I read a lot of manga. Like, a lot of it. And between the hilarious characters and its subverting of shojo manga tropes, this might be my new favorite manga ever.
The Basic Premise:
Sakura Chiyo confesses her love to Umetarou Nozaki, but he completely misinterprets her and instead of ending up a couple on a romantic date, Sakura becomes Nozaki’s assistant in his after school job as a manga-ka (manga creator). Nozaki writes popular shojo manga, but despite his fame (under the pen name Sakiko Yumeno) he isn’t very good at romance…or even recognizing romance…in his real life. In attempt to find new scenarios and characters for his manga, he looks to real life to his group of friends and finds…well, shenanigans.
The Characters, Plot, Setting, and other Important Book Things:
Unlike most shojo manga, Nozaki-kun is done in a 4 panel format with every two pages being a mini-arc that’s subtitled things like “If you look closely, it’s a creepy world” and Look, look! Praise me!” Even with this slightly more standardized format, it does a great job keeping the overarching plot moving forward and the quality of writing and art never suffers for it.
It’s hard to talk about the plot because it’s technically incredibly mundane. There’s no magic, none of the characters are superbly rich, and nothing terribly dramatic happens very often. That being said, the real joy of this manga is how incredibly mundane things (like skipping out on a rehearsal for drama club) end up as incredibly memorable, hilarious scenes because of how the characters act and react. Tsubaki is also very good at finding the absurdity in very normal shojo scenes (like walking home in the rain) and giving it just the perfect touch of realism.
The characters are what really make this worth reading. They have incredibly memorable personalities and get along like a house on fire. Perhaps my only criticism is some of the boys have similar hair styles and they can be a little difficult to differentiate at first, especially with how many characters the series follows.
This manga made me laugh a lot. Not “lol” where you smile a little and that equates as laughter. Like, actual out-loud laughter to the point where my roommate wanted to know what was wrong with me. Anyone who even remotely likes shojo manga should read this. Also, people who enjoy dry humor.
The Rating: 5 stars, top banana book
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