Nazo no Kanojo X – 09

It… actually doesn’t work that well for her.

Oh hey, the Aniblog Tourney got started again after a long hiatus, and Metanorn continues to be in it. A top-2-out-of-4 system this time. Obviously I’m pulling for Metanorn, but they all have quality content. Go check the others out. Here, let’s talk about Urabe’s hair.

Who doesn’t love sex hair? I think use of the phrase exploded around the time Amagami SS came out. I wonder why? But while Kaoru no doubt carefully styled her trademark wavy hair to look that way, Mikoto provided us with something much closer to the real thing in this episode. After all, having Akira directly grab Mikoto’s head and mess it up is about as close to that as we’ll get from this show. I do enjoy its blidingly obvious metaphors, accentuated in the case of Ueno and Oka by the latter’s fogged up glasses. It short circuits the literal sex and jumps straight to the pleasure of sharing with a partner, reminding us, that hey, romance really is about the personal connection.

That said, Akira’s messing up of Mikoto’s hair was downright erotic at times. The close ups to the UFO charm, the faux slow-motion of his hands and her hair, that red filter, they were clearly going for something. I was actually reminded of a certain similarly themed scene from Nisemonogatari. That red light filter was an especially close connection and was used in each scene to give it that extra surreal – and sexual – vibe.

So many colors.

Mysterious Girlfriend X hasn’t been the most consistent when it comes to visual quality, but I like that it’s playing with its direction. The lighting was excellent in this episode even besides the aforementioned scene: the blinding white light in that serene cold open, the transition from dusk to evening in the park at the end (timed beautifully with the flow of the couple’s conversation). Also, the patterned textures – paper creases to make the characters look as if drawn on paper – were especially noticeable. It went nicely with the show’s established old school aesthetic.

What has been consistent is the pace of the couple’s relationship: slow. It’s fascinating how little has happened in so many events over 9 whole episodes. But they continue to have plenty of fun along the way, and that’s infectious. Each episode has them moving forward, even if just taking baby steps. Mysterious Girlfriend X shows the little changes that happen when one enters his or her first relationship, and it celebrates each new experience as something wonderful.

Burning Love

Vanilla salt!

I think it’s obvious that Mikoto is a passive person. Her hair is that way because she doesn’t care to style it. She doesn’t socialize or even eat during lunch breaks – at least, until Oka started literally feeding her. She’s actually active in her passivity: she refused to join the track team, and she hung back to watch when she saw Akira talking with his old crush.

So this possessive act of cutting up the album – the first display of those skills since in the 2nd episode – came as a pleasant surprise. This was by far the strongest expression of her emotions, stronger than when she handed Akira her panties, or the times when she made him cry, or when she asked him to touch her ear again. This time, she was making a statement, and not with the aid of drool magic. It was violent and emotional. Just like Akira, Mikoto Urabe is changing, and it’s so much fun to watch.

Urabe only takes them out for special occasions. Or rather, her taking them out make the occasions special.

Preview

Another new girl? Or is that just Urabe with a makeover?

About

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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26 Responses to “Nazo no Kanojo X – 09”

  1. skylion says:

    I really enjoyed this episode, if only because it underlined the manag-ka’s thesis statement in it’s own true way. Wait for it, and there is a whole world of turn-ons before the big deed.

    • lvlln says:

      Yes, that’s what Mysterious Girlfriend X has been all about, every episode, hasn’t it? Like savoring the taste of chocolate in your mouth before swallowing it, it has been delightfully sweet.

    • Racer X 47.1 beta says:

      This is exactly what I like about this show. It’s all about the foreplay. Instead of the regular harem shows where it’s about which of the stereotypical anime girls will end up with the bland harem lead, with NKX (MSX), the relationship is established in the first episode and dealt with for the rest of the series. Building a good relationship requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears from both sides, but that process can also be very rewarding and just plain fun.

