Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 - Manga Review

The adventures of shojo mangaka Nozaki and his gang of assistants continue! Seo and Wakamatsu go on a date, Nozaki and Mikorin become bad-boys, and Chiyo digs up some Valentine’s chocolate in the hit comedy series which inspired the anime.

The Lowdown

School trudges on for shojo mangaka Umetaro Nozaki and his friends, but the fun never ends as they continue getting into outlandish situations while trying to put together Nozaki’s “Let’s Fall in Love” romance series. While Nozaki, Chiyo and Mikoshiba attempt to figure out how a group-date works, Wakamatsu and Seo go on a date of their own with hilarious results. Meanwhile, even Nozaki’s colleagues aren’t immune to problems of their own with Nozaki’s editor Ken-san having to make it out of his high-school reunion with his reputation intact! Finally, Hori and Kashima continue to work on their school’s play, leading Nozaki to make an acting debut of his own.

How Was It?

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun has done a fantastic job creating a hilarious gag-based manga by putting its wacky cast of character into situations which subvert prominent shojo manga tropes for laughs. This continues to be the case in this volume as creator Izumi Tsubaki plays with a number of established tropes with strongly entertaining results even if this volume doesn’t do anything too different from the previous volumes. However, what this volume does do a little bit differently is that it is more of a collection of individual skits compared to the previous volume, which had skits that interconnected more to form larger overarching arcs. I found this to be a bit of a step down because I really enjoyed watching the progression of certain gags over the course of the entire previous volume, but I still found this volume to be quite funny overall as per usual for this series.

One of the best running set-ups this series has used is to put Nozaki and Mikoshiba in a situation where they completely misinterpret one of the classic shojo tropes to hilarious effect, and this is pulled off successfully once again in this volume. An early skit shows Nozaki and Mikoshiba’s attempts to reenact a “group date” scene only to completely fail because of Mikoshiba’s timid awkwardness and Nozaki’s sheer denseness when one of them attempts to play the girl. This scene gets even better Chiyo discovers them and is roped into the role-play, only to completely miss the point herself because of her exclusive fixation on Nozaki. One of my favourite parts of this series is the way it does a fantastic job nailing the art of slowly escalating a scene to get progressively more ridiculous, and this scene is an excellent example of this when it reaches its final hilarious punch-line.

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Another highlight of this series continues to be the way that it uses the general process of manga-creation as the basis for several of its gags. This was done wonderfully in this volume in a chapter focusing the process of using screen tone. Usually, various types of screen-tone are denoted using numbers, but Nozaki and Wakamatsu decide to try out naming them instead. The result is hilarious as they begin to name many of the screen-tones after the various character before Seo gets involved to make things even wackier. This scene did a great job using our knowledge of the various characters’ personalities for laughs by combining this with a funny take on a manga convention, and I really enjoyed the way the series continues to pull this off.

Although much of the focus remains on shojo manga tropes being at the centre of many gags, I enjoyed that the series continued to flesh out the rest of the cast to entertaining effect during other gags. The budding relationship between Seo and Wakamatsu is a highlight in this volume as Wakamatsu continues his bumbling quest to find the “Glee Club Lorelai” only to be roped into going to a scary movie with Seo. The Seo-Wakamatsu pairing continues to be one of the most entertaining gags in the series, and their trip to the movies delivers by highlighting the inherent awkwardness of Wakamatsu’s expectations in the face of Seo’s obliviousness during the date. More page-space is also devoted to scene involving Hori and Kashima, but I felt that these weren’t quite as punchy as the rest of the volume and retread some of the same story beats as the previous volume.

I’ve found myself enjoying Nozaki-kun’s art more and more as the series proceeds thanks to the Tsubaki’s ability to absolutely nail each characters’ expression in line with the punch-lines to the jokes. This series is probably my favourite when it comes to the way that Tsubaki is able to vary expressions for this purpose, and it adds so much to the scenes to see character such as Chiyo go from cheerful to exasperated to punctuate a joke. Tsubaki also continues to do a great job making full use of each panel to create uncluttered images that are easy to follow and never get in the way of the punchlines.

Final Thoughts

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 is another entertaining volume in this series thanks to the way it continue to cleverly play with prominent shojo manga tropes for laughs. Although the skits are not quite as connected compared to the previous volume, I was still in stitches watching this outlandish cast attempt to bumble their way through various situations. I also really enjoyed the way that the characters have been characterized enough to the point that Tsubaki is able to create a gag simply by bouncing them off each other to great effect. While perhaps not as strong as the truly exceptional previous volume, if you’ve enjoyed this series so far or are looking for a hilarious parody of shojo manga conventions you should definitely be checking this volume out.


Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 was translated by Leighann Harvey and published by Yen Press on May 24th, 2016. Authored by Izumi Tsubaki, the series is currently ongoing and published by Square Enix’s Gangan Online. The series received a one-cour anime adaption in 2014 by Dogakobo which is being released by Sentai Filmworks. Volume 4 will be published in English on August 23rd, 2016.

Verdict:

A-

Date of Publication: May 24th, 2016

Translator: Leighann Harvey

Author: Izumi Tsubaki

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka