Nazo no Kanojo X – 09

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There’s an ugly side to love that’s never far from the surface, especially in the full splendor of youth.

What a dramatic change of pace this was from last week’s blockbuster, game-changer of an episode. Possessiveness is a theme that’s been touched on before in MGX, but not with the laser-like focus it received this time.  It’s one of those relationship elements that cuts both ways – Urabe was pleased to know that Tsubaki felt so strongly about not sharing her that he was bothered that she was on the track team, but both of them knew that on an intellectual level it was a somewhat irrational outlook.

The thing is, you can’t have passion without possessiveness – and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves as far as I’m concerned.  We’re wired that way, men and women both, though it has different ways of expressing itself from person to person.  It’s the classic conflict of the heart and mind, the rational and emotional, and being in love is to submit yourself to irrational behavior.  We saw something of this in dramatic fashion last week, as pure physical desire came to the forefront at last (rest assured it’s always lurking in the background, especially where teenagers are concerned).  Just as he did with the track team, Tsubaki eventually pulled back his irrational side and listened to what the voice of reason was telling him – and in both cases, Urabe told him that this passionate side of him wasn’t entirely a bad thing.  She liked the idea that he wanted her to himself, and she was just as aroused by their growing physical intimacy as he was.

That brings us to this week’s exploration (directed by Yamauchi Shigeyasu of Casshern Sins fame) of the relationship, and it’s prompted by Oka (always the irritant and provocateur, that one) deciding to style Urabe’s hair after she shows us at school with a tragic case of bed head.  I actually find it quite endearing that Urabe is so detached from societal norms that she doesn’t even notice – it makes her a stark contrast to most high school girls – but Oka’s rather clumsy twintails construction makes Urabe a huge hit amongst her classmates.  So much so that once of the boys begins selling pictures of her new look for 300 yen apiece after Urabe goes back to her original rumpled, face-hiding bangs look.  And this prompts someone to make not of the fact that with her face exposed, Urabe looks just like the idol Momoka Imai.

The feelings here are quite complicated.  Tsuabki doesn’t like Urabe’s new look – but is it the look, or is it simply that he doesn’t like all the attention she’s getting?  Urabe really doesn’t care, and happily changes back to the natural look at Tsubaki’s request.  But while Tsubaki (and Ueno, for that matter) don’t buy one of the 300 yen pictures, Tsubaki does by Momoka’s 3000 yen photo book – full of pictures of the idol (who really does look like Urabe) smiling, laughing, and lounging in her bikini on the beach.  And when Ueno spots Tsubaki buying the book, it’s easy to see where things are headed from there.

I actually thought it was sort of mean – though quite in character – for Oka to immediately go to Urabe and spill the beans as soon as she heard the news from Ueno.  But I confess I was genuinely curious to see how Urabe would take the news.  In a sense it’s sort of flattering, Tsubaki liking Momoka because she looks like she does – but my gut was telling me problems would follow.  I don’t know if Urabe was more displeased because Tsubaki had asked her to change her hair back to its original style than she would have been otherwise, but looking at pictures in a book of a girl who looked just like her must have felt a little like cheating – as if Tsubaki wanted another girl who looked like Urabe, but did all the things Urabe wouldn’t do (like smile freely for the camera, in his favorite book).  So in that context, what she eventually did to poor Momoka Imai came as no surprise.

In the end, I guess, Tsubaki and Urabe are like most couples in love – they don’t really know what they want.  Tsubaki wants more of the “normal” things boys get from their girlfriends in relationships and he wants to proclaim to the world that she’s his – but he also wants to keep her for himself, and be the only one who truly knows how special she is.  She wants to be wanted but not objectified.  Again I see a theme I picked up on earlier, that Urabe is actually more normal than she lets on, and Tsuabki more odd – though his possessiveness is hardly unusual.  The quirks in their relationship are certainly played up for dramatic effect, but what makes MGX particularly interesting is how universal they are.

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15 comments

  1. B

    I think the biggest news in this episode is that Oka FINALLY gave some hint that she is actually attracted to her boyfriend.

  2. Well, that's true – but I think if she could have trained a dog to ruffle her hair like that she would have been just as amped.

  3. B

    I dunno, my read on the situation was that she thought it felt a lot better when Ueno did it to her than when Urabe did it. Either way at least it's something, I'm no longer 100% sure that she's actually a lesbian who has a boyfriend because "that's what you do when you're a teenager." 😉

  4. I never felt that, especially – I think she's a very sensual person who happens to love causing mischief for other people. I just don't see much in this incident to make me think it was Ueno's hands specifically that were turning her crank – I think she just liked the activity. You could be right though, it's not as if we've seen enough of the two of them together to say for sure.

