You know…there comes a time in every anime fan’s life when he watches a show and wonders “Why in the name of all that is good and holy am I watching this, and why in the name of all that is good and holy can I NOT STOP?” This is one of those shows. For all intents and purposes, this show shouldn’t even register on my radar at ALL…it’s a show that has such a bizarre premise about it with so many unanswered questions that it would immediately be filed away under “Yeah, no. Never gonna watch THIS again.” But there’s just something so special about it, so intriguing, that you can’ t help but be drawn to it…if you can get past what lies on the surface…the stick, slimy, warm, gooey surface. Keep a bottle of Hand Sanitizer handy, boys and girls. I’m Cajun Samurai and this is my review of “Nazo no Kanojo X” otherwise known as “Mysterious Girlfriend X”.
Warnings and Other Objectionable Content: The show is rated TV-MA, and honestly, I’m gonna have to agree with it. This show does feature some nudity in the female form on the DVD release, but it should be noted that everything is appropriately blacked or whited out if you’re watching on CrunchyRoll. There are also some ecchi moments that, well, younger kids might not understand… There’s a whole episode where our male lead is somewhat obsessed with touching our female lead’s chest…uh-huh. Other than that, this series is pretty clean…no religion, language or violence flags here.
This series was actually just released to the public in June of 2013. Both the Blu-Ray and the Standard DVD look exactly the same…and cost the same too…ugh…
Negative for Brick and Mortar Stores. It is available for online purchase through their website, though at the time of this printing, only the DVD version is available.
Affirmative for Brick and Mortar and Online purchase. My own Best Buy, however, only has the Blu-Ray disks in stock in the story itself, so please check availability.
|F.Y.E [For Your Entertainment]||
Affirmative for in-store and online purchase…but be prepared to pay full retail price which is up and over $59.
Negative for Brick and Mortar, but available online…however, at the time of this printing, it’s only the Blu-Ray edition.
|Other Purchasing Sites||
Because this one was released just last month, you should have NO problems finding this show in any virtual shop in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats. However, as per usual, please be careful when buying online. Preliminary browsing shows quite a few…questionable releases of the show on eBay. Shop smart, guys.
You shouldn’t have any problems finding a place to stream this show as it’s relatively new. Once again, be careful where you surf!
Story Premise: “Mysterious Girlfriend X” is a thirteen episode anime series [plus one OVA] that is based off an ongoing manga series created by Riichi Ueshiba. Our series starts with our male lead character, Akira Tsubaki, wondering about the girl who will be his “first”; what she looks like, how tall will she be, what her personality is like. That sort of thing. Akira soon gets an idea as he encounters the new transfer student, Mikoto Urabe. Mikoto is a weird, mysterious kind of girl; she doesn’t socialize with others and she tends to fall asleep at her desk during lunch instead of eating. One day, after school, Akira sees Mikoto fast asleep and wakes her up. When she leaves, he notices a puddle of drool left on the desk. For reasons that only he and the creator knows, he drags his finger through the puddle and samples it. A few days later, during PE, Akira passes out and is sent home for a couple days. When the teacher explains his symptoms, Mikoto decides to go to the Tsubaki household under the pretence of schoolwork and announces that, because Akira sampled her drool, and because he has strong feelings towards her, they now have a “drool bond” and that the cause of his affliction was because he went days without tasting her drool again and became lovesick. To prove her point, she gives him a bit of her drool on her finger and he immediately feels better. She then advises him that in order to keep from getting sick, he must taste her drool every day. Akira is puzzled, but agrees, and the two carry on the ritual after school in secret before going their separate ways home. After a couple weeks, Akira realize that he has, indeed fallen in love with Mikoto and he asks her to be his girlfriend. After proving himself to her, Mikoto agrees, and the two begin their…mysterious relationship.
