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review 2016-12-01 03:34
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 3) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Vol. 3 - Izumi Tsubaki

Nozaki's editor has a high school class reunion to attend, Wakamatsu inexplicably starts dating Seo (sort of), Kashima tries to learn to sing for Hori (the president of the school's drama club), we get to see a bit of Miyako in college (one of her classmates mistakenly thinks she's dating Nozaki), and Nozaki continues to try really hard to find inspiration for his manga.

Is it just me, or does Nozaki seem to be kind of bad at his job? He seems to be completely lacking in creativity – he can't come up with new storylines unless the real people on which he based his characters go through those experiences first. Also, he can't draw backgrounds and sometimes has problems drawing his own characters. Well, whatever, it made for some great humor. I loved the increasingly detailed set Hori and Mikoshiba created for Nozaki, and I laughed at Nozaki's completely self-serving support of the idea of Wakamatsu dating Seo. Valentine's Day was fun too.

My absolute favorite manga-related bit of humor was the part about Wakamatsu's adventures in learning the numbers for the different screentones. Since he had problems remembering them, he came up with his own names, and Nozaki tried to humor him. The results were hilarious.

I'm definitely going to continue reading this series.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-12-01 03:31
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 2) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Vol. 2 - Izumi Tsubaki

[Oh look, I can post a review in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea! And I'm even managing to do it from Firefox!]

 

This series doesn't really have a plot, just lots of jokes that run for varying numbers of pages. In this volume, Nozaki is his current editor's fanboy, to the point that it seems like he has a bit of a crush on him. Sadly for him, his editor has no interest in socializing with him and just wants him to do his work well and turn it in on time. Mikoshiba demonstrates his inability to keep from saying things that embarrass the heck out of him, and Kashima may have a crush on the president of the school's drama club (he, by the way, is constantly annoyed with her). At the end of the volume, everyone tries to help out a sick Nozaki by finishing his manga pages for him.

The things I most enjoyed about this volume: Nozaki's unrequited affection for his editor, and Wakamatsu and his horrifying relationship with Seo. The bit with Nozaki and his editor was kind of adorable – I suppose I should have felt bad for Nozaki, but he was as clueless about his editor's desire for a purely professional relationship as he was about Sakura's crush on him. Nearly everything his editor said and did was wonderful, as far as he was concerned.

The stuff with Wakamatsu made me both cringe and laugh. Seo became both the reason he developed insomnia and the sole cure for his insomnia. Also, the poor guy was literally incapable of driving Seo away. Everything he did just made it look more and more like he liked her.

This volume was good, although my enjoyment was a bit more subdued than it was for the first volume (not that it had any effect on my rating).

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-11-30 05:07
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (manga, vol. 1) by Izumi Tsubaki, translated by Leighann Harvey
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Vol. 1 - Izumi Tsubaki

[Okay, wow, the wait to get a blank review post to open up for this one volume was so long I thought the site had actually stalled. I have reviews written up for the next two volumes. If those don't show up tonight, it means that my BL troubles continued and I've given up until the site starts functioning again. It's weird, because it actually worked okay during the day, when I was at work.]

 

A high school girl named Sakura tries to confess her love to cool-looking Nozaki, only to get roped into doing the beta (inking the solid black areas) for his manga – it turns out that he's secretly a shoujo mangaka. Sakura then meets several of Nozaki's other helpers and learns a bit about some of the more annoying aspects of shoujo manga creation, like overly controlling editors and having to make sure nothing in the story breaks Japanese laws.

This is, I think, only my second series ever that deals with the manga industry. The other one was The World's Greatest First Love. It was primarily a romance, but it did give a few peeks into the life cycle of a manga volume, mostly from the viewpoint of manga editors. Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, on the other hand, is primarily humor and looks more at the manga writing/illustrating side of things.

I have no clue how much of the manga creation stuff in this volume was true, but, regardless, it was funny. This series turned out to be one of the best I read during my vacation. I laughed at Nozaki's efforts to create romantic moments in his series that contained no illegal aspects. Sakura got to be his guinea pig for potentially romantic options, which usually weren't very romantic at all.

Then there was Mikoshiba, another one of Nozaki's helpers. He looked like a handsome playboy but was actually extremely awkward – and also unwittingly the inspiration for the heroine in Nozaki's manga. There were lots of other great characters besides him: Seo, a brash girl who made nearly everyone who met her angry; Kashima, a “princely” girl who had tons of female admirers (and who probably couldn't remember any of their names); and Maeno, Nozaki's former editor, who forced all his artists to include tanuki in their works, just because he liked them. Nearly everyone Nozaki knew and every potentially romantic situation he encountered was worked into his series in some way.

One of my favorite moments in this volume was when Nozaki played a dating sim. He was so fascinated by the player character's weirdly helpful best friend that he accidentally found himself shipping them, to the point that he pulled an all-nighter just to create a short fan comic for them in which they could actually end up together. It was both funny and kind of sweet.

Humorous manga can be hit or miss. This one turned out to be much better than I expected – a bit odd, but solidly enjoyable.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-11-25 22:44
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (manga, vol. 1) by Nami Sano, translated by Adrienne Beck
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Vol. 1 - Sano Nami

Sakamoto, a new and popular student, coolly and calmly deals with jealous bullies, a wasp, a kid who keeps getting bullied for his lunch money, a scheming girl who wants to make him her boyfriend, and a guy who uses him and other students as his slaves. There's also an extra story called “Broad Shoulders” that I think is unrelated to this series, but it's hard to tell because the main character looked an awful lot like Sakamoto. At any rate, the kid in that story was being bullied for his shoulder pads for some bizarre reason.

I found out about this series via a review somewhere, and I was really excited about it. I figured it would be humorous and weird. Instead, the humor generally fell flat, and the whole thing was weird in an uncanny valley sort of way. The characters looked just “off” enough that I was too busy being creeped out to enjoy this much. I really wasn't a fan of the artwork, which was a little too stiff for my tastes.

Some of the stories were also disturbing enough to make me question whether I have this series' genre wrong. In the story with the kid whose lunch money was being stolen, for example, Sakamoto wouldn't help him until after he'd gotten a job. After the kid tried to stand up to his bullies himself, he told Sakamoto that the lesson he'd learned was this: “I don't need to protect myself or my money, only my pride.” I sort of understand what Sano was trying to get across here, but still...fighting against his bullies could have landed him in the hospital or even gotten him killed if Sakamoto hadn't swooped in to help. In the first story, several bullies tied Sakamoto up and planned to strip him down, take pictures, and send the pictures to everyone. And I still don't know what to think about the story with the guy who was making other students his slaves.

It also bugged me that Sakamoto didn't seem to be interested in helping people so much as studying them and testing his theories about human behavior. There were indications that Sakamoto wasn't human. He refused to say his given name, the only information he gave about his past was that he'd once attended a place called “Innocence Academy,” and he had inhuman physical abilities. He might be a robot, or an alien, or something else entirely. At this point, my best guess is that he's an alien, living on Earth specifically to study human behavior.

If I do continue reading this series, it'll primarily be for the mystery of Sakamoto's origins and identity. None of the other characters were at all interesting or very memorable, Sakamoto's solutions to various situations weren't really that big of a draw, and the artwork kind of creeped me out. I really don't know what Sano was going for here. I mean, the series also included a lot of what I'd normally call fanservice, with many panels of shirtless or barely clothed Sakamoto and other characters, but it wasn't so much sexy as it was discomfiting and vaguely disturbing.

That said, there were still a few nice moments. For instance, I liked the panel in which Sakamoto demonstrated that he could easily remain in a seated position even after his chair had been stolen out from under him.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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