Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 2

Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

It’s the weekend, and you know what that means: more mysterious goodness! This week, we finally learn the significance of those scissors tucked under Mikoto’s skirt, and get an eyeful of fanservice along with it. All in all, episode 2 does a great job of establishing what I think will be important themes as the show progresses.

If anything, though, I’m a bit concerned about the pacing of the series. How much will they be able to cover in a single 13-episode cours? Episode 1 covered the double-length one-shot (chapter 0), and so I was expecting episode 2 to cover roughly two episodes’ worth of material. However, the anime has been top-notch so far, so I’m not too worried.

That aside, let’s move on to this week’s topics:

Mysterious Lemon

This week, we’re finally treated to the opening theme of the show, “Love Orchestra” (Koi no Orchestra). What really stands out, though, is the accompanying animation, with its recurring imagery of… lemons?

Although there are a handful of characters named Lemon (sometimes written as Remon, as it were), the fruit itself doesn’t show up much in anime. The only other example in recent memory is the Haruhi limited edition boxsets in Japan, which featured the characters holding lemons (a reference to a Japanese magazine, The Television, which does the same for their covers).

The use of lemons in Mysterious Girlfriend X‘s opening is much more suggestive. Take the shot of Mikoto biting into a lemon, which cuts beautifully to what is presumably lemon juice spurting in the air. These saucier connotations may be familiar to Western readers of fanfiction, where “lemon” denotes a scene or even an entire work with sexual intercourse. The term stems from Cream Lemon, one of the earliest erotic anime OVA series, or possibly Lemon People, Japan’s first lolicon manga magazine.

But I think the most plausible explanation for the show’s use of lemons comes from a Japanese saying (now a bit of an outdated cliché) which says that “your first kiss tastes like lemons.” In this episode, Akira is obsessed with firsts, from holding hands to having sex with Mikoto for the first time. With this in mind, the lemon may just be the perfect symbol of the bittersweet first pangs of love.

Mysterious Cola

There are a lot of fictional brands that show up in this week’s episode. For starters, there’s this:

So what’s the deal with Tuesday Cola? The name and logo are references to Rinko Mishima, who shows up in both Ueshiba’s Discommunication: Seireihen and Yume Tsukai (“Dream Casters“). One of the nine Dream Casters, her design is based on Anpanman‘s Dokinchan, reflected in her super-deformed representation, shown on the soda can.

But why Tuesday? As a member of the Dream Casters, Rinko is designated as kayōbi, which translates to Mangala, one of the nine heavenly bodies of Hindu astrology, the Navagraha (which each Dream Caster is named after). Mangala is the Hindu equivalent of the Roman Mars, and both are associated in their respective mythologies with Tuesday, or dies Martis in Latin. Even the word “Tuesday,” named after the Norse god Týr, has syncretic ties to back to Mars. The connection is much clearer in Japanese, where the words for “Mangala,” “Mars,” and “Tuesday” all share the same character for fire, 火 (which can be seen on the can). Not coincidentally, in Seireihen, Rinko has a matchbox tied to her leg under her skirt (sound familiar?), and her “boyfriend” is a flame spirit.

And all of this is just scratching the surface: from Science Boy and Magic Girl to the ubiquitous one-eyed Bad Cat, the world of Mysterious Girlfriend X is rife with references, and not just to Riichi Ueshiba’s older works. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might just be rewarded for your vigilance!

13 Comments

Filed under Episodics, Mysterious Girlfriend X

13 responses to “Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 2

  1. nichdel

    >lemons
    >Keep your eyes peeled

    I see what you did there.

    Also I really like that you point out the references that I would never catch (having no familiarity with the artist of MGX’s works).

    Anyway, you mention that it’s not moving at the rate you expected (a bit slowly). Do you think it likely that it’ll: a) Speed Up b) Skip Stuff c) Not finish the full story.

    • …Now I wish I’d done that on purpose.

      And thank you! I left a few open, partially because the post would drag on and on and partially because I encourage people to seek out his works! (The Yume Tsukai anime is pretty unspectacular, though)

      As for how they’ll adapt it, it’s an ongoing story, so probably c) is likely. I also think b) will happen in the process! Episode 2 adapts chapter 1 and episode 3 is named after the third chapter, but whether they won’t incorporate chapter 2’s story somewhere else is yet to be seen.

