Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nazo no Kanojo X - 12

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Two words for that episode: “absolutely fantastic”.

I feel as if I've said just about all there is to be said about MGX, which by its nature lends itself to some pretty high-level (if not high-quality) analysis.  It continues to surprise and delight me just about every week, with very few exceptions.  There are small pleasures, like the moment when Urabe says “Ah!” as she points off into the distance to distract Tsubaki or Tsubaki’s sheepish “Ojamashimasu!” when entering Urabe’s apartment (still more superb seiyuu work by Yoshitani Ayako and Miyu Irino).  And there are huge ones, like the insight it brings to the dynamic of the male/female relationship – an insight I can honestly say very few series can equal.

As good as the cast is, I could spend entire episodes with the sound turned off and be entertained just watching the retro animation with it’s inimitable sense of style, and especially the characters’ faces.  Start to finish, these characters are fun to watch – they betray so much with their expressions.  Surprised, turned on, scared, devious (that one is almost all Oka), in every episode a story is told on those faces.  Of course turning the sound off would also mean missing out on the fabulous BGM, which offered us some nice new variations this week – some lighter string takes on the familiar themes, then big orchestral stuff.  Leave the sound turned on – then you get all of it.

Speaking of “turned on”, that was pretty much the theme this week.  But one of the miracles of MGX is that it can offer an entire episode about teenagers being hot for each other that, more than anything else is sweet – sweeter than Urabe’s drool.  It all starts as it so often does with Oka, but the funny thing is that every time she tries to cause trouble between Urabe and Tsubaki, she ends up bringing them closer together.  I think a strong theme here is that too much communication is better than too little, because no matter how awkward it is when Urabe and Tsubaki share their innermost secrets, it always strengthens their bond – and their troubles almost always come when they aren’t sharing their feelings.

Oka is obviously correct that seeing Urabe naked changes the dynamic of the relationship between she and Tsubaki.  But it’s really not such a big deal as all that, for a number of reasons – not least of which is that Urabe (as she admits herself) is horny for him, too.  They’re teenagers – of course they’re horny for each other (and dreaming about it each other, including a fabulous bit where Urabe pounds out mochi versions of herself).  It’s a story as old as time itself, but rarely told with as much charm as it is here.  What effect does all this have on Urabe?  Why, she loses control of course – in this case, symbolized by uncharacteristic wildness with her scissors.  But critically, when she accidentally injures Tsubaki it mortifies her and her concern for him nudges all other thoughts out of her head.

We’ve had two scenes in Urabe’s bedroom, and they’ve both been top-notch.  I love the fact that both sides of the relationship, the physical and the emotional, are equally well-presented here as indispensable and inseparable.  Urabe is testing her limits here, because she doesn’t trust herself to keep her passion in check.  And Tsubaki, of course, is much more direct about it – he keeps imagining Urabe naked and very consciously admonishes himself to keep it together.  This leads to another head injury, and more commiseration from Urabe, and finally a stated approval for hugs that are necessary for self-preservation.

I think it’s interesting that in the end, it’s the feelings in Urabe’s drool that prompt the first “official” hug between the couple.  Oka can play-act Urabe’s scissors-act all she wants, but all it can be is a pale imitation, just as her relationship with Ueno is a play – what’s happening between Urabe and Tsubaki is the real thing.  Sentimental stuff like Tsubaki wanting to keep the gauze she’d use to dress his forehead scrape might seem silly, but it’s heartfelt – and MGX can get away with it because it takes pains to show all the aspects of the relationship, and that relationship has continued to deepen week upon week.  In fact, for one scary moment MGX hit the high notes so clearly at the end that I thought I had bad information and this was the finale, as it clearly had a coda feel to it.  But thankfully, we do have one last episode to tide us over until the OVA and tie a bow on the TV series.

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4 comments:

  1. Dare I say it... this series has reached pantheon status imho. Excellence in production, story and execution by the actors and directors. It should rank up there with the likes of FLCL, BeBop, Hikaru No Go, Moribito Guardian of the Spirit and Cross Game.

    as much as I want to see more, and I will continue to follow the manga, This is a series whose awesomeness could be diluted with lesser stories. I believe that this has been a pretty much flawless adaptation.

    can't say enough, I was looking forward to this and they've exceeded my expectations.

    This show is one of the reasons why I continue to LOVE anime and continue to watch

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  2. For a moment there, I also thought this was the finale..

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  3. After watching LoK finale I really needed to cleanse my palate with some *well handled* romance :,).
    Well, this episode on NnK was lovely. Seriously, I was giggling and 'aw'ing and nodding all along the way.
    I agree about their facial expressions, they're spot-on.
    Urabe's voice wavering after she realized she had hit his forehead with the scissors... excellent bit of acting, felt completely natural. Her VA in the series has consistently sounded very natural, but this moment she really struck me.
    The X-ray mental visions! The gauze! Tsubaki, I can totally feel your feelings dear boy.
    I loved the two embrace moments and the bgm especially (me: 'Aw, she hugged him!' 'Aw! it happened again. Aaaaaaaw they're so cute. Aww it's so wonderful' ) .
    I do hope the same team will get the chance to animate a sequel. It's probably the first romantic series I've watched and enjoyed in a long, long time.

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  4. To be honest I am enjoying the anime adaptation more than the manga. This is just plain carefully and lovingly done. :)

    - Flower

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