Mysterious Girlfriend X – 01-03 Review
I still consider it a plothole that Tsubaki went for the drool. Who the hell would do that?! Nobody sees drool and thinks ‘I wonder what it tastes like…’. Seriously we all have drool enough of our own, nobody need to go around trying to taste other people’s drool – especially not those lying around on tables and whatnot.
Mysterious Girlfriend X: Drool Can Replace A Lot Of Things In A Relationship
One thing I’m secretly glad about is that the drool is either sweet, causes Tsubaki or Urabe to bleed from their nose or make them dream about strange scenarios. Because think about it: It could be far creepier. Imagine a story where Tsubaki starts talking like some kind of Wine-expert who describes Urabe’s drool with very specific and lengthy metaphors. Every time the series has yet another sunset-coloured scene of Tsubaki doing the drool-routine with Urabe it conjures poetic imagery of what happened that day while the audience is thinking “Who expected that tasting another person’s drool would turn this kid into Shakespeare…”. And then the series would extend it to other persons and their problems, Tsubaki would know the amount of money his sister owes the bank – by tasting her drool. He would learn the answers to the Maths-test – by tasting the teacher’s drool. He would have weird Freudian dreams about himself – by tasting his own drool. And all that accompanied by poetic lengthy monologues of how the drool tasted in each case. Well, that would be my take on the premise at least. Of course that won’t happen in this series because Tsubaki doesn’t have any guts and Urabe has enough guts for the two of them.
Drool: A bodily fluid we all know and love and also occasionally share with others or the sidewalk. Everybody thought it was nothing but a breeding ground for all sorts of ugly bacteria and viruses but this series will teach you that someone’s drool can give you far more than a cold. Tsubaki’s girlfriend Urabe claims to support their relationship by drool alone (and tyrannical matriarchy of course). What Tsubaki did know but apparently chose to ignore is that this starts a torturous journey of getting something out of that relationship – by using drool alone.
Considering how they both handled the kiss it seemed like going for the mature option seemed to be the episode’s message but then this part turned it into some kind of mystery of how she would turn him down. And that ‘how’ was a cheesy “I tested my bond with him by giving him my drool”-explanation. What ruined it then for me was that I liked it more when Urabe told Tsubaki only that she naturally turned him down without mentioning the drool-test. I mean, the moment she’s explaining the drool-test after that was a bit awkward.
Mysterious Girlfriend certainly knows how to tell a weird story. Drool is disgusting, only this show thinks it’s another weird fetish that can be turned into a shtick. It’s still disgusting, though. I still cringe every time when I hear the noise of Urabe gathering drool in her mouth with her finger in it. And then the drool… I never noticed how thick of a fluid it is. It’s disgusting. But this show makes a fetish out of it and twists a lot of romantic tropes. Congrats for that. Even if it’s disgusting it’s still better than having another generic school-romance-series (or harem-series considering where the manga is going).
Yeah, I have read the manga and still felt disgusted watching the drool-routine. I thought I was prepared for it and I didn’t mind reading about it but watching it in motion, with sound and in colour? Gee, never thought what a difference that would make. And I also want to admit right from the beginning that I still follow the manga, I just don’t really give a damn about the plot at that point. It’s just this series of fanservice-moments without any real development or some on a minimalistic scale I still would call nothing under ordinary circumstances.
But we’re still at the beginning of the series so we’re still at the point where I cared about the manga. And the first three episodes reminded me again why I started reading the series in the first place. The first episode is actually great in my opinion because of how it takes a really grotesque plot-hook (drool as tool of emotional bonding) and turns it into a story of love. And there’s this wonderful sensation of not exactly knowing where the weirdness ends and the normal world begins. In this first episode it all kinda melts together and actually creates an interesting story. Because you don’t know what’s about to happen and because you don’t understand how things are supposed to develop. Urabe forbids Tsubaki from doing anything you’d normally see the protagonist do in these stories and replace it with a completely weird routine. And then still making it a story about love makes it far more self-reflective than your usual romance-series. Since what is love in this story if you take away all the usual human gestures or scenarios we usually get to see in series?
They call it… the ‘Exhibitionist’s state of mind’!
Now I read the manga and I knew where this was going so I wasn’t surprised when it turned into ‘Awkward fantasies and the sentimental reality’. The thing is: Urabe stopped most of the normal stuff from happening and you have the weird routine to replace it. But the weird routine already got old by the second episode so you got this gap of the audience going “So now what?”. And Mysterious Girlfriend X never comes up with a good solution of filling that gab in my opinion. As the series progressed in the manga it just got harder and harder for the author to find excuses why the normal stuff couldn’t happen and the romantic stuff that happened instead got cheesier each time. With episode 02 and 03 you still have actually very decent scenarios for this gap. The topic of the bond of Urabe and Tsubaki gets mentioned a lot but at least it’s mostly connected to some real relationship-issues Tsubaki has. But with the third episode the show already started being entertaining to watch but nothing I would think of after watching it.
Three things that also help keeping me entertained are the Ayumu Watanabe (director), Tomoki Hasegawa (Music) and Ayako Yoshitani. Let’s start with the last name, Ayako is the voice-actress of Urabe and when I heard her talking in the first episode I was like “What the hell?! Someone actually put some thought into casting that role.”. Because when I read the manga I always had this image of Urabe being the stoic unemotional type of character and I imagined as a voice we would get to hear like the voice-actress of Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi with moe-undertones that in sentimental moments would fully come to the surface. But Ayako has a very refreshing voice and I guess you notice her lack of experience since she doesn’t give her voice that extra edge of moe-ness you see in all those K-ON!-like girl-shows. But her voice sounds more natural that way which gives Urabe a far more personal image than being just this list of various shoujo-charactertypes. The second person who does a great job is Tomoki Hasegawa whose soundtrack turns the weirdness of the series into something fantastical. The soundtrack reminds me more of a modern fairy tale with its playful and mysterious tone which helps making the series more interesting as a whole. He worked on the music for the Sayonara Zetsubou series which had a soundtrack that was supporting jokes, the soundtrack of MGX on the other hand seems more ambient and stays in the background instead of highlighting what happens on screen. And Ayumu Watanabe, the director, also plays a great role of keeping this weird fantastical mood with the way the camera moves in a scene. For example in the first episode when Urabe enters the classroom for the first time, the camera doesn’t focus on her face at first but her feet and she makes this abrupt move to turn around and face the class. You know she’s mysterious. It’s the premise of the show after all but to not just wait until she does something really obviously weird but from the very beginning adding a little weirdness to her, that’s good directorial work I would say. It’s these little touches of a director that turn an adaptation into something special. There’s this interesting discussion going on where some critics bashed “The Hunger Games”-movie for being ‘just’ a faithful adaptation without a personal touch of the director. I don’t think I would resent a movie for that but I think I like to see having adaptations with a personal touch of the director. Making Animes (or movies) should be about more than just showing what one can read in a manga or a book. In that vein I think Ayumu is doing a great job with MGX so far.
Mysterious Girlfriend X is still a very weird series after three episodes because of the drool-routine. It’s a pity, though, that the intriguing beginning doesn’t lead to an equally intriguing plot in the following episodes. Overall it’s a typical romance-story but with some weird twists. This series is a case of having a plot-hook which is more interesting than the actual story.
1st episode: 8/10
2nd episode: 6,5/10
3rd episode: 7/10