Sakura is hopelessly in love with a boy who writes manga. The issue? Instead of confessing, she says she is his biggest fan and he takes her in as his assistant. Bummer. Taking it in stride, she tries to grow closer to him through making manga, meeting his friends, and learning about his life.
Chiyo Sakura has Nozaki in her sight, romantically. Incidentally, Nozaki has her in his sights too… as a line artist. Sakura is, by far, our most grounded character and easily my favorite. Where most of the other characters have the social intelligence of a toddler, she was quick to call out characters, bring them back from the moon, and rain appropriately on parades in need of precipitation. Sakura is part of the art club, but beyond that we don’t really learn much about her. She draws lines well, is part of the art club, and likes Nozaki. So while her cheery and grounded personality makes her my favorite, she could use some more spice.
Umetarou Nozaki has to be some kind of alien. Never having a romance himself, he constantly is writing down notes like some sort of scribe, taking back information about human mating habits. He observes romantic elements of other people’s relationships and uses that material for his manga, which is oddly popular. He is monotone, fairly oblivious to the relationships around him, and singularly focused on his writing. I love how he towers over all the other characters in both size and frame, but feels like he has some of the smallest presence given his quiet and awkward nature. I spent a lot of time wondering why exactly Sakura likes him and honestly came up with very few reasons. Entertaining enough character, not very romantic.
Mikoto Mikoshiba plays too many dating simulations. Everything he learned about dealing with girls comes from those games. Because of that, he is wildly popular with the girls even if he says things that make very little sense or seem super cringy. If only this worked in real life. A routine yes man with crippling social anxiety that has to deal with the flocks of girls that chase him make for a hilarious part of the group. He comes across as very feminine and is the one that does all the floral drawings in Nozaki’s manga, this was not… unnoticed by Nozaki. Mikoshiba, despite being a ladies man, is the shining example of femininity in the show that everyone but him sees.
Masayuki Hori is a man with a vision. He is part of the theater group and in return for Nozaki writing his plays, Hori draws the backgrounds for Nozaki’s manga. He is always trying to find ways to make Kashima shine in his plays to the point where it would seem like he loved her, but he brutalizes her because she tries to skip the club all the time. Correct response? Probably not. Hilarious response? Sure was.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is like that kid you had in class that does okay during the class and bombs the final. You know who I am talking about. They ride the class with a solid B+, never really have to study too hard and when you ask them to join a study group for the final, they decline stating they study alone. While you get out of the exam with a decent grade, “Mr./Ms. I-study-alone” bombs the test and sits there wondering how they can fit the class into their summer schedule without staying for another year. I really enjoyed the humor of the show, the variety of characters and the odd mannerisms that they had but holy moly was the end just a complete let down. I am here for spicy all day but the one flavor I don’t like is bitter.
I can’t say that romantic comedies are the fountain of knowledge and ideas because they just aren’t. They could be, but for some reason they often don’t make much of an attempt. Perhaps the largest reason, not the sole reason, that this review was a day later than my normal post is because I kept trying to find an idea to represent here.
Traditional relationships are not to be found here. In fact, most of the “couples” have no idea they are dating. A manga artist and his assistant. A director and his star actress. A manly basketball bruiser and her feminen video game addict. None of them know they are dating but they all clearly prefer each other than any other person in the show. They all show love in a very specific way that never really seems to hit home for the other person. I’m not sure that the show actually explores how people give love very well but it does show that these differences exist. So much like my love life, as long as it exists in some sense we can work with it.
I also liked why all the characters came together. So rarely would you find people from so many different walks of life coming together to work on a project like you find these characters. I loved learning about how each character was roped into the gang and how awkward they are with each other exactly because they have no reason to be around other than the manga. I know that the Lotad Gang came together because I was the mutual link. But they have things in common with each other past me and anime, so there is nothing awkward. So I am not exactly Nozaki, but I am pretty dang close.
Much like the monthly installment of Nozaki’s manga, we check in with our cast what feels like a little more than once a month. It’s interesting how fast Sakura’s goal of getting Nozaki to love her fell to the wayside for smaller relationship arcs for other characters. I really liked the balance that was struck between furthering the groups’ manga and furthering, or stalling, the pairs of characters. It felt pretty clear that the manga was being explained through the characters, as if the manga was the story being told and not the characters themselves, which feels ironic because this is likely how Nozaki sees it. Manga first, real life second. It’s the classic “art imitates real life.”
Romantic comedies are rarely the place to find the top tier animation and Monthly Girls’ is no exception. The animation is what you would expect, with the most attention given to the characters and a secondary simplistic style for humor. I might be a bit biased in that I love what almost feels like a multiple personality disorder of animation, specifically when it comes to romantic comedies. At some point a formula was made that includes a healthy dose of shitty animation mixed in with music cuts and a good one liner that has been passed down the anime family tree that should never change. You know how someone new enters the family and says something like, “You know what would make this recipe better? Nutmeg.” You know what you can do with your nutmeg you filthy piece of…. No nutmeg, just funny animation.
For those who love anime of the world they create, stop here. I had some hope for the world given we started to meet other manga artists and Nozaki’s editors, but this world is like a clone straight out of the second Star Wars movie. By that I mean it’s the same world that every single high school anime takes place in. We have the classrooms, the apartments with no parents, and the random hallways where dialog happens. A good old copy paste job with nothing interesting to mention. We didn’t go to any special locations. We didn’t have any cool take on a traditional location. Just the standard world.
I would love to see anime artists incorporate more personality into the world. We saw the apartment of two people and I would not be able to tell you it was either one of their apartments because the walls are grey and the furniture is bland. What about art on the walls? There are so many ways to create personality in a space that just gets ignored in so many shows.
While many parts of Monthly Girls’ follows the bland side of the romantic comedy formula, the music and sounds are fantastic. The piano has more depth in the show than some characters. Sakura is reading the manga? Calm and romantic piano that transports you into the slow motion love glances. Sakura is eating lunch that Nozaki made for her? Bouncing and happy piano with sparkling sounds. I was taken aback as I was relistening to music at just how many moods could be pulled out of the chords, but there they were. The sound effects complimented the music well but never got to the point where I felt like it was surpassing the point where it was just a benefit, nothing would make a playlist.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||5||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||5||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||4||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||3||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||2||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||1||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is not a special anime. If you are looking for a solid rom-com with fun, but surface level characters then you have a place here. It’s short, sweet, and socially awkward like our love lives. I certainly hope you relate less than I did.