Nazo no Kanojo X – 09

When Urabe comes to school with horrible bed-head, she styles it with hair bands. Everyone at school instantly notices the change, and they like what they see. Tsubaki doesn’t like all the attention she’s getting from the boys, so asks her not to do it. She has him muss up her hair, which feels good. Tsubaki is initially upset that photos of his girlfriend are circulating, but lets it go, fearing he’s being too possessive. The boys start to agree she bares a close resemblance to a pop idol; Tsubaki buys her photo collection to confirm it. Urabe finds out and destroys it.

Possessiveness between lovers in moderation is a normal, harmless thing, but it can be insidious, and before you know it, you’re trying to control every aspect of your lover’s life, because in your mind he/she belongs to you, and vice-versa. Tsubaki actually gets a whiff of this in his own feelings of anger towards his classmates, now that they’ve seen Urabe’s face and even end up buying and selling it as a product. It becomes a choice of whether he wants to put his foot down (which will result in everyone knowing he’s dating her), or keep quiet and “share” her with them through the photos. He rightly decides stopping them isn’t worth it. Not that the school finding out about them would be the end of the world; but he’d end up losing even more of his cherished privacy if he told them; the opposite of what he wants. For her part Urabe prefers having her hair mussed by Tsubaki to being styled by Oka.

But the door of possessiveness swings both ways. Is it harmless for Tsubaki to have a book full of pictures of an idol who happens to look like Urabe? Well, is it harmless for Tsubaki’s classmates to buy candid photos of Urabe? The answer is, neither is harmless to the other. But Urabe had no hand in having pics taken of her, nor does she have pics of a boy who looks like Tsubaki, so she’s pretty justified in destroying the book with her panty scissors (if a bit rash; it cost $38!). We’ll just say also that we’re glad Urabe and Imai Momoka aren’t the same person (i.e., she’s not secretly an idol; the boob sizes seem to rule that out). That sudden bombshell would be out of place in an otherwise subtle and down-to-earth show. On that note, Urabe sleeps in the nude. Of course she does.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

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Nazo no Kanojo X – 07

Track captain Yajima discover’s Urabe’s natural running prowess, and though Urabe refuses to join the track team, she agrees to run with her in a relay on Field Day. She practices during lunch so she can still walk home with Tsubaki. When he gets a cold, she takes advice from Oka and visits him while wearing a bikini, which nearly cures him despite her being covered by a coat. Tsubaki’s cheering her on is the difference in the relay, and she wins. Tsubaki tells her he’d still be happy if she joined the team, but when he tastes her drool when she’s wearing his nametag on her leg, it reveals he’d prefer she didn’t, so she won’t.

With all her panty-scissoring and hug-dodging skills on display almost weekly, it was only a matter of time before the school’s jocks noticed her innate athleticism. That she is almost as fast a a champion runner who’s bigger than her despite not practicing makes that ability all the more mysterious, and mystery is what Urabe is all about. She can’t quite keep all her secrets from her quasi-fiend Oka, though. While Oka is totally fine flaunting around Ueno in her bikini, Urabe is too embarrased to do the same for Tsubaki, but her drool proves just as effective.

The issue of whether she should join the track team doesn’t remain a controversy for wrong, as Urabe is devoted to Tsubaki and will do or not do whatever his feelings indicate. She sees through his attempt to express support for her joining the team; the drool reveals he would indeed not be as happy making compromises for her sake. One would say relationships are full of these comrpomises, but in a way, they already have one in the drool system, which overrides Tsubaki’s more, ahem, direct physical method. In any case, Urabe would prefer to walk home with Tsubaki too. She doesn’t feel like her talent is being wasted, because she doesn’t let those talents to dictate who she is.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Nazo no Kanojo X – 04

As Ueno waxes about the imminent joy of seeing his girlfriend Oka in her summer P.E. uniform, Oka shares her lunch with Urabe. Surprised she’s interacting with another girl, Tsubaki tells her he’s happy, but she maintains she needs no friends as long as she has him. When running in a relay, Urabe scrapes her knee, and Oka takes her to the nurse’s office to bandage it. After they share a drink, Oka’s knee becomes cut. Urabe confirms it by cutting her palm; her drool transferred the wounds to Oka, who knows about her and Tsubaki. Urabe declines the offer of friendship, but Oka still wants to get along. The next day she gives Urabe her drool, and learns Urabe and Tsubaki have not yet kissed.

