12 Days of Anime – Mysterious Girlfriend X

Mysterious Girlfriend X, for me, contains the best scene (and arguably the best episode) of the year. Anime Romances almost never tend to focus on the relationship part and this is why MGX is so different and fresh. It focuses on the actual relationship itself. It also doesn’t focus on “Romance Plots” that stuff like Sukitte Ii Na yo falls trap to (the whole I’ll steal your boyfriend and all that crap) but rather it focuses on a select few characters which is really really rare for an anime. The only other anime that I’ve seen that managed to do this type of romance well is Bokura Ga Ita.

So anyway focusing on this certain scene. For ten to eleven episodes, the series has shown Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship and how much it has blossomed into. Still though, it still hasn’t quite gotten intimate as I hope it would be (well of course if you exclude all of the kinky and drool parts (which you shouldn’t)) and the two characters haven’t even hugged each other. This episode changed that.

That hug. That sweet little scene. Somehow, everything from the first episode until then started gushing back to me. It reminded me how far these two characters have gone in their relationship. It reminded me how amazing this series is.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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Mysterious Girlfriend X (END) – 94 points

I’ve proclaimed many times about my love for this series for the past 3 months. Rightfully so because of how mysteriously charming this series is. The plot is revolves mostly around Urabe and Tsubaki and their relationship. The drool exchanging (the main selling point of this series; I don’t know if it’s in a good way or a bad way) is very symbolic in their relationship as it also allows an exchange of emotions and feelings.

What’s surprising about this series is that it’s animated by Hoods, that studio dedicated on making outright anime porn disguised as TV Series (Breast Mutilation Anime, Breastfeeding Anime you name it!). I was damn surprised with how well produced this series is. It won’t win best animation or anything, but I really like the color palette they use (which really brings out the retro feel of this series) and the animation on facial expressions. The soundtrack is amazing, probably the best this year, and it really creates a tone that really only fits a series like this.

The layers of development between Urabe and Tsubaki really brought something new to the table. For once it showed us relationships don’t end with confessions and getting together, which is what most anime tend to do. It explored the difficulties of a relationship through the power of drool. The drool really brings out the feelings both characters have for each other. Another thing very noticeable in this series is how both Urabe and Tsubaki actually talk about what they’re feeling. Highschool romance anime rarely does this (the characters are always secretive with their intentions blablabla) so it’s a refreshing take on how to do romance properly.

I think this series really culminated its development in episode 12 wherein Urabe finally let Tsubaki hug her. That was just sweet. Urabe is a damn fine amazing character. She’s presented as this mysterious girl Tsubaki can’t understand half the time yet when you look closely, all her intentions and emotions are actually pretty normal for a girl. In Tsubaki’s eyes she’s some sort of alien yet when the series turns to her POV, it’s almost as if she’s normal. Almost . . .

This is another anime that will go down as a classic for me. I really enjoyed this series and it’s definitely going down as my favourite this year.

Execution: 36/40 (Directing is top notch, lot’s of symbolisms especially when it comes to drool)

Engagement: 30/30 (Pretty much my favourite anime of the season, faults and all)

Characters: 19/20 (13 episodes of pure development between Urabe and Tsubaki and their amazing refreshing relationship)

Production: 9/10 (Manages to create a tone only fitting for an anime like this. Godly Soundtrack)

Overall: 94/100

Anime and haircutting

I’m too prim and proper and nice! I need to cut my hair and ruin my life!

I’ve seen quite a lot of this as of late and it’s really interesting how its used in anime (it’s not really limited to anime but whatever).

Our resident Oujo-sama from Sakamichi no Apollon proves her so called “rebelliousness” by cutting her hair. Why? The most probable answer is it symbolizes a sense of freedom but why exactly so?

