Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 3

By Izumi Tsubaki. Released in Japan as “Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun” by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the online magazine Gangan Online. Released in North America by Yen Press.

There’s not really much in the way of plot or character development in a series like Nozaki-kun (indeed, much of the comedy relies on everyone not growing or learning in any way), so when it comes to reviews such as this, I need to look elsewhere to find things to talk about. This is another great volume, and Chapter 27 is one of my favorites in particular. It’s a pitch-perfect example of how everything is about the gags, but it doesn’t overuse the same gag, and its comedic rhythms are highly suited to the 4-koma style. It bears examining, so let’s do so.

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We begin with what is probable the ‘default’ gag in this series, as Nozaki and Mokoshiba show up pretending to be delinquents because Nozaki has to write in a rival character. They’re horrible at it, of course, so this leads to 2-3 pages of them doing something silly or out of place and Sakura giving her best tsukkomi comeback. She fulfills her traditional straight man role. However, we can’t forget that Sakura is in love with Nozaki. And, as we see when he attempts to climb a tree, fails miserably, and her heart skips a beat, she seems to especially be in love with Nozaki being an adorable loser. We then have 3-4 pages devoted to Mikoshiba and his issues, ranging from his embarrassment to simply being unable to climb back down the tree, and both Nozaki and Sakura serve as dual straight men. Finally, they leave and Seo shows up, being a genuine “delinquent”. Now it’s Mikoshiba who’s the straight man, observing Seo’s uncaring, oblivious antics. And Seo ends up getting the final punchline: “I’m late ‘cos a cute guy fell from the sky”.

In non-Chapter 27 news, Seo proves that she can use her obliviousness for good as well as evil when she buys a new exacto knife for Wakamatsu, and they also go on the worst date ever (at last from Wakamatsu’s POV); we see that everything horrible in Ken’s life is a result of Maeno’s very existence; While searching for a flaw that Suzuki could have, Nozaki misses the obvious, which is Kashima’s incredibly horrible singing voice; We find that Hori really is an excellent actor, but has trouble distinguishing between the actors and the characters they play, be it wanting to beat up Kashima or Miko-rin’s resemblance to a shoujo heroine; And Sakura’s attempts to show her affection fail miserably, be it old Valentine’s Day chocolate or someone mistaking her for the third wheel in a love triangle.

If you dislike standard Japanese comedy, this may not be as funny to you – much of the humor still relies on screaming “what the heck?” in disbelief. But for me, this is top drawer humor, and the 4-koma format means it doesn’t have to stop for pesky story development like Oresama Teacher, her other series. I love this series.

Also, though they aren’t as prevalent as before, the tanukis continue onward.

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