      And it’s hard to say either way about 1), mostly because it depends on how you define a fast-paced adaptation to anime. Episode 1 didn’t feel rushed as an anime episode but managed to almost fully cover 80 pages’ worth of material in 24 minutes; on the other hand, episode 2 “padded out” (though I don’t like that term much) a 30 page chapter into the same time with new scenes.

      Maybe I’m going at it from too much of a manga-centric angle, though, but I think that’s a bit inevitable…

  2. The moment that sold me on this adaption was the scene in the abandoned house this episode. Akira’s eyes are closed, the music is incredibly creepy and then the camera pans down to a colony of ants tearing the shell off of a beetle. But then you see Urabe’s naked silhouette and realize that the deshelling of the beetle was visual shorthand for disrobing.

    Mysterious Girlfriend X walks the tightrope between terrifying and sweet, and hasn’t stumbled once so far. If it keeps going the way it’s going, it might come out of this the best anime about adolescent sexual awakening since FLCL. As hilarious that I find it that a legendary studio like Madhouse goofed on Ueshiba’s work, while a studio like Hood that is most notable for porn is nailing it, I guess we have to be grateful for what we’ve got! Thank god for that Doraemon director, he’s doing good work this season between this and Uchuu Kyoudai.

    • nichdel

      Ooh that was a very good scene, now that you mention it. They’re almost creating the atmosphere of innocence by using the creepy atmosphere there. As you mention we have this somewhat creepy beetle deshelling scene, but this whole thing is used a shorthand to make a scene immediately after it sweeter. They are certainly nailing the Mysterious and the Girlfriend part of this so far.

    • Haha, I still haven’t started on Uchuu Kyoudai, but I keep hearing good things about it!

      And yeah, that climactic scene was done very well! I’ll have to admit, though, that I didn’t really understand the symbolic significance of the beetle until I talked it over with a few fellows over Twitter and rewatched it.

      As for comparing the show to FLCL… it’s a bit early for that, at least for me! But hopefully it’ll play out just as well. Cheers!

      • Oh yeah, I’m not saying MGX is as good as FLCL. The latter’s probably my favorite anime of all time, and while the former has been pretty great so far there’s still plenty of room for it to stumble or even cop out at the end.

        I’m comparing the two mainly because whether or not MGX and FLCL are in the same ballpark (they probably won’t be) I’m thinking that MGX is the best attempt at tackling teenage sexual awakening in anime that I’ve seen since watching FLCL. There are plenty of other romantic comedies that are probably superior–Toradora comes to mind as a possibility, Honey and Clover definitely, maybe Bokura ga Ita (though I haven’t seen it)–but all of those lack FLCL’s “ickiness”, which MGX has in SPADES. I dunno, can you think of a better word? Or any other equivalent anime made since 2000?

        • …”Coming of age?” I’m so sorry, that was terrible.

          But hmm, I do understand what you’re saying now! And yeah, I can’t think of other shows that pull it off as well.

  3. In reply to the pacing question earlier, it will be interesting to see what they do. There is some good stuff coming up. But these 2 episodes really lay the ground work, in terms of plot tools (the scissor hobby and the two way drool) play play into every story arc. I would guess they’ll speed up now that they got the essentials out of the way.

    I don’t remember the manga containing so many symbolic items, other than references to the authors previous works. Maybe fluffing out a bit to foreshadow things to come? No complaints from me, these artistic moments have made the story better.

    • Ah, maybe! That would work out pretty well, actually.

      As for added symbolism, I guess that’s just something you can do in an anime as opposed to manga (only takes up a few seconds as opposed to like… a quarter of a page)? And yeah, I’m definitely enjoying them as additions! It’s why I chose to address them instead of treading through the same panty scissors (although I suppose I’ll have to tackle those sooner or later).

  4. Cool analysis. Also, not having watched the manga I appreciate your tactful restraint spoilerwise :)

    • I’d feel pretty bad if one of my posts ended up spoiling the manga for anybody. It helps that I’m writing about… fairly tangential topics, though. Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Pingback: Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: In the Garden of Yuri, the Significance of Jesus Cosplay, and Hindu Anime Cola «

  6. Pingback: Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 5 | The Untold Story of Altair & Vega

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