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!