2014 Summer Shows #4

In my last post I discovered shows with potential, and Space Dandy. This post begins with a less promising series: Gekkan Soujo Nozaki-Kun.

A classroom hallway, golden in the sunset.
A classroom hallway, golden in the sunset.

We meet Chiyo, average high school girl who’s in love with Nozaki. When she asks him out, he gives her his autograph. When she tries again, he invites him over to his place. Like an idiot she says yes immediately, and is immediately forced to “beta” the manga he’s drawing. Turns out he’s a manga artist, and one of those fluffy shoujo artists to boot. Chiyo, in order to stay near him, keeps helping with the art, and they talk about various shoujo tropes, even trying out variations on the “two on a bicycle” business, but he remains oblivious to her true feelings, which is partly her fault.


On the good side, Nozaki is shown as sort of a lunky guy, the type who kills roaches on desktops with shoes, not the type to draw girly stuff, and he admits he’s never been in love before. Yet even Chiyo has to admit that he’s great at depicting girls’ dreams and wishes. Chiyo isn’t bad, she tries hard, but she’s in love, and that means plot-stopping thumpity-heart moments that drive me up the frigging wall. Still, they make a good couple. My biggest problem with the episode can be explained away by the usual first episode chores: setting up the characters and basic situation, and it especially suffers because the shocking revelation that Nozaki’s a manga-ka comes early in the episode. After that they seem to be killing time until the 25 minutes were up. But maybe new characters next week will improve things.

With this show we start right off with the main character.
With this show we start right off with the main character.

DRAMAtical Murder … not bad. In episode one we follow around a young man named Aoba as he works at a junk shop of some kind, interacts with his boss, some kids, and an AI doggy who’s more interesting than he is. While making a delivery he runs into a number of his friends, all bishies, a hairdresser, a gang leader, two guys who are NOT twins, and probably others whom I’ve forgotten, and while they chew the fat we get some backstory. There’s a fighting game that’s popular called “Rhyme,” and lately people have been disappearing. Then Aoba gets stuck in this game against his will, and learns the lesson NOT to download software from untrusted sources.

Something to do with Rhyme battling. I rather like it, actually.
Something to do with Rhyme battling. I rather like it, actually.

Nothing really stands out, good or bad. It’s full of cyberpunkish tropes, especially the Rhyme game. It’s nice to see a show where the characters aren’t trying to kill each other all the time, at least in episode one, but this IS apparently a yaoi show. Though the times when Aoba does run into thugs, buddies of his show up rather conveniently and do the dirty work for him. Apart from that, nothing really wrong with this episode at all, but I don’t think it will pass my next test, where I download episode 2 but never watch it because of other shows I like better.

Jinsei wants us to know where we are when they start the show.
Jinsei wants us to know where we are when they start the show.

Jinsei became available a little later than expected. I don’t know if it was worth the wait. A high school boy named Yuuki, working for the school newspaper, is put in charge of the love/life advice column and supervises three girls, Rino (sciences), Ikumi (athletics), and Fumi (humanities). Basically they get problems to solve and bicker from their respective disciplines. And in the three questions they cover this episode (the story chapters are set up by the questions), they basically mash up everyone’s opinions into one answer anyway.


Nothing much stood out overall except the following: playing jenga with wavers is an inspired idea. They’re setting up a romance between Rino and Yuuki almost right from the start, which is sweet enough but kind of early, and the other girls aren’t jealous or anything! Furthermore, Rino has a sharp tongue. Ikumi acts on instinct and gets most of the silly lines. Fumi is absolutely useless so far but she has big boobs. It doesn’t look like Yuuki is going to do anything more than direct traffic. A couple of good gags, some stupid ones. We’ll see.

That's the main character's mouth, in case you were interested.
That’s the main character’s mouth, in case you were interested.

Himegoto … not going to say much about this one. High school boy is forced to cross-dress by some Yakuza because of his parents’ debts, and is rescued by an all-girl student council and made a member of it because he’s a cute girl. When he protests that he’s a boy, they decided to force him to cross dress. That’s about it. I know there’s not a lot you can do in four minutes so I’ll give it another couple episodes.

Ao Haru Ride … I don’t know if I have the strength for this one.

Romantic, blurry fade-in.
Romantic, blurry fade-in.

We meet Futaba in a flashback to her middle-school years where, stranded by rain, she meets her would-be boyfriend at a shrine and after some cute bits, later arrange to have a date, or would, if the boy, Tanaka, didn’t overhear her say she hated all boys, and walks off sulking … and transfers. Now it’s high school, Futaba works hard to keep her feminine charm hidden and so has two unpleasant girlfriends to show for it, and guess who shows up? Except now he’s unpleasant, maybe still nursing that terrible wound in his heart that a stray remark not intended for him gave him in goddamn MIDDLE SCHOOL.

How would he know?
How would he know?

It’s a love story. Sigh, okay, for what it is, it looks pretty good. Everything’s laid out clearly, we see potential for new friends along the road, and it looks very appealing with the soft colors and Kimi ni Todoke style character designs. But unlike that show, I don’t think it will take forever for the couple to become a couple, besides, they’re going to fight more than Sawako and what’s-his-name did. But I don’t like the pettiness that Tanaka, sorry, Mabuchi is showing. To be fair, we don’t go inside his head, so we don’t see other possible reasons. However, we DO go into Futaba’s head, and I also don’t like the “He says mean things, but then he helps me! I’m in love!” attitude of hers. That’s a shame because she’s displayed enough quirks to show she otherwise might become a good character. This one’s on probation.


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