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[R1 DVD art]
AKA: 謎の彼女X (Nazo no Kanojo X)
Genre: Strange Romantic Comedy
Length: Television series, 14 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Licensed by Sentai Filmworks
Content Rating: 15+ (Sexual Content and Inexplicit Nudity)
Related Series: None
Also Recommended: Sankarea, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Denpa Teki na Kanojo
Notes: Based on a manga by Riichi Ueshiba. It originally was published as a one-shot story in 2004 before becoming a serialized comic in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine in 2006.

The final episode of this series (which is also covered in this review) was released as an OAV.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Mysterious Girlfriend X

Synopsis

The series follows the relationship of Akira Tsubaki and Mikoto Urabe. Urabe is a transfer student who recently came to Tsubaki's school. After a series of strange events, Tsubaki finds himself addicted to Urabe's drool. Once she claims the addiction as love sickness, the relationship slowly progresses, focusing on the odd bond that comes out of the drool attachment.


Review

Okay, let's not beat around the bush. This show involves the exchange of saliva of boy to girl, girl to boy and girl to girl frequently throughout the shows runtime. Before you ask, that is not kissing, it is saliva going mouth to finger to mouth and if you're sure that you can't handle that then stop reading now and look for a different show. Mysterious Girlfriend X is not the show for you.

For everyone else, I apologise for being dramatic but I now wish to carry on the rest of the review without mentioning the word drool or saliva at all anymore. Why? Because I don't want you to be distracted from the fact that, outside of its aforementioned squick factor, Mysterious Girlfriend X is actually a really good show.

So anyway, MGX is not your typical romantic comedy. There is a tendency to portray romantic relationships as all sweetness and light (á la Shoujo) or silly ecchi fests (no need for examples) or in the serious, angsty way that is common in more 'mature' shows but MGX instead strikes an interesting middle ground. Instead of taking itself so very seriously, MGX has that lightness, that sweet fun that makes shows like Fruits Basket so enjoyable, but at the same time does not forget the sexual aspect of high school relationships that we all know exists. In this MGX finds a nice little niche that makes it an unusual experience in terms of animé, delivering a satisfyingly ideal romance that doesn't forget the existence of hormones.

In terms of characters, the show really concentrates on its two leads to the shows benefit. Tsubaki and Urabe are a cute couple, naive but genuine at the same time, and they are fun to follow over the course of the shows runtime. I have to give extra plaudits to Urabe for avoiding pretty much every established cliché available - she is not tsundere, is not prone to ridiculous misunderstandings and even sports a rather appealing voice courtesy of husky animé first timer Ayako Yoshitani. In fact, if you take the aforementioned stuff as a really obvious metaphor, perhaps this shows greatest strength is how relatively realistic a depiction of teenage romance this show is: it's awkward moments, there are problems with trust and Tsubaki's wandering eye (or mouth in this case) and other normal problems that challenge their relationship.

The general aesthetic of the show also adds tremendously to the unique feeling that this show offers. The art and colouring of the background give the show a subtle but effective strangeness compared to the cookie-cutter depiction of Japanese city life. The dream sequences, in particular, inspire an almost Katsuhiro Otomo styled visual presentation that is completed by the vaguely eerie carnival styled background music that plays over the scenes - giving a sense of fun but also an otherworldly feeling. The plainness of the school uniforms and other forms of dress also give the show a realistic feeling that sits at odds with its content quite often. In all these cases, it is delightful to see a show that has considered its whole visual and audio approach so carefully and succeeded so well in presenting itself.

The show is far from perfect though despite my good will towards it. Even with only thirteen episodes and an OVA, Tsubaki's and Urabe's relationship can feel frustratingly slow and laboured thanks to Urabe's aversion to most standard forms of affectionate displays. It doesn't help either that the show lacks the subtle qualities of a show like Denpa Onna Seishun Otoko or the high concepts of Mawaru Penguindrum meaning it feels rather mundane compared to those really top class shows. Even with my affection for them, the lead couple are simply too simple as characters to really be truly effective at the level of the best romantic animé.

In any case though, MGX is still a well made and highly enjoyable show. It has fun characters, a uniqueness that goes beyond its premise and an effective aesthetic that makes up for the show's relative simplicity. I happily recommend MGX to all of you looking for something a bit quirky or who like a good romance, if you can tolerate the premise of course.

Despite my general positivity, I don't feel that MGX represents a great four stars but it still does enough right, pushes enough envelopes, that I feel it impossible to deny the show its due. For all of you who didn't just take my advice earlier, remove as many stars as you feel necessary according to how disgusted the premise makes you feel.Aiden Foote

Recommended Audience: The Barbie doll style nudity and the general frankness this show approaches sexual desire and the hormonal nature of romantic relationships drop this squarely into the teenager bracket.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source
Review Status: Full (14/14)
Mysterious Girlfriend X © 2012 King Record Co., Ltd.
 
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