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Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Season 1 Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

12 min read

Monthly Girls' Nozaki Premium EditionThings take an odd turn when Sakura discovers that the man of her dreams is a shojo mangaka!

What They Say:
You know how the story goes: girl crushes on guy, girl confesses feelings to guy, guy mistakes confession for a job application.

Okay, maybe that’s not how it usually goes, but that’s what happens when Chiyo Sakura finally gets up the nerve to tell her classroom crush Nozaki how she feels. Since she doesn’t know that he’s secretly a manga artist who publishes under a female pen name, and he doesn’t know that she doesn’t know, he misunderstands and offers her a chance to work as his assistant instead of a date!

But while it’s not flowers and dancing, it is a chance to get closer to him, so Chiyo gamely accepts. And when Nozaki realizes how useful Chiyo can be in figuring out what girls find romantic, he’ll be spending even more time with her “researching” while remaining completely clueless. Could Chiyo’s romantic frustration possibly get any more drawn out of proportion? The answer will be profusely illustrated in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun!

Contains episodes 1-12 plus a chipboard box, poster, hard cover booklet, stickers, and 2 CDs

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is fairly straightforward as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the new English language dub, both of which are encoded using the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The show is mostly a dialogue driven piece but there are plenty of wild takes and outlandish moments along the way with reactions and dreaming bits that it can play with it more. This lets it have a little more fun with its mix and sound design that provides for some directionality and placement of effects and dialogue in good ways. There may not be a big standout moment that you’d get from a big action series, but the end result is a fun one here overall that gives it some additional life. Dialogue itself is well handled throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second along with the OVAs. Animated by Dogakobo, the show has a really great look to it with its detail and designs that’s made even better by some strong color design. There is a lot of great pop and vibrancy to this that lets it stand out really well while also showcasing some really great material with the amount of manga in it. The black and white manga segments are areas that used to look absolutely horrible on DVD so I’m glad that it looks as clean and great as it does here. The show doesn’t have a lot of high motion animation sequences, but when it wants to do more than usual it does it well and the result is strong. The color design for this show really is great as it’s not over the top flesh but uses its choices well for some great pop where it needs it to make it look striking.

Monthly Girls Nozaki Umetaro NozakiPackaging:
The collector’s edition release for this series is definitely a strong one that will delight fans as it certainly goes the distance. The heavy chipboard box holds the three DVD-sized cases inside plus the book with a great look to it. It’s done in the white graph paper design for the background and other artists nods that give it a nice feeling combined with the texture of the paper used and the glossy elements of the logo and the flowers on the top and the shots on the spine. The front cover uses a good grouping of Sakura wit hall the main men in her life while the back side provides for the other manga involved work aspects of Nozaki’s life. That goes for a pink hue compared to the blue on the main side and the contrast is nice, giving it a richness all of its own. Within the box we get the three cases, done in clear form, where there are various character pairings with bright colored backgrounds that aren’t too vivid, letting the character artwork stand out more than anything else. The logo and overall coloring hits a good spot here and fits in with the manga theme of the series itself without going for the usual black and white elements. The back covers of the show disc have a breakdown of the episodes by number and title with images from them as well as tying them to their respective disc. There’s also a clean production credits breakdown and technical grid that lays it all out clearly. The soundtrack CD case has the spiral bound books as the background design and lists the copious number of tracks and their titles for all three discs. All of the cases have some fun and silly images on the reverse side to give it more color.

The hardcover book inside is just an absolute treat. It’s got the usual pieces you’d expect with episode and character breakdowns that take up about half of it and it has some very fun cast and staff interviews. It also breaks into a lot of color about the show and the manga. Coming in at over eighty pages, the thing is just so chock full of material that a solid read through will definitely positively accent your viewing of the series even more. It’s a great book that’s very well put together.

The release also comes with a small sticker pack of the main cast in their chibi form and a foldout poster that uses the main visual created to promote the series originally with the main cast in their various blocks with Nozaki getting a full-length shot in it.

Menu:
The menus for this release are fairly straightforward as we get the static main cast image in the foreground while the background side goes for various color shapes and widgets with soft tones. It also mixes in chibi form versions of the supporting cast to give it a little more lightness and fun. The designs are good and the detail gives it a welcome feeling without straying far from what the show looks like itself. This is another release from Sentai that goes with smaller episode number/title boxes along the bottom rather than the vertical lists that we get and while it does work I continue to favor the other form better. This one goes for some nice themed designs for the boxes and it’s all easy to navigate and move around in, especially as it’s very responsive and quick to move through – particularly when you’re in a deeper menu and are pulling out.

Extras:
The extras for this release are definitely fun as we get the original promos and commercials used to advertise the show as well as the clean opening and closing sequences. The big extra for fans on-disc are the six OVAs, which run about three minutes each. As you can expect these are essentially little bits of silliness from the original Japanese home video release and just add a little more color to the whole show, extending the fun beyond the main broadcast run. What’s nice is that it’s done in the style of the main show and is basically a spread out beach episode with all the fun that’s involved, making it a very enjoyable romp.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga from Izumi Tsubaki, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the summer of 2014. Animated by Dogakobo, the show is one that got a lot of attention for some very good designs and animation to it that made it an appealing work. While there are certainly familiar things to be had here as is the case with most real world school based series, the show found the right mix of humor and character for it to stand out and simply become something fun. It didn’t hurt that the animation and designs for it are pretty strong as well as that just elevates the whole thing. Visually, the show has a great look and it’s a big selling point to it that takes the familiar story up a couple of notches. It’d likely still work even if it wasn’t this good looking but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Unlike that cheerful picture above, we see the reality of Chiyo's romantic misadventures with Nozaki

The series focuses on the character of Chiyo Sakura, a very fun and vibrant high school girl who has found the love of her life in fellow classmate Umetaro Nozaki. Sakura has a great look about her that’s well defined by the red and white polka dot ribbon she wears in a bow that just gives her extra bounce. The series opens with her revealing her interest in him, confessing in a classroom in a fairly traditional way, but Nozaki is your standard, well, tall and standard, young man who is kind of oblivious to such things. When she goes through this in her awkward way it ends up having him bringing her to his home, which certainly makes her nervous and excited. The truth, however, is not what she expected as it turns out that he’s a shojo manga creator and thought she figured it out and was looking to get in on the process to help him.

