If there is one word that I’d use to describe the first episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X, it’d be “Different”. It’s different in that it’ll simultaneously draw in one section of the anime-watching community like moths to a drooling flame, and alienate the others completely like they were sentient pieces of paper trying to get away from the aforementioned drooling flame. What it lacks in universal appeal it more than makes up for by outdoing its competition in terms of enthusiasm; even taking Uchuu Kyoudai into consideration, there’s nothing airing this season that’s had quite the same level of zeal when telling its story.
The plot is thus: A regular horny and hormone-driven boy named Akira tastes the weird transfer student’s drool out of curiosity, and becomes dependent on her company in order to get a steady supply of her saliva. As the two spend more time together, he starts falling for her in spite of her antisocial demeanor. What’s more, his feelings are reciprocated, making this one of the easiest to resolve anime romances in a long time; it sure isn’t Toradora, that’s for sure. Or maybe it’s not so easily resolved after all…
It’s a fairly straightforward plot, but one that doesn’t feel like it’s been trodden into the dust beforehand. Its unique atmosphere, coupled with a character that personifies abnormality in the best possible way, creates what can only be described as an experience, one that reminds me of a lucid dream.
In a rarity for the medium, Urabe’s eccentricities come together in a package that’s both cohesive and oddly convincing. The audience isn’t just told “Here’s the transfer student, our protagonist likes her even though she’s weird, now look and see how she’s weird. NOW LAUGH.” It’s refreshing that there’s a character like her that lives and breathes her role, not relying on others to fill out her personality for her. We’re shown her strangeness, not told, and even when some exposition is done it doesn’t change the impact. Though she does have a few lines, Urabe communicates most of what she needs to say through subtle body language, like the occasional head tilt or a simple stare.
When she does speak, it’s surprisingly breathtaking. If there is any seiyuu that will kick up a fuss this season, it’s Ayako Yoshitani as Urabe. She imbues her cold character with a slightly raspy voice that, while seemingly a bit off at first, quickly melds to fit her perfectly due to sparse use and memorable quirks; this is as close to aural nirvana as I’ve ever gotten listening to somebody speak in a long time. Though it may not work for everyone, I now can’t think of anyone better for the role. I mean I had to rewatch her scenes just to bask in it a bit more, so that’s saying a lot. I’m sure there will be better posts about this particular role in the future, so I’ll link as I come across them.
In the end though, what makes Urabe so interesting, even after so little screen time, is how she perfectly personifies the male sentiment when they first approach the fairer sex. Inexperienced men often find women to be intimidating enigmas, creatures never to be figured out that would bite their faces off for all that they know. Urabe doesn’t serve to demystify this, but only to bring the notion to its logical extreme. She’s withdrawn, antisocial, prone to spontaneous laughing fits, and constantly drools. When she does speak, it’s often done concisely and without much warmth. She’s as alien as a person can get, but if there’s any guy (or girl, or whatever) out there that wouldn’t find somebody like her a daunting yet alluring person to pursue, they’re clearly bonkers. I could go on and on, but this has to wrap up sometime and I already cut out 500 fucking words to get it down this much.
By the end of the first episode, Mysterious Girlfriend X has taken me completely by surprise. As long as it mostly sticks to the manga and keeps the mood consistently both uncertain and lighthearted, I can see this becoming a favorite of the season, and even the year. Even more than in the manga, Urabe seems to be someone completely unbound by social mores or even normal human emotions. And indeed this makes her a mysterious person, one that dares the audience to try to figure her out alongside Akira. While I doubt we ever fully will, it’s still a challenge that I’m willing to take, if only to work out what makes her so damn intriguing as a character. Again, Mysterious Girlfriend X definitely isn’t for everybody, but those that succumb to its charms will find a lot to like.