Those who have read a lot of my entries in the past know that I hate creative monotony. I like something new, fresh, diverse; something that stands out from the crowd. The term “cliché” is one I use quite often as a flaw, and one I will continue to use as long as anime stays the course. However, every once in a while I’ll find something a little different. Not enough to break out of those cliché cuffs, but enough to make those clichés a little more sweet in the long run.
Take the case of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, a show that has been heavily praised for flipping stereotypes on their heels. Typical female roles are being attributed to men, the humor focuses on breaking expectations instead of embellishing them, and wouldn’t you know it, a female character gets her ass kicked on an episodic basis by a guy. That’ll stir up some controversy, eh?
That all being said, it’s nice to see a series try to be different with its approach. However, being different in of itself isn’t all that’s expected from me. It has to be executed differently, too, something of which I feel this anime struggles with. Yes, it’s different, with male and female roles switched and the constant breaking of expectations and all, but if you revert those traits back to what is standard within the industry, it’s hardly different at all. Taking a picture and inverting the colors will make it different, but it’s still the same picture. For that, I feel the praise that this series gets is a little inflated.
Going further into what expectations are broken within this series attributes directly into its comedy. It breaks expectations for the sake of running gags and character identification. A red-headed suave boy is actually a tsundere and is embarrassed by the attention he claims to desire. The “prince of the school,” who attracts the attention of every female student, is actually a girl. Things like this and more are used for the bulk of the comedy that inhabits the wilderness of each episode’s colorful jungle. Unfortunately, there are a lot of complaints about this style of humor, where one character has one joke attributed to their character. The tsundere wants attention, but hates it when he gets it. Hahaha. The female lead goes to the park with her romantic interest and thinks it’s a date, but the romantic interest is using it as a reference for his manga. Hahaha. I’m inclined to agree with those against said style of humor, because it’s entirely one-dimensional. It’s a type of humor that one could easily see coming after a few episodes, and can become stale without trying to freshen up one’s expectations all over again. Not to mention, most of these characters get very little development individually. They only tend to grow closer(?) to other characters.
There are two things about this anime that I absolutely adore. The first thing is its design and overall animation. Chiyo, the female lead, is one of the most uniquely designed and adorable characters I’ve seen in recent memory. Her spurts of romantic animation are always charming to view, and I honestly wish she did it more often. Not just her, though, but most characters are energetic enough to keep the humor at least watchable. The vibrant display of color is calming to the eyes and makes the kookiness of the comedy really pop out, especially when the characters play the straight man. The animation for standard movements are typical, but exaggeration is played exceptionally well. It’s one of those anime that would’ve suited well as a parody anime. Thinking of it now, this could be considered a parody of typical tropes. Who’s to say?
The second thing is its energy. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun has energy abound and makes the comedy and overall enjoyability of the series phenomenal. The characters may be one-dimensional to a fault, but they make great mascots. The enthusiasm present makes me want to like the series simply because it feels as though the author is trying their best to make something exciting. It’s contagious to have characters so full of spirit. It makes me want to write my own anime… which would most likely not be so energetic.
Comedy is the name of the game here, but the final episode shows that it can hold its own with romance, too, which is almost disappointing. I would’ve liked to see how this anime handles the romance between someone who is self-aware of how bizarre her current situation is and someone who is blatantly one-dimensional and oblivious. From how the final episode plays out, I’d think this anime would handle it flawlessly. That, however, was only the final episode, as most episodes touch upon the subject of romance, but only for the sake of comedy. It isn’t something of importance, as the characters involved likely wouldn’t leave much of an emotional impact. These are comedy characters. Putting them outside their comfort zone might be disastrous.
All things considered, it’s a sometimes humorous, sometimes clever, and altogether charming anime full of energy and flash. I’m not surprised the anime is so heavily praised, but it makes me wonder if this will set the standard for what comedy anime in the future will abide by. That… would end up making “breaking clichés” cliché. Oh, the irony.
Personal Score: B-
Critical Score: B
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.