Lessons in Anime: Improving Your Art with Nozaki-kun

One of the best aspects about anime is that while it is almost purely for entertaining purposes, you can actually learn a lot from certain shows. There seems to be an anime for almost every genre and subject out there, so there is a good chance of learning something new. Especially because anime tends to take so much from real life. For examples, Haikyuu!! shows how volleyball is played and some of the rules involved, Bakuman reveals the depths of creating and publishing manga, and Noragami is filled with Japanese mythology and culture references.

Here, I want to feature a fun show called Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun). Airing back in 2014, it has 12 episodes and 6 mini specials. The show is a different sort romantic comedy that follows young high schooler, Chiyo Sakura. She has a crush on her classmate, the tall, aloof Nozaki, and decides to confess to him. Because of her miscommunication, Nozaki thinks she’s a fan of his and she realizes (thanks to the autograph he gave her) he’s a popular shoujo manga artist. That’s right, SHOUJO. Chiyo later joins Nozaki as his assistant and meets with the other comedic characters that help create and inspire his stories.

I personally connected with the show because I’m also an artist and went to college for it. So, for me, it was enjoyable to see how manga is made. All the characters are hilarious and not stereotypical, and Chiyo is all of us when we fangirl. The music is usually very playful or casual and laid back; it provides a nice backdrop for everyone’s comedic antics. The animation fits the comedy as well, it’s bright and not overly complex, yet turning to simple forms and linework when someone is being stupid or idiotically blunt.

While there are numerous daily adventures in Nozaki-kun, there is a lot you can take away when it comes to improving your drawing abilities and even your own confidence. One of the first “lessons” I took to heart from the show happened in episode 2. Nozaki is in his apartment with Chiyo and his first assistant, Mikoshiba, watching a game show where people must draw items from memory. Chiyo offers the idea that they try the same thing for fun. First they choose a dog, then a person, and finally a building. With the first two things, Nozaki fairs decently, Chiyo excels, and poor Mikoshiba fails; however, all three are dreadful at trying to draw a building. It’s then revealed that Mikoshiba actually is an expert at drawing the flowers for Nozaki’s backgrounds.

Drawing a house can be….difficult.



After watching this scene, a thought really stuck to me: Even talented artists are not good at drawing everything; and if you’re good at only one thing, that’s perfectly okay. Therefore, when you see someone draw something amazing and it bums you out, just think, they probably can’t draw everything perfect, just what they have taken their time to perfect.





The second “lesson” I want to look at is one that shows up in various ways throughout the show: References. I remember telling myself before I went into college that, “I don’t need references. I’m gonna draw anime and stuff without them. I don’t need it.”

Excuse me while I go cry over that thinking.

I was very stubborn. I wanted to already make drawings like the amazing pieces I was seeing for the first time online. What I didn’t understand, and still have to remind myself, is that talent takes time; you have to work hard to get to the experts’ level.

Since getting into college, I learned something that drastically changed my thinking: Experts use references. Even my professors encouraged us to use them when needed and were happy when we did. If you think about it, the reason is obvious, how can you draw something from memory if it’s not engrained into your mind? You can’t create something out of nothing; it’s like equivalent exchange from Fullmetal Alchemist.

This was another reason I loved Nozaki-kun, the characters were using references throughout the show. Nozaki used references for anything and everything; including clothing, poses, and backgrounds.

In one episode, Chiyo and Nozaki go out to relax at the mall, only for Nozaki to start taking pictures of everything for reference. Eventually when they enter a clothing store, he wonders if outfits would look good on his heroine and even asks Chiyo to try on clothes, so he can take pictures of her for reference. He even becomes desperate to the point of trying the clothes himself…

In the next second, Nozaki “loathes” his muscles and not being “born a slender bishounen”. Yeah, because muscles are totally a curse….

This leads me to the second reference tip: Use your friends! Just like when Nozaki wanted to use Chiyo for clothing references, he also used Mikoshiba for poses. I myself have used my friends for posing countless times and it has greatly helped in finding out how things are supposed to look. Be sure to know what poses you want ahead of time so your models don’t get tired. I also recommend using friends for practice sketching like Chiyo’s art club did in a later episode.

Who knows, your friends might even be excited to pose for you. Just maybe not as much as Mikoshiba…

Finally, if you need a detailed setting, all you have to do is look around you! When Chiyo found out Nozaki always has a difficult time drawing backgrounds, she recommended that he simply take pictures around the school. This can be extremely beneficial even if you don’t know what background you need exactly. You can always take a few photos and pick and choose elements out of each; or even keep them for later use.

Sometimes these lessons are hard to accept (references) or take a while to learn (You don’t have to be perfect). Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun makes it a fun way to learn about them, but you might not realize it the first time you watch it. Therefore, I wanted to show everyone what I got out of the series in hopes of helping someone.


I hope you all enjoyed this article and that you might be interested in checking out this hilarious anime as well. Have a wonderful day!

Lates peeps~

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