  5. s

    Ouch. That dog comment was horrible, GE. You really want Yuki Kaji…err, I mean Ueno to get NTR'd, huh? LOL. I keep trying to put myself in his shoes and see how I'd feel if my girlfriend was so fascinated and invested in a another couple's business. It's kinda sad, so please don't minimize Oka getting aroused by the hair ruffling. =/

    But anyway, nice analysis of…well, just about everything that went on this episode: jealousy, possessiveness, wanting a normal girlfriend but wanting her to be undetectable to other boys, not wanting to be cut up by pantie scissors, etc.

    It's also interesting to note that Urabe still remains the alpha in the relationship, and it's obvious by how they react to jealousy: Tsubaki makes derpy faces like he needs to go take a dump, while Urabe just cuts shit up.

  6. S

    I was certain Ano Natsu de Matteru was going to be my favorite romantic comedy of 2012 until Nazo no Kanojo completely blew me away week after week. Quirky, funny and makes me go dawwwwww at the same time, this show is nothing short of amazing and honestly, I don't think I've seen anything quite like it. Spring 2012 is awesome!

  7. Spring 2012 is definitely awesome. It's going to have to be enough awesomeness to keep us going for two seasons, I'm afraid.

    sikvod, it's not about Kaji Yuuki here – he's fine in this small a dose. I just don't see any evidence Oka feels anything for Ueno specifically. I mean, when she's ready to try out sex she might very well employ him for the experience – he doesn't seem distasteful to her, and she clearly feels he's safely under her thumb. But I think he'll just be a human pleasure device, like he was just a pair of hands here.

  8. S

    About those hands, look at the size of them; they were fucking massive! They were holding Oka's head like a grapefruit.
    And that also indicates a reason why Oka would use Ueno for pleasure. ^^

  9. A

    Anyone notice how the animation/directing style jumped up several levels in this episode? The lightning, the angles, etc.?

    I wonder if every episode was treated in the same way (with such vision and drama) would it truly demonstrate the medium of anime, as opposed to being a mere epigone of the original manga material?

  10. Well, that's Yamauchi Shigeyasu – he's a fairly big wheel, and I'm sure he wouldn't have done the whole ep himself unless they wanted him to go nuts a little.

  11. t

    While Yamauchi's style is definatly flashier but I don't consider it several levels above what we've seen so far.
    I'm no manga reader but from what I've heard this has hardly been just a copy and pasted adaptation,it's grouped chapters together and changed the order of events.
    Some more specific examples are how the dream sequence in episode 1 is greatly expended upon from its manga counterpart or how in the last episode everything to do with rain and thunder are anime originals.Another blogger commented on the 40 seconds long shot that panned back and forth between Tsubaki and Urabe in episode 6,such shots are a rarity in anime.

    Director Watanabe's done a great job in the episode he's storyboarded himself,Yamauchi did a great job with this episode,Kojima Masayuki (a madhouse veteran) is another staff member that's done a good job.
    It's one of the rare cases where I'm seeing manga fans saying that not only does the anime equal the manga but that it might even surpass it (and i've heard this being said before this episode aired)

  12. A

    Oka ueno really want to, maybe like you have not read the manga, but Ueshiba devotes an entire chapter .. just the two of them … where oka strives to help improve school performance ueno, she will not is very sentimental, but I really appreciate ueno (which is a little perverted and drearier than tsubaki XD), maybe she is very hot and sexy, but that only Urabe and ueno known, that for others it is only a "nerd" … umm .. will that somehow .. we all have something of a mystery? lol

  13. S

    Enzo, you have to admit that without Oka's meddling Tsubaki and Urabe would have never shared many interesting experiences (calling their first names, the "bikini under the coat" visit, etc). Not to mention that she is Urabe's only friend in high school.
    Even in this episode, IMHO her intentions were good. She didn't want to create a rift between Urabe and Tsubaki. She was saying "Look, your boyfriend bought this photobook because he really likes YOU".

  14. You're correct that she's nudged their relationship forward, but I think you're giving her too much credit with the photo book – she was just stirring up trouble there.

    I don't think she's a bad person or anything – just mischievous…

  15. P

    Gotta say that the hair thing is a real intimacy barrier and the fact that Urabe wants to be as possessive of Tsubaki as he is of her, hence the scissorization of the book, should dawn on our hormonal hero eventually. Just means that he has to treasure those smiles when they come because they are so rare.

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