Nazo no Kanojo X – 13 [END]

The show’s final eye catch ;_;

I’ve been working on various other things (would love it if you’d vote for us!), so I only recently got around to watching this finale. Don’t let my lack of urgency fool you; much of it was motivated by not wanting to see the show end. But alas, the finale had to come, and Mysterious Girlfriend X has gone.

Like Oka, Akira’s sister was a character who made a big impact in her few appearances.

This finale felt very much like just another episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X, very fitting for this very consistently paced show. It would be unlike it to present some grand gesture at this point. However, it did escalate things like a couple episodes ago, though with some more serious subject matters this time. So serious that it was funny, as in the case of Akira’s sister.

What kind of life did this 24 year old woman lead so that the concept of filial piety was so completely drilled in her brain? She was willing and able to put her life on hold just to take care of her father and brother – the latter of whom is already seventeen years old. It’s beautiful in some ways, and like much of this show, it was comically over the top. And I appreciated that, keeping with the theme of this show, she was pretty open minded to others’ preferences, shown in the flashback of her with her boyfriend.

But there was that other family matter this episode, Akira’s dead mother. Parental absence is so common in high school anime that it was something I didn’t bother to question. In fact, watching his father (for the first time) was more jarring than learning of Akira’s mother. So I liked how casually it was presented in the show, with the family making their visits to the cemetary into a fun event, and Akira talking to Mikoto almost as if he had simply forgotten to mention it. With the way Mikoto reacted and the new somehow more intimate technique of exchanging saliva they used this time, we got plenty of material worthy of a finale.

Good color use as usual, and I like the way their arm positions look the same in both shots.

I always say that episode count doesn’t matter and that a good director can fit any story into the episodes he’s allotted (look at Gunbuster or FLCL for examples of incredible efficiency in narrative), but I’m thinking Mysterious Girlfriend X deserves an exception. The slow pacing was so integral to the thrust of this show that I don’t think it could have covered much – if any – more ground in the 13 episodes it had. And despite the lack of closure, it gave us a feeling of completeness, coming full circle back to spring when Akira and Mikoto first formed their relationship, closing with them talking about what they’ll do in the future. Forward looking endings are my favorite.

I don’t really like discussing “characters” and “plot” separately. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum but are rather defined by what they do and what they say in the plot. The reason I’m making this point is that, if you look at them by themselves, Mysterious Girlfriend X‘s characters aren’t all that great. I’ve mentioned before how Akira reminds me of the spineless harem lead. Mikoto is admittedly quite fascinating, but behind the superficial weirdness, she’s actually a rather normal girl.

Yet one of the strengths of Mysterious Girlfriend X was its characters because of how their lives were presented. The show celebrated all the baby steps in a first romance, lingering on things just a little longer than we might be used to. This might sound like a formula for boredom, but the show avoided that by being deliberate with the events it presented. We got to see our protagonists react to new and more absurd situations every week, and it was hard not to fall in love with this pair whom I had so much fun watching. This couple really created magic while together.

This show was all about subtlety, but not when it came to visual metaphors.

I have to hand it to director Ayumu Watanabe for putting together a fine adaptation. Based on the little of the manga I had read before, I can see he was faithful while also adding things that could only be shown in anime form. He tried some unusual things with the moving camera to add punch to scenes, and the show was visually pleasing overall, with effective use of colored lighting and framing. And lest we forget that this show was a romantic comedy (certainly not a drama), it had both great visual and situational comedy. This director shows promise with his first non-Doraemon anime.

I see promise in Mikoto Urabe’s voice actor Ayako Yoshitani as well. I’m not sure how much precedence there is for a rookie playing the main role and singing both the opening and ending themes to a show, and that alone deserves recognition. I can’t say I felt too strongly about her performance either way. Her matter-of-fact awkward girlish voice worked for Mikoto, but because of the nature of that character, she didn’t wow me with any particular scene. It’s probably due to the fact that she also debuted in a starring role, but I thought I detected a hint of Chiaki Omigawa in her voice. I did like her performance in both songs. The music in the show was overall very good if a little muted – the dreamscape theme in particular was memorable.

Mikoto Urabe was a lovable character, an absolute sweetie pie, and both the animators and voice actor deserve credit.

Like most people, I’m not a big fan of stories designed by committee, but it’s sometimes hard to avoid it. This show was the opposite. It had a clear vision, and it executed on it, stubbornly sticking to its path no matter how weird things got. This kind of approach is risky and doesn’t guarantee success, but Watanabe and the team at Hoods Entertainment made it work. It may not have made drool any more appetizing, but Mysterious Girlfriend X is easily one of the best high school romance shows I’ve seen.

