「この気持ちが恋じゃないなら、きっと世界に恋はない。」 (Kono Kimochi ga Koi Ja Nai Nara, Kitto Sekai ni Koi wa Nai.)
“If This Feeling Isn’t Love, Then There Is No Love At All”
Osu, Zanibas here subbing in for Stilts (again) while he’s out doing even more dubious activities (again). Let’s dive right into this finale–a bittersweet goodbye to what has been a show full of laugh-out-loud comedy. Although the last episode ironically used one of the most overused plot devices known to romance, the ending was sweet and hopeful, as all feel-good romantic comedies should do. It’ll be tough to say farewell to this cast of inverted tropes, but here’s to hoping someone sensible (or crazy) convinces the right people to give us another season.
The Valentine’s Day skit and the first half of the festival skit shouldn’t have been of surprise to anyone. It is the show’s way of introducing all of the major characters one last time, wrapping up any loose ends unrelated to shipping before the curtain call. Today’s setup was misunderstandings galore, where it seems that getting everyone on the same wavelength at once is an impossibility. It’s always been amusing to see every character think sensibly about everyone else’s scenario save their own, such as Kashima’s inability to recognize how her relation to Hori is viewed by everyone else, or how all the male characters can question Nozaki and Chiyo’s relationship while simultaneously not recognizing their own. Wakamatsu is an especially ridiculous case of this, where his imagination knows no bounds when trying to figure out Seo’s seemingly random actions.
Overall, it was an alright lead-up to the fated fireworks scene, allowing us to peek into the misunderstandings of our cast one last time. Some of the misunderstandings have gotten dry and over-used, such as Nozaki’s unyielding (and narrow sighted) focus on his craft, but overall, it was still a pleasant episode to watch.
But, after all those last gags, we come to that scene. Clearly, we’re all thinking, “will they kiss!?” hoping that the show pulls a fast one on us and breaks another trope one last time, and the show definitely put some of us on the edge in what was ultimately going to happen. Despite all the warning signs of poor lighting, loud fireworks, and a still largely unconfident Chiyo and unaware Nozaki, there was still hope! Hope in the face of trope-tastic adversity!
Before we got to that scene though, the flashback was a sweet call back to the beginning of the series, before Chiyo regularly wore her signature polka-dotted ribbons. The flashback had what that we expected–an awestruck Chiyo falling in love with a pretty cool Nozaki. However, what was interesting about this moment is that it gave us a small window into what their beginnings were like, before all these misunderstandings clearly came into play.
For much of the series, the comedic gold and character progression has largely been fueled by constant misunderstandings and spontaneity, yet the relationships formed in the series stem from a genuine and honest common point. Kashima and Hori are on completely different wavelengths, yet they both mutually respect each other for the acting ability they possess. Seo and Wakamatsu, though they seem like two dancers with four left feet, share this common aspect of being good. As I mentioned in my last post, Seo does good but ends up coming off as bad, while Wakamatsu tries to dissuade Seo but instead ends up being nice. For best girl Mikorin, his own big mouth gets himself into lots of trouble, yet shares rapport with the rest of the cast for his genuine ability to be charming when he’s not trying.
For Chiyo, these 12 episodes have been a long journey in attempting to figure out Nozaki, whose thought processes are all over the place. Starting from square one where her confession was misinterpreted, every episode, Chiyo’s expectations get let down when she’s hoping the hardest, while suddenly being lifted up again when Nozaki does something completely unexpected. Nozaki’s character is a shining example of how appearances betray what’s inside, which is why today’s flashback was so important. For Chiyo, we must remember that she didn’t fall in love with Nozaki because he was a mangaka–that’s precisely the source of all of her misunderstandings. Instead, Chiyo fell for Nozaki because of his ability to make her smile and to take her under his wing. From lifting her above the gate, to inviting her to help with his manga, all the way to offering to walk her home under his jacket, Nozaki has consistently been looking out for Chiyo, just as much as he’s looked out for his manga. It is this sense of just being nice to Chiyo despite his appearances that caught her eye and, as Chiyo mentioned herself, “has only continued to grow.” We can clearly see how that has grown with all the nice things that these two have done together despite misunderstandings, because it is that core relationship that has kept them together throughout the series.
So the flashback scene ends and we hope to god, we hope that things are different and then BAM! One of the most used tropes in romance is used. Misunderstanding because of loud fireworks, closely followed by, I’m happy with where things are anyways!, with a dash of, I love…the fireworks! For a show that has spent most of its time as a parody of shoujo and romance, it is painfully ironic to see the show cliffhanger in such a fashion. Perhaps that’s the point, as a twist within a twist, as hinted by Chiyo’s laugh and realization, but I still wish they’d have just taken the cake and kissed, from a fanboy perspective.
However, you know what, ending trope or not, it was still a sweet ending that gave one hope to all the shipped couples that came about this season. Instead of ending on some hugely comedic note, we witness a sweet curtain call to all of our main characters, giving hope that eventually, all those misunderstandings will clear up when Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun finally ends.
Now that we’re at the end, here’s your main man’s final impressions, since he left them for me before he left to do [insert dubious activity here]. It will then be followed by my own impressions, which I hope to keep short in compensation! Here goes!