When you go to a barber shop and cut your hair (especially if it’s really long already), you realize that there’s this tingling sensation in the back of your neck. It feels nice. It feels refreshing. In a sense, cutting your hair relaxes and relieves you. It sorta soothes you and tells you “hey I’ve changed”. Most anime characters that have done this must have felt that way. Let’s enumerate those characters shall we:

1. The bitchy new girl from Mysterious Girlfriend X who just broke up with her boyfriend

2. Senjougahara Hitagi from Nisemonogatari

3. Araragi Karen from Bakemonogatari

4. Emo angst Natsuki from Tsuritama who FINALLY lightened up a bit.

5. Mio from Ano Natsu de Matteru

All 5 of this characters have been keeping something heavy and wanted to have a new start. They wanted their napes to be tickled. They wanted to be slightly turned on after the recent events in their lives.

*Couldn’t think much on what to write this week so I wrote this garbage. hahahaha

May Roundup

On hold: Space Bros, Dusk Maiden of the Amnesia, Fujitits, Shirokuma Cade

Dropped: Zetman, Accel World, Kuroko no Basuke

LAND OF THE TERRIBAD

nada

FAULTY BUT WATCHABLE

12. AKB0048 7.9

This show is stupider than Aquarion EVOL. Oh god the whole songstress thing. The thing is though. . . I like it. It also has the EVOL aura in which everything is taken seriously to the point where you realize that some parts are purposely dumb. Or just unintentional comedy but meh I like it. Oh god this whole paragraph doesn’t make sense. Kinda like AKB0048.

GOOD

11. (14) Saki Achiga-Hen 8.2

Well it’s never gonna be as good as Saki but I’ve made peace with this series. They finally have mah-jong battles and some parts are pretty interesting. Some build-ups are paying off; some are still working on building up even more. Maybe this spinoff is just some commercial for the original series since when the real main characters appear, they’re really glorified especially Saki herself.

10. (5) Tsuritama 8.4

I like the whole fishing part of Tsuritama. The way this series presents fishing is very educational (sometimes slightly technobabbleish) though I am curious if Enoshima really has that much variety of fish. I also learned from this series that you can actually have artificial coral reefs. Anyway the plot of Tsuritama is picking up but I really don’t like some of the character interactions (or I’m still pissed at Natsuki for slapping his sweet sister). Haru’s slightly annoying too at times.

9. (6) Eureka Seven Ao 8.4

Maybe it’s just me but do all mecha series have great BGMs? Ao’s even better than Rinne no Lagrange’s. That aside, I really have to see the original Eureka Seven (or the six other eurekas). I’m really curious about Ao’s mom.

8. (10) Aquarion EVOL 8.4

AHAHAHHA the whole MIXY plot is stupid but I LOVE IT. Evol’s finally revealing some plot points that I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the series and it’s all coming together. I hope the last stretch really pulls this series together.

SEASON’S MEAT

7. (4) Sankarea 8.6

This month in Sankarea had a lot of cracks, mostly because of content. It’s still great with damn fine execution, particularly in episode 8, but sometimes I do wonder what would happen if Sankarea’s staff got a better source material to work on. Anyways I do wonder how this will close off considering the manga is only up to chapter 26.

6. (7) Jormungand 8.7

It’s still fun, it’s still fresh, it’s still awesome. Anime about BANG BANG BANG is apparently always good. I just watched Black Lagoon recently and while Jormungand’s tone is slightly different, it has that snarky-devlish style that I really like. Also Jormungand’s writing is just flawless.

5. (9) Mouretsu Pirates 8.9

I finally picked this up. The refinement of Mouretsu Pirates is unrivalled. Its concepts and settings are well researched and I just love the way it’s used in this series. Bentenmaru’s tasks aren’t exactly the most pirate-ish (attacking luxury liners, saving princesses, guarding high school competitions) but the way it’s done is just brilliant. There’s also some form of mockery to other space operas with 5-6 episodes about High School girls managing Bentenmaru while eating cake and having parties. Moe in my space opera? Impossiburrruu!

4. (3) Fate/Zero 8.9

Kiritsugu’s backstory is very Kara no Kyoukai-ish. We got a view of the world outside of the Holy Grail War and it was slightly refreshing. It also helped that because of that backstory, the events that happened afterwards really hit hard. Kiritsugu will eat himself up by the end of this series.