So, let me get this out the way first and foremost. The drool thing is disgusting. There. I said it. It is disgusting beyond any and all reason. That being said, I have to say, that in terms of a premise for a romantic anime, it’s the most unique one I’ve seen in a while. While, yes, this show is made for a certain…fetishism out there, I have to admit, the way in which the drool is used, to relay thoughts, feelings, emotions, even some physical afflictions, is rather interesting and it does add a special element to what amounts to be a pretty typical anime romantic comedy between “Standard Anime Male Lead A” and “Standard Kuudere/Dandere Hybrid Female Lead B”.
I love the fact that we are not given a whole lot of answers to our questions about Mikoto—like why are her parents never home or how does her drool relay her feelings to others and vice-versa. And perhaps the most interesting questions of all—why is it that she doesn’t allow anyone, even Akira, to hug or kiss her, and why does she carry a pair of scissors in her underwear for self-defense? It keeps the viewer guessing and adds to Mikoto’s overall mysterious nature. [Oh, and if you’re thinking about looking in the source material for answers, don’t waste your time; the manga is just as vague…]
One thing I noticed about this show is the fact that it seems timeless. If you were to ask me exactly when this anime was supposed to take place, I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you. There are parts that look modern, but parts that look like something from old-school 80’s Japan like Akira’s computer or his Polaroid-esque camera. The posters in Akira’s room doesn’t help matters much. Perhaps this is a way for the creators to say “Hey, this kind of relationship transcends any time or place.” The ending is actually really good when you consider that the manga is still ongoing with no real sign of stopping.
The last episode was touching and heartfelt and promised that, even though we may not see it on screen, their relationship will continue to grow and develop. It’s a nice way to end the series in a fulfilling way, while still leaving the door open for a second season, should one come about. So yeah, once you get past the grossness of sharing saliva, I think viewers will really enjoy it. [23/25]
There are so many in this show, but I love Episode 9. Not only do we get to see Urabe with her hair up, but the tail end of that episode is just hilarious, and it bookends the first half of the episode very well.
|Mikoto Urabe||Our female lead and the titular Mysterious Girlfriend. A transfer student from…well…we never really know where…Mikoto is what one might call one weird puppy. She always keeps her face and her eyes covered with her thick bangs, she speaks little in a low voice, she is borderline anti-social, she sleeps heavily during her lunch period, and she tends to drool copious amounts at any given time. And, oh yeah, she keeps scissors tucked away in her underwear for self-defense. But beneath all that, Mikoto is just your typical, everyday girl with the same feelings as everyone else…she just chooses not to reveal them all that often and only to the one person—our male lead Akira. Mikoto is an awesome character, in my honest opinion. She’s mysterious enough that she keeps you interested, yet she’s normal enough that you don’t get exasperated with her.|
|Akira Tsubaki||Our male lead. He’s your typical high school boy who’s getting to be that age where he starts thinking about getting a girlfriend. Little does he know that his wish will soon be granted in the most unlikely of forms when he hooks up with Mikoto. Throughout the series, Akira tries to get closer to Mikoto using your typical methods—conversation, dates, etc…yet for some reason, he gets turned down coolly by Mikoto as she is not your typical, everyday girl. However, he keeps trying and manages to pull off several successful victories on his way to fully understanding his mysterious girlfriend. Akira is a pretty typical character, and one could call him boring, but there’s just something about a guy who is willing to stick with a girl like Mikoto even with her oddball personality.|
|Ayuko Oka||Ayuko is Mikoto’s first friend outside of Akira and is Kohei’s secret girlfriend. Though short in stature, she is big in personality…and chest size. She becomes fascinated with Mikoto and Akira’s relationship and, after a bit of coercion, becomes Mikoto’s friend, sharing lunch with her almost every day. She also has a drool bond with Mikoto, much to the latter’s chagrin. I have to say, I really like Ayko as a character. She is the one who really stirs the pot with Mikoto and Akira, getting in their ear and whispering certain things to make them think about their relationship and to do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.|
|Kohei Ueno||Akira’s best friend and Ayuko’s secret boyfriend. He’s a nice enough guy, and he acts as an unsuspecting advisor to Akira with regards to having a girlfriend. He’s a great character, but I have to wonder if he actually knows that he and Mikoto are going out, or is he really THAT OBLIVIOUS that he can’t see that his best friend has a secret girlfriend?|
