Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 4

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. Translated by Leighann Harvey.

For those who greatly enjoyed the Nozaki-kun anime, this volume in particular contains some of the most beloved parts of that anime. Here is where you can find Hori desperately trying to teach a lazy Nozaki about background, which leads to the wonderful “Lately everyone’s been really into boxes!”. We have Nozaki, Hori and Wakamatsu playing the otome game, and boggling at the “good-heartedness” of the lead girl, even when it turns out she can date Satan. And we have the festival, which doesn’t have the sweet ending the anime tacked on to make it more of a finale, but does have Wakamatsu thinking Kashima is a guy and Seo’s date, and the beloved candy apple eating. Basically, everything here is a gem.


(Also, we have that cover, which is absolutely wonderful. You don’t normally think of this title as being sexy, but trust Seo to upend that with one pull of a tie.)

We also meet the rest of Nozaki’s family, though his brother is the one who will actually show up on an occasional basis in future. Like many manga families, the children turn out to have similar personalities to the parents, though both Nozaki and Mayu both seem to be a bit more like their stoic mother. Mayu actually manages to top Nozaki in the “can’t be bothered” sweepstakes, which makes it even more amusing later in the book when he’s paired with the emotionally draining Mikoshiba. Indeed, circumstances have them both end up at the apartment of Tanuki manga author Miyako’s apartment, and Tsubaki shows us why much of the comedy that comes from Nozaki-kun can simply be taking people who’ve never interacted and throwing them together. Turns out their strip, who knew?

And of course there’s Nozaki’s manga, which continues to roll along, even if I imagine its core audience must read it for the eccentricities. Ken can’t possibly smooth them all out. Nozaki trying to “surprise” Sakura ends up failing miserably till he’s not trying anymore, at which point he wins her heart all over again. And speaking of non-romance, Wakamatsu still hates Seo but adores Lorelai, which frustrates Nozaki no end. Seo, of course, is quite happy to go along with this as long as it amuses her, but amusingly, when Wakamatsu ends up being too preoccupied with it to be irritated by her, SHE loses interest in singing! Personality-driven comedy needs to keep surprising, which can be especially difficult in titles like these that don’t really allow for character development, and seeing Tsubaki achieve it every volume is fun.

As always, caveats apply: This is a 4-koma book, which the punchline being a shouted “what the heck?” 90% of the time. But if you don’t mind that, this remains gloriously funny stuff, with a cast that’s extremely strange but fascinating nonetheless.

Very few tanukis this time round, though. Alas.

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