3. (9) Hyouka 8.9

I have to admit, this is the series that has me excited watching each week. I don’t know why but it has this aura of perfection. Most KyoAni series have this but not as much as Hyouka does. Maybe this is why KyoAni always aims low. For perfection. Really though, Hyouka’s premise is so simple yet the way it’s executed makes it THAT MUCH BETTER. I mean when you have an episode just about Chitanda asking Houtaro why she got angry and you’re entertained, that’s something.

LEGENDARY

2. (2) Sakamichi no Apollon 9.3

I love how much stuff happens in an episode. It’s compact, concise while not losing the feelings and emotions. The romantic triangles actually go somewhere and the characters (especially Kaoru) go through so much maturity because of it. In any other season this would usually take the top spot but not when I finally found an anime that’s fit for my Top 10.

ALL TIME FAVORITE

1. (1) Mysterious Girlfriend X 9.7

This series is just AMAZING STUFF. Each trope in dating is deconstructed and turned into a way in which Tsubaki and Urabe become much more honest with each other. If drool is the way to make relationships work like this, then please every couple out there, exchange drools with your fingers NOW!

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I’d say last month’s stronger but the good crop did get a lot better this month!

Mysterious Girlfriend X – Regret never really disappears

There’s this saying that to have a life with no regrets, you should live it to the fullest. In my opinion this is a load of bull since you will always regret. Whether you chose option A or option B, somewhere in the back of your head, you would have wished you chose the other option either because you imagined it would have been the better choice or just out of plain curiosity. Besides what does living to the “fullest” even mean? You will never be able to live fully because you can never choose all the options. I think rather than living to the fullest, people should learn satisfaction.

How does one learn satisfaction though?

In my opinion, it’s definitely through honesty. Besides being the best policy, it lets you admit that you do have regrets which is an honest human flaw. Regret never disappears. It can be lessened though through realizing that more regret would come through if you chose the other option. This is what Mysterious Girlfriend X has been repeating as its theme in the past couple of episodes.

Tsubaki and Urabe have an honest relationship. They tell each other how they feel about certain things going around their relationship. For instance, Tsubaki saw his middle school crush and realized that he regretted not to catch up with each other because of Urabe. Because of the couple’s honest relationship though, Tsubaki openly tells this to Urabe but also tells her that he might have regretted it even more if he did go because Urabe might have been sad. This follows up to Urabe also admitting how she would have been really sad if Tsubaki did go with his middle school crush and left her alone that day.

In another episode, Urabe’s athletic talent was recognized and she was asked to join the track team. Urabe didn’t join though because she wanted to go home with Tsubaki everyday. She definitely regretted it but at the same time she would regret it even more if Tsubaki were to go home alone without her. The same with Tsubaki too and how he wants Urabe all to himself yet at the same time wants her to join the track team and be exposed. Tsubaki then told her to join but Urabe realized that both of them would have more regrets if she did join the track team, so in the end she didn’t.

I find this kind of relationship really beautiful. Tsubaki admitted his regrets and was honest to Urabe. In turn, Urabe admitted her regrets too. Their relationship improved even more because of Tsubaki’s honesty in realizing his regrets and him reaching satisfaction with Urabe. I’ve never seen a high school couple in anime reach this kind of approach to relationships before (usually stuff like this happens in more mature fluff like Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover)

I swear MGX is genius stuff.

Spring 2012 Impressions + Early April Roundup

Lumped it in together because I’m not gonna repeat the same shit again next week.

Hold: Mouretsu Pirates

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LAND OF THE TERRIBAD

nada for now

FAULTY BUT WATCHABLE

18. Zetman 7.7

American stylized anime never works but I thought Zetman could pull it off. It didn’t and to make it worse, it proceeded with a very fast pace leaving you with, “what the hell did I just watch?”. Yeah Zetman’s pretty bad but it’s still slightly watchable.

17. Dusk Maiden of the Amnesia 7.7

I like the directional quirk of the first episode and I saw a little bit of Natsu no Arashi in it which is a good thing. Second episode killed the shit off my brains as it proceeded to terrible character interactions and very been-there-done-that fanservice. No, accidentally groping someone’s breast just doesn’t cut it in 2012 anymore. You need to be more creative than that (and that’s coming from SILVER LINK which is supposed to be creative). I’ll give it a few more episodes but seriously, episode 2 was horrendous.

