Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 5

Everybody had a good time. Everybody had a wet dream. Everybody saw the sunshine.

Sorry for the late post this week! Overall, a nice episode this week; I just want to point out that this episode is the first one that plays out quite differently from the manga. (For the curious, chapter 6 is the one you’re looking for.) Well, it gave them a reason to have lots of girls in swimsuits. Just another part of understanding the differences between media! After the break, more on bikinis:

Mysterious Bikinis

So, this week, Akira and Mikoto have their first date at the beach, and of course, the first thing Akira notices are these:

More specifically, Akira notes, “Wow, they’re all wearing revealing swimsuits.” And that’s a telling statement in itself.

Let’s go over some brief history first. Although there are depictions of similar two-piece outfits dating back to ancient times, it was Louis Réard who invented (and named) the modern bikini in 1946. By the 1950s, bikinis had been imported into Japan, but it wasn’t until the 70s that bikinis became common.

However, there was a reversal around the mid-80s, and beaches and poolsides throughout Japan saw the reemergence of the one-piece swimsuit. Of course, since then, bikinis have become popular again.

I’ve talked about the old-fashioned feel of the series back in my post for episode 1, and the author, Riichi Ueshiba, has even touched on the issue. Shortly put, the issue of just when Mysterious Girlfriend X takes place is, well, a mystery. These bikinis are just one more example of this. Having all of these girls dressed in bikinis is clearly a more modern development. However, I can’t help but feel that Akira’s reaction is closer to treading that delicate line between the 80s and the present, how a boy must have felt just around the time when bikinis had just become popular again in Japan.

Mysterious Bhavacakra

This is something that I missed from the OP in my earlier discussion of its visuals (or rather, it didn’t really fit in with my talk of lemons that week). Its appearance is brief, a second if that, but it’s quite the image:

This is the bhavacakra, a traditional Tibetan Buddhist diagram of transmigration throughout the six domains of the desire realm in Buddhism, here rendered in a very Japanese style (Don’t ask me to identify what era of Japanese art history the picture is supposed to be borrowing its aesthetics from, though). It features many of the elements common to bhavacakra, the most striking of which is its depiction of Yama, the god of death, representing the impermanence of life.

However, what’s more interesting are the parts from the traditional bhavacakra that are missing. Gone is the traditional depiction of karma (two half-circles of light and dark color surrounding the three animals in the middle), along with the outer rim, which usually depicts representations of the Twelve Nidānas.

Of course, what all of this means for Mysterious Girlfriend X is all very unclear as of now. Is it just a throwaway image, or is it hinting at something more? Emptiness or form? I leave you this week with the opening page from chapter 66, originally from the Heart Sūtra:

Form itself is emptiness.

And, of course, emptiness itself is form. See you next week!

7 Comments

Filed under Episodics, Mysterious Girlfriend X

7 responses to “Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 5

  1. Great post. It makes me like the show even more, and that’s saying a lot!

    The only Japanese sect I thought would use these kind of maps extensively is Shingon, but I just checked and they’re all very different. The Japanese sites talking about bhavacakra reference Tibet. So this might be taken straight from a Tibetan model, I suppose.

    I was kinda surprised at the beach scene, not because of the bikinis, but because of the bustiness of the people (it’s not like that in Japan IIRC). But we can chalk this up to anime standards~

    • Thank you, that means a lot to me!

      Yeah, I didn’t have much luck trying to look up Japanese sects of Buddhism. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if the omissions here are based on the teachings of a particular sect of Japanese Buddhism, though.

      Aha, that is the image of Japanese people, isn’t it? I think part of it is anime standards (the show is pretty much lacking in less-endowed women, which I find a bit surprising considering Riichi Ueshiba is a lolicon prefers more svelte types), and part of it is Akira seeing what he wants to see, that is to say, Akira likes big-breasted women so those are the ones he notices and we subsequently see as the viewers (there was a similar conversation over Twitter, albeit about Mikoto’s bust size).

      Ah, but if you want to go the whole “sociohistorical analysis” route I’ve been taking for a lot of things (lol), bust sizes in general have gotten larger in Japan since the 80s! Average height and weight have also apparently gone up correspondingly, which seems to make sense. The results of a Japanese diet increasingly influenced by the West?

      • animekritik

        It could definitely be Tsubaki’s eyes, yup.

        And as for the diet, absolutely. Beef and milk, beef and milk. It’s stunning what the cow has done to the Japanese physique over the last century :D

  2. Pingback: Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Tattoos of Psalms and Spike Spiegel, Pride of Fate/zero Mages, and a Holy Light on Gon «

  3. June_Kuro

    It’s always the effect of Western culture that majorly affects the anime of now compared to the past…

    As for Buddhism… I think it’s more like it’s the effect of Japan being one big Shinto country… Meaning Shintoism is practiced mostly in Japan and let’s see the fact that Shintoism is a branch-out religion of Buddhism… Therefore, some practices, gods and the like from Buddhism is carried over to Japan via Shintoism… Some beliefs and the like…

    I do believe that the Bhavacakra is just a pin-out view of this by Riichi-sama…

    • Oh, I dunno. I mean, Buddhism and Shintoism are linked, but I’d say Ueshiba’s knowledge of it goes slightly beyond the commonplace (for your average Japanese citizen, I mean) and into the esoteric. At least that’s the impression I got from reading his other works (Yume Tsukai, a bit of Discommunication, some Discommunication: Seireihen).

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