Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 8

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 the most part, the Nozaki-kun manga has tried to stick to a relatively small cast, which pairs up into convenient couples (romantically or otherwise). Nozaki and Chiyo, Hori and Kashima, Seo and Wakamatsu. Mokoshiba used to be the odd one out, but lately he’s been paired with Nozaki’s brother Mayu. That said, there are a lot of other people in the story who’ve had impact, and this volume of Nozaki shows Tsubaki expanding the world a bit more to get them involved. So we see more of Seo’s brother, who gets a whole arc to himself, and we see Wakamatsu’s basketball team, struggling to deal with Seo focusing on all of them rather than Wakamatsu. That said, the core of the book is still our heroes – especially this late in the series, as everyone is starting to realize they’re in love, but never quite realize it in the right way.

A lot of this book takes place in the cafe where Seo’s brother works as a waiter – they need to take on more help, and due to a series of wacky misunderstandings (in Nozaki-kun? SHOCK!) think that his sister is a fragile flower. So they end up hiring Kashima instead, who I will admit makes the perfect waiter, but is also trying to do a part-time job when she should be rehearsing. As a result, the job becomes the rehearsal, and Seo’s brother is somewhat horrified to find that the customers are all fellow drama club members – and that one of them is punching his waiter in the face. He also meets Wakamatsu, which leads to even more hilarious misunderstandings as they both get a completely wrong first impression, then make it worse with everything else they say. Also, Waka is now the only person in the entire universe who doesn’t know Seo is Lorelai. (And by the way, Kashima’s impression of Seo was possibly the funniest thing in the volume.)

Elsewhere, Sakura is still obsessed with Nozaki to the point of ridiculousness. It’s odd to recall back at the start of the series where, aside from lovesickness, she was the sane one. Now she’s just another exaggerated joke gone mad, seeing beta work and Nozaki in her every waking moment. Which, let me assure you, is a good thing – she’s hilarious when she goes over the top. Seo, meanwhile, seems to have come to terms internally with her feelings for Wakamatsu, but is expressing them the best way she knows how – by being amazingly irritating. And then there’s Nozaki’s manga, which continues to make you wonder how it ever comes out and doesn’t get cancelled – his attempts at a unique and original plot are thwarted by a box filled with ridiculous suggestions, and his attempts to draw ‘extra stories’ in the 2-3 pages left for the volume just lead to Mamiko straight up eating a bird. Or at least that’s what it looks like. And then there’s Nozaki’s little sister, who seems to be an odd cross between him and Sakura.

Summing up: Nozaki-kun is still flat out funny, and I love it to bits. I will have to hold onto the love for a while, though; we’ve caught up with Japan, so the next volume may be some time. Get this one immediately, though.

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