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.