Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 5

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.

It’s a stretch to say that reading this series can teach you the ins and outs of how the manga industry works – this isn’t Bakuman, or Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga. But when it’s able to be mined for humor, anything is game. And so we get things like Nozaki trying to draw his shoujo heroine as a superdeformed character, or having a mascot for the series, much like Yukari’s endless tanukis (which litter the cover of this volume, so I can’t even make my tanuki joke at the end of the review). We also get a hilarious look at cover art, where the artist likely has to work with a different editor. There may be a seasonal theme. You may have to try to translate your editor’s art, which shows at a glance why they edit and don’t draw manga. So things are learned, but the humor comes first.


This series does not have plot and character development per se, but there are some amusing chapters that make it look as if things might develop. Mikoshiba discovers the tragic truth behind Wakamatsu’s crush on “Lorelai”, and is as horrified as you’d expect. Waka, meanwhile, continues to think that Kashima is a guy, though the beach episode may have cleared that up – it’s left up in the air. Actually, the beach episode is probably the highlight of the volume – the anime actually adapted it into a later OVA as it was too good not to animate. This features the famous “those are just lumps of fat, aren’t they?” line, Seo stealing the drawstrings of all the boys’ swimtrunks, Kashima and Mikoshiba continuing to be endlessly attractive to the same sex, “I’m wearing that lame pink bra you picked out!”, and more.

As for romance, as you’d expect, it’s status quo. Nozaki-kun is about the comedy. This volume, though, does show how natural Hiro and Kashima are with each other when she’s not driving him to violence, and has some lovely Seo/Waka tease, which is really all she wants from Waka at the moment. The majority of the shipping here, though, is Sakura’s seeming one-sided crush on Nozaki. She even admits to Mikoshiba she’s now too scared to confess as she knows it will just be used for manga fodder. She tries changing her attitude in order to get him to notice her more, but that just makes him worry. In the end, as we know, being herself is the best, even if it means Nozaki is still his oblivious self. The sweetest chapter in the book is the final one, where we flash back to Sakura first falling in love with Nozaki – as you’d expect, it was as much from him being a giant loser as it was his looks – and how she unconsciously influenced his heroine for the manga.

Nozaki-kun remains a wonderfully hilarious title, and now has finally gotten away from the anime, so fans of that will want to pick it up to read new material. Go read it, or the tanuki will be sad. (Oh look, I got to work in the joke anyway.)

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