Nazo no Kanojo X – 01

One day, a girl named Urabe Mikoto transfers to Tsubaki Akira’s class. She’s a strange girl who’s branded a weirdo her first day for laughing out loud in the middle of a lesson and sleeping through breaks. One day after waking her up to leave, Akira tastes the drool she left on the desk. The next day he gets sick. Mikoto visits him at home and gives him more of her saliva, which cures him. It turns out, he’s lovesick. She continues ‘supplying’ him until he confesses to her and asks her out; she agrees.

Ah, now this is more like it: a romance series we don’t have to make any excuses for. It’s the best of its genre we’ve yet seen this Spring season. There always seems to be a series we hadn’t originally planned to watch, but give a shot anyway – that’s how we came upon Penguindrum, and it’s how we ran into this. Just an innocent taste of the proverbial drool on the desk. And we found it sweet. So what makes it good? Well, beyond all the glistening saliva, it’s a beautifully presented, sincere, unpretentious story. Efficient too: not a line of dialogue is wasted. The retro character design is also pretty sweet.

The chemistry between Akira and Mikoto is effortless and watching them interact is sheer joy. They’re the only two characters in this episode; everyone else is in the background (which makes sense, since they only have eyes for one another). The quirky but warm Mikoto (very well-voiced by rookie Yoshitani Ayako) is so lovably weird, you have to root for Akira to try to win her, and he does – in the first episode, without any silly games. Hell, we were half-expecting him to offer her his own finger drenched in spit, but a torn-up photo of an old crush suffices. If this all sounds very odd…it is. But it’s good odd. Like Akira, it will have to continue to prove itself, but it’s off to a fine start.

Rating: 9 (Superior)