I can only imagine the pride and joy original manga author Riichi Ueshiba must have felt drawing this title card. Animate more of his manga, please!


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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19 Responses to “Nazo no Kanojo X – 13 [END]”

  1. AceRailgun says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoyed this anime. In fact I enjoyed it so much I was driven by the lack of closure to go read the manga. It still leaves holes and isn’t finished yet but it does touch on the family issues and lack of mother a bit more. Other then that it’s nice to see more of Urabe.

    I agree that Ayako Yoshitani was a nice new voice actor but if she ever stars in another anime I know I’m just going to end up think it’s Urabe again.

    • lvlln says:

      I’m considering starting over with the manga. I remember what I read of it was a lot of fun, and I was quite excited when the anime was announced. Especially since I didn’t think the subject matter would attract an anime production. Hoods did a fine job.

      It’s yet to be seen how versatile Yoshitani is, but if she continues to stay in the industry – she seems to have dove in headfirst with her debut – I’d hope that she’d be versatile enough that she wouldn’t channel Urabe every time.

      • AceRailgun says:

        Urabe does have a unique kind of calming voice which I’m sure is easy to avoid now that I really think about it. I’m sure Yoshitani has a decent career ahead of her after this role.

        Hoods was really a dark horse on this one. Mysterious Girlfriend X just kind of came out of nowhere and made some waves. Starting the manga over might be a good idea. I’m not sure if the anime stayed true to the manga or not so you might miss some small things if you skip ahead.

  2. Highway says:

    Thanks for getting the post up, lvlln, and thanks for writing about the show all season! Being able to discuss the depth of this show has increased my enjoyment significantly.

    I thought this was a great closing episode, because it didn’t really feel like a closing episode. They didn’t try to do anything special or different or inconsistent with it, just presented more of the story of Mikoto and Akira. It was touching, amusing, slightly odd, and packed with the depth of relationship that the whole series has exhibited.

    I thought a couple of the ‘milestones’ that Urabe passed were interesting. She introduced herself both to Akira’s late mother as his girlfriend, and to his current ‘mother’ figure, Youko (that’s what I interpreted her more formal address as they parted after coffee as). There was also that wedding imagery of the interlocked arms as they shared their first pseudo-kiss (which was actually more intimate than most first kiss events are) (and by the way, the CR subs really kill the mood with the word ‘slimy’ there, not good. There’s better ways to translate that).

    The presentation of the family relationship of the Tsubakis was really nice also. Akira and his father pushing Youko to not put her life on hold for their sakes, and just the general nice family they seemed to have was really good to see. Yeah, we didn’t see much of parents throughout the show, but we didn’t really need to, we got that perspective through the few scenes with Youko. Mikoto’s parents being absent but referred to just helped reinforce another of her ‘mysterious’ aspects.

    I also thought Ayako Yoshitani did a great job. The unique quality of her voice compared to the field of female voice actors really set the character apart. I also hope she gets more roles, and she might have the ability to change her voice for roles enough that every character she does isn’t Urabe Mikoto.

    • Racer X 47.1 beta says:

      Good observations. I thought this was a big break through for Urabe as well. Last episode, she broke her physical barrier with the hug and you could see her realizing that she needed to open up more emotionally. This episode built on that with her actually wanting, and trying, to get involved more with Akira by becoming part of the family. The graveyard visit was the perfect ending. Akira can’t remember how he felt and Mikoto unlocks that. There’s the bond again. The last shot of them leaving the graveyward was really good. Did Mikoto actually skip? Is that a “normal” couple?

  3. Highway says:

    And I thought of more stuff about the show overall. One interesting aspect was that they went through about a year in a high school romance anime series, and skipped all the ‘usual’ romance events: Mid-summer festival, Christmas, and Valentines Day. They did a beach episode, but no big group, no cliched events (beach volleyball, watermelon splitting, barbeque, fireworks). They did do the Hoshinome Cultural Festival as a big plot deal, but even that was out of the ordinary for the genre (another school’s event, no growing closer through hard work, etc).

    The series is really filled with realizations like that, that there is a little bit of the usual (like was mentioned about Akira being almost a typical harem lead without the harem) but by and large the series avoided being ordinary, but didn’t do it ostentatiously, just by doing its own thing.

    And I’ll admit, when that lemon had “owari” on it, and they put that title card at the end (really, what a nice touch), I felt a little pang, knowing it was over. Maybe I’ll look for the manga (either translated or after I learn more Japanese) to get more of the story.

