Nazo no Kanojo X

Title:Nazo no Kanojo X
Mysterious Girlfriend X (English manga title)
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Notables: IRINO Miyu
Original Concept - UESHIBA RIICHI
R1 License - Sentai Filmworks (ADV)
When Tsubaki Akira observes the anti-social transfer student Urabe Mikoto drooling on her desk while she is sleeping at school, he cannot resist trying the drool which tastes "sweet". Shortly afterwards he falls ill, and after he missed several days at school, Urabe visits him at home, tells him straight in the face that he must have tasted her drool and suffer from withdrawal syndrome as he apparently has fallen in love with her. And indeed, when Urabe offers him to lick her finger covered with her drool he recovers immediately; both make this their daily routine from now on. And Tsubaki learns that via drool Urabe can transfer her emotions to him and vice versa, to the point that she knows whether he is telling her the truth.
When Tsubaki-kun finally asks Urabe to date him she is overjoyed as she has heard a voice in the middle of class at school telling her that Tsubaki will become her first sex partner. But Urabe demands their relation to remain a secret - and no kissing, hugging, not even holding hands as their bond via drool is everything that counts for her. And being exceptionally skilled in using the scissors she always carries in her panties she can add authority to her demand. Poor Tsubaki, dreaming of doing all the things normal couples do...

[TV series, 2012, 13 episodes; based on selected and rearranged chapters of the first 5 volumes of an ongoing manga with 9+ volumes and 74+ chapters since 2006; see also: Nazo no Kanojo X: Nazo no Natsu Matsuri]
謎 (nazo) = riddle, puzzle, enigma
0:30min Series Promo - YouTube Video
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 7 7 7 8 9 Ggultra2764 [series:2203#1552]
Different is a bit of an understatement describing Mysterious Girlfriend X with how the series goes about as a romantic comedy. While its saliva premise would have you think this is some sort of fetish anime, it actually serves to provide symbolism focused on the developments of Akira and Urabe's developing relationship with a strong focus on communication and emotional connection to allow their bond to strengthen. The premise won't be for everyone considering the involvement of bodily fluids and focus on aspects of teenage sexuality in a relationship, but it doesn't get to a gross-out extreme and only serves as the major components that make Akira and Urabe's relationship engaging to see throughout the title's run as they better understand one another and deal with their personal desires in their relationship.

What also allows the series to work well is Urabe's character. Her appearance and personality quirks make her stick out quite prominently from the typical beautiful/ attractive gals you can find in romance titles and she takes the lead in her relationship with Akira. While understanding and open to the thoughts and actions of her boyfriend, she does set limits to how far she is willing to go in terms of physical intimacy, a refreshing trait compared to many recent rom-coms which feature female characters who are far too willing to let their boyfriends have their way with them. Only issue that I have is that you don't get to know much about her character beyond her personality, as we don't know much about her family or how she came to acquire her unique abilities with her saliva.

Outside of Urabe, Akira does get enough fleshing out to his character where you can genuinely believe that he cares for Urabe, has the typical hormonal desires that a teen his age would have and being put in situations that test his commitment to Urabe and her feelings in later episodes.

Overall, Mysterious Girlfriend X makes for a strange, yet unique, romance title symbolically focused on the emotional understanding of a relationship that develops between Akira and Urabe. The saliva element to the series may turn off some, but the premise is a refreshing one that avoids many of the typical cliches and pitfalls that come up in many modern romance anime titles.

Last updated Thursday, July 18 2013. Created Thursday, July 18 2013.
Rent chibi [series:2203#2380]
I've been following MGX manga for a couple of years now and was glad to see an anime version come out. But I have to admit that it doesn't translate as well to anime as I'd hoped, the sights and sounds associated with Tsubaki's "daily dose" were somewhat shocking even though I knew what was coming. The strange but warm relationship between the couple comes through, however, as Tsubaki and Urabe build their trust in each other, yet never quite get to first name or hand-holding stage. If you enjoy the anime I recommend you go read the manga, 13 episodes just scratches the surface.

Last updated Sunday, September 23 2012. Created Sunday, September 23 2012.
Buy Stretch [series:2203#628]
(Buy- or Rent+)

(All episodes watched--twice):

This was a show which left me with lots of questions after episode one. Why did Tsubaki think he ought to taste a stranger's drool? How did Mikoto know he had done so? Is this going to be a fanciful show, in which the saliva/love formula is left unexplained as a metaphor (like, was it really 'sweet', like sugar, or just 'pleasurable'?)? Or will this show attempt to offer some sort of plausible explanation (and what could that possibly be?)? Where could such a strange story go from here? So, I was left more bewildered than intrigued; but I must watch some more in order to get a grip on what's really going on. Mikoto seems a likeable character, since she is not outright crazy or anti-social, just zoned out and in her own little world most of the time. Otherwise, about the only thought that sprang to mind during episode one was that the character designs looked like something from a couple of decades ago, somehow.