We’re fans of economical casts; series that belt out dozens of people to keep track of can be overwhelming. Which is why we’re glad Nazo no Kanojo X is focusing on a relatively small cast. This week formally introduces Oka, who is immediately a more interesting and dynamic character than her boyfriend Ueno, who’s your pretty standard horny school chum hanging on Tsubaki’s shoulder. Like Tsubaki, and the other guy last week (we already forgot his name), Oka is simply fascinated by Urabe, and wants to be her friend; after having seen her and Tsubaki together, and knowing approaching Tsubaki would be “troublesome”.

Urabe’s refrain is “I don’t need friends”, but after what happens in P.E., perhaps a better way to phrase it is “it’s best if I don’t have too many friends,” after Oka gets her wounds. Being friends means sometimes sharing feelings and sometimes pain; in this case, literal physical ailments – which is a crazy supernatural power that the series presents in a surprisingly low-key manner. Both Urabe and Oka (and Tsubaki for that matter) simply accept that this is how drool works. What surprised us most of all was Oka using a drool test to determine how far Urabe’s gotten with Tsubaki, proving that Urabe isn’t the only one who can administer such a test.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Nazo no Kanojo X – 03

When Tsubaki walks in on his friend Ueno kissing his previously-secret girlfriend Oka, the subject comes up with Urabe, and she gives him specially prepared saliva to take before bed. That night, Tsubaki dreams of Urabe kissing him by surprise, and the next day he tells her their first kiss shouldn’t happen until they’re emotionally connected, echoing the “dream” him; Urabe is pleased and agrees.

Classmate Ogata asks Urabe out one day, and Urabe makes him wait a day for her decision, which irks Tsubaki. The next day, Urabe goes commando, making her saliva especially intense. It has no effect on Ogata, and she rejects him. When performing the same test on Tsubaki, his nose bleeds on cue, proving the strength of their emotional connection.

Another excellent, moving, hilarious, seductive, very odd episode of what is officially our favorite series of the Spring so far. Tsubaki is catching on that where his mysterious girlfriend is concerned, nothing is going to be done the normal or expected way. He’s understandably jealous when he sees his friend kissing a girl, but rather than refuse, Urabe gives him some special dream-spit that helps him come around to her way of thinking. Is her power to affect his dreams supernatural, or merely a placebo effect brought on by Tsubaki’s affections for her? Like so many things about her, it remains a mystery, which we like.

Tsubaki gets even more jealous when a classmate Ogata – a popular, athletic, handsome guy – asks out Urabe. Up until now no one else has uttered a word to Urabe, so it’s understandable Tsubaki is possessive. That, and since it’s not obvious or apparent that they’re a couple when in class. Urabe’s test for both Ogata and Tsubaki is another masterpiece of effective fanservice done right, and the fact that it just happened to be a windy day when Urabe decided to go commando was a little karmic justice for giving Tsubaki a sleepless night.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Tokyo Trip Journal 6

9 June, Heisei 22 (Wed)

I’m a sucker for landmarks, which is why I went to Asakusa on this slightly rainy Wednesday. Asakusa has some awesome-looking old-fashioned Japanese architecture, along with a couple of honkin’ huge red lanterns that mark the portals to a bazaar-market type thing. Were it not for all the schoolgirl sailor suits and other tourists (both Asian and Western) the place would be a dead ringer for a Samurai Champloo setting.