  4. flipocrisy says:

    I did like the pacing of the show and how we got to see them grow together as a couple. It kinda reminded me of KnT in that aspect, except that they were pronounced BF/GF already rather than KnT where I was dying for them to confess already haha (though I loved that show too).

    I’m glad that the synposis didn’t steer me away from giving it a shot. It was a great watch and enjoyed it thoroughly

    Additionally, after hearing her voice and OP/ED performance, I’d definitely like to hear more of Yoshitani and look forward to her future roles.

    • lvlln says:

      I enjoyed Kimi ni Todoke at the start, but that was a show that really went nowhere, and in a 2 cours season, no less. The relationship between Shouta and Sawako was basically at a standstill for most of the episodes. One show that Mysterious Girlfriend X reminded me of a lot is actually Maria-sama ga Miteru. That one didn’t have a romantic focus, but it had the same calm and relaxed pacing with the occasional flare ups of conflict.

      • Highway says:

        I started to get tired of Kimi no Todoke about 4 episodes in, because it just went around in circles, and quit after about 8. I have heard that the second season is a bit better, I might just skip to that. I’m also not a fan of the scheming character, so when they introduced Kurumi that turned me off.

        Now I’m going to look into Maria-sama ga Miteru. The backlog grows more!

  5. Liza says:

    I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this anime to the end. In the beginning I found it very odd and very off putting(still the drool thing is a bit disgusting) as well the art-style bugged me but in the end I actually liked the direction this show took in its path and it ended up telling a really nice story about love.

    Really hope there will be a season 2 in the future once there is more manga to work with. ^_^

    • lvlln says:

      I believe there is already at least 2x, probably more than 3-4x as much material in the manga, so if they choose to adapt more, it’s waiting for them. I hope Mysterious Girlfriend X sells well – wonder how it’ll compare to other Hoods Entertainment shows. I can see it selling better than Aki-Sora or Princess Lover OVA because those are basically hentai, but Yosuga no Sora or Qwaser, those might be hard to beat.

    • Highway says:

      I am a bit weird, I guess. The drool part of the show didn’t bother me in the least bit. And even the idea that there could be a person out there whose drool tastes sweet to another specific person doesn’t faze me.

  6. The_Magus_Killer says:

    Nazo no Kanojo X is now a romantic classic in my books, just like Amagami SS and Love Hina. =)

    By the way, anyone found Akira’s onee-chan (in her highschool days, when he had pigtails/twintails) to be girlfriend material?

    • Highway says:

      I agree with the romantic classic, although I’ve never made it through Love Hina (I’d personally throw Toradora in there). But it’s so nice that it was different: It wasn’t about the chase. They went ahead and got that over with. It just opened up so much original story potential that was used very effectively.

    • lvlln says:

      Nazo no Kanojo X is now a romantic classic in my books, just like Amagami SS and Love Hina. =)

      The first and second halves of that sentence contradict each other. :p

  7. Metalsnakezero says:

    What a nice way to end a season. I’m hoping for a season 2 because this is pretty well done.

  8. BlackBriar says:

    This was a nice series for Spring. It was decent and well done. What made Nazo no Kanojo X original were that it focused on the real life aspects of a relationship with the factors that could strengthen or weaken it and how each individual slowly grew during the time to suit the surroundings (mostly knowing themselves more as much as the other person: trust, jealousy, sexuality, peer pressure). Another original idea was the use of drool to bind the relationship which was out of the box.

    I liked the pacing used to tell the story other than unnecessarily rushing to the next part. This way was better to flesh out each character, though some more eccentric than others, like Oka.

    For a rookie seiyuu, Ayako Yoshitani has potential to grab up a lot more big time roles for her career seeing how well she did with this. As an example, both seiyuus for the two leads in Mirai Nikki were first timers and they did well. I really hope there’s another season in the works.

  9. Racer X 47.1 beta says:

    This show had me at episode one when Urabe and Tsubaki are established as BF/GF and now they have to build a relationship. The story just became better after that. It was refreshing to see something different after all the harem shows that pop up every season. NKX is different and weird. That’s a good thing.

    I was impressed with Watanabe-sensei’s filmmaking skills. I will be re-watching the series just to see what I missed in how scenes were set up, etc. I keep forgetting how much influence that can have on a series and this one reminded me of that in a good way. I think he was able to translate the authors original manga to anime without losing anything. That takes talent. I look forward to his future projects. I also enjoyed Yoshitani’s work as Urabe. I just hope she doesn’t get typecast as the “weird girl” and gets the chance to prove her talent with different roles.

    I’d like to thank lvlln for covering NKX. I’ve enjoyed your writing and discussion on the series. Good job.

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