Love, Sex, and Nozoki Ana (NSFW)


Disclaimer: Material covered in this post, and related images, are decidedly not safe for work. In spite of the fact that they are not being used to titillate, but to hopefully support points brought up in this article, I highly recommend that you do not read this post in a work environment specifically due to the sensitive nature of these images.  Thank you, and please enjoy the post.

There are many integral parts to the development of a romance, most of which have been used so frequently over time that they have (barring a gentle touch and fantastic execution) become bullet points on a checklist.  One of these points is specifically designed to sweep up the audience’s attention in a crescendo of emotional gratification: the confession scene.

Despite having watched many ridiculous manga and anime confessions, I have never been so struck by a confession scene as I was with this one in Wakou Honna’s manga, Nozoki Ana:

The confession scene in question.

Usually, the emotional impact of a confession scene follows a long-standing (often infuriating) buildup of tension between the two fated characters that happen to be involved in the romance at hand.  In the case of erotic manga like Nozoki Ana these confession scenes are expedited more quickly than your average romance. One can surely attribute this to the fact that since sex is a draw for the reader, the confession scene has to be over and done with in order to get to the “good stuff” that the reader came for.

In spite of this fact, the scene shown above in Nozoki Ana captured my interest for two very specific reasons.  Firstly, in a real life setting, the scene would be laughably ridiculous.  Secondly, there is also the fact that the fairly milquetoast protagonist Kido felt it necessary to tell Kotobiki that he loved her before having sex with her.  I had seen the standard “I’m so oblivious that all of these girls are falling all over me despite the fact that I’m boring” approach a myriad of times, but never to this intriguing extreme.

Traditionally, this idea of an inability to separate love from sex has been seen as a very feminine quality, even within other h and ecchi manga.  This isn’t to say that men are shown as not desiring love, in fact (although I’m sure some of this can be attributed to the limited and specific types of ero-manga I’ve read personally) I’ve seen men desire the idea of love a bit more in this medium than most others.  However, very specifically in this manga, Kido’s inability to separate his emotional feelings from sex also are present in earlier stages of his and Kotobiki’s relationship, as she recaps for us below.

Judging by this response, I'm not the only one who found it odd and humorous.

Admittedly, I’m only up to the first chapter of volume three, but as things have continued to progress, other events in the manga have reinforced this idea that love is a necessary factor in pleasurable sex.  The main support for this comes from the fact that, although women consistently throw themselves at him, he doesn’t end up having intercourse with anyone but Kotobiki.

This is also reinforced when two periphery characters don’t end up having sex with each other until they’ve repaired their relationship.  It is further supported by the way in which an almost-rape scene involving female lead Emiru is not exploited for titillation, but instead, looked back upon with nothing but shock and disgust, especially by Kido who was an accidental witness to it.  As an aside, the scene is overcome not only by Emiru’s level head and quick thinking, but also at the admission that the aggressor should pay more attention to his own girlfriend who loves him to the point of her offering herself up as bait in his nefarious plan.

The inability to detach emotional feelings of love while having sex with someone is hardly new, and perhaps, as 2-Dimensional Teleidoscope mentioned in this blog post, “Nowhere is sex and love more strangely intertwined than in the heart of a lonely masturbator.”  However, this idea is, as I mentioned previously, commonly attributed to women over men, which is why I was so shocked to see it reinforced in a manga that is at its heart, designed with the sexual desires of young men in mind.  One has to wonder what the artist’s intentions towards their audience are, and what it says about the romantic dreams of the audience in question.

11 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Nozoki Ana

11 responses to “Love, Sex, and Nozoki Ana (NSFW)

  1. Relatable, actually. I’ll share a little something. So this one evening ages ago around prom-time of year my girlfriend and I were in the moment and on the verge of having sex, but I confessed almost exactly as pictured in that panel above… strange really. My words weren’t very firm, but I said what I felt, that I thought I was in love with her. Her reply was that she knew she was in love, but… this ruined the sex I think; we ended up talking too long, ecstatic in the high of confession. Quaint, right.

    So maybe there are works like this one, out there not simply for the lonely and perhaps inexperienced masturbator, but for the emotional high of sex beyond the physicalities. That notion speaks to me.

    • As a preface, I really want to thank you for this comment, Ryan. Admittedly, I was very nervous about writing this post because of how personal it required me to be. Your anecdote immediately leveled the playing field and put me at ease. Thank you for that.

      Going back to what the work is trying to accomplish, there’s the obvious, and then there is a somewhat unexpected level of intelligence in how the manga addresses the relationship between love and sex. I look forward to reading more, and am glad that you liked what it had to share in this instance.

  2. 2DT

    If you discovered that the author of Nozoki Ana was a woman, would this alter your opinion? I don’t know myself. “Honna Wakou” is a gender-neutral pseudonym (The characters for “Honna” could be read as “book name”). But it’s something to think about.

    Also: How about those super-girly-looking erogames? ;)

    • Hnnn…that’s a tough one. Honestly, I’m not as interested in the gender of the author (although admittedly, I do assume that they are male) as I am in the expected gender of the intended audience. It’s more of what the manga is specifically trying to say and who they are trying to say it to, than who the author is.

      I think a large amount of my opinion, or why the ideas in that scene struck me so, comes from the fact that this level of thought and discussion on sex and relationships was not at all what I had expected from a manga of this ilk (prejudiced as those thoughts may have been). This was compounded by the fact that I had read very little h or ero-manga; however, when I solicited h and ero-manga suggestions on Twitter, I did not come across this idea in the majority of the recommendations.