16. Medaka Box 7.9

I’m leaving this while I still can. I remember the manga becoming way too conflicted and having too many “powers” after a while. Still these episodes I watched were pretty good.

GOOD

15. Accel World 8.0

Imaginative setting combined with too much technobabble and terrible main leads. Index anyone? Accel World does too much telling for its own good and it’s gonna hurt later on. Having a fat shoe as a main character makes it even worse. But hey at least he’s FAT. We’ve always wanted those useless main leads to be fat and ugly, well at least Accel World has a nerve to make him FAT.

14. Saki – Episode of Side A 8.0

The episode side A spin off misses a lot of points that makes Saki work. You do not just breeze through the mahjong part and keep building off. What is Saki without mahjong? Why are you building up so much yet fail to what you build up the episode prior? I’d really like to address more on what makes this spinoff “off putting” so maybe I should make a post about that.

Still building up IS still build up and it’s hard to shrug off the excitement even though you know it’s not going to deliver.

13. Kuroko’s Basketball 8.2

This is incredibly embarrassing to watch. Too much cheesy lines, too many weird techniques, and a sense of realism in the game is totally gone. At the same time though, this is incredibly fun to watch. Characters keep on thinking about techniques and how they’ll shoot and its incredibly stupid and laughable but at the same time incredibly fun. If there’s a plus though, Taiga and Kuroko play off each other very well (if you say no homo then part of this show’s appeal will weirdly be gone).

12. Lupin III: Mine Fujiko Onna 8.3

Truth be told, I’ve put this on hold. Recently I’ve been watching an anime called Hakaba Kitaro. It’s a different take on Gegege Kitarou, a popular Japanese franchise, and it aired on noitaminA a few years back. It sorta reminds me of this Lupin III. A different feel from the original, a different style, very artistic. The thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to marathon Hakaba Kitarou. I can’t chug it down. I want to appreciate the different visual styles it uses (or the different shit filters) and I really can’t just put a date on when I’ll watch it. Same goes for Mine Fujiko. I want to appreciate the different details in its styles much MUCH more slowly. I don’t want to put a date on it.

Besides the unique style though, Mine Fujiko is just your normal detective/thief story. The series is nothing special besides the amazing production values.

11. Shirokuma Cafe 8.3

It’s a hit or miss kind of series but when it hits, it really hits. I also love the laid back style of the jokes. It fits perfectly to Panda’s personality.

SEASON’S MEAT

(2) 10. Aquarion EVOL 8.5

Aquarion has been proceeding in fluctuating quality. There’s really boring, repetitive, scenes then suddenly they follow it up with amazingly weird ones like that Super Dimensional Punch back to the Original Aquarion scene after Zessica shouted “chuuki” in which everyone reacted in really funny ways. I love EVOL but stop fucking boring me from one scene then amazing me on another!

9. Hyouka 8.5

I hold off giving an impression from Spring because I was waiting for this show. I was relatively hyped up for this since I generally like most things KyoAni pop up. Plus I got a real treat last year when they tried something pretty different from what they do with Nichijou and its absurdist ways. Unfortunately Hyouka isn’t really trying much to set itself apart from its genre. It felt like a more subdued, realistic version of Haruhi . . . which isn’t all that bad.

Major complaint goes to characterization of the male lead. Stop repeating that he’s “low energy” we already got it when you first mentioned it! In fact you didn’t even have to mention it in the first place! The scriptwriting concentrates heavily on narrative which gives a few scenes WAY TOO MUCH BABBLE. Still that won’t be a bad thing anymore once they start tacking the mysteries.

The animation though is something you can never diss with KyoAni. This looks fucking amazing. It’s like the disappearance movie animation except its 21 episodes. Realistic fluidity + detailed backgrounds + detailed everything + a slight touch of artistry really equals the best animation this season. You can hate on KyoAni all you want, but I’d gladly defend them when it comes to their animation.

8. Space Bros. 8.6

Space Bros. is very inspiring. They continue showing off Mutta and his battle to finally get back on track in his life and follow what he has always wanted to do which is becoming an astronaut. The sense of realism like sibling love and being the older one is really played well here.