|Yoko Tsubaki||Akira’s older sister. Since his mother passed, Yoko has pretty much taken over raising Akira, putting off her own chances for romance he gets married or moves out. Though she never confronts him with it, and of course, Akira never admits it, she kind of knows that he has someone special in his life, and is happy to observe from a distance. I love the fact that, even though she is older than Tsubaki, she still acts like a sister and she still has her own eccentricities….like trying on her old high-school uniform.|
|Aika Hayakawa||While she doesn’t make a speaking appearance until Episode 10, and is not seen again after episode 11, Aika does plenty to keep thigns interesting for the two episodes she is featured in. Having been the object of Akira’s desire during their middle school days, Aika is back to see if Akira still has the same feelings that he had during Middle school by encroaching on his and Urabe’s sacred ritual. She’s an interesting character, and she plays her role well.|
So, yeah, that’s the character lineup for this one, and I must say, for a story as weird as this one, they certainly got the right people in the right places! [25/25]
Animation: I have to admit, I LOVE the animation style of this one. It’s not really like anything I’ve seen before. The character designs are pretty nice, especially with regards to Urabe. It stays 100% true to the original manga. I absolutely LOVE the fact that we don’t always see Urabe’s entire face. It makes all the little reveals and peeks that we get just so awesome and this makes the shock we get in episode nine, when we see Urabe sport a brand new hairstyle, really pay off. The dream sequences are really beautiful to behold. The level of detail and the quality of these animation sequences are worthy of being watched frame by frame just to take it all in. Lastly, I have to say that I really like the uniforms our cast wears. I’m not a HUGE fan of the blazer/tie look, and of recent, I’ve noticed a lot of anime go with that look, which is OKAY, but I still prefer the sailor uniform and the military-esque male uniforms. [12.5/12.5]
Music: The opening theme this time around is a little song called “Orchestra of Love” by Ayako Yoshitani, who also plays Mikoto Urabe. It’s an upbeat and happy song that oddly enough, I just can’t get enough of! It’s so sweet and nice and the animation that accompanies matches amazingly well. The ending theme, “Afterschool Promise” also by Ayako Yoshitani is equally cool. I love the way how some episodes introduce the music earlier than others, blending in to the last few scenes of the anime. The ending animation is…well…it features our female cast, Urabe, Oka, and Yoko, fast asleep in various positions in various places drooling, just to hammer home the fact that this anime is based on sharing drool. You know, it’s so well animated and fits in to the overall show, I can’t take points from it. All the incidental music is absolutely beautiful and doesn’t dominate the scenes. [12.5/12.5]
Performances and Production: “Mysterious Girlfriend X” was created by Studio Hoods Entertainment with director Ayumu Watanabe at the helm. Watanabe-san has been in involved in quite a few projects involving the long-running anime “Doraemon” as well as some episodes of “Space Brothers”. Here in the US, Sentai Filmworks picked up the license and director Christopher Ayres took the helm. If you recall, we’ve discussed his previous ADR works before in the form of “Nerima Daikon Brothers” and “The Wallflower”. So far, he’s batting a 96% approval average…will “MGX” maintain? Let’s check the cast:
|Characters||Japanese Voice Actor/Actress||English Voice Actor/Actress|
Well, I have to admit, I was EXTREMELY concerned with how this one was going to sound. After all, Mikoto has an extremely unique voice in the original Japanese. Thankfully, my concerned were waylaid. Everyone sounds absolutely amazing and true to their Japanese counterparts. “BUT!” I hear you scream from the other side of your keyboard in a passionate rage. “You gave everyone a Yellow Flag! What’s up with that?!” Well, cool your jets, and let me explain. There were two issues with this dub that, no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t really shake and just about everyone is guilty:
- The Pronunciation of Mikoto’s Last Name: In the original Japanese, her name is pronounced “Ooo-Rah-Beh”. In the English Dub, it’s pronounced “Erra-bay”. For those who watched the original Japanese, the change is noticeable and personally, I found myself cringing each time her name was said in English. I got used to it, though, but your mileage may vary. And I can’t help but notice that the group of girls who try to befriend Urabe in Episode One, pronounce her name as “Ooo-Rah-Beh”…
- Use of Honorifics: I’m not against English voice actors using the Japanese honorifics like “-Chan” or “-Kun” or “-San”. In fact, to me, it shows that the writers and/or directors are remaining true to the original Japanese. However, I found that their use, especially when done by Genevive Simmons as Urabe, sounds a little unnatural. “NO DUH!!” I hear you scream out again from your internet capable device. “The actress is NOT Japanese so it’s not going to sound natural!” I know, I know, but there are other anime where the actresses use the honorifics and make it sound great—Honey-Sempai from “Ouran High School Host Club” uses them and it sounds awesome. Konata et al from “Lucky Star” use honorifics, and it sounds just as natural as anything. What happened here?