  2. Nuu says:

    I do think the shoe is unique and surely want to keep watching, but it doesn’t negate the fact Urabe is still an irritating bish…in fact I just wrote about that. But anyways, I like it even though I think the show is absurd lol. I just wish Tsubaki would GROW UP & tell everyone, “HEYY, URABES MINE!! SUCK ON DAT!!!” but he’s such a coward. Ashamed to say he’s with her even after the class approves. I don’t like characters like that.

    • lvlln says:

      I think one of the main thrusts of this show is that it’s about inexperienced teenagers and their clumsy attempts at a first romantic relationship, so Akira just growing up wouldn’t really fit well. I think the ride is fun regardless.

      Also, sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean by Mikoto as an irritating bish?

    • skylion says:

      He is in the process of growing up. One does not tell a kid to grow up and POOF, magical maturity, I choose you!
      He isn’t a coward, just shy when it comes to understanding how much she really is his.

      They both learn a bit about that….

    • Highway says:

      I certainly don’t think it’s about people approving or disapproving, or ashamed of Mikoto or anything like that. It just seems it’s the way it is at that school at that time. Akira’s certainly not ashamed to tell others that she’s his girlfriend, they just doesn’t out of respect for Mikoto not wanting to. Hell, Ueno and Oka have been together for more than a year before the show started, and the only way anybody knows is cause Akira walked in on them kissing (and now I wonder if that was Oka’s idea, being daring for the thrill of it).

    • BlackBriar says:

      It’s the first time he’s faced such a situation and doesn’t know how to handle it which is why he is so indicisive. He isn’t a coward, he’s just learning about life as he goes along and life is never especially where a relationship is concerned. Him getting irritated over her pictures means he cares for her. A detached person on that subject wouldn’t have cared at all.

  3. s2012k1993 says:

    Repeated viewing of MGX doesn’t disappoint me unlike most other anime. Whereas plot and characterization generalize the two aspects of most anime, the near-absence of plot, which the setting substitutes, allows for deeper characterization and the realization of cues I might have missed during my initial watching. Upon my second watching, I realized the background colors for all the hair scenes (ones you highlight in the article) signify the states of mind of the girls: white with euphoria, red with erotica, and bluish yellow for ecstasy (I admit the last one might be inaccurate, but I couldn’t resist). Of course, when plot is introduced, it’s an unexpected bonus.

    While I agree that the celebration of the small aspects in a relationship pushes MGX forward, I fail to understand this anime’s endgame. With four more episodes, will MGX continue its celebration or try to tie in Urabe’s mysterious voice in the first episode? If MGX leaves us with an open conclusion, that would feel way too much like being trolled (albeit in a very good way). But I doubt MGX would also leave us with the latter conclusion because sex is no longer a small thing, it’s a relationship changer.

    • Highway says:

      I also find that repeated watchings of episodes don’t disappoint, and maybe some of that is because it’s *not* plot driven, so there’s no twist or surprise to be ruined by knowing what’s going to happen. Instead of focusing on what’s going to happen, you can focus on watching the shows and extracting more of the emotional content that they’re really loading the show with.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, I do wonder what the endgame to the anime will be. It probably makes most sense to use an emotional climax from early on in the manga as the series climax for the anime. This isn’t like B Gata H Kei with a clear end goal, so it could turn out great if the show handles it right.

  4. [...] not convinced that episodics that aren’t in AOIA suck? Just look at this post of theirs about Mysterious Girlfriend X. One short post, nine images. Okay. It’s my personal and [...]

  5. BlackBriar says:

    I guess Mikoto likes to sleep “au natural” given that the beginning shows her waking up in the nude.

    It’s amazing how one’s appearance can change with a simple hairstyle. Mikoto does looks almost unrecognizable with twin tails. And it’s disturbing how Oka’s assumptions on her relationship with Akira always hit the nail on the head. Are they based on personal experience or is she just an efficient stalker?

