On the 5th Day of Anime — The Antithesis of Shoujo Romance

The confession of love in a shoujo romance usually doesn’t occur until partway through the show after the girl or boy has undergone sufficient agonizing and courage-building. So when Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun started with a face-to-face confession, I knew that this anime was going to have a completely different pacing and direction than most of its genre. I had no idea just how short I was falling from the actuality of the matter. Not only did Nozaki-kun start off in an uncharacteristic scene, it also threw back its shoujo wrapping and emerged as a shounen comedy. Now, I love fluffy romance shows–think Kimi ni Todoke, Bokura ga Ita, and Hana Yori Dango. I also happen to love series that poke fun at genre stereotypes and character archetypes, like NichijouDanshi Koukousei no Nichijou, and Minami-ke. This particular anime mostly stands in the second camp, though there are the occasional overtones from the first that make characters like Sakura and Mikoshiba so endearing.

Letters in shoe boxes, rooftops, and school backyards are all reminiscent of flag events in school romance. Classroom confrontations after school also happen from time to time. Sadly, Sakura lacks the grace and verbiage to make her feelings clear to the clearly dense Nozaki. Instead of interpreting her use of “fan” as romantic intent, he takes it literally–she is obviously a fan of his manga works. And Nozaki isn’t just any type of mangaka; he specializes in shoujo of the pink and sparkly kind. The fact that an artist with an imagination lively enough to make a living as a romance storyteller who can’t even perceive the feelings of real people around him is both comical and a bit sad. This combo of literal interpretations and Sakura’s roundabout attacks guarantee plenty of material for comedic travesty. Even more tormenting for Sakura is Nozaki’s tendency to act out his story boards. Sometimes the best way to imagine scenes and dialogue is to actually experience it–unfortunately, Sakura often becomes the stand-in and ends up enduring tandem bicycling, umbrella sharing, shopping at the mall, and movie watching. Anything is a go for story material!

Another interesting quirk of Nozaki is his character writing. Each of the characters in his manga, Let’s Fall in Love, are based on real people. This isn’t too odd for most fiction writers. But most surprising is the model for his emotional female lead, Mamiko. The real girl isn’t a popular classmate, or even a relative. Mamiko’s persona comes straight from Nozaki’s friend, Mikoshiba, a popular guy who drops pick-up lines on the fly and agonizes over the embarrassing phrasings in private. “Mikorin” imagines himself a stud among men, yet lacks the audacity to actually follow through on his flirtations. Mamiko fits him to a tee with her inner squealings whenever she’s around her love interest, as well as her mental vulnerability to misunderstandings and negativity. I’m sorry, Sakura, but Mikorin takes the role of shoujo lead in Nozaki-kun, no question.

Every shoujo has its female lead, and in turn often includes a “prince”-type role who may or may not be the love interest. Again, the person who fills this position in Nozaki-kun is not the expected male, but a handsome girl who rivals Mikoshiba for the wooing of the school’s female population. With her striking presence in the drama club and shameless posturing, she has secured every play’s lead male role and the hearts of impressionable young girls.

My favorite character doesn’t actually satirize any particular shoujo archetype, but seems to embody the sentiments of this anime’s staff with her frank statements and complete lack of tact no matter the situation. Seo stands tall as an example to all of how not to act–the basketball team even invites her to practice to demonstrate to the players just how bad ball hogging can be. She isn’t afraid to call it how she sees it, though that sight is frequently clouded by hilarious misinterpretations and assumptions. I found it even more perfect that this rowdy friend of Sakura’s is talented in the most unexpected of fields: singing. Her earned nickname, “Lorelai”, carries with it connotations of beauty and danger. When her voice is all you hear, you can’t help but be enchanted. It’s in this manner that another classmate who clashes with her in person actually falls in love with the unseen “Lorelai” he hears down the hallways.

Gekkan no Shoujo Nozaki-kun is incredibly re-watchable. The awkward character interactions and humor work great whether you watch it alone or as a group. If you haven’t seen this comedic gem, I suggest you get out of your chair and go watch it. Now!

