I honestly do not try to have my anime reviews balanced like this. I like talking about good stuff, stuff that I want people to see. I do not like thinking that I have found a gem, and then having it turn into burning rocks while in my hands! So time to talk to another show that I heard good things about, Mysterious Girlfriend X. Where the only mystery is how the show could have sunk so low.
Mysterious Girlfriend X Review
Studios: Hoods Entertainment and Sentai FIlmworks
Length: 13 Episodes
Available subbed at Crunchyroll for free
The show centers around a duo known as Akira Tsubaki and Mikoto Urabe, two high school students who have something abnormal happen to them in order to create an experience that in itself is a full life by the standards of Japanese workaholic- No! I said that I would stop bringing that up, but it is so easy to see that within every anime drama that I watch as of now! I originally said that I would not keep on watching this if I was instantaneously bored by it, yet something happened, I enjoyed the first few episodes, a ton.
The show kicks off when Urabe, a new girl at school, continues a trend of falling asleep during every break period, study hall, and lunch break in school. This causes the once interesting new girl to become an anomaly who is rejected by society, or at least her classroom. After all, there’s nothing to deny the theory that she parties every night, working as a respected DJ at some club. However, Tsubaki thinks that the new girl is still interesting enough, and after waking her up once class was dismissed, he noticed that she left a puddle of drool, and decided that looked like honey and dampened his finder with it. Thus beginning the reason why I was attracted to this show, it was pretty abnormal from the get-go.
It turns out that the drool he consumed was a drug of sorts that was produced by Urabe because of a reason that will be explained as time goes on. It forces these two individuals to establish a relationship where they walk home together and Urabe gives Tsubaki some of her drool. Which, obviously will lead to situations where they get to know each other, like one and other, and become friends. It is nothing amazing, but the presentation was so stylized that it created an atmosphere that I have not seen for quite a while. Then we got to the Panty Scissors.
Now, I have established that I dislike panty shots, in fact they tend to take me out of the show, and think less of it. However, the show seemed to be on the right track by not having them act like something for people to fap to, and rather just an odd quirk from a girl who is, in the end, very unusual. Top it off with a positively whimsical looking dream world for the two to convey the feelings that they need to deal with by being young adults, along with Urabe having a face that I absolutely adore, The start of the show was more than a little interesting looking. Then I watched the other 10 episodes.
Now, I must warn that I will be spoiling the entire plot of this show, since I can not think of a way to accurately describe what this show does wrong, unless I flat out say where it flubs up, with the short answer being nearly everywhere. Besides, the show never explains itself, I know the manga is still ongoing, but when making a show that is one season, I expect a conclusion. Yes, it is one of those shows, where I think the goal is simply to form a relationship, yet the relationship just does not work. And it pretends that some actions that do not happen, happened, and they were wonderful.
Let me just bring up my problems in a semi-sensical string. First, we have the whole mythology of drool being an all purpose liquid that can transfer feelings and even unveil ones that do not exist unless they know what the drool-holder is going through. Now, this idea is certainly odd, but it is at least trying something new, and could go into some cool directions. Then they then made it so that this may or may not just be some worldwide fetish.
There are apparently three other girls who can create sweet tasting drool that can transfer feelings, alter them, and even cause wounds on two individuals. A trait that is never explained or really even questioned. You can do whatever weird stuff you want, yet an explanation for why something that is so abnormal is accepted in a world that looks normal is pretty darn critical for crafting your own universe. Somehow, drool tasting is more important than sex, and takes priority over kissing your “Girlfriend”.
I use the term loosely due to how this show makes the same mistake as Natsuyuki Rendezvous, where it says, “Look at these two doves! ‘Tis more beauty than god itself!” When I am at a loss when trying to determine why these two individuals like each other. Tsubaki established that he wants to toss Urabe’s scissors aside and get into her panties, and constantly talks about how soft her body is and how… He wants to fondle her tits, and how… He wants to hug her, and how… He wants her to himself and be the only one to see her face from her hair in order to preserve their nonsensically secret relationship. Also, he would probably die without consuming her drool regularly. The very definition of true romantic love! A boy being fed something that is totally a stand in for what I dub, “Erotic Fluids”.
Joking aside, the justification for these two to become a couple is, after taking into consideration how Tsubaki will die unless he sees her, nice job being subtle right there, due more to lust than anything. We never hear what Tsubaki finds appealing about Urabe’s personality. Which makes me very sad when you consider how she originally appeared as a cold lone wolf of sorts. I mean, she’s actually pretty timid near the final episode, with the transformation being far too subtle, at best. She is very stern with Tsubaki and does seem to only get involve due to how she does not want him to die. Yet they eventually have dreams of one and other and I guess that makes them fall in love, by seeing each other in sexy dreams… I do not even think I need to state how that is not good character crafting.