Moving along, I took the Ginza line to Ueno, then the silver Hibiya line to Akibahara (Akiba), which was once know for being a center for electronics, but has become a haven for otaku, or lovers of the anime/manga/video game culture. I didn’t want to miss seeing such a massive concentration of a specific culutral phenomenon unique to Japan. Even the vending machines, numerous here as well, contained “dinner in a can” for those who were too busy gaming, gambling, or gawking at the maids or whatever obsessive activity to sit down to a proper meal. I saw a lot of posters and flyers advertising the imminent video release for many anime I’m currently watching, which strangely enough was a nice connection to home.

For lunch, I headed to a familiar place, another McDonalds. This one had an eating area in the basement as well as one floor above ground level; I went up. What is amazing about fast food in Japan is that while it is incedibly fast, it still manages to be neat and tidy, exactly how it looks in the pictures, not like someone sat on it. It’s perhaps a little thing, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I didn’t buy that canned soup, though because I was scared of it.

Done with Akiba, I backtracked to Ueno. Ueno is characterized (by me) as being dominated by a huge park. Containing gardens, a zoo, and several museums. Unfortunately the Metropolitan Museum of Art was closed for repairs, but the Japanese National Museum was opened, so I took a look. Its exhibitions chronicled the roughly 5,000 years of arts and culture of Japan, from simple pottery to impossibly detailed and accurate map scrolls to early modern Japanese art influenced by the West. There were also some exquisite swords and armor.

After a leisurely walk around Ueno’s park, I head not back to Shinjuku, but to Ikebukuro for supper. Today’s choice of eatery was much easier for some reason, despite being just a random one. I got a whole roasted fish with some kind of horseradish-type garnish, rice, and miso. After dinner I checked out the nearby Toyota Auto Salon, the second-largest in the country. I saw such unsurprising models there as the Camry, Corolla, and Prius, but also many quirky and interesting models not sold anywhere but Japan, or at least not in America. Six floors of tire-kickin’ goodness. Probably only an automotive fanatic such as myself would car about such a wealth of proverbial fresh meat.

From the Auto Salon, I made for the nearby Sunshine 60 building in Sunshine City. This building is prominent in both the beginning and ending credits of Durarara!! and shown throughout, and is so-called because it has 60 floors. It was also built on the site of a former prison where prisoners such as HIdeki Tojo were executed, and is believed by some to be haunted. Anyway, an elevator shoots you up at 600 meters a second…which is fast. It puts on a very dramatic show, too, as the elevator’s lights go dim and switch to a cool blue planetarium atmosphere with constellations and dreamy music; why I don’t know but it’s cool. I imagine Hitachi or someone makes them. Can’t imagine them letting Koreans build their elevator, but who knows. The top floor had excellent views of the city, from a different perspective than Shinjuku or Roppongi, as well as an elaborate display for an anime I haven’t seen called Hetalia World Series.

When I came back down to earth I wandered around Ikebukuro a bit more. It really is something to behold when the sun is down and the lights are up. Most people seem to be wandering around like me too, sometimes stopping at some store like Bic Camera, which seems to sell nothing but white signs with tons of red or blue writing on them. Also everyone seems to always be in need of a new phone from Docomo, SoftBank, Apple, or the like, despite the fact everyone already seems to be covered phone-wise.

The typical cell phone in Tokyo is a flip-phone; rather large and rectangular with squared-off edges and stuff hanging from it like charms. Anyway, I think I may know why everyonee’s out wandering around, eating, drinking, buying big cells and playing Pachinko: because Japanese TV is, on the whole, not that great (at least the analog feed I was getting in my hotel room; an HDTV would have cost extra.) To avoid it, and the creative if structurally repetetive ads, they go out. Such practical people.

Anyway, from Ikebukuro I take the long way home on the Marunouchi line. Shinjuku is 18 stops away, but I paid for unlimited subway service and I’m going to get it; not like I’m in any particular hurry.