    The sudden red background on Akira and Mikoto’s route back home was off-setting. It was as if something bad was going to happen from either outside means or possibly at Mikoto’s hands (Her scissors hidden in her underwear as a reference). I wonder what the background was meant for.

    Akira noticing and comparing the idol’s bust shows that he always has Mikoto on his mind down to the smallest detail possible. It shows he does care for her a lot. “Which one?” “What’s your favorite picture in the album?” I wouldn’t have answered that. That clearly sounded like a trap and an excuse to pull out her scissors on him. Now who’s the possessive one?

    • Highway says:

      And it’s disturbing how Oka’s assumptions on her relationship with Akira always hit the nail on the head. Are they based on personal experience or is she just an efficient stalker?

      I don’t know if Oka’s all that supernaturally accurate. Part of it is that they’re two girls who are the same age, and at about the same stage in a relationship, with Oka having the advantage of being just a little farther along. So for the most part what Akira / Mikoto are going through has been what Oka / Ueno did. But I think it’s pretty obvious that they’re much closer to even after the last two shows, since the last two times Mikoto has ‘shared’ with Oka she’s been genuinely surprised at the reaction and the reason.

      And I think that’s good, because it makes their relationship a lot more mutual, and a lot less of Oka being creepy or a stalker or something. Now they’re just two girls who are both figuring out love at the same time and sharing insights and feelings.

    • lvlln says:

      Well, this episode used a lot of different color filters for various effects. Their walk home is usually red because it’s dusk, and they accentuated that quite a bit this time for the hair rustling scene. Like I wrote above, I believe its purpose was similar to that of the red filter in Nisemonogatari episode 8, to make a weird but seemingly innocent act feel surreal and charged with sexuality.

  6. Highway says:

    Maybe another instance of overthinking it here. In this episode about ‘possessiveness’ which has been a theme throughout the series, there’s a counter-theme that, to a certain extent, people want to be “possessed” that’s also been running throughout the series. Akira and Mikoto both want the other to want to be with them, shown through trials like Ogata’s confession, Mikoto’s test with Akira’s shoe locker label, and Mikoto’s sadness if Akira chose Hayakawa.

    In this episode, it goes both directions. When Mikoto has a different hairstyle and gets attention from the other boys, Akira worries that the attention will pull her away from him and that she’ll not want him any more. So he asks her to change it back, and she goes farther and has him ‘style’ her hair, making him happy. In the other direction, I don’t think that Mikoto is threatened by the idea of Imai Momoka taking Akira away. It’s that she wants Akira to want *her*, not ‘people who look like her’.

    Maybe I am reading too much into the idea of ‘possession’, but I think this anime season gives a perfect example of the wrong sort of possession with Sanka Rea’s father. That’s what I’m contrasting this with.

    • lvlln says:

      Well, there’s almost always a possessive aspect when it comes love, isn’t there? After all, it means you want to be special to the other person, to be treated different compared to others. I think that’s partly why using possessive phrases feels natural: my girl, my man, she’s mine, etc. So in figuring out this romance thing for the first time, these teenagers also have to grapple with being possessive and learn what it means to “own” and “belong to” someone.

  7. animekritik says:

    Very nice post for a very nice episode. Now I just want news that a 2nd season has been green-lit.

    • lvlln says:

      Thanks! I’d love a S2, since the manga goes on a decent length, more than a single cour season can cover, but I wonder if this show will be popular enough to get one. After all, it’s not a great source for figures or other merchandise.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, I’ve actually been disappointed that they haven’t even released singles of the OP and ED songs, because I really like both of them, and think that Ayano Yoshitani did a great job singing them. They are ones that I’d find a way to buy from the US (to show support of the show).

        I do make sure that I watch the licensed version, for signalling that somebody’s watching the show.

      • skylion says:

        Would the huggable pillow come with scissors? Would the huggable pillow be able to use the scisssors? It would be an expense to say the least.

