Nazo no Kanojo X – 12

Tsubaki can’t get the image of Urabe naked out of his head, to the point where he’s starting to hallucinate. He gives in an grabs her, activating her panty scissor, but she accidentally cuts his head and brings him to her house to treat the wound. Upon testing the scissors on a picture frame, she realizes she’s lost her acccuracy, likely because of a dream she had about Tsubaki. When he trips and changes direction to avoid landing on her, he hits his head again, but Urabe hugs him anyway. The next day, when Tsubaki’s bandage is replaced by another girl, he asks for the one Urabe gave him back. That earns him another hug from Urabe.

And so, Tsubaki has finally worn Urabe down to permitting hugs…under certain circumstances. Or rather than caving, Urabe realized that embracing her lover was something she needed too. She can’t undo the fact that he’s seen her naked and that he is horny, nor can she deny anymore that she is also horny. For all of her scolding and menacing use of panty scissors, the last thing in the world Urabe wants to do is hurt Tsubaki. To the series’ credit, Tsubaki doesn’t just fall on Urabe and cushion his fall with her boob; another example of a creative spin on archetypal rom-com tropes.

The episode is probably  the most animated, clumsy, and outwardly expressive we’ve even seen Urabe, starting with how she reacts to Oka revealing she has a photo of her naked. That incident culminates in Oka trying to duplicate Urabe’s hip-mounted scissor routine, almost to the ruin of Ueno, in a hilarious scene of someone trying to run before she can walk. We also loved the dream sequence, prefaced by a loud march arrangement of the main “circus” theme, and some creepy Urabe dough-dolls she beats out of that gooey rice stuff…in a bunny suit. It’s extremely whimsical, weird, and dream-like…nicely done.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Nazo no Kanojo X – 08

Tsubaki dreams of touching Urabe’s breast, and can’t get the feeling out of his head after waking up. While wandering around of a Sunday, he happens to stop in front of her apartment building, and encounters her returning from the store. She invites him up for tea. A big storm brews, and lightning strikes as Urabe gets up to turn on the lights, startling her. Falling into Tsubaki’s arms, he tells her about his dream, and she lets him touch her breast. He pushes her down and nibbles her ear, then snaps out of it and leaves, ashamed of his behavior.

The next day, at school, after recieivng her very enlightening saliva, Oka advises Urabe that changes in her body are normal during a romantic relationship. After school, Tsubaki apologizes more, and insists on being slapped before getting his saliva for the day. She obliges, but then reveals how she now tears up every time he or she touches her ear, thanks to him, but isn’t mad about it, and actually likes it. She tastes his drool and wears the same bruise she gave him, since she was responsible for letting him touch her breast in the first place.

Tsubaki and Urabe have different ways of expressing sudden moments of intense happiness. Urabe suddenly coughs up a abnormally large amount of saliva, while Tsubaki tries to give her a big affectionate hug. He’s never succeeded, though, thanks to Urabe’s catlike reflexes. She always tells him “not without my permission.” She isn’t ruling out physical contact altogether; she just wants a little bit of warning, is all. When the stars align and Tsubaki ends up alone in Urabe’s room in the dark, in prime position to touch her breast like he did in his dream. But he doesn’t ask permission, and before he knows it, he has scissors at his throat. Urabe is particularly menacing in a form-fitting black turtleneck sweater, which makes her resemble an assassin.

Once Tsubaki calmly and honestly tells her what’s on his mind, she actually allows him to touch her breast. And then something else happens: something comes over Tsubaki and he makes more moves, but even with superior strength and speed and her scissors in reach, she doesn’t stop him, because he makes her feel something “she never felt before”, and learns later from Oka that Tsubaki is changing how her body reacts to things, and he’s changing hers. The episode is a very touching (no pun intended), slightly kinky, and above all an earnest, relatable exploration of the biology and psychology of physcial contact.

With eight straight episodes of quirky, creative, refreshing excellence, we’re ready to elevate Nazo no Kanojo X to our esteemed favorites list.

Rating: 9 (Superior) ~series elevated to favorites ~

Nazo no Kanojo X – 02

Tsubaki seeks advice from his friend Ueno on the first step with a girlfriend. Urabe shoots nearly all of them down, but reveals her hobby of cutting shapes out of paper with scissors she keeps in her panties. Tsubaki gets frustrated by their lack of outward appearance of being a couple, so Urabe takes him to an isolated place, makes him promise to keep his eyes closed as she gives him her saliva from when she’s nude in front of him. He keeps his promise, and the saliva makes his heart pound. When has a dream that night, and doesn’t reveal the details to Urabe, but she learns them by tasting his drool.

This is one of those rare series we find ourselves wishing all we could have all memory of it wiped, just so we can experience the awesomeness all over again. The first episode was the best of the season, but the second took everything to the next level, only further raising our expectations for the future, which at this point we have no doubt will be met or exceeded. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a romance this good and strong and bizarre. It’s just so well done on every level. Tsubaki learns this week that he’s not going to be doing the things boys normally do with their girlfriends. Whatever book he has on relationships, he can throw it out.

It’s not going to go that way with Urabe Mikoto. In many ways, it’s going to be better. We were blown out of the water by the episode’s smart and hilarious step-by-step subversion of high school romantic conventions. Forget hand-holding, movies, and discussing hobbies. Bring on the (really-nicely animated) panty scissors and drool that transmits excitement and reveals dreams…and the compelling, alluring enigma that is Urabe Mikoto. Her manner of  proving she and Tsubaki were lovers was a masterpiece of mood and timing that had chills going down our backs. We want more.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

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)