Stilts’ Final Impressions
I started out thinking Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun was a romcom, but it’s not. It’s a comedy with a dash of romance, like Acchi Kocchi with shipteasing instead of fuwa fuwa. Which turned out to be great, because Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is an excellent comedy, one which was only enhanced by the love-love misunderstandings and hjinks.
Toying with Gender Stereotypes
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun stands as one of the rare series that is roundly popular with both male and female fans. Or rather, it’s one that seems tailored for both guys and girls. That’s because it toys with gender stereotypes until it’s hard to remember where the originals are. This is a shounen manga with a female main character about a male shoujo mangaka. But their roles/jobs aside, Nozaki and Chiyo aren’t gender subversions themselves—it’s everyone else who is. Mikorin, the true heroine. Yuzuki, the dense, blunt girl. The female prince Kashima, and the shorter guy who doles out comic violence at her, Hori-chan-sempai. Wakamatsu, the genki nice guy who’s constantly thinking about love, though he doesn’t realize it. Everyone is a half-step off from their “proper” (accustomed) roles, which makes the story both feel fresh, and avoids pinning it down by the usual tropes.
Another thing Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun does really well is comedic misunderstandings. This was especially clear early on, when Nozaki completely misunderstanding Chiyo’s feelings should have been aggravating, but it was not. I’ll evoke Acchi Kocchi again, because that series also benefits from not being a true romcom. The romance adds to the story, but because we don’t really expect development, quirks like this don’t rub us the wrong way. It’s also an outgrowth of how Chiyo doesn’t really push the issue, which would get frustrating quickly if she did, but since she’s busy self-sabotaging and leaving things as they are, it continues to work. Ditto with Yuzuki x Waka, and Hori-sempai x Kashima. They use dense characters being dense for laughs and it’s not annoying. That’s a hard trick to pull off, judging by how many stories founder on those rocks.
One of the things I love about comedy in anime is the reaction faces, and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun’s are top tier! I could do an entirely compilation of Chiyo’s reaction faces alone; they’re everywhere. Take a stroll back through our collection of screen caps and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a simple thing, but it made me laugh every time. Mostly because…
I’ve spent a lot of time alluding to the romantic aspect. What I like is how it enhances the story, while teasing at resolutions while never demanding them. It does this through drawing us closer to the characters and making us care about them. I compare this to pure comedies like Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou—a superb comedy, but because they never really draw us into the characters and give us reason to love them, it lives or dies by its jokes. And its jokes were usually great! But I can’t really remember the character’s names anymore, whereas with Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, I doubt I’ll ever forget.
These characters are more than just vehicles for comedy—they’re living, breathing, developed characters who just happen to be quirky and hilarious. That makes me care about them more, which in turn makes the laughs better and the shipteasing sting so good. Add into that how the characters are imbued with real depth—Hori-chan-sempai’s pride and respect for Kashima’s acting comes to mind—and the characters draw us into the comedy all the more.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Since I’m off galavanting around the world while Zanibas writes the rest of this post (thanks Zani!), I won’t get to find out if the series ended with a troll ending or not for another week. (And I won’t be thinking about it at all until I return, because gah, I want to know!) But I can safely say that this is one of my favorite comedies of the year, and I’m glad I got to spend a season talking about it with all of you. Thanks for helping with the screen caps Zani—and encouraging me to pick the series up—thanks everyone else for reading and commenting, and I’ll see you again next season.
Zanibas’ Final Impressions
When I wrote the preview for this series, I was largely unaware of what to expect. The credentials didn’t look that amazing, the promotional video wasn’t anything great, but hey, I’ll check it out and see if it was any good. I am glad to say that I was blown away by the first few episodes, as a huge gust of fresh material brought life to a dying art of laughs and love. It teased us with couples that we know are canon, but have to wait out to see it actually happened. It created sweet scenarios where the characters would each become likeable in their own way, keeping a balanced focus on the entire cast instead of our main couple. It gave us such amusing art and and comedic scenes that even if you didn’t find it laugh out loud, hopefully you found yourself smiling on the inside due to all the silly things these characters inflict on themselves. Above all else though, it gave us something new, something that hasn’t really been treaded on much, and it did it well. That’s why people talk about it in anime clubs. That’s why both guys and girls can talk about this show excitedly. That’s why people both new to romantic comedies and veterans alike could find something in this show to enjoy. It was new, and broke away from the all-too-treaded paths that shoujo and romantic comedies like to walk. While not ever show can be a parody from here on out, Gekkan Shoujo gives us an excellent example of what not to do in Shoujo, as well as what TO do in a romantic comedy. Tease enough, but don’t make it overt. Make jokes based on cleverness rather than ecchi. Don’t put all your story eggs with one or two characters. By doing this, Gekkan Shoujo has showed not only the importance of originality, but also of balance, both of which are critical in making a world that can appeal to and keep a larger audience. I hope with this show, along with LOVE STAGE!! and Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, we can see more effort put into romantic comedies–the genre is far from being exhausted.
Thank you dear reader for following along with this series to the very end–it was a blast watching this show and capping it for Stilts! Unfortunately, tomorrow will be my last post (with a terrible triple-post of Hanayamata), so this is also one of my last goodbyes to you guys before I take a sabbatical until at least Spring 2015. It’s been a pleasure to write this finale for you guys, and I hope to see some of you soon if and when season two comes out, or when another great romantic comedy comes out, whichever comes first!
Full-length images: 20.