      As an aside, it was you who introduced me to this manga through this post, so thank you, it is both sexy and intriguing. ;)

  3. Yi

    Very good points. In popular culture today, there’s a very distinct thought that lust is for men, emotions are for women. As an aside, I just read a recent article (can’t find the link anymore… sorry) that talks about action movies targeted for a primarily male audience. The author argues that the romance is thrown in because the higher ups in Hollywood assumes the female audience who were dragged along by the men, who supposedly only wants Megan Fox, will need the romance to be interested. Thus we have a very gratuitous/ throw-away type of romance in these action movies. Anyway, back on topic… I also find it very interesting how this manga is very much against this idea, and embraces the desire for emotional attachments from the male audience. In fact, from what I know of h-manga (and that’s not very much…), many can’t quite separate out emotions, even if sometimes those emotions are the clunkiest, most unrealistic attachments that are not necessarily love (i.e. “broken.”) I’m sure there are some manga that are just scenes after scenes of raw sex and nothing else, but I’d imagine most come with some sort of story with some emotional conclusions somewhere along the way.

    • I know the exact article you’re talking about since I read it myself (coincidentally I also can’t find the link) and agreed wholeheartedly. It’s a bit patronizing to assume that women will only attend a movie with romance, even if that romance is haphazard and lifeless. Piggybacking on this idea, I’m more than well aware that this article is a bit patronizing in its assumption that men are significantly more able to separate emotions from sex; however, I couldn’t help but be struck by this idea that the manga was seemingly trying to portray. It wasn’t that I hadn’t seen other h-manga with emotional, passionate sex, it was that this manga seemed to be suggesting that sex is meaningless without this sort of emotional attachment. For something that’s designed to excite the body in a very specific way, I found this idea almost contrary to what one would assume the ultimate goal of reading something like this would be.

      Again, I don’t have a great deal of experience with h or ero-manga, so it could just be my lack of familiarity with the medium. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Excellent post! And I didn’t expect this from Emily herself. I hope I’m not being rude pointing that out.

    Anyways, the Japanese really like romantic male stereotypes, often so much that you see them being thrown on every romance-themed story. I have no real bone to throw on this (since I like romantic guys as well), but sometimes authors make them too unrealistic that they fail to convince on the follow-up on the climax chapters (they easily get confused, they don’t take the lead in the relationship, they are easily wooed by other women, and they fail in making critical decisions). This is a turnoff for me, but for some reason I don’t feel that way when I read Nozoki Ana, considering how Kido is always dragged into every mess he gets himself into. And that’s even when Honna Wakou makes it seem that Kido’s being played around by varying circumstances, if not by the women around him (especially Emiru).

    • It’s hardly rude. I’m still a bit surprised that I went through with posting this, and I certainly don’t know how 2DT and Yi share so much of themselves on a regular basis. It’s so nerve-wracking and exhausting!

      The characterization of Kido is such that he endears himself to the viewer, despite not having many stand-out qualities. He’s not particularly unique, and yet, as you said, even when he’s being dragged around by various women, he doesn’t come off as boring. Perhaps it’s because he is both romantic and a bit of a pervert. Often with romantic protagonists we see that they are completely oblivious to girls throwing themselves at them and, as you said, never take the lead in the relationship. Either that, or they’re just complete perverts and take advantage of any and every opportunity. Kido is a bit of both, and more to the point, he’s the most sexual and romantic with his girlfriend (up to the part where I’ve read, anyway).

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. I was slightly confused as to the intended audience of this manga at first, given the focus of your post and of the key scene in question, but Shance’s comment in particular about Japan’s admiration of romantic male stereotypes makes things a little clearer. In short, the ‘reinforce[ment of] this idea that love is a necessary factor in pleasurable sex’ could just be a personal view/ ideal for the mangaka, or (more cynically) it could part of a ploy to reach more readers, those who want a certain amount of character development/ emotional content as well as the sex. It would certainly separate it from what I assume most H titles consists of, by having that extra confession moment at that particular point…

    So, it’s H content for those who are simply romantics at heart? Or just shoujo-smut for guys? I don’t know, but I’m also (now) intrigued by the overlap of such (for want of better labels) shoujo-esque ideals with the desire for more adult content.

    Thanks for the read. :)

    • Ah, thank you for bringing this up, Hana, because my initial reaction to this manga was: Who exactly is the intended audience?

      Shance brings up a great point above about romantic male stereotypes. In addition to this, I spoke with someone who had lived in Japan and he pointed out that, whenever he went out on dates, he would often be asked about his sincerity. Or, he would be asked to somehow demonstrate that he was “sincere” about the relationship. I was a bit struck when he said this, since that sort of attitude would seem to lend itself to the more dramatic confession scenes that we sometimes see. This is a sweeping generalization with no factual evidence, but perhaps this particular romantic male stereotype actually evolved from what women began to seek out in their relationships, and now has become a character that men possibly desire to be. The result of this may be that a more romantic male stereotype appeals to both men and women alike.

      In regards to your question about h-manga or ero-manga, I’d assume it’s a bit of both. If it was a ploy on the mangaka’s part to diversify their readership, it certainly worked on me, as I would still not consider myself in their primary target audience. Thank you for the comment!

  6. scottishotaku!

    Its a hentai so it would be for boys/men but the author is probably female (alot of hentai authors are) but I don’t know

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