In episode two I had an idea what to expect and rather than asking questions could enjoy the weirdness. No explanations presented themselves, but the show was entertaining anyway. Mikoto's behavior was amusing; the things she will and will not do with her boyfriend send mixed signals. But the sum total really does seem kind of sweet and touching. The show seemed to settle into a comfortable routine: strange things happen, but for the most part not impossible things, and Mikoto's behavior is good for a laugh. Tsubaki's quest to make sense of his mysterious girlfriend (and keep her secret from his friends) is interesting. I, too, want to know the answers behind her. This story may never be plausible, but it seems like fun. Sometimes odd behavior is a breath of fresh air. In order to be convincing, like Mikoto is, a character that's extremely unconventional has to not just do strange things but also have an original personality. It makes you wonder what makes them tick and why they think and act the way that they do. On the one hand there's inexplicable, 'magical' stuff going on here, like Mikoto's test of whether another guy would be a loyal boyfriend; on the other she clearly has feelings, and in a way the manner in which she acts makes her far more realistic and believable than the vast majority of 'normal' people who we meet in anime.

This show just has more to it than most. A pleasantly wacky character who just does and says strange things would be one thing, and, if done well, would be enough to carry a series to success. But, for better or worse, Nazo X goes even farther and the inexplicable, miracle-like things that happen here are something else. I just wish I understood this second aspect better, especially after the new character, Oka, appears and gets involved in it. The show seems to be going somewhere, I just don't know where that is. I might mention that I like both the OP and ED songs. Episode five, which involved a trip to the beach for Mikoto and Tsubaki, seemed to take a break from the main plot and have a different tone; a simple, whimsical one. Nothing radical happens, but we have gotten to know the two well enough that we can just enjoy them enjoying themselves. Episode six gets back on the track of developing Mikoto and Akira's romance, though it is moving at a crawl. Pretty much an entire episode is used to set up one meaningful and revealing comment by Mikoto. I'm not bored, this was worthwhile, but I wouldn't mind if things sped up a little.

If I were to describe this show to a newcomer who was curious about it, I guess I would say that it's about the romance between a pretty average guy and a strange girl who has mystic-like abilities to send and recieve emotions in unlikely ways. She can sort of read your mind by tasting your saliva. Maybe 99.999% of us simply aren't capable of this because we lack the necessary wisdom (or whatever) but something as innocuous as drool really does contain accurate indicators of emotions--that's my reasoning in order to suspend disbelief. It's unclear to what extent her abilities are supposed to be taken seriously. Mikoto doesn't seem to be a prophet or anything, just an odd girl with bizarre capabilities. But she's definitely not an airhead either. It makes me feel good to see her smile as she slowly opens up.

I still don't know how to describe this show, but it was without doubt the best series of the Spring 2012 season. It struck me as a romance which was both strange and pleasantly wholesome and uplifting.

Last updated Tuesday, August 03 2021. Created Saturday, April 14 2012.
Buy 7 8 8 8 9 10 Devil Doll [series:2203#752]
[Score: 83% = minimum "Buy-"; other recommended non-fantasy teen romances: Suzuka, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijoo]
A shy slice-of-life romance with many symbolic elements and weird fetishes, speeding up during the second half of the series, and certainly an interesting experience - once you get over the drool issue, that is. As in Tsubaki's dream this whole show is a slow dance with small steps forwards, so don't expect a lot of development but prepare for an exciting ride during the last third of the season.
This mysterious romantic comedy is so very different from the myriads of boobs-in-your-face shows that I am flabbergasted. Right when I thought there were no new stories to be told in anime, I found one. Ultimately, this is about communication, not unlike Shin Seiki Evangelion, and as such I'm the target group.
The story did have a chance to become a complete fail: The saliva issue aside (and the ending of episode 1 was not for the faint of heart), my biggest worry for the storyline was that it might use supernatural elements to provide a detailed explanation for Urabe's astounding abilities, thus following a path we had too many times in anime already, sacrificing all credibility at the altar of Fantasy. Knowing most of the manga now, fortunately this isn't going to happen.

The way this series combines assorted manga chapters (from different volumes even) and creates consistent episodes from these, eliminating some repetitive elements and occasionally even putting a story to a more plausible position within the time line, makes this anime an improvement over the already interesting manga (skipping only a few stories of minor importance).
Then again, the presentation of the drool scenes with both visual and aural elements make them harder to endure than in the manga which may put off a part of the audience. This core subject of licking a girl's drool is certainly not a tasteful one, and even more so as it isn't just a one-time event but becomes the groundwork of the bond between the two leads; it is far from being in KissXSis (TV) territory though. It may work best for the audience to take both key elements (drool and scissors) metaphorically (for strong mutual empathy and haphephobia), and focus on the character relations instead.

What made me commit to this series (and read 9 manga volumes during the first weeks of this show) is Urabe, the lead girl. Mysterious as she is, she's an interesting character with a powerful voice, anything but a damsel in distress, instead she's the one setting the pace of the story with ever new surprising actions. Her seiyuu YOSHITANI Ayako has her first appearance in anime (but has been a TV actress since elementary school), and she gives a lot of life to this girl. Her boyfriend Tsubaki-kun may be one of those clueless males at first but he's sincere about his feelings, bears with Urabe's eccentric behavior and learns his lessons the hard way during the later episodes of this series.

