ANIME & MANGA - Review
08:47 - 25th September 2014, by Andrew Osmond

Mysterious Girlfriend X

Mysterious Girlfriend X; the anime about school kids sharing spit, daring to find erotic arousal in pools of drool. The big romantic gesture is a girl finger-feeding dollops of her saliva to her boyfriend. Anyone queasy?

The gross-out will cause some viewers to run screaming to the horizon; wave them goodbye. More seriously, it’ll bolster Japan’s reputation for crazy fetishes. It wasn’t long ago that newspapers were reporting that Japanese kids were merrily licking each other’s eyeballs. The story was rubbish (though imagine if they were anime eyes…).

Spit has been done before. If you think Mysterious Girlfriend X is ewww, avoid the live-action Love and Pop (1998) by Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno, in which dirty old Japanese men buy schoolgirls’ saliva. But Mysterious Girlfriend is a kitten in comparison. Once – and it’s a big once – you’re past the spit, then it’s way less explicit and dirty than you’d expect. There are bits of fanservice, but it’s really all tease and innuendo, and it’s actually pretty funny.

The mysterious girlfriend is Mikoto, a transfer student who spends much time dozing face-down on her school desk. The boy is Akira, an Average Schoolboy who can’t resist tasting the little puddle of spit she’s left behind, in the spirit of Suck It and See. Then Akira falls ill, until Mikoto shows up at his home and solemnly declares that his reaction to her drool means they’re doomed to be a couple. Thus their regime of saliva-feeding begins, in the midst of things you’d expect in a school anime; curious classmates (though the lovers keep their relationship secret), daily mishaps and comic misunderstandings.

With her eyes hidden under her clumpy hair, and her mouth grimly tight lipped a la Tommy Lee Jones, Mikoto is truly distinctive. However, she looks something of a sister to Spooky Kitaro, a demon boy who’s been a hero of manga and anime since the ‘60s. (Mikoto’s flat, disinterested tone in the US dub, where she’s voiced by Genevieve Simmons, feels very fitting for the character, although Josh Grelle as Akira never sounds like a plausible schoolboy.) Mikoto does a trick with scissors which livens things up hilariously, its leg-crossing symbolism as transparent as the lady’s saliva.

Western viewers could read Mikoto as a spoof of Manic Pixie Dream Girls, the girly eccentrics in Hollywood films like Elizabethtown or Garden State. There’s nothing seriously ‘real’ about either Mikoto or Akira; they’re both just part of a genre joke. However, there’s one scene – in part eight – where Akira gets over-excited and the show crashes into dangerous territory about boys not listening when girls say ‘no’. Some viewers may find the way this plays out offensive, though it at least acknowledges there is a serious issue.

Most of the episodes are far less weighty – a couple are outrageously thin – but overall the show is funny. At best it’s actually touching, as the saliva comes to stand not just for gooey mechanics of sex, but for all the communications in a budding romantic relationship. By the later episodes, with a witty, well-played love rivalry and our Romeo and Juliet in crisis, you could be watching an old-school anime romcom like Kimagure Orange Road… only a bit wetter around the mouth.

If you can get past the gross premise, this is a funny, even sweet romcom with a comic kink.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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