7. Jormungand 8.7

I really haven’t watch that much war dramas but from the little that I did (Phantom), I absolutely loved. Jormungand is completely different from Phantom though, and I love the stylish, sexy and fun way of delivering its plot. Koko is fucking loco. Her personality is indefinable (kinda like Johan from Monster). You just know something weird is gonna happen once she puts on an evil smile.

6. Eureka Seven AO 8.8

I really need to watch Eureka Seven. It’s one of those anime you absolutely need to watch because it’s apparently a definition of what anime is. I kinda got a glimpse of it here on AO and if there’s anything I can say, it would be that I’m really excited for this. If they do it correctly, AO could reach heights that I have not seen in a mecha anime before. Also the animation is glorious. 2D mecha done like this really is the way to go.

5. Tsuritama 8.8

The level of creativity in its animation is amazing in itself. Kenji Nakamura is a genius. Sure [C] was a bit of a fail at times but its premise is really great and its unique take on economics surprised me. Tsuritama is far from what C is though. It’s more close to Kimi to Boku except it isn’t boring. There’s aliens, ducks, mind controlling water guns. Plus there’s great characterization and they actually feel like actual teenage boys (Kimi to Boku’s boys felt like those genderbent characters fans like to make).

4. Sanakarea 8.8

One of the two big surprises this season, Sankarea’s first three episodes were really solid. Nice exposition, clever directing, incredible visuals . . . it’s a complete package for an introduction! Really though, hat’s off to the directing. This wouldn’t be nearly as good if the directing wasn’t top notch.

The only thing detracting it now is some fans.

3. Sakamichi no Apollon 8.9

Really, really solid first two episodes. It delivered on what I expected (and I expected a lot) and even gave a bonus on amazing instrument playing scenes. Seriously, ANIME ISN’T SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!

If I did have a complaint, it would be the OP. This was the anime comeback of YUKI for me and it presented itself too. . . healing. I did read that Yoko Kanno composed it so maybe it’s her fault. I really just wanted to hear that girl who sang on Honey and Clover. Heh.

LEGENDARY

2. Fate/Zero 9.1

Amazing comeback. First they topped Ionian Heratoi with Saber’s Excalibur as the most visually stunning Noble Phantasm yet. Then they proceeded to question Saber’s morals and what chivalry really is. Is a battlefield better than hell or is it hell in itself?

1. Mysterious Girlfriend X 9.4

This is the second big surprise of the season. I really just can’t put to words on why it’s good. Certainly the directing is top notch (reading a fair bit of the manga myself), also the production quality, especially the music. MGX is really best served experienced. You need to watch it, get past the saliva and be amazed on how big of a throwback this is.

ALL TIME FAVORITE

MGX is really really close. . .

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I’d say this season is really good. It could even beat last spring’s bonanza and I already have one series that I LOVE (MGX). It really started off with a bang, with Space Bros. premiering early, then Fate/Zero, Sankarea, Mysterious Grilfriend X, Jormungand . . . noitminA added 2 more then Ao and then last but not the least, Hyouka. And even then, there’s still good series below the really good ones like Shirokuma Cafe, Lupin III and Kuroko’s Basketball. Heck Accel World and the Saki spinoff ain’t so bad.

If last season everyone’s praising how there’s so much good directing that terrible premises ended up to be good shows, much more so this season. We have Watanabe’s comeback, that doraemon movie director blowing everyone’s hats off with Space Bros and MGX, the Sankarea director who has a false name and apparently worked with SHAFT, FMP director, Kenji Nakamura . . .

It’s a good time to be a anime fan. Everyone should soak this up now while they can since Summer’s looking sorta bleak.

side note: I lost at the first round of the Aniblog Tourney. Oh well Trzr23 is a great blog (and weirdly people have been saying our blogs are identical) and since it beat me, it should proceed to win the entire thing (or else I’ll be shamed!). I actually thought I’d lose badly and people would criticize my blog heavily, but I didn’t (even lead the match for a few hours) and apparently PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE MY BLOG.