Hey guys, Josh here! You know, there comes a time in every anime fan’s life when he or she watches a show and wonders, “Why in the name of all that is good and holy am I watching this, and why in the name of all that is good and holy am I enjoying it?” The following is one of those shows. This anime has such a bizarre premise, made even stranger considering the time that we’re living in right now, but there’s just something so special about it, so intriguing, that one can’ t help but be drawn to it if you can get past what lies on the surface…the sticky, slimy, warm, gooey surface. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy, boys and girls, cause this is my review of Nazo no Kanojo X otherwise known as Mysterious Girlfriend X.
Before we get started, I should let you guys know that Mysterious Girlfriend X is rated TV-MA, and honestly, I’m gonna have to agree with it. This show does feature its share of fanservice and some nudity in the female form on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases, but it should be noted that everything is appropriately blacked or whited out if you’re watching on Crunchyroll. Other than that, this series is pretty clean: No religion, language or violence flags here.
Based of the manga of the same name created by Riichi Ueshiba, Mysterious Girlfriend X is a thirteen-episode anime series that follows the ups and downs of a new relationship between our main characters Akira Tsubaki and new class transfer student (because, in anime, there are ALWAYS transfer students) Mikoto Urabe. What sets this anime apart from your typical romcom is the origins and basis of this particular relationship. You see, Mikoto is a…unique girl, bless her heart; she doesn’t socialize with others, she’s really quiet in class (until she busts out in laughter in the middle of lessons), and she tends to fall asleep at her desk during lunch instead of eating. One day, after school, Akira sees Mikoto fast asleep and wakes her up. When she leaves, he notices a puddle of drool left on her desk. So, he naturally does what any sane person does in this situation; he drags his finger through the saliva puddle and tastes it…because why the heck not?
A few days later during PE, Akira passes out and is sent home for a couple days. When the teacher explains his symptoms, Mikoto decides to go to the Tsubaki household under the pretense of schoolwork, and gets Akira to admit that he did, in fact, taste her drool. Mikoto takes this in stride and tells him that, because Akira sampled her saliva, and because he has strong feelings towards her, they now have a “drool bond,” and he became lovesick after going days without tasting her drool again. To prove this, she gives Akira a bit of drool on her finger, and upon tasting it, he immediately feels better. Makoto then advises him that in order to keep from getting sick, he must taste her drool every day. Akira is puzzled, but agrees, and the two carry on the saliva swap ritual after school in secret before going their separate ways home. After a couple weeks of this, Akira realize that he has fallen in love with Mikoto, and he asks her to be his girlfriend. After proving himself to her with a grand display of commitment (destroying a picture of his former crush that he kept in his wallet because of course…), Mikoto agrees, and the two begin their…mysterious relationship.
So, let me get this out the way first and foremost: The drool bond is disgusting. It was disgusting back when this anime first came out, and it’s even more disgusting now in this time of ‘Rona that we find ourselves in. I mean, the fact that Akira decides to just taste the leftover saliva of this girl that he does NOT know just for giggles is five thousand levels of cringe. That being said, in terms of a premise for a romantic anime, it’s the most unique one I’ve seen in a while. Yes, this show is made for a certain…fetishism out there, and hey, I don’t judge—whatever floats your boat. However, I have to admit, the way in which the drool is used, to relay thoughts, feelings, emotions, even some physical afflictions, is interesting and does add a special element to this anime. There are a lot of mysteries, for lack of a better term, that keeps things so interesting. I love the fact that we are not given a whole lot of answers to our questions about Mikoto, like why her parents are never home, or how her drool relays her feelings to others and vice-versa, and perhaps the most interesting of all—why is it that she doesn’t allow anyone, even Akira, to hold hands, hug or kiss her, for fear of rebuke in the form of her Panty Scissor attack.
No, I’m not kidding. Anytime Akira decides to take the initiative and hugs Makoto without permission, or she gets particularly upset, baby girl brandishes a pair of scissors she keeps in her underwear waistband and attacks with the precision and accuracy that would make a samurai jealous. Now, typically I would question the need for a girl to carry a pair of sharp scissors in such a sensitive place, but considering the times we’re living in, I think the need can be justified. Also, this really puts Makoto in control of the relationship, a rarity in romcom anime. Typically, males tend to advance the relationship in certain ways (first kisses, first hand hold, using the first name, stuff like that…), but in this one, Mikoto is in control, not letting anything happen that she doesn’t WANT to happen. If she says she doesn’t want to hold hands, then you’re not holding hands, and if you try to press the issue, you might end up with one less hand. It’s a refreshing take.
From a production standpoint, Mysterious Girlfriend X is a very solid series. The animation looks great, especially the dream sequences portrayed periodically throughout. The character designs are pretty unique as well, with one character in particular reminding me of a certain other short-stacked anime character that recently caused prodigious controversy. The soundtrack is also really good, with the OP “Orchestra of Love” by Ayako Yoshitani leading us in with sweet vocals over a cute title sequence, and “Afterschool Promise,” also by Ayako Yoshitani, leading us out with pictures of our female cast fast asleep in various positions and drooling. Yeah, it’s strictly for fanservice, but hey, it works considering what the show is all about.
The show was dubbed in English by Sentai Filmworks with Christopher Ayres at the helm as ADR Director. The cast is very solid with Genevive Simmons as Mikoto; Josh Grelle as Akira; Brittney Karbowski as Oka, Mikoto’s first real friend; Greg Ayres as Kohei Ueno, Akira’s friend; Carli Mosier as Akira’s sister Yoko; and Cynthia Martinez as Akira’s first love, Aika Hayakawa. The only thing I had a problem with regarding this dub was that the use of Japanese honorifics (“san”, “kun”, etc…) sounds a little unnatural. Yes, I know that the use of honorifics naturally sounds weird to us Americans, but there are other dubs out there that use the honorifics and it flows really nicely. Sadly, it just doesn’t sound quite right here. It’s not really off-putting for me, but your mileage may vary. That aside, director Ayres and the crew at Sentai have given us yet another prodigious production, giving it a true spit and polish shine. Yes, I went there. Why? Because I could. Also, I have to chastise Sentai Filmworks for their release of the Blu-Ray. On the back, they list “Special Features”…like the clean OP & ED along with Japanese Promos and trailers for other Sentai works. Umm…what exactly is “Special” about this, guys? You can get all of this from YouTube with a search. No commentary tracks? Really? Come on.
So, with all that being said, what are we left with…aside from multiple cringes? Well, Mysterious Girlfriend X is a study in love through patience for both the characters and the viewer. Once you get past the drool aspect of the show, you will find an interesting take on the classic romcom anime that makes us think about the bonds we form with those we love. The characters are fascinating to watch, the animation and music music are nicely done, and the acting is spot on in both languages. If you’re looking for a unique love story with heart, and if you were able to make it through this entire review, pictures and all, without cringing more than 10 times or going through a bottle of hand sanitizer, then this is a show for you.