This week, we finally get to see Ayuko Oka in action! (And perhaps more importantly, hear Ryō Hirohashi play her!)
On a side note, I have rough translations of the short essays written by Riichi Ueshiba for the first four volumes of Mysterious Girlfriend X up on my personal site. They’re spoiler-free (by my definition, at least, which admittedly may differ from yours) and cover a broad range of topics, so if you’re interested in the series, do take a look!
Saliva tastes sweet. Well, no, not normally (if your saliva is sweet to the taste, it may warrant medical attention), but in the world of Mysterious Girlfriend X, it certainly does, if you have that special connection.
Sweetness is interesting: as one of three appetitive tastes (sourness and bitterness are aversive tastes, and are generally thought to have developed to help humans avoid sour and bitter compounds, such as poisons), it is a pleasant sensation. However, unlike saltiness or umami, we can handle sweetness in fairly large concentrations. It’s not unheard of for children to eat spoonfuls of pure sugar, but what about spoonfuls of table salt or MSG? (Well, MSG by itself doesn’t induce an umami taste…)
We also prefer sweetness much more as children than adults, in part a genetic preference that becomes more influenced by cultural factors as we grow older.
My point is, sweetness is a mysterious, almost primal sensation. By having Mikoto’s (and Ayuko’s) drool be sweet, Ueshiba not only recalls images of youth, but even those back from prehistoric times. Sweetness was once an indicator of life and health in a mysterious world full of danger, and it’s only fitting that it features so prominently in Mysterious Girlfriend X.
The most dramatic occurrence this episode can probably be summed up with a single screenshot:
So yeah! Mikoto cuts herself with a utility knife (that type of snap-off blade is a Japanese innovation dating back to 1956, by the way), gets Ayuko to taste her drool, and voilà: the same wound appears on Ayuko’s hand.
In Western thought, this brings to mind the Catholic idea of stigmata, marks appearing on the faithful that mirror the wounds borne by Jesus Christ during the Crucifixion. It’s not unthinkable that Ueshiba, with his knowledge on religion and the occult, meant this as an intentional reference.
Incidentally, the real-world phenomena of stigmata started in the thirteenth century, coinciding with the rise of increasingly graphic depictions of the Crucifixion in art, showing Jesus’s suffering. In this way, stigmata became a way for believers to empathize with Jesus by partaking in his pain.
So I posit that drool serves the same function in Mysterious Girlfriend X: we have mysterious, supernatural Mikoto, unknowable to the average outsider. But to those who are connected to her, like Tsubaki and Ayuko, drool becomes a way of knowing the unknowable, by experiencing her emotions and even her physical pain.
Of course, generalize this from just Mikoto to girls in general (by the author’s admission, the most mysterious of creatures to the boy in puberty), and we can see how Mysterious Girlfriend X becomes a teenage fantasy in more ways than one. To be able to understand what she’s thinking… I’m sure there’s a handful of teenage boys out there who would gladly taste some spit for that!
As a final tangent, while the idea of actual stigmata doesn’t show up in anime too often (does The Qwaser of Stigmata count?), the general concept shows up, in all places, giant robot shows. The pilot, although sitting safe in his or her cockpit (or as in Guilty Crown, entirely removed from the field of battle), is still connected to the robot by physical feedback, often taking damage in the corresponding part of the body where the robot is hit. Just an interesting connection, especially since Ueshiba acknowledges that the work was influenced by robot anime…
Tune in next week for first dates at the beach!
10 responses to “Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 4”
Drats. That was gonna be my lead-in screencap. I’ll find another one~
The location of the wound in the hand is even more striking when you bring up the stigmata into it (yes, yes, we all know now that the nails were set in the wrists and not in the palms but that’s the way the paintings and the stigmatized had them so…)
I’m really looking forward to next episode!!
You should still use it! I know JoeAnimated is still going to for his post, anyway, heh. It’s too perfect to pass up.
Edit: Wait, your post is up already, whoops. Oh well…
And yeah, the palms are way more iconic as a spot for Jesus’s wounds, heh.
I’m really excited for next week, too! Mostly because… well, I’ll go into it for the introduction to my post.
Yeccch, I knew I couldn’t have been the only one that winced when she sliced herself up. Well, that, and them showing the actual wound.
The actual cut they show I’m okay with, on account of the fact that my brain doesn’t really register it as a very realistic wound. But the thought of taking a knife to the palm like that…
I believe Ueshiba’s associating our preference on sweetness to good things. However, knowing human nature, it should vary from person to person. Why does Tsubaki get a nosebleed after tasting “sweet” drool from Urabe when she didn’t wear her panties to school? Is it because the notion of a female’s bare, naked genitalia is “good” for him? And if it is good for him, does it mean that that’s the reason why Urabe’s drool was sweet when he tasted it?
As for Oka’s case, she was easily able to “connect” to Urabe because she’s someone who willingly accepts the facts presented to her, mysterious or otherwise. Then again, she’s pretty much normal like Tsubaki is. Does that mean she’s another case of someone who was dragged into Urabe’s world out of curiosity, just like Tsubaki was in on the first episode?
I think it’s safe to say from what we’ve seen in these 4 episodes that there’s more to it than the general “good” emotions here you’re talking about; there’s a very real element of drool as a means of transferring Mikoto’s state of being, whether it be physical or emotional. So I would say Akira gets a nosebleed not so much because he himself necessarily finds the idea of Mikoto going commando sexually thrilling, but because Mikoto’s own sexual excitement at having gone the entire day without panties was directly transmitted to Akira. Perhaps a bit nitpicky.
As for why Akira and Ayuko respond to Mikoto’s drool, but not, say, the guy from episode 3 whose name I forget, I think it’s got to be a bit more complex than curiosity! But I guess we’ll see about that.
Re: who responds to Mikoto’s drool, I think it’s an odd predictor of what is to come in the future (which is an interesting concept in and of itself). I liked the development of Ayuko and Mikoto’s relationship in this episode. In spite of insisting that she doesn’t need friends, Ayuko responds to Mikoto regardless. I took her reactions as an indicator that Ayuko will become Mikoto’s first real friend, much like Akira’s reactions indicate that he will become (or already is) Mikoto’s boyfriend.
That is an interesting way to think about it! And almost circuitous, as Mikoto makes judgment based on whether people respond to her drool, too…
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The show started out for me as cute with a twist of oddness. If the drool wasn’t weird enough, we go into a mental connection between our main characters – this was fine and “D-awwwwww” with the whole “I wouldn’t wear a doll while doing that!” scene.
But now more people are getting linked together through the drool. The ‘seikon’ (stigmata) of the show is just getting… really silly. Too silly.