As a bother-in-arms companion piece to “Denkigai no Hon’ya-san”, we have “Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun” (“Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun”), which tells the tale of a manga artist who is somewhat successful in his endeavor.
High school student Chiyo Sakura (red head up there) has a crush on schoolmate Umetaro Nozaki (the one off her left). When she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says that she always wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help on some drawings. Chiyo discovers that Nozaki is actually the renowned manga artist Sakiko Yumeno. She then agrees to be his assistant in order to get closer to him. As they work on his manga Let’s Fall in Love, they encounter other schoolmates who assist them or serve as inspirations for characters in the stories.
This is a really funny romantic comedy, in the aspect that Nozaki labors over how his characters should fall in love but is completely clueless as to what is going on in his own love life. Chiyo goes back and forth on his love for Nozaki, as the guy is three feet thick. He will agonize the best way to show these faltering emotions of love in his manga but won’t make the plunge in his real life. Everywhere he looks are more endless possibilities in his stories. When he goes to the beach, it’s for research. When he had a kind of Guys Night In with his friends, it’s for research. When he asks Chiyo how she feels about things, it’s for research.
In a strange turn of things, he is never pushing to meet a deadline or struggling with getting the story done on time. Things move well and his efforts are genuinely appreciated by his fans. He just does not want it to get out as to his ‘other’ identity.
Yes, it is the ‘unrequited love’ approach to romantic comedy, as Nozaki is too close to his art to see things in better perspective. Give the guy his chops, he knows how to write and draw a story. If only his own life ran somewhat better than it does. But at least he doesn’t agonize over it; we leave that for Chiyo, who would really like to be something more than a close assistant. There have been a lot of rom-coms out there as of late, but this one really stood out for a lot of positive reasons and I feel you will have a good time with it.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Both in the anime and for the manga)
Plot 8 (Interesting tweak on things)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of sidebars)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 1 (A similar show would be “Ouran High School”)
Overall 7 (I wish he was a tad less clueless)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Will you ink for me?