First I would like to make a public service announcement: I would date Nozaki…y’know if he wasn’t like way too young for me. I would totally do it. Tall, dark, and handsome is pretty much my calling card.
First off, here’s a synopsis for those who haven’t seen the show:
High school student Chiyo Sakura has a crush on schoolmate Umetarou Nozaki, but when she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says that she always wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help on some drawings. Chiyo discovers that Nozaki is actually a renowned shoujo manga artist named Sakiko Yumeno. She then agrees to be his assistant in order to get closer to him. As they work on his manga, they encounter other schoolmates who assist them or serve as inspirations for characters in the stories.
So Josh and I actually watched this show together and we both thought it was pretty cute. Although I must admit that it kind of hits on all of my rom-com pet peeves. There’s a reason I refuse to see rom-coms in theaters. I mean in fairness it was a rom com, just instead of Katherine Heigl being a perpetual bridesmaid, there were a lot of weird anime characters running around. I really enjoyed the show though. When I’m not enjoying something I’ll drag my feet about finishing it *cough Toradora cough*, but this one Josh and I were able to watch pretty consistently. I mean it wasn’t something that I binged or anything, but it was definitely enjoyable. I think the best feature for me was the fact that it didn’t take itself seriously and the whole plot was self-aware and meta enough to be funny.
Nozaki-kun was a great character, if only because he never ever stopped being dense as a brick and totally socially incompetent. I mean the whole premise of the show starts because Sakura confesses to him and he thinks she’s confessing that she’s a fan of his manga. He rewards her with an autograph. This also happens the second time she confesses to him. Of course the irony is that he writes a shoujo manga so theoretically shouldn’t be so dense, but when it comes to girls in real life he’s terrible. He can’t even give good advice to any of his friends about girls. In fairness, shoujo isn’t real life and I’m not sure how successful any shoujo courtship techniques would be in reality.
To be honest though, the schtick got a little bit exasperating by the end. Maybe it’s because I felt totally cockblocked by the show in an extremely aggravating way. I thought maybe by the end he would FINALLY get it and they would FINALLY do something, but nope. No, the show decided to be an asshole and stomp on all my happy ending dreams. This is kind of why I hate anime sometimes. I mean do I understand why the show ended the way it did? Yes. Do I like it? No. I mean clearly Nozaki was supposed to get over his stupid obliviousness at some point right? Maybe? Psh. In your dreams.
One thing I really did love about the show though was the beta coupling. It’s hard to make me laugh out loud unless a show is really doing something right, but the two beta couples were hilarious. I also loved Mikorin who didn’t actually get paired up, but he was the inspiration for Nozaki-kun’s heroine in the manga and had absolutely no idea he was being used as a girl. Another great thing was Nozaki’s weird dedication to his job as a mangaka. He saw literally everything as an opportunity to sketch characters or force his friends into awkward situations so he could use them as inspiration for his work. I wish I was that dedicated to pretty much everything. I mean that level of dedication is something I reserve for my bed.
However, even though the show was supposed to be about a manga artist, it wasn’t similar to others in the genre. (In fairness I haven’t actually seen that many shows since slice of life isn’t usually my thing, but I’m going out on a limb here to say that it was unique(ish)). I’m not sure if you’ve seen other shows about aspiring mangaka, but the characters are usually super intense about their craft. In this show, you have Nozaki running around with a weird pseudo-romantic attachment to his editor who doesn’t really seem to give a shit about him or anything that he does. Although, it is an improvement on his old editor who had him draw tanuki in pretty much every panel. For some reason the crazy tanuki subplot resurfaces, but I wasn’t really sure what the show was doing with that other than using it for comic relief.
Then again, a lot of things in the show seemed to happen simply for the sake of comic relief. I think Nozaki has the majority of the cast working on his manga for him by the end of the show, which kind of makes you wonder what he actually does in terms of real labor and what he did before he put all of his friends to work…suspension of disbelief I suppose? I’m also not sure how he actually comes up with his plot lines since he seems borderline incompetent most of the time, but I guess that’s part of his charm? XD
I think one of the most enjoyable/well-done things about the show was that it made fun of character stereotypes, while at the same time subverting them. For example, there’s the one “pretty boy” character who all the girls are in love with and worship, but in this case, the character is actually a girl who just happens to look (and act) like a very attractive boy (don’t ask me why). Kashima has romantic feelings for her ‘senpai’ Hori, but because she is so used to oddly flirting with all girls in the class she has no idea how to approach him romantically. Then of course, there’s the super tomboyish female character who is also socially oblivious, but in a different way from Nozaki-kun. She is hyper-aggressive and pursues another one of Nozaki’s friends, but is secretly this super amazing singer. Anyway no more spoilers. I would definitely recommend watching this show just because it was super entertaining and I was surprisingly not annoyed by any of the characters and that pretty much never happens.
For the record, this was another show I almost didn’t watch just to spite Josh, but I’m definitely glad I did. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it advertises itself as a romcom, it’s really not all that romantic as far as romcom goes and I know Josh is kind of girly, but he liked it so I guess you can use that as a metric.
On another note, I thought I’d give you an updated about my (and Josh’s) life in case anyone gives a shit haha. So Josh is currently in JAPAN (and MIA because he’s swamped with work for his new research position for the next week or two), while because of visa stuff/babysitting younger siblings as a favor to parents I’m still in the US. However, I’m working on my extremely limited Japanese and have a flight booked for the end of the month. Hopefully we plan to post more about our life in Japan and I may even start a how-to guide for all those other clueless foreigners to learn from my mistakes. If I feel so inspired/not lazy. Anyway if anyone has any advice/survival tips I’m all ears!