16 thoughts on “On the 5th Day of Anime — The Antithesis of Shoujo Romance

  1. This show made me bust my gut many times along with Barakamon.
    Chiyo best girl and Mikorin best guy. As for who I would have like to have seen officially hook up, nobody. I was laughing so hard I did not care. The show’s main draw is how the shoujo stereotypes are mocked through the cast.

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  2. Honestly, I’ve always viewed Seo as both a parody & subversion of the ‘tomboy’ archetype (although they often also have ‘princely’ characteristics) in shoujo anime; eg Utena Tenjou from Revolutionary Girl Utena, Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club, Kaoru Orihara from Dear Brother & Oscar from Rose of Versailles. Like the rest of the cast, she has characteristics of her archetype, only hilariously twisted. She plays basketball & completes in other traditionally male-focused activities, not because she wants to be viewed equally to her gendered counterparts, but rather because she’s a competitive jerk who just likes physical contact in sports. She’s also completely oblivious with matters of love, but not necessarily because she was raised in, or has a traditionally ‘un-feminine’ approach to the interactions & emotions around her, but rather that’s she’s a borderline sociopath, constantly incapable of reading a mood.

    It’s a sign of Nozaki-kun’s fantastic writing that rather than making such a character instantly dislikeable, she’s actually the highlight.

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    • Now that you mention it, you’re absolutely right in Seo’s similarity to the tomboy archetype. I don’t know how I forgot about that one other than maybe I just haven’t seen it as often lately? Thanks for the reminder! I agree that it’s odd just how un-annoying Seo is to me despite others of that type usually bugging me. She’s actually my favorite character from the series, which says a lot about the anime’s ability to re-purpose its characters.

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  3. The only trope it ever kept to was that poor Sakura never got her confession either said or returned😦 But I think, in her heart of hearts, she was OK with how things were.

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  4. I have yet to find a person who’s watched it and didn’t love it! It’s definitely one of the best anime this year.
    And yes, Seo is gold. She competes with Nozaki-kun in naivety. Poor Wakamatsu. If only you knew, who’s your Lorelai

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    • I watched this on my lonesome, but now and then KWoo would look over my shoulder and laugh at certain lines–I feel like I should re-watch it with him to expose him completely to its wonderfulness!

      Wakamatsu x Lorelai❤

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  5. Seo was definitely my favorite character in Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun. The series was one of my surprise favorites of the year. I hope it gets licensed for DVDs here in the U.S. – I’d buy it in a second. =D

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    • It really cracks me up just how popular Seo is with the audience given her troll-ish personality. I’m glad to hear you also liked this show! I, too, would purchase this in a heartbeat should it ever get licensed🙂

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  6. I’ll join the group that really enjoyed the show, although because I always love couples, I’d really like to see Chiyo and Nozaki get together. I also really loved the interactions between Seo and Wakamatsu, and the way Seo was trying, in her own way, to get closer to Wakamatsu. That’s my second favorite couple in the show.

    (also, it’s like me and one other person, but I just couldn’t stand the excruciating nature of Kimi ni Todoke. I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed more recent shoujo shows like Sukitte ii na yo and Ookami Shoujo, where there’s either an acknowledged couple or something very close to it much more than the ones where the characters spend all their time agonizing about not being able to confess)

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    • Kimi ni Todoke was really memorable to me for its art style, which I absolutely adored. Her hesitancy and shyness are among the many appeals of her character, but it does get extremely aggravating when it goes on for two entire seasons. Among those you name, there’s also Itazura na Kiss which was refreshing not only for the couple’s legitimacy, but that we actually see them married and with a kid at the end (now if only the guy were much nicer).

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      • Maybe the good part of Itazura na Kiss is after I dropped it, but I was really turned off by the vile two-faced nature of the male lead in the early part, especially what I saw as very nasty belittling in public (and you say, and I’ve read, that he doesn’t really get nice ever). In fact, I contrasted it with Ookami Shoujo in Metanorn’s FI post (and our Final Review post should be this week for it). Ookami Shoujo has a much more balanced couple, with what I thought was much better treatment both ways. The romance felt much more natural, you aren’t asking “What does Erika see in Kyouya?” because you can see it too, and you can see that Kyouya never abuses Erika despite the description of him as a nasty person. I enjoyed it much more than the other ones that were mentioned.

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