Shojo manga writer Nozaki doesn’t have to look very far for inspiration for his characters when he’s got Chiyo Sakura and a wacky set of friends helping him!

It’s been a while since Chiyo Sakura started working for her crush Umetaro Nozaki as his assistant drawing girls manga, but she hasn’t been able to make much progress in her love life. Along with eccentric playboy Mikorin, the “prince of the school” Mikoshiba, drama club president Hori and troublemaker Yuzuki, Chiyo works hard to help Nozaki figure out what the next chapters of his manga will be about. After Nozaki meets with his editor to plan out his next chapter, he realizes that he needs to understand the feelings of his characters more and decides to role-play as Mamiko for the day while observing his friends!

The “umbrella in the rain” event where the protagonist and her crush grow closer - Nozaki-style.

Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun’s first volume was a wonderful subversion of a stereotypical shojo manga that drew most of its laughs from Chiyo’s hapless quest to get her crush Nozaki to notice her. While this plot-line is still present, this volume spends much more time lapooning the manga-making process in general as it primarily follows Nozaki’s battle to write his manga chapters. One of the main sources of humour this time around is the way shojo manga tropes are filtered through Nozaki’s bizarre lack of social sense, and we frequently see him completely missing the point as he tries to try out ideas for his shojo series “Let’s Fall in Love” in real life.

The incredible subversion of shojo manga tropes is exemplified in an absolutely hilarious sequence where Nozaki spends a day role-playing as his protagonist Mamiko after his editor tells him to understand his characters more. Nozaki ends up constructing some classic shojo “events” (ie. the protagonist making a boxed-lunch for her crush), but ends up drawing the wrong conclusion thanks to his incredible density. This is funny on mulitple levels, as it both plays off Nozaki’s personality perfectly while also making fun of these tropes. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is somehow drawn into Nozaki’s shenanigans in ways which play off their wacky personalities for hilarious effect. This segement was typical of the humour of this volume, and I found this volume to be punchier overall thanks to this strong focus on Nozaki and the way he unintentionally bounces off the other characters.

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Although the focus in this volume remains solidly around Nozaki, the rest of the characters aren’t left behind and each are the star of some incredible sequences. This volume does a great job building on top of the characterization from the first volume, as each character is off-beat in their own special way. However, what makes this volume stand out is the way it manages to weave each of these character’s own proclivities into each sequence. A stand out sequence follows Nozaki’s nervous underclassman Wakamatsu as he attempts to find out who the girl he hears singing at school is while trying to fend off Seo Yuzuki, not realizing that they are the same person. Naturally it all goes wrong for him when he begins using “Let’s Fall in Love” as his guide, leaving Nozaki to watch in horror at the result. I’d say that this series treads lightly into absurdist territory, but it works so well because of how frequently each sequence would highlight just how delightfully weird these characters are.

This scene is a wonderful example of the shift between a softer style meant to evoke the typical shojo scene, versus the reality of the situation.

Izumi Tsubaki’s art continues to be a highlight of this series, cleanly working within the confines of the 4-koma format thanks to her uncluttered scene construction and memorable character designs. The frequent use of reaction shots as the punchlines to many of the jokes works really well because of the vividness with which she exaggerates each character’s facial expression. She also expertly creates a palpable contrast between the “shojo scenes” being lampooned versus regular scenes by softening lines and using more of the stereotypical background effects in shojo scenes compared the more cleanly drawn regular scenes. This subtly complements the sudden shifts in tone which accompany the way each joke is delivered, giving many scenes an extra punch (such as the one above).

Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun Vol. 2 is a near perfect continuation of this series, successfully building off the characters and scenario introduced in the first volume. This is thanks to increased use of Nozaki to centre the story to hilarious effect, allowing many of the gags to draw in a few of the characters while enjoyably subverting shojo manga tropes to funny effect. Overall, this a punchier volume which expertly weaves each its wacky cast into the proceedings in creative ways which kept me laughing the entire time.

What do our scores mean?

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 2 was translated by Leighann Harvey and published by Yen Press on February 23rd, 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 3 will be published in English on May 24th, 2016.

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