Nov 24, 2012

Anime Review: Mysterious Girlfriend X

Mysterious Girlfriend X title/logoOn an impulse, guy tastes the new girl’s drool on her desk after she slept through class. Several days later he develops flu-like symptoms that won’t go away only to find, as said girl will later tell him, that he is having withdrawal symptoms. She gives him some of her spit and he’s cured. Thus our story of two unlikely love-birds begins.

I don’t normally begin with a story synopsis, but in this case the premise, I felt, was more than eye-catching to lead with. And I wasn’t exaggerating on any of it. That’s the entire first episode, basically. In fact, as it follows, he becomes quite obsessed with her and asks her out and they become a couple. All the while she, basically daily like a ritual/routine thing, sticks a finger in her mouth, gets it good and wet with spit, and lets him suck it off her finger. They animate this (and the sound effects) with a little too much focus and deliberateness to make it anything but eye-twitchingly uncomfortable.

The mysterious girl herself, Urabe Mikoto, during an afternoon sunsetOkay, let me back up a bit. You see, she’s a new transfer student and hasn’t made friends and he feels kinda bad for her. Granted it is mostly self-ostracizing since she is quite anti-social, more than a little strange, and sleeps through lunch/study-hall, etc., so she never really bonds with anyone as a result. But he sits next to her and can’t let it go. One afternoon he comes back to class to retrieve his bag and finds her still asleep at her desk, long after class has ended. He wakes her to tell her school is over and to go home and she does. After she leaves, he sees the large pool of drool on her desk from when she was sleeping. Well, you know what happens after that.

Make no mistake, the girl is quite weird and mysterious as the title suggests. Her anti-social behavior and, as later revealed, other strange quirks (the… scissors) make for a character that is bound to either frustrate or fascinate viewers. For me, she was definitely the highlight of the show and one of the main reasons I kept watching despite all of the cringe-worthy drool/spit stuff (which there is a lot of). It also helps that she has a shockingly down-to-earth and real sounding voice actress (for whom this appears to be her debut role) who really sells the weirdness-comes-naturally aspect.

Thankfully the two have a really interesting dynamic of a relationship that you get to watch unfold and develop. There’s more to the spit-swapping I haven’t revealed yet: it can transfer thoughts, emotions, and even, as we later find out, physical abnormalities. Say she gets her knee scuffed and gives him spit, his knee will suddenly also be scuffed. If she is particularly happy, the spit will contain that elated feeling and pass to him. And vice versa, too. It can also transfer thoughts/memories. And it even seems to physically contain them. If she stores spit for him for later (yes, this happens), it’ll still have the properties from when she made it.

Tsubaki and Urabe the two lead characters clasp hands opposite another as red petals burst forth around them

And it is this transferring that allows for a really peculiar yet charming and engrossing relationship. As she even bluntly states, they share a special bond through the spit. Whenever other guys approach her, he’s feeling inadequate as a boyfriend, all of that usual relationship drama, the spit and emotional connection serves to underline what is special about the two of them. And even more so because the transferring thing doesn’t work with just anybody. He alone is also the one she exposes all of her weirdness to and seems to implicitly trust.

So yeah. That’s the show in a nutshell. If you can get past the spit then it actually manages to be an intriguing and interesting relationship drama with bits and pieces of comedy and surreal along the way. The characters are also refreshingly pretty good as they manage not to be just your standard archetypes with the mild exception of the male lead. He is your typical bumbling nervous nice guy but he occasionally displays an assertive and honest streak that shows he could be more than that. But far too often they still employ the usual artificial “misunderstanding” drama created solely by his aggravating stupidity. The handful of side characters are pretty decent but we don’t get to see enough of them.

Outside of the bizarre spit premise and the good batch of characters, there’s not much else to be had here. It’s a character-driven show that with only a half-season of thirteen episodes still manages to feel slow, though in a more laidback way than a bad way. It fails to have much of an ending and we get only scraps of progress since it likes to drag things out a bit too much. But they’re a cute couple, and it’s fun to watch them get closer.

Tsubaki sucks spit off of Urabe's finger on the way home from school

There are a fair number of panty-shots and a general sexual overtone throughout, mostly due to the constant finger sucking and mouth fixation stuff, but also because of the adolescent youth angle. The spit thing, while unnerving, does help explore an aspect of relationships that I find fascinating. So often the difficulty with couples is in communication and really knowing what the other is thinking and feeling. Well, this show serves up a bizarre way of solving that problem unique to these two. Often, given her weirdness, she will not tell him or admit things but instead just let him feel it for himself by giving him some of her spit. I know, it’s weird, and more than a little WTF, but… it still kinda works. It’s neat seeing how this changes the dynamic and brings them closer.

With a good budget and animation quality and a nice distinguishing style it’s not a bad watch at all. It desperately needs a second season, though. Still, it’s a bit slow and doesn’t end up delivering as much as I would have liked, but it’s certainly different. You’re not likely to see another romance drama thing with a twist like this, but it didn’t end up being different or special enough once you get past the spit gimmick.

As of this writing, you can watch Mysterious Girlfriend X for free on Crunchyroll.

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