Monday, July 16, 2012

Anime First Impressions: Mysterious Girlfriend X

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything (not like my 2 followers have noticed), so I figured that I'd give my first impressions of a show I've been watching lately: Mysterious Girlfriend X.

When I started Mysterious Girlfriend X, I knew two things about it: that it was going to involve a mysterious girlfriend and that the title contained an X.  As a result, when I first started watching it, I thought it was the weirdest shit I had ever seen, even by anime standards. 

Basically, the story seems normal enough at first.  There's a guy (Tsubaki) who, as the protagonist, will naturally become the significant other of Urabe, the Mysterious Girl who is their class's newest student.  Of course, hints of the whole weirdness start fairly soon, as Urabe does several fairly unusual things.  First, she's extremely terse when addressing people, and second, she suddenly bursts out into hysterical laughter for seemingly no reason in the middle of class.  But that's fairly standard fare for anime.  The really weird part starts shortly after, when Tsubaki encounters Urabe asleep in the classroom after school, wakes her up, and then, after she leaves, um...tastes her drool.

It is at this point that my thoughts of the show went to "this is fairly mysterious" to "this is fucking weird."

So shortly afterwards, Tsubaki gets terribly sick (maybe because, oh, I don't know, he licked some random chick's drool), and Urabe comes to visit him at his house.  She tells him to open his mouth.  Then covers her finger with drool and shoves it into his mouth.  He instantly feels better, and she tells him that it was because he was going into withdrawal.  Why was he going into mouth-juice withdrawal, exactly?  Why,  because he was lovesick, of course!  From there, Tsubaki eventually asks her to be his girlfriend, and she says that the day she burst out laughing in class was because, while she glanced over at him in class, she heard a voice say that he would be her first sexual partner.


The theme didn't actually play until the second episode either, and once it did, there were three thematic images throughout: drool, scissors, and lemons.

Seriously, wtf?

Really, the thing that makes the show seem so weird at first is because, despite the elements that seem almost supernatural (the drool acting as a medium with which they can sense each other's emotions, the mysterious voice that comes out of nowhere) and strange premise, it is determined to play itself seriously and realistically.  Is it a science fiction or fantasy anime?  Nope.  It just has magic spit, and even then, that's treated as if it's a completely natural thing.  The tone of the show is also somewhat surreal and gives the feeling that something is slightly off.  Nope.  That's not it.  Although it's still enough to make me suspect that there's something otherworldly about Urabe that the show is going to reveal yet.

Once you get past that initial weirdness, though--once you've been watching it for a few episodes and can say "yeah, I'll buy that"--then the show becomes a lot less weird.  Mysterious Girlfriend X is a very appropriate title (minus the X; I'm not sure how exactly that plays in) just because Urabe is really the only mysterious thing about the show.  She doesn't seem to know how to conform to normal social standards, has a strange obsession with scissors (going as far as to keep a pair tucked in her panties at all times), and doesn't seem to know how to show affection, but it's clear that she does care for Tsubaki, and in Tsubaki's mind, it doesn't matter that she's strange.

At the heart of the show, however, lies something that I'm such a sucker for: awkward first romances.  Sure, the show's framing device is a mysterious girl who has a bond with a boy through drool.  But the show isn't really about that.  What the show is really about is the struggles both Tsubaki and Urabe have trying to figure out how exactly to have a relationship.  Not even big things like sexual encounters or even first kisses--not yet, at least, though the show seems to imply that both will eventually happen.  No, the show focuses on little things, like how to hold a conversation with your significant other, how to show your affection, dealing with feelings of possessiveness, and even something as small as whether or not to call your significant other by their first name (bit of a cultural gap here: in Japan, people know each other largely on a last-name basis).  It's about budding relationships and the difficulties.

So is the show any good?  Yeah, I think it is.  I picked it entirely randomly and I'm still watching it.  It's maybe just because it's the type of show that I like, but the show sets itself apart from others of the genre.  It's, if nothing else, an intriguing show, and one that's definitely worth looking into.

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