Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Vol. 4 - Manga Review

Chiyo tells Nozaki that she wants more drama in his shojo manga series Let’s Fall in Love, but she gets a little more than she bargained as Nozaki tries to figure out how to pull off surprises.

The Lowdown

Life is pretty fun for Chiyo Sakura and the gang right now as they continue working on Umetaro Nozaki’s shojo manga series even with all of the wackiness that entails. While Nozaki is stuck in a creative rut, Chiyo tells him that she’d like to see some more drama, but what she doesn’t expect is for Nozaki to try to test this idea out by playing bizarre pranks on her. Later, Nozaki is given an otome visual novel by his manga editor for research, and after playing it with Hori and Wakamatsu the boys find that the game might be having some odd effects on their life.

How Was It?

Much like its previous volume, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 4 continues to be more focused on portraying a series of one-off chapters that build lightly on plot threads developed a while back rather than assembling them into a larger continually running storyline. This continues to work out just fine because of the way that the focus is spread well among this continually wacky cast of characters. This helped to keep the focus fresh by shifting the focus continually between chapters following set pairing such as Chiyo and Nozaki, Hori and Kashima, and Seo and Wakamatsu among others in picking up on something developed in a chapter in the previous volume, running with it, and then leaving it again. A prime example of this has been Wakamatsu’s crush on his mysterious singing “Lorelai” without knowing that she is secretly Seo - leading to hilarious results in this volume as he falls into depression over not hearing Seo sing. The chapters on the whole are generally funny, with some landing perfectly with others getting at least a chuckle, and the while rapid-fire shifting between storylines does prevent anything from being built on a larger scale it does give many of these scenes an enjoyable punchiness that makes this series a fun read.

The scenes following Nozaki and Chiyo in this volume are also the principle chapters which carry on this series extremely enjoyably lampooning of several aspects of the manga making process. We’ve seen by now how much of a blockhead Nozaki is, and this is played for laughs as he decides to try to surprise Chiyo in the weirdest ways to inspire himself after being asked to include more drama in his manga. While his hijinks during this chapter are very funny for their sheer wackiness, I really liked that this was also used to show Chiyo’s perspective as she reacts accordingly to Nozaki’s actions in alternating between an exasperated straight-man for him as well as a blushing fan who can’t help herself.

Another excellent scene shows Hori attempting to teach Nozaki how to do backgrounds, leading to Nozaki trying to take the most hilarious shortcuts to try and avoid having to draw things in perspective in some really funny escalation as the rest of the gang gets involved.  These types of scenes have been one of the strongest reasons to be reading Nozaki especially for those who have some insight into the manga-making process, and I’m always delighted to watch how Tsubaki-sensei plays with even the most minor things for sharp comedic effect. This is followed by other funny scenes such as another “Nozaki needs ideas” scene where the guys sleepover at his house only to find out he is using them as a model for a girls sleepover in his manga, as well as another scene following the editorial staff at his magazine to funny effect.

While most of the gags in this series are invariably centred around the tropes associated with manga and manga-making, I’ve been continually delighted with scenes where Tsubaki-sensei has gone beyond that to poke fun at tropes associated with other forms of Japanese media. This resulted in one of the series’ most memorable scenes taking place in the first volume as Nozaki and Mikoshiba played a dating-sim for hilarious effect, and quite fortunately for us we get a sort of companion chapter to this as Nozaki, Wakamatsu, and Hori play an otome visual novel. This ends up being the highlight of this volume because of the way that it plays perfectly off the tropes of that genre while interspersing this with the personalities of these characters. This chapter was punchy, self-aware, and an absolute highlight that brought together many of this series' best traits.

Final Thoughts

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 4 is another hilarious volume that pokes fun at the tropes associated with manga, the manga industry and creative process, and Japanese media as a whole to great effect. Although the constant shifts between the perspectives of these characters doesn’t allow for much concerted build-up, I continue to like the way that the more recent chapters have started to circle back and follow up on plot strands developed in earlier volumes to funny effect. Overall, this is another hilarious volume which will be sure to please fans of the series as well as anyone looking for a punchy comedy.


Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 4 was translated by Leighann Harvey and published by Yen Press on August 30th, 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.

Verdict:

A-

Date of Publication: August 30th, 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