So, yeah…these issues were pretty glaring, but they are by no means a deal breaker for this production. Director Ayres has given us another good product, giving it a true spit and polish shine. Yes, I went there. Why? Because I could. [22/25]
Story Breakdown – 23/25
Characters – 25/25
Animation – 12.512.5
Music – 12.5/12.5
Performance and Production – 22/25
Final Score – 95/100 = 95% – (A)
Lagniappe (A Little Something Extra):
- According to Eyecatches in two earlier episodes, Mikoto is five foot three inches tall and Ayuko is four foot six, confirming that she is, indeed, the shortest character in the show.
- If you look in Akira’s room, you can see several parody Sci-Fi movie posters from “Star Wars” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
- Also in Akira’s room, there is a model that looks mysteriously like R. Dorothy Wayneright from the anime “The Big O”.
Though lemons are heavily featured in the opening title sequence, the fruit, oddly enough, is never seen in the anime.
Once again, the Ayres brothers team up for another ADR project with Greg acting and Chris directing. This has happened a couple other times in anime including “The Wallflower” and “Nerima Daikon Brothers”. One wonders if they fight during recording. [“Hey, Greg, let’s do one more take on that line, okay?” “No, that line was perfect! Let’s move on!” “Oh geeze, come on! Just read the stupid line again!” “NO! I don’t wanna! It’s fine the way it is!” “Geeze, you’re such a pain in the butt!” “What did you say?” “I said you’re a pain in the butt!” “That’s it, I’m telling mom on you!” “Go ahead! I’ll tell mom you been playing with her hair dye again!” “Go ahead! I’ll tell mom you’ve been smuggling beer in your giant mug again!” …yeah, I’m gonna get an interview REAL soon…oy.]
So, with all that being said, what are we left with…aside from very sticky fingers? Well, “Mysterious Girlfriend X” is a study in love through patience for both the characters and the viewer. Once you get past the whole “Drool is our bond” thing, you will find a love story that gives your heart all kind of feels. The characters are adorable to watch, the animation is timeless yet well done, the music is nicely done, and the acting is passable in both languages…save for the odd “-kun”. If you’re looking for a unique love story with heart, and if you were able to make it through this entire review, pictures and all, without cringing more than 10 times or going through a bottle of Purell, then this is the show for you.
Welp, that’s another one in the books! Even I have to admit, I’m surprised at how many shows I completed this month! Looks like the shorter the better! So let’s keep going with that! The next show on the lineup is another one from the 2012 season that spoke to something deep inside of me that’s been dormant for ten years now. What happens when you get a bunch of bored dweebs in a school? You get our next review…
“Danshi Kōkōsei no Nichijō” or “Daily Lives of High School Boys”
This post is dedicated to my dog, Flip, who passed away two days ago. Flip was the most loyal dog I think I ever had, and he will be missed by myself, my family, and even my neighborhood. Rest in Peace, my faithful friend.