Mysterious Girlfriend X
Per Original Review
Aiden had dibs on this series, but everything worked out well for me because I still get to write about it, while on the other hand he'd have the principal review. And the reason THAT's better is because I expected he'd have a more balanced view (and he did), while my view of the show is about as idiosyncratic as the show itself.
The short is, I LOVED this show. I've never given an anime romantic comedy five stars before, and the fact that the first one I've done so for is quite literally about sharing spit creates an obligation for me to at least try to justify my opinion, so here goes...
Point One: this is the first romantic anime I've ever seen where ALL the principal characters are nice people-there's not a jerk of any kind among the five leads. Besides Urabe (the Mysterious Girlfriend herself) and sometimes bewildered boyfriend Tsubaki, the others are Tsubaki's best friend Ueno, Ueno's girlfriend Oka, and Tsubaki's big sis Yoko.
Point Two: as I mentioned back in my Simoun review, I like shows that are willing to surprise me, and Oka turned out to be a major surprise. We first see her-a short, short-haired, rather busty girl with glasses-when Tsubaki walks in on his friend Ueno and her in a romantic clinch, and I thought then that she was just going to be a window-dressing character, but as it turned out Urabe and Oka ended up eclipsing both their boyfriends as interesting characters. I'll have more to say about this a little later.
Point Three: the whole spit ("drool") communication gimmick, while it might seem in bad taste, is actually pretty well thought-out. Urabe can judge the emotional state of others by tasting their spit, while she is able to transmit hers with her own spit. Actually, she's only able to transmit to certain people and not others, and what she transmits is not just her emotions, but her entire physiological state. The body doesn't lie, as they say, so neither does the spit, and so saliva gets used as a lie-detector by Urabe as well. Even where the plotline is something familiar from other romantic anime-the appearance of a rival, for example-the drool communication gives things a bizarre twist.
Tsubaki can receive the messages in Urabe's spit of course, but it is discovered, quite by accident, that Oka can receive them as well, and so she becomes Urabe's friend and confidant. This development brings us to...
Points Four and Five: the show is erotic, and yet feminist at the same time. The two girls are interested in pleasing their boyfriends, yet they each set firm limits on what they will and won't allow. Oka is much more assertive by by nature than Urabe, and yet she's not at all the tsundere cliche. That's the feminism; and the eroticism? This show understands that anticipation can be more erotic than the sex act itself. The show is not precisely fan service-Urabe IS nude a few times, but never illuminated in quite the right way to actually see much-and it's not hentai either, though it IS racy; Anime Network is streaming this via Hulu, which keeps demanding I prove I'm old enough to see it. From a Western perspective, it can seem like these schoolkids-schoolkids!-are much too young for this kind of relationship, but I suppose you have to remember that, since they're 17, they've actually been of marriageable age in Japan for over a year.
Point Six: I love Urabe, both her character design and her "mysterious" nature. Her eyes are usually hidden by her bangs; sometimes one will peek out; rarely do we get to see both eyes at the same time. One of the first things she does after she's first introduced to Tsubaki's class is collapse in hysterical laughter. And there is the thing about the panty scissors, which I suppose is a kind of concession to both fanservice and tsundere-ness, though like everything else involving Urabe a very strange one. Aiden made the point that the series moves slowly, but much of this is because Urabe is uncomfortable relating to people by normal verbal or physical channels; she's much more comfortable with the drool-exchange form of communication, which I suppose is how everybody does it among whatever-she-actually-is, and wherever-she-comes from. Over the course of the show's thirteen episodes, she gradually becomes more comfortable relating to Tsubaki by normal human means, while for his part he doesn't put too many demands on her or even ask her the obvious questions, which I'm sure helps make her content to stay with him.
On that question of what Urabe actually IS, the show dangles one hint in front of the audience all the time, and a viewer MUST also take a close look at the posters on the wall in her apartment (most prominently visible in the next to last episode of the series-I believe that's Episode 12?) The subtle little details in the background have a perfect synergy going with the more outrageous antics in the foreground, while the last episode manages to effectively introduce both pathos and sweetness into the mix.
Five stars for me, four from Aiden, but I fully agree with him: if the concept of communicating by tasting the saliva of another disgusts you, please feel free to subtract as many stars as your disgust requires. — Allen Moody
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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