I love watching slice of life animes. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, slice of life is defined as “…a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment.” So basically, we’re referring to a piece of art or a show that showcases everyday life. But the funny thing about all that is that everyday life looks completely different based on what you do and where you live, and even who you are. Because of this, many slice of life animes (I have found) have some kind of common element that most people can relate to, such as the everyday goings-on of high school. The anime I’m reviewing today definitely uses this approach, as it’s about a manga author in high school where we see his everyday activities as a writer, an artist, and a high school student.
To say that Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a slice of life anime is akin to saying that a Twinkie is a snack cake. Sure, you can’t deny that it’s true, but that description alone is not very telling and also robs the subject of a degree of joy or really of any descriptive quality that may tell what the experience is all about (spongy cake! Creamy filling! Preservatives galore!)
This anime is a romantic comedy slice of life which revolves around two high school students, Sakura and Nozaki. Sakura is a young, vibrant girly-girl who crushes on the stoic and brooding Nozaki. But after she finally gathers the courage to ask him out, he misinterprets her request and after a series of misunderstandings, she discovers that he’s a manga artist and he just thinks that she’s his fan! On top of that, he’s not just ANY manga artist: shockingly, he’s the author of Sakura’s favorite high school romance shoujo manga!!!!
Sakura wants to get closer to Nozaki, so she decides to help him with his manga, since that’s the only thing he really seems interested in. This also leads to a series of hilarious misunderstandings as Nozaki decides to use her to assist with his manga in every way, including doing scene studies, inking panels, and trying on clothes to model for his characters.
She offers him advice about ways to make situations more romantic, and you have to feel for her a little bit as Nozaki is not only completely oblivious to her attempts to express her love for him but he also just can’t seem to get his romantic situations right when attempting to stage them, even just for the sake of his scene studies. Several of their classmates also become entangled in Nozaki’s manga exploits as characters in his manga, drawing backgrounds, or also a part of his scene studies, however misguided Nozaki’s efforts may be (a memorable episode involves Nozaki hosting a slumber party to study for a girl’s sleepover chapter he wants to write with hysterical results.)
The dichotomy of Nozaki’s oblivious attitude towards love and romance and complete disinterest in it while managing to convincingly pull off authoring a manga that is literally all about high school romance written convincingly is very strange at times. And yet, it’s somehow endearing as it’s made clear through the series that Nozaki does try, and try hard, although he has no idea what direction to go in without looking at other people and even then totally lacks an understanding of the opposite sex. It’s a very odd formula that by all means should not work, but somehow pulls it off, and not in a “I am going to force myself to watch this until the end” kind of way. I was practically on the floor laughing for some of this anime, and writing about it has made me recall all the funny scenes that I want to go and rewatch. For a show about a clueless artist and a love-struck girl, it has an awful lot of heart. Nozaki-kun is definitely a romcom, but is rather light on the romance and heavy on the comedy, all while still falling within the boundaries of a slice-of-life show.
The next time you’re looking for a fun, quick slice of life anime that will make you laugh and isn’t too heavy, I definitely recommend Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun! This anime is 12 episodes long and is available subtitled for streaming on Hulu Plus or Crunchyroll.