Nazo no Kanojo X – 08

The magic of this show can be wonderful sometimes.

Hope those in the US also had a nice Memorial Day weekend! Have you checked out our new Meta Mash features? A lot of changes going on at Metanorn. Speaking of changes, that’s what happens to you when you start going out with someone, isn’t it?

To start, let’s take a brief look at the opening seconds of this episode. Again, YouTube’s content filtering meant that I couldn’t upload it there, so I put it here on my Tumblr. Go ahead; it’s only 17 seconds long. If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I was particularly impressed by the long take used at the end of episode 6, so you probably caught what I really liked about this opening: the tracking shot that showed the dream background before settling on Mikoto’s breasts as she began to talk. Using a single cut with a moving camera to establish the scene and start the actual scene itself not uncommon in live action films, but it’s rare on TV (here’s an example from the Americal show Justified, which is on FX), live action or anime.

Of course, there is difficulty when trying to do any long single cut in live action, and but the only limit in animation is the budget which a dynamic camera unfortunately tends to eat up quickly. That’s why I’m glad that we’re seeing more and more CG in shows like this or this season’s AKB0048. CG gives the producers extra visual tools to use, and it makes the tracking shot to start this episode a relatively easy thing to create instead of a budget killer. I’m not a film expert, and I can’t go in depth on what makes these long takes so great, but I like the way they make scenes feel continuous. It could have just as easily cut from showing the dreamscape to showing Mikoto and Akira, but showing them in one go emphasizes that everything is happening right there.

What was just a dream that morning quickly became reality.

Unusual for the show, the entire first 3/5 followed Akira’s consciousness continuously. From his dream that Sunday morning, his walk outside, meeting Mikoto, going in her room, all the way to the ear licking, it simply followed the events of Akira’s day. The show has jumped in time very often, and it’s primarily made up of relatively short conversations, so dedicating the majority of its time following a single thread was unexpected.

Not that this is particularly unusual to see in anime. An extreme example is last season’s Nisemonogatari which followed Koyomi’s consciousness with almost no gaps, to the extent that the 2 days of Karen Bee took 7 episodes and the 1 day of Tsukihi Phoenix took 4. And this season, Acchi Kocchi’s half-episode segments have mostly been continuous, following the main characters for a single wacky multiplayer event. But it does stand out in Mysterious Girlfriend X. That it spent so much time in a single segment of Akira’s life shows what a critical event this was in his budding relationship with Mikoto. After all, what pair of things could be more fascinating to an adolescent boy?

Somehow even sexier than in the beach episode.

Given Hood Entertainment’s previous works and the synopsis of this story, you’re forgiven if you expected this show to be something different from the tame and almost painfully slow romantic comedy that it has been. But they reminded us of their history, giving us no fewer than 3 distinct shots of Mikoto taking off her coat to show off those sweater puppies (though they’re no match for Aoko’s). That bit had me laughing. The show-from-3-angles technique for shots of extreme or critical moments is overused in anime, and though I can’t say this was particularly creative, I enjoyed seeing it parodied like that. I also liked Akira’s sister’s pork buns. The way she was holding them was beautiful, and her apparent obliviousness made it even more hilarious.

So the show’s been slow, but the characters keep changing little by little, and I loved hearing Oka’s matter of fact explanation that this was normal for people going through relationships. Mikoto gets overwhelmed with emotion (overflows?) when Akira touches her ear, while he finds himself losing control more and more easily when he’s close to her. And it seems she’s becoming more and more receptive to his desire for her. She shed tears when Akira lost control in her room, but she wasn’t upset, and she chose not to use the scissors. And good for Akira, he stuck through, accepting all her quirks but also pushing for things that were really important to him.

Somehow the way Akira does it makes it look innocent, almost cute.

What I like is that Akira is sort of a spineless harem lead without the harem. He’s careful to a fault, still afraid to let his true feelings take control of him. His over-the-top display of chivalry in asking to be hit is a classic harem lead move. But that’s OK; his girlfriend isn’t one of 4 different girls all fighting for his attention, but rather someone who is at the same place as him and happy with his pace even if it sometimes makes her uncomfortable. So they keep feeling each other out getting closer bit by bit, testing their boundaries, having so much fun along the way. Because despite the ups and downs and drama and anxiety along the way, it’s all worth it.


