Happy-go-lucky Chiyo Sakura has been in love with tall, intense Umetarou Nozaki since the first day of the school year. Halfway through the year, Sakura screws up her courage and tells Nozaki that she’s his biggest fan, only to receive an autograph in return for her heartfelt confession. Nozaki lives a double life as Sakiko Yumeno, a famous shoujo manga artist that everyone thinks is female, and he’s so oblivious to Sakura’s feelings that he believes she’s a fan of his work instead of a fan of him.

It turns out that Nozaki has had his eye on Sakura for a while. Unfortunately, it’s her artistic talent he admires, so he hires her as an assistant to do the “beta” (spot-filling with black ink) for his manga, Let’s Fall in Love. However, Sakura proves to be useful in one other vital area. Though Nozaki’s Yumeno persona is renowned for capturing the true spirit of a young girl’s heart, Nozaki himself is stoic and clueless when it comes to feelings of any kind. Sakura, who wears her heart on her sleeve, proves to be an invaluable helpmate when it comes to understanding matters of the heart.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun is presented vignette-style with two stories per episode. This format is reminiscent of the original four-panel manga and of Saturday morning cartoons, and the madcap antics of the characters had me laughing out loud at least once an episode. However, the romance is the highlight of the show, and any fan looking for a series brimming with romantic tension will not be disappointed. Sakura is resilient and unflappably positive, and anyone who watches this anime will be hard-pressed not to root for Nozaki to finally understand her confession and reciprocate her feelings.

The anime also focuses on two other “couples” who parody common shoujo manga tropes, and they and the minor characters are equally as charming as our protagonists. The standout side characters for me were Yuu Kashima, the (female) “prince” of the school and star of the drama club and Masayuki Hori, the drama club president, who is a talented actor but is too short for leading roles. Kashima is handsome and oozes charm, and though she is popular with girls she has a fraught relationship with Hori, who is hot-tempered and often furious that Kashima frequently blows off drama club. As the anime goes on, we discover that charming Kashima is desperate to impress Hori, and she longs to “rescue” him and make his “dream” come true. Of course, since Nozaki-Kun is primarily a comedy of errors, the ways that she interprets these actions are hilariously misguided.

Both the Japanese and English voice actors are superb, especially Yuuichi Nakamura and Ari Ozawa, who play Nozaki and Sakura respectively and have both enjoyed prolific careers in anime. Ozawa’s performance as Sakura is emotional without being over-the-top, and Nakamura’s flawless deadpan is essential to the comedic timing of many of the jokes. The art is also wonderful, and the animation is flawlessly crisp on Blu-ray. There were little to no scenes with still-frames or reused footage, which can often stand out unpleasantly from an otherwise quality production.

Unfortunately, even though this series is presented as a “complete collection,” the ending provided little resolution for any of the three main couples. There is also room for each character to grow significantly, as their flaws still dominated even through the last episode. Still, when the biggest problem with a series is that it leaves the viewer begging for more, it’s clearly done almost everything right. I, for one, will be crossing my fingers and holding my breath for a second season and will hope that this collection is nowhere as “complete” as it claims to be.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, Complete Collection
Sentai Filmworks, 2016
directed by Mitsue Yamazaki, Ryouhei Takeshita
300 minutes, Number of Discs: 2, DVD/Blu-ray Combo Set
Company Age Rating: TV 14
Related to: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun by Izumi Tsubaki

  • Sara Dempster

    Past Reviewer

    Sara Dempster is the Teen Librarian at Orland Park Public Library in Illinois where she lives her dream every day by sharing her love for all things geek with the new generation of nerds. She loved comics even before she could read on her own, and she frequently made her parents cringe by begging them to read Garfield strips to her at bedtime. She fell in love with manga and anime in sixth grade when she discovered Sailor Moon, then immediately started spending all her allowance on anime VHS tapes. In high school, she became a Western graphic novel convert after reading Watchmen blew her mind, and her current favorites include Sandman and Fables. She currently lives in Chicago, where she enjoys yoga, gaming, reading webcomics, and creating digital art.

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