Another week, another episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X! I’ve been voicing my thoughts on the pacing of the adaptation, and this week, we finally got to see how they would fit multiple chapters into one episode. (The contents of episode 3 are taken from chapters 3 and 4 of the original.) I thought it was handled pretty well; the two halves felt distinct, and yet were tied together nicely by the idea of what really “connects” Akira to Mikoto.
Mysterious Magical Realism
This week, the relationship between Akira and Mikoto are tested by a certain Ogata, who asks Mikoto to be his girlfriend. From this occurrence, we learn a little bit more about the bond of drool that ties Akira and Mikoto together.
This idea was touched on back in the first episode, when Akira, ever the sci-fi fan, suggests all sorts of possible explanations for the mysterious properties of Mikoto’s saliva. But of course, Mikoto laughs this off. After all, we’re not in the realm of sci-fi with Mysterious Girlfriend X; this is magical realism.
Magical realism is hard to define (or rather, there are multiple vague definitions), but the points of interest to us are these: magical realism takes place in a normal, modern world, which Mysterious Girlfriend X certainly does (if slightly lagging behind by a couple of decades). As per the “magical” part, the supernatural is also present, but it is treated in the story as normal, everyday occurrence. This we also see, with Mikoto insisting that all of this is just a part of who she is.
And perhaps most importantly, the magical elements in a work of magical realism are natural but surreal, ever-present yet enigmatic. We see this with Ogata, who has no abnormal reaction to Mikoto’s drool. As far as we the viewers know, there is no systematic approach to exactly how her saliva works.
Which of course, serves to illustrate the fact that Akira is somehow special. It couldn’t have just been anybody who tasted the drool from her desk, not even somebody like Ogata, who’s always had feelings for her. The more we learn, the more mysterious it gets…
While it’s easy to focus on the drool, underwear has also played a large role throughout the series. To put it shortly, panties are power, both in the show and for us viewers.
As anime viewers (and manga readers), we’re trained to pay attention to the glimpses of underwear we see; whether you’re all for this kind of visual titillation or against it, it’s something you notice immediately. And how could you not? The decision to show a flash of panties is deliberate, as is the decision to very noticeably omit a panty shot where the viewer expects one.
And so, with a self-awareness of the dominance that panties hold, Mysterious Girlfriend X has Mikoto’s panties hide her panty scissors, a tangible representation of said power. Scissors, as a tool that can cut off certain body parts, becomes a symbol of emasculation.
With this mind, the end of episode 3 becomes one of the most significant moments of the series so far. It’s not just Mikoto giving her panties to Akira; it’s a symbolic gesture, willingly giving up a bit of control in a relationship where, up to now, she had been making all of the calls. What would have been a fearsome attack with her scissors becomes a playful tap on the head. And I, for one, am all for a relationship where the two are on more equal footing.
13 responses to “Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 3”
I was trying to figure it how to express succintly this way Tsubaki has of accepting Urabe’s weird powers as a part of this world and you’ve found it: magical realism. It’s a bit shameful for me considering I had to read A Hundred Years of Solitude and do a horrible huge paper on it in high school..
I’ve still got to read A Hundred Years of Solitude! But it sounds excellent from what I hear.
I think the relationship between the mysterious girlfriend and Akira, a slightly warmed up version of the dreaded Yuji Everylead the Bland, is the strongest point of this show. The creator said the show is a metaphor for giant robot anime, where the girls are the giant robots and the boys are their pilots. Naturally the giant robots are terrifying in their scope of destruction and unpredictable responses, whereas the girls are terrifying in their exotic mystery and unpredictable behavior.
But the 3rd episode shows a bit more of a two-way street between Urabe and Akira, with communication (by way of saliva) than the standard berserk responses of a giant mecha that exceeded some arbitrary limit. Maybe we’ll reach that point down the line? :)
I dunno, from what I make of Ueshiba’s comments on the subject, the idea of a girlfriend as giant robot seems to be more of a general starting point than a greater overarching allegory.
Although he /did/ have that one filler chapter where she was literally a giant robot for kicks!
Spoiler alert! -__-
I think you may be right, but I’m a manga virgin. Read the first few chapters, but wanted to take the anime on its own merit. I find reading manga an entirely different experience, and watching anime after reading the manga unfairly distorts the experience. So I put off the manga, while often superior to the anime, as a reward.
Ah, my bad, thought it’d be okay to mention because it was like a 3-page filler in-between proper chapters, heh.
I’ve noticed just from my conversations with people that magical realism seems to be a concept that some have a hard time wrapping their minds around. I think we’re generally conditioned to deconstruct the, setting when it comes to stories, to understand the mechanics of them. Obviously the science fiction genre revels in this, and plenty of fantasy works do too, such as Tolkien’s works or those of Nasu Kinoko (Type-Moon) in the anime world.
I like to think of it backwards, where there’s a story to be told, and all aspects of the setting are designed around that, in support of the story. Mikoto’s various supernatural quirks serve to emphasize the mystery and the magic that Akira must be experiencing as an adolescent going through his first romantic relationship. They don’t really need any further elaboration, no more than we needed to know why Phil had to live the same day over and over again in Groundhog Day, except for that last day.
That’s a pretty good take on the genre! I think it’s also part of the reason why people who don’t necessarily dig what we call “traditional” fantasy novels might like works of magical realism. But I still need to read more works recognized as such before I can start making further distinctions.
Based on the translated comments you had provided, wouldn’t it be safe to say that the world MGX resides in isn’t wholly the reality we think it is? I mean, if we are to look at the technology present in the world, it’s safe to say that the world is an amalgam of both past and present things, which is unnatural for some of us who perceive reality in a chronologically linear way.
Yeah, I think that’s true! The anime itself is a bit like that too: a kind of odd mix between modern production standards (including that CG sequence) and retro character design. But it works for the best, I think, in both instances.
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