So, ummm, that’s quite the new look for you there, Urabe.


A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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7 Responses to “Nazo no Kanojo X – 08”

  1. Highway says:

    Something that’s really coming out from the show lately to me is that it’s not just Akira who wants to progress the relationship in intimacy. Yes, the show is mainly from his point of view, and conveys his sense of wanting to do more – hold hands, kiss, hug, touch, share, understand – while he fights his embarrassment and chivalrous nature, but especially the more recent episodes have really conveyed (at least to me) that Mikoto also wants these things, and is just as unsure, embarrassed, and worried about them as Akira. It may be harder to see this in her, with her bangs hiding her eyes, her cool and even demeanor, and her seeming boldness and control of the relationship, but I think it really comes through.

    I could totally be seeing too much in the show, but to me, Mikoto didn’t need to say “You can touch them.” It wasn’t out of resignation, or pressure, or fear of losing Akira. She wanted to explore also, just like Akira. And then her worries about whether it’s normal, or real, or something else. It’s an interesting twist to show the emotions of one character almost wholly through the other characters, Oka being the main window that we get into Mikoto’s emotions (like why she didn’t show Akira her bikini was “just” embarrassment) but also Akira, who doesn’t always understand, but the viewers do.

    Sorry for the longish comment. I’m just getting more and more fascinated by this show, and hope it continues to develop these characters in the same manner.

    • lvlln says:

      Well put. I’m going to quote another comment ( I think she’s a lot more normal than she lets on. Mikoto has her quirks, and even if they’re more unusual than most people’s, everyone has their quirks. She’s very frank in some ways, but just like Akira, she’s a newbie to this whole romance thing and both apprehensive and excited. She’s not sure how to properly respond to Akira’s advances – wanting it but also instinctively holding back – so she… overflows. Which unfortunately gets misinterpreted by Akira.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Her misinterpretations seems to be what’s making their relationship become stronger. As both of them are on equal ground because none of them have relationship experience, it’s fun watching them stumble around to figure out the next step.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    The animation has become darker in quality lately along with the character designs and the CGI was good. Nice job bringing up AKB0048 as a reference but there’s also Black Rock Shooter that did well. I’d say Mikoto’s sweater is just as sexy as her swimsuit.

    You’ve got to admire the actual human elements this series is always emitting like the tension that comes with the physical part of the relationship which is another step forward. Moreover the part where Akira was beginning to lose himself to his lust.

    Akira’s feeling that he needs to be punished because he felt like he did something wrong really was a bit over the top but easily overlooked with how hard he’s trying to make things work out. He acted out of principle and took the slap easily in my opinion. Nothing stays the same, and change must and will happen to make a relationship work.

    Thanks to Mikoto’s current physical change (Really, tears induced by tugging on her ear?), she’ll have to be more open to Akira and his other possible requests (explicit or not) like touching her bust which will prove to be a struggle since she’s still very shy.

    • lvlln says:

      Yes, I think Black Rock Shooter is the gold standard for CG animation in TV anime now, at least for humans. The heavy CG use for BG helped Mysterious Girlfriend X a lot here, but what else becomes possible if all the characters are CG as well? I’m excited.

      • totoum says:

        Glad to see BRS was mentionned,CG allows for long shots and BRS definatly has some,the opening shot of the show is about 80 seconds long.

        As for what moving camera long shots bring to the table in this case,I think it helps make the dream sequence stand out and somehow more surreal because you don’t see so much movement in the “real life” scenes.

  3. Racer X 47.1 beta says:

    I think this going to be the pivotal episode for the series. A lot happened. As an example, did you notice Urabe’s jackets? In ep. 7, what looked like, large metal latches were used and in 8 it was straps. I’m not so much agreeing with the fetish aspect, but Urabe is locked down in many ways. The shot where the focus is on her torso as she takes off her coat says a lot. Yes, it is sexy, but, more importantly, she is opening herself up which leads to a whole new world. Tsubaki says at the end of the episode how both of them will be changing in many different ways. Understatement of the entire show.

    Out of all that happened in this episode, I was really impressed with how Urabe and Tsubaki were trying and succeeding at understand each other, and themselves, on many different levels. With this episode, I think this show just became my best of 2012.

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