In fact, their relationship is more of lust than anything. Tsubaki eventually has a dream where he fondles Urabe’s tits, being a “likable” character, and he is given the opportunity from Urabe, being open and cool with kinkiness, or just kinda dumb. However, there is no nice way to put this, Tsubaki nearly rapes Urabe… And Urabe likes it… Now, I do not have a problem with that, seeing as how Tsubaki apologized for his actions and Urabe forgave him, but they are still children. I do not think I need to list an example more complicated than the fact that they still consider doing things like this to be “wrong”. Hell, Tsubaki, acting as the definition of a child, sees the only way to redeem himself for his actions, to be to let Urabe hit him! While I do not think Urabe even understand what he almost did to her, just that it made her ear act like a vagina, because she’s just like that.
Although, I do find Urabe and the other two developed female characters do reflect their “development” in the physical departments. And by physical department, I mean they have large breasts. I am not one who is against large tits, yet this is semi-realistic Japan, you do not get to make everyone a D-cup. And you really should not get to have them get naked over a boy who has no real redeeming qualities.
I am not even exaggerating here, in order to win over a painfully average male, a girl who could get a most appealing guy as a boyfriend. Along with a girl who tried to sabotage a the main characters’ relationship in order to fill her own empty void because as an attractive high ranking student, she has not been able to find a guy who liked her a bundle’s worth. Bullcrap! No buggering way you could have someone like this be so desperate that they are willing to go after a guy who is, in the end, a massive perverted nerd. They never really say it, but someone with only vintage sci fi posters on his wall is probably not prime target for people who could get pretty much anyone they wanted, because no one in this show brings up personality! If you write characters in a way where they casually describe someone to others by listing their physical features and not bringing up their personality, I really hope that you are trying to make a point.
To fully amplify the lack of understanding the creative team had, you need not look any further than their interpretation of the title, by not even having the most crucial part of anything “Mysterious”, the payoff. I am not asking for everything to amount to something massive and ground breaking, I just want to have some reason for things that are supernatural being common place, and an excuse for one’s ability to be a Scissor-Ninja when they have their bangs occupying their eyes most of the time! The conclusion is the final impression for something, and not having one is among the worst things you could do. Let alone have characters end up learning something that can only be described in their minds, meaning that they are not shown or tell. I do not like saying this, but it makes this entire story feel like a waste of time, because next to nothing was accomplished in a plausible fashion. Even slice of life shows need to follow the principle of forming relationships, and that is still doing stuff.
However, the show does have some redeeming values. I adore the visual style that takes more inspiration from an art style that is more commonly found in the great bulk of light hearted anime and manga in the 1980s. It is hard to explain what is different, but the characters have a more traditionally “cartoony” look to them, which I find to be eye-catching and more than a little refreshing for someone who tries to get through a series a week. I can forgive the characters being simple in terms of design as well due to this more distinct style, and due to how I find Urabe’s face to be freaking wonderful. I don’t even know what I like about it, it is seldomly show, so when you do get a glimpse, it feels like a noteworthy event, or at least it did to me. There is something appealing about her plain expression and how often she hides it away, making it more significant when she actually displays her face. I can not place what exactly is appealing about it, probably a mixture of things, from her blue black and unfurnished hair, her half open eyes, and how her default tone is very mature and controlling, yet never feeling especially intimidating.
On top of that, I can not recall the last time I’ve seen an animated program with this level of atmosphere. From the half lit bedrooms, to the sunset drenched path the duo take on their ways home, and even the mildly dead feeling school. Pair this up with a soundtrack that can be very eerie at times, and the show is at least great to be absorbed in, while the actual content being less than stellar. I actually think the best simile that I can think of is that watching this show is like swimming in a pool of honey. It is engrossing and wondrous while you are underneath the gooey substance, once you wipe it off a bit, the bees are all over your honey covered cams and you have 100 stings, leaving you sore and pissed!
It is alluring from a distance, yet once you are tempted into entering it, it kicks you while your defenses are down. With a borderline insultingly simple view on gender politics, characterization that is not based in reality, and lore that is horribly established. It crafts a strong female character, only to have her end up being used as a sexual object. That is not just wrong from a gender level, by having the one instance where the show could pass the Bechdel Test in order to determine if it has a true female perspective, being exposition. But from writing a character whose only purpose is to be used as an object, establishing aspects about her only to use her, barely ever showing development with her.
For a comparison, it is kind of like Samus’ characterization in Metroid: Other M, taking away the established strength of a character in order to make them more appealing as women. Some say that true female characters are ones who are based on the societal impressions of females, I say it is about making a good character above all else. There might be a hidden meaning or context. Yet as a show in itself, it is as I said prior, like swimming in and getting out of a pool of honey. Sweet and calming at the start, but frustrating by the end.