  8. Nu says:

    @those who noted the “growing up” comment: I’m sorry, I guess I was being a bit vague. What I meant was its ok to be awkward — at first. Though the opposite sex can be confusing as hell (especially one like Urabe), there’s a learning curve just like anyone else. I’m not saying he should be a stud by episode 9 or anything like that…just that he should be more sure of himself.

    I don’t remember anywhere in the show where Mikoto explicitly asked him NOT to tell anyone about their relationship. Maybe I need to take a look @ the first 3 episodes again…it seems like Urabe couldnt care less about that, but I feel it’d make their bond stronger if he stepped up and made it public. Nothing would change, and in fact I think the guys would back up from Urabe out of respect (or little there is) for Tsubaki. I will say the secrecy thing does fit quite well with the show, so it’s not something I’m hung up over, but I’m upset that Akira has stayed the same through the series: unsure.

    Urabe on the other hand, actually HAS grown. Despite Urabe not really being tsundere, its the closest archetype i can conjure up for her. She’s become less tsun & more cute over the span of these episodes. Instead of Tsubaki always trying to get a hold of her near the end of an episode, she often pulls Tsubaki aside to talk. Opening up to Oka (the little she has) ends up being refreshing too.

    That’s to say, “growing up” means getting to know your girlfriend and communicating without flinching everytime you ask something slightly risqué, which she secretly wants anyways. I’ll give him the first 6-7 episodes, but damn. Seriously. Don’t get me wrong, Akira HAS grown up a bit, but it’s been irritatingly slow.

    Just my take on things. I know it’s a coming-of-age story & they are in middle-school, but even in middle-school nothing was that awkward even for the awkward kids. Just saying

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, as I mentioned I don’t think their keeping it quiet is about shame or lack of growth. I think it’s more that it just wasn’t done (note that this show is set sometime at least a decade or so ago, I’m thinking more like the mid 80′s). Everyone keeps quiet about relationships. In episode 3, Ueno says he and Oka want it a secret because it would be awkward and embarrassing if the class found out. Same episode, when Ogata confesses to Mikoto, Akira wants to tell him what’s what, and is specifically told no. That could be interpreted either as her saying “I’ll handle it.” but she doesn’t even say that she’s already taken as the reason to turn Ogata down, just that he can’t be her boyfriend. And Ogata was even on the path of keeping it quiet, saying they could just walk home for a while. So I think it’s really more of a cultural/period thing that is coming through.

      Heck, consider that in our two main couples, Akira knows that Ueno and Oka are a couple only because he caught them. Oka only knows that Akira and Mikoto are a couple because she caught them and then pressed Mikoto on who her ‘other’ bonded person was. Mikoto knows about Oka / Ueno because Akira told her, but she doesn’t admit knowing until Oka tells her. And Ueno thinks Akira doesn’t have a girlfriend, but likes Mikoto because of the picture book. Oka doesn’t even tell her boyfriend.

    • lvlln says:

      I actually noted in my post on the previous episode that Akira seemed very much like a typical spineless harem lead. He’s shy to a fault, and no, Mikoto never asked him to keep it a secret; he can’t even get up the guts to tell it to his friend Ueno.

      But I think part of the message of the show is that that’s OK. Change happens slowly, and there’s nothing wrong with being that painfully awkward. Romance happens at a pace that the partners are comfortable with, not at a pace dictated by expectations of others or the “norm.” That is to say, it’s normal to be abnormal.

    • Amutofan123 says:

      WAIT. They’re in middle school? I thought they were in high school…

  9. nono says:

    Tsubaki he is no coward, someone with the balls to make fun of his girlfriend when they have the scissors at her side, sneaking out to help another girl (fooled by it) knowing what you could do XD Urabe, defend his girlfriend when necessary by force (not look like an idiot) finally, the cowardly type … it is not, to me that honesty is his strongest point and worthy to be boyfriend Urabe, because I think is what most appreciate about him.

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