Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 9

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 been a long nine months since we last saw Nozaki-kun here, the curse of having caught up with Japan. I’m relieved to say, though, that the wait is worth it, as this series’ one and only job is stillo being done incredibly well: I laugh a whole lot when reading this. In fact, one joke made me laugh so much I had to put the book down for a few minutes. (It involves the art club and their “perfect guys”.) Characterization remains strong but static: apart from Hori maybe realizing that Kashima is attractive as a woman (though that doesn’t necessarily translate to any love epiphanies), no one here grows or changes, but remains the same lovably exaggerated idiots we want and expect. Chiyo’s Nozaki-love is up to eleven, Seo continues to be the best troll, and Nozaki’s people watching is as entertaingly wrong as ever.

If there’s a straight man left in the series, it’s probably Mikoshiba, whose attempts at getting Mayu and Wakamatsu interested in visual novels is a hilarious disaster, given that they’re not really playing the game for the same goals. Mikoshiba continues to be Chiyo’s BFF (yes, even though he’s a guy), trying in vain to help her and Nozaki get closer. This culminates in the guys and girls having (separate) sleepovers, which predictably involves Mikoshiba an company staying up late and gossiping about the romance game they played, while the three girls (who have no idea how an actual slumber party works) just talk about what male underwear looks sexiest.

I’ve been reviewing this series with full reviews since it began, and I admit it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge given that there’s not much to say here beyond “this is what I thought was the funniest”. But it is funny, and I can admire the craft that Tsubaki brings to the title in developing each gag. This series is not really much at all like Oresama Teacher beyond the love of “tsukkomi” style punchlines. Nozaki-kun has to be punchier, faster, and not wait for the gag to land. It can also be hard to think up material every week – you might see some of that in Nozaki’s watching the drama club improv, where they all talk about how easy it is to end a scene by having everyone drop dead or be murdered.

I’m not sure when Nozaki will end – I suspect when Tsubaki and Square Enix decides it’s run its course. We’ve already had an anime,. and a 2nd season is not on the horizon. That said, I’m not sure I’d expect much resolution in any ending – much as the fans might want the three “main couples” to get together – or even Mikoshiba and Mayu – I’m inclined to agree with the drama club. Ending with a romantic kiss is cheap and easy. Especially for a series like this. Making us laugh, though? That’s guaranteed.

As for tanukis, well, just look at the cover.

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