Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Me on Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Volume 1

Title: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
Author/Artist: Izumi Tsubaki
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Publisher: Yen Press (Hachette Book Group imprint)

To the eyes of classmate Chiyo Sakura, high school student 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 mangaka's assistant?! Never in a million years! As Chiyo quickly discovers, Nozaki-kun, the boy of Chiyo's dreams, is a manga artist... a hugely popular shoujo manga artist, that is! 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 is hysterically funny, full of interesting and unlikely characters. It's all about Chiyo falling into Nozaki-kun's world and looking at the friends and classmates around them as potential manga characters. But sometimes, Chiyo's real life is far more unbelievable than the events of a shoujo manga.

Chiyo is sweet and kind, crushing hard on Nozaki-kun. She figures she just has to tell him, but when she fumbles it up and instead says she's a big fan, she was expecting a rejection. Not an autograph, not an offer to go to his apartment to help fill in as an assistant. She wasn't expecting Nozaki-kun to be a mangaka, to see that he works on super girly and fluffy romance stories. But she agrees to help him, because she likes him and wants to know what he's interested in. But it's a bit hard when their conversations

While Nozaki-kun is a shoujo manga artist, the overall story is anything but. It's funny and awkward, it's full of characters that smash up against conventional gender roles. Nozaki-kun is rather tall and has a serious face, but he writes super girly manga. There's Mikoshiba who talks like a playboy but gets super embarassed afterwards. There's Chiyo's friend Seo, someone who's extremely blunt and oblivious but called the Lorelai of the Glee Club. And there's Kashima who's a bit of an oblivious prince. Each character is different, some are difficult, and a few are absolutely infuriating. But it all works. And then there are the glimpses of Nozaki-kun's characters, Mamiko and Suzuki-kun, who are just far too cutesy and fluffy. They totally fit in shoujo manga.

I like the artwork. At times it's simple, well-drawn characters and backgrounds, and others it's full to the brim with shoujo manga sparkles and flowers. The faces are expressive, maybe not so much for Nozaki-kun, but everyone else. Chiyo's surprise, Mikoshiba's embarrassment, Hori-senpai's acting.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is less about Chiyo's crush on Nozaki-kun and more about story and characters, their friends and classmates and the bizarre things they do. It's about coming up with ideas for Nozaki-kun's manga, trying to make sense of what shoujo manga readers want in terms of fluffy romance, and navigating their day-to-day high school life. This manga is great at fooling around with perception, how we assume people will act a certain way because of how they look. Looking at these characters, you'd never expect their actual personalities. A great read for new manga readers, for those looking for something with lots of humour. (Also, it pairs well with the anime, which is available online.)

(I purchased a copy of this manga.)

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