I have another twist on my theory regarding the symbolism of the whole drool thing, but I’ll get to that in a minute as I think enough stuff went down that it bears some recap. Firstly, we have the fantasy elements of the story really grabbing MGX by the throat and not let go. It’s not as if the stuff Urabe was doing in the first three episodes was literally possible, but it was easier for me to swallow it (pun intended) or purely symbolic terms when it was just that little bit vague. I still think her magic loogies are primarily a metaphorical device rather than a plot device, but when you see what happened to Oka it forces you to confront them on both levels.
So as to that, we have Urabe falling and skinning her knee while running relays during PE, which is an interesting scene in itself because it shows Urabe to have a competitive streak. That surprises me a little as it seems that she’d be immune from such “normal” societal pressures but clearly, she was running to win – and got seriously pissed off when she tripped (which I got the feeling was intentional on the part of the twintails girl). The real action comes when Oka takes her to the nurse’s office (can there be a more action-packed place than a nurse’s office in a Japanese high school?) and bandages her knee, then shares an indirect kiss via a juice bottle – which immediately causes an identical cut to appear on her knee. Just to confirm, Urabe cuts her palm with an X-Acto knife and feeds Oka her drool, with similarly stigmatic results (and if there was any doubt, inadvertently causes the same to happen to Tsubaki later).
Now that happened – there’s just no denying it – which strongly implies that there really is something magical and special about Urabe’s drool (did I miss earlier close-ups of the UFO strap on Urabe’s purse?). Is this a sci-fi, after all – did we nudge closer to the giant robot scenario Ueshiba talked about? Except, oddly enough, Oka is able to cause a similar effect in Urabe, only this time it’s more in line with the mood-related “magic” of earlier eps and not a physical change. I can’t really say where this is going to end up in terms of the plot itself, but I still feel as if the author is making a larger point. As I mentioned last week it seems to me that the drool represents Urabe’s femininity, representing the purely physical side of their relationship and the impact it has on Tsubaki. But this week’s ep makes me think it’s also symbolic of how a girl’s moods have a powerful impact on the boy she’s with – how those moods act as a potent influence on his daily life, and also how females are much more in touch with their emotional state than males. While teenaged guys go about trying to more or less act tough and have little grasp on what they’re really feeling, with girls these feelings are so real that they’re an actual physical, tangible force.
That’s a lot of speculating, but that’s the fun part of this gig. And one could certainly speculate plenty on the weird nature of the relationship between Oka and Urabe. Oka is an odd sort of girl to begin with, and the interest she takes in Urable is odd too – though more understandable once she reveals that she “accidentally” saw Urabe feed Tsubaki her drool. She’s fascinated by this but given that she’s already with Ueno, reasons that it would be easier to get close to Urabe than Tsubaki. Thus begins a very strange “courtship” – as Oka tries to win Urabe as a friend through very conventional romantic means – making her lunches, feeding her by hand, and ultimately sharing drool with her. Urabe is pretty anti-social as we know, quite insistent that Tsubaki is the only “friend” she needs, but Oka is equally stubborn in pushing forward, and it certainly shakes Urabe a bit to discover she has the same bond with Oka that she does with Tsubaki. As with so much else here I’m not sure exactly what this means, and also just exactly what Oka is seeking in this relationship. Her interest in Ueno seems legitimate if a bit detached, her interest in Urabe a bit more than simply intellectual curiosity and friendliness.
Meanwhile I’m starting to get just the slightest bit impatient with Tsubaki and Urabe’s relationship. Oka sheds some light on this herself by conjuring up her feelings when she and Ueno kissed for the first time as she feeds Urabe her drool, and when Urabe declares she’s never felt anything like it Oka correctly deduces that Urabe has never kissed Tsubaki. Not only has Urabe never been to first base, in fact, she’s never heard of it. Of course she never does anything in a remotely normal way, so there’s no reason to suspect that a romantic relationship should be any different and Tsubaki knows this going in. Still, he’s endearing because he’s as normal as she is weird, and his heartfelt desire for the joys of a “normal” relationship and her perverse refusal to participate in one seem like an irresistible force and an immovable object that must meet – maybe as soon as next week, “A Mysterious First Date”.