I read way too much bad shoujo for my own good. It’s a bit like my relationship with McDonald’s: every few months, I go against instinct and pick up a new series, then get to the end and flip a table in anger, swearing it off until I forget about it a few months later. But as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun reminds us, it’s so easy to go back to because the elements are all so familiar. And like any good comedy, Nozaki-kun shows us how adorably silly some of those elements are.
It was appropriate that I decided to watch Inazuma Eleven during the World Cup. At the very least, it gave me a great reaction image for Brazil v. Germany. I had been advised that Inazuma Eleven was something that I’d enjoy. Of course, the problem is that as a children’s cartoon it is quite the behemoth. Once you get down to it, it is a kid’s anime based on a video game about super-dimensional soccer, so the plot is not that complicated. But some of the character arcs are really fantastic and there is a surprising recurring theme in bad parenting ruining some of these kids. In the end, there’s nothing some super-powered soccer can’t fix.
My first encounter with Gundam was as a child, in my cousin’s room, admiring his gunpla collection. Years later, I watched my first Gundam anime: Gundam Wing. Yes, I know, but it was amazing when I was 12 because it was Gundam. Ditto for my second Gundam anime, Gundam SEED, which was my introduction to the world of fansubs. It was at this time that I learned that Gundam was a serious series about how bad war was and the human propensity for conflict. And over the last few years, I dug up the UC shows and OVAs and faithfully followed the new shows that arrived. And then I watched Gundam Build Fighters because it was Gundam and it was just what I had to do, even though it was going to suck. Well, what it did instead was suck out everything I’d learned about Gundam over the past decade and brought me back to the foundation of my Gundam fandom: plastic robots are awesome.
The combination of Yowamushi Pedal with all the cycling talk in municipal politics did induce me into picking up a bike of my own. The fact that cycling is something that even a lazy nerd like me can get into is very appealing to me. Of course, the first time I tried cycling downtown and then to campus (about a ten minute ride), I collapsed once I reached the library and I had to lie down on a bench outside because trying to move made me feel nauseous. This makes Onoda’s journey from nerd to cycling nerd all the more impressive. And as we have learned from Yowapeda, cycling nerds are adorable.
Two high school students inadvertently discover a different side of the other than they usually present to the rest of their classmates and now they’re both in on the secret. At first, it’s just fun as they discover more and more about what the other person is really like. This all very naturally segues into a cute romance as the relationship grows. It’s all very nice and fuzzy and funny and adorable—mostly. It’s really easy to forget that the dorky Miyamura that we’ve gotten to know is someone who, when we first meet him, is someone who’s given up on other people. So occasionally, we’re treated to some delving into his past which serves as a reminder of how far he’s come. Like everything else in this manga, it’s not heavy-handed and it all comes together naturally. You really can’t help but feel glad that he’s managed to find a bit of happiness now.