkoukei already.

    Voyager
  9. An intro by Stilts manages to make many series sound interesting. I’ve been avoiding this one because I’d heard it suffers from Dense Male Lead Syndrome™, but now I guess I’ll take a look at it.

    Wanderer
  10. I didn’t expect much from this show and was pleasantly surprised by how fun to watch it was.

    On a different topic, kind of disappointed that Barakamon doesn’t get a post. Best SoL of the season right there.

    あっかり-ん!!
  11. I liked that Chiyo is actually very good in art. As far as I know usually in this genre the girl struggling with her crush is portrayed as just somebody normal so it’s great that Chiyo has a talent, and one that let’s her get close to Nozaki-kun even. Chiyo’s inner thoughts were fun to watch and I actually mistook Nozaki for a teacher at first coz to me he looked pretty old to be a student. Also I’m not so familiar with Chiyo’s seiyuu but she’s good in her portrayal.

    Zhinvu
  12. Is it just me, or did those cats’ expression scream “out with it already, lady” to anyone else?

    After traffic law trashing the riding behind someone ideal and that hilarious bike scene, Mikorin just broke me.

    Also, this might be the first time I’ve seen red-white polka dot ribbons on a fictional female other than Minney Mouse… Chiyo does the look so much better!

    Anonymosity
  13. I enjoyed this episode. I hadn’t known this was the same studio that did Mikakunin de Shinkoukei but i also enjoyed that show very much so that is good to hear. While I do hope you pick this up to blog I will probably throw tweets back at you like always. 😉

    GoukaRyuu
  14. Between the confession(s) that weren’t a confession, that OP (I can’t wait for it to come out so I can listen on the bus!) and the constant underpinnings of humor, I am SO excited about this show.

    I’m hoping the quick addition of characters only adds new angles of humor, instead of taking up time when the main duo could be having more interactions. Any input (semi-spoilers) from the manga crowd? That’s my only worry; this looks like a strong show.

    Gracelyn
    1. As a manga reader, I can tell you that all the other characters are integral to the series. Despite what the first episode might make you think, Nozaki-kun (the series, I mean) has an ensemble cast; and even though Sakura pining for Nozaki still is acknowledged during the course of the manga, the comedy part – even though it’s a comedy about romance/romantic tropes – usually predominates over the romance part.

      So, basically, more than a romantic comedy, Nozaki-kun could be defined as a “comedy about romance”. Nozaki and Chiyo are rarely – if ever – treated as the “main couple to be”… And both of them have roughly the same amount of interaction with each other that they have with the other members of the cast.

      Jubei
  15. I really enjoyed watching this show and its currently at the top of my ‘Must Watch Anime this Season’ list~
    Love Sakura’s voice, a tiny bit of tweaking and it’s perfect for the voice of my favorite character in a LN I’m currently reading~

    Hagiri
  16. Now that I’ve watched the episode… OMG, Chiyo is so adorable! Come on girl, he’s not going to figure it out on his own, you’ve got to tell him properly.

    Has she been completely blowing off her art club ever since she started helping him?

    Wanderer
  17. This show is fantastic, Romance, Comedy, and it even has the mix of a manga artist story to boot and I love stuff like that! “I’M YOUR BIGGEST FAN!” *gives out autograph a second time* LOL fail XD

    Jason Isenberg
  18. I wasn’t actually that excited about this after watching the trailer, but the episode has taught me to never judge a comedy on its promotional material (which usually lacks its main aspect – the jokes). Never again shall I doubt Dogakobo’s greatness.

    SingerOfW
  19. I know! The attention to details to the manga pages in the first episode were freaking gorgeous. So beautiful but the scenery when shown too.
    The series has some comedy that really is funny. I laughed out loud probably like a crazy person when she thought of the name Mikorin in her head. Too silly and cute.

    Thanks for the blogging done. I enjoyed reading!

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