The childish character design reminds me of Aa! Megami-sama! OVA (that being a 19 years old release), making it difficult to take the characters serious, as they're supposed to be high-schoolers at the age of 17. I also dislike the jazzy ED song but got gradually used to the OP. On the other hand, the drama development gets an almost perfect selection of manga chapters including a beautiful yet anime-like ending. In the end, there's enough substance to make up for the technical elements, and thus the show conquered a top ranking within my anime romance list.
  • Episode 1: (0) (manga chapter 00) Many elements that I don't really like, most notably Urabe's drool production near the end of this episode. Then again, she's a quirky and mysterious girl, and I want to see more of her.
  • Episode 2: (0+) (manga chapter 01) And what a whirlwind she can be! We still don't know a lot about this girl but her secret ability can be considered as special as her way of handling her relation with her boyfriend. She's aware of his thoughts and wishes (in a most peculiar way, dare we say), and she's even playing daring games at times (while at the same time rejecting even his attempt of holding hands). What I like about this episode is that this drool thingy turned out to be way more than a mere fetish for these two people, unlike in several Amagami SS arcs.
  • Episode 3: (+) (manga chapters 03+04) This gets more exciting with every episode. So far the creators are doing one thing very right: Not telling you the rules of this mysterious mechanism in detail but giving you enough information for educated guesses, such as how Urabe might deal with her new admirer. Urabe keeps Tsubaki-kun at a certain distance yet is aware of his needs and allows their relation to grow in crucial situations. As such, this was the best episode so far, with small but significant progress on several fronts at once, visibly shown in the final scene of this episode.
  • Episode 4: (0) (manga chapters 07+08) A new player in the game, and we learn more about what Urabe's drool is capable of. Somehow I'm less excited about this episode as it took the focus away from the complicated romance and dealt with the mystery instead. I'm also not sure whether it is a good idea of Urabe to tell this new "insider" so much while at the same moment rejecting the friendship offer.
  • Episode 5: (0-) (manga chapters 05+14+16) The bikini, pool & beach episode. Progress is incredibly slow; ratings lowered for Characters and Episode Story. But more importantly, the beach episode wasted air time for more development of the friendship between Urabe and Oka that happened in the manga already, and we'll need that for the next episode.
  • Episode 6: (+) (manga chapters 15+02) Oka's interference in the first half was nice despite the missing backstory for it. Using manga chapter 02 at this later stage in the series is a great improvement as Urabe's reaction is more plausible now, and thankfully was presented in the audio-only variant this time. This show lives on the incremental progress of the couple's relation, and the manga has enough of these small steps in store for episodes to come.
  • Episode 7: (0+) (manga chapters 10+17) Two less remarkable stories were skillfully interwoven to a decent episode. Today's message is that Urabe is willing to do something for her relationship. Unfortunately for Tsubaki this doesn't include hugging or kissing (yet).
  • Episode 8: (++) (manga chapters 06+20+21+22) Now this was a lot faster than before, with four manga chapters being more or less covered this time. Skipping the simple elements of a relation and starting with the more daring ones can be a challenge though, and Tsubaki's emotions got the better part of him today. But the touching ending made this episode a highlight, as expected. Ratings for "Story" upgraded, overall score now borderline Buy/Rent.
  • Episode 9: (+) (manga chapters 23+24) A weird couple in weird colors of the evening sunset. Two short stories showing how much both leads mean to each other already, with Oka playing an important role in both parts. The second half of this season covers the best parts of the manga without gap, and this one was just the quiet before the storm.
  • Episode 10: (0) (manga chapters 28-30) Now we know what Hayakawa's photograph was necessary for. Tsubaki is performing abysmal this time (fooled by this little bitch but still), and the narration speed was extremely high (the manga explains some steps in more detail). The climax of the show is getting near.
  • Episode 11: (++) (manga chapters 31-34) What a hoot! Oka is right on target: What did they think they were doing? Nevertheless, with this escalation of events, probably the most exciting confrontation since School Days (TV) and Toradora!. And not even heavily censored. Four manga chapters was a bit much for one episode but it worked well.
  • Episode 12: (++) (manga chapters 35+36+36,5+09) My favorite manga chapters in a wonderfully enhanced animated version, adding both the dream and Suwano's cameo to the original story. Upgrading Episode Story to maximum and my overall rating to "Buy-"; the episode script writer found the best possible solution for this season...
  • Episode 13: (+) (manga chapters 19+12) ...which includes choosing the perfect ending for this season, again with some nice modifications of the manga material.
With more than 70 manga chapters available as of early 2013 there would now be enough story for a second season; unfortunately it would focus mostly on two new characters (one of them being Suwano) instead of the couple's progress, and as such not match the first season's quality.

Last updated Friday, July 19 2013. Created Tuesday, April 10 2012.

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