And so begins a new relationship. Sakura’s desire to get closer to Nozaki is the driving layer of the series but not one that dominates in a constant state, which is one of its biggest saving graces. Sakura takes to the process as she’s a good artist herself, which is something he noticed about her before she ever approached him, and the two have a fairly fruitful time as she starts to connect with this part of his life. The problem is that he’s so utterly oblivious to her interest in him that even when it’s kind of blunt it turns into something where he just misreads it completely. Of course, she plays it coy often enough so that there are enough easy outs, but with the show not trying to beat it over our heads with the way this dynamic works we end up with something a little more mellow. And it ends up clicking because because the kind of humor used doesn’t place either of them in a really bad place by making them into over exaggerated personalities. Though there are moments where Sakura gets kind of big in her view of things.

What the series does best is to build up its main cast as it progresses with some very fun personalities. It’s a bit male heavy but it clicks well because of the dynamic that exists. The fun one for me is Mikorin, the playboy type that’s definitely a pretty boy who’s good friends with Nozaki. He also helps out with the whole manga side and when he discovers that Sakura is involved in it he gets to be pretty fun about it at first before it all kind of settles out. His quirks are definitely fun and the kind of bonding that he does with Nozaki is spot on, especially when it comes to the dating sim games and how he handles that .Nozaki’s even worse at it but watching the two of them play and his frustrations with Nozaki over it is spot on. Mikorin definitely worked well for me since he ends up not really attached to anyone along the way and is a free agent that’s just enjoying life, which is a nice change of pace.

Just in case you missed the memo…

The cast also adds Seo, Sakura’s female friend that’s the brash type with a sarcastic flair and a really active lifestyle – fleeing from teachers. She’s definitely fun because she torments Wakamatsu, a friend of Nozaki’s that helps out on the manga as well and is just completely stressed by what Seo does. We get a flip side kind of relationship where Hori is interested in Kashima but keeps misreading situations about her – particularly since she’s more interested in the simplicity of the male lifestyle with appearance, something that gets her a lot of female attractors. The guys are all part of Nozaki’s life with his manga side and that helps to make the show feel a little more male heavy since they tend to spend more time together than the girls do as they’re not really friends in a way. We do see them coming together from time to time but it never feels as connected as the guys are.

Since this comes from a four-panel series the show works some pretty solid stories as it unfolds, going more for the moments and the smaller humor of everyday life as opposed to big full episode stories. The slice of life aspect of it works well because of this as it’s not trying to force something into it. The dynamic between all of them is a lot of fun as it plays out because it does grow it naturally as we see it building through Sakura’s eyes as she gets to know more of Nozaki and his secret life as a manga creator. It also helps that Sakura isn’t in full on attention-needing mode when it comes to Nozaki, though his obliviousness does get to be a little problematic from time to time as you expect his friends to recognize the reality and get him to understand. The stories are straightforward throughout with standard school fare in general, though I was a little dismayed as it gets into the final episodes and more of its focus is on the play that everyone is participating in to varying degrees. School plays just get to be far, far, too familiar.

One area where I really had fun was with the manga side of it .While we’ve had men writing and drawing shojo before, Nozaki and his monotone ways in real life are a fun contrast to the romantic works that he creates and his attention to detail in seeing it in real life and taking inspiration there. This causes no end of trouble and hope for Sakura as she gets caught in some of what he wants to do, but the end result is certainly a whole lot of fun. His manga gets plenty of attention in its various stages of creation, and with the rest of his friends involving in helping out with it as well, and there are also some fun supporting cast brought in. A college student upstairs in his apartment complex is a manga creator herself and there’s a couple of editors that come into play which fleshes out Nozaki, such as when he first transitioned into it with an editor and had to undergo that experience. It’s certainly fun and it provides the show with some solid support overall rather than just a gimmick or too dominating.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Image 1

In Summary:
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki is a show that just knows how to enjoy itself. The concept is simple as we get Sakura trying to get closer to the guy she likes and discovers a whole other world. That it leans a bit more towards his friends than hers and some of the other supporting cast women definitely works well since there’s a focal point around the manga he writes. Sakura’s a regular presence but she doesn’t dominate it in ways that would make it off-putting or problematic. The result is a series that’s mellow with some great bursts of energy and silliness that drives it in an engaging way. Often I can find these shows to difficult to marathon because it just gets to be too much. This one doesn’t hit that feeling in the slightest and just manages to be fun throughout as it has a good groove and rhythm that doesn’t stop. With a very fun show in hand, Sentai put together a great release with a great cast and a lot of very good extras to take it to the next level, especially with the inclusion of three CD releases in it and an absolutely fabulous hardcover book. Definitely a great release and one that fans of the show will be all over in a big way.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitle, Nozaki-kun Shorts, Promos, Commercials, Clean Opening and Closing Animations.

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
MSRP: $129.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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