I’ve returned from my little hiatus, so pardon about the delay in these episode reviews; I’ll be cramming 2+ of them in one review for each show as I’m a week or so behind on most of them.
These past three episodes of Nazo no Kanojo X have been a delight to watch- I would contest that they were the best episodes out of the show so far, delivering comic relief but important character development and progress in the relationship between Urabe and Tsubaki while still being very emotional and heartwarming to watch. Episode 6 was emotional in itself as Tsubaki meets a girl he used to like and has to confront the idea of ever cheating on Urabe. It’s a nice topic to tackle halfway into the show as Tsubaki and Urabe’s relationship is…relatively stable, but still shaky enough that Urabe still holds doubt in her mind that Tsubaki could leave her. It’s not a surprising thought if you think about it; looking at Urabe’s personality and her lack of social etiquette, there’s no doubt that underneath that calm exterior of hers, lies some serious insecurity problems. And it’s natural to have them; it’s their first relationship, they’re middle schoolers experiencing and exploring their sexuality, and are still having trouble coming to terms with their own emotions. It’s here then, where the bonding of spit really comes into effect. Throughout these three episodes, and the past ones, the spit is the one thing that really initiates the understanding of Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship. Each episode deals with a certain hardship, but ironically, it’s not an actual discussion that resolves this hardship. It’s the transfer of emotions that resolves it. You could almost say that the show does a pun on the idea of “Spit it out!” because that’s exactly what happens; Urabe and Tsubaki understand each other and themselves better only through this interaction. In episode 8, Tsubaki loses control over his emotions and licks Urabe’s ear, only to make her cry. In a brief misunderstanding, Tsubaki thinks Urabe gets mad at him and asks her to slap him; it is only after she shares her spit with him that he realizes that she wasn’t crying from sadness but out of surprise of his action and her emotional response.
Which makes me question in the first place as to why Urabe relies so much on the spit interaction to make Tsubaki understand how she feels about him. Urabe wavers between resolute and shy, a trademark of how queer and odd she really is. She has her own way of expressing herself- she carries a pair of scissors in her panties and doesn’t mind cutting up anyone who comes across her, but she is shy about wearing a bikini. She is on the extremes; she doesn’t allow Tsubaki to hug her, but she allows Tsubaki to touch her breast at one point in the eighth episode. Doing so results in confusion and a lot of sexual tension, but the question still stands. If she can bluntly tell Tsubaki that she does not want to be on the track team because of him, why doesn’t she tell Tsubaki about her embarrassment of wearing a bikini in front of him- something she has already done, back in episode 5 where she swam with Tsubaki in the first place? I feel like there are two explanations for this- both, like Urabe, on polar sides. One is the theory that Urabe understands Tsubaki’s awkwardness and flustering and wants Tsubaki on his own to find out more about her and himself. Urabe is a clever girl, and there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s very good at understanding people’s true motivations. On the other hand, Urabe may not do this consciously at all, and is as awkward in exploring this relationship with Tsubaki. Either way, she has a very eccentric way of showing it- and thus, while the main protagonist is Tsubaki as he strives to understand Urabe and the nature of their relationship, the heart of the show really lies with Urabe’s emotions. She is the one who gives her spit to Tsubaki, not the other way around (which logically speaking, could be done, if Urabe loves Tsubaki; the process of spit sharing is what matters, not specifically who gives it and who takes it). Tsubaki thus depends on Urabe for any sort of ‘validation’ regarding his feelings for her, but rather getting a response. A relationship is based on mutual affection, no doubt, but it relies on activity- not just physical activity, but emotional response and confronting situations together. Urabe starts out at the beginning of each episode as a character for comedic relief but also to keep the audience on its toes with her utter weirdness. Yet the show comes back in full circle when Tsubaki reacts to those actions, and then seeks Urabe’s feelings not only to validate his own but to understand her better as a human being. It is only when the spit is shared that both Urabe and Tsubaki go under a certain revelation. Urabe predicts Tsubaki’s emotions to a certain extent, no doubt- such as Tsubaki being sad when Urabe is asked to join the track team in episode 7, but she cannot predict everything. This applies most to her surprising herself, with her own emotions toward Tsubaki. When Tsubaki asks her for a picture, she expects him to expect her to smile, and surprises him with a goofy face. But when Tsubaki tells her that he appreciates that photo anyway, she blushes and releases a load of saliva. In struggling with her own emotions, Urabe shows us that in essence, she is still as much as a newbie to relationships but also adolescence as Tsubaki is. They’re literally two sides of the same coin- a lyric that’s even found in the opening theme of the show.
Nazo no Kanojo X explores this side with the most bizarre of circumstances and a very mysterious character, but at the end, it doesn’t really matter that Urabe is stranger than fiction. The circumstantial evidence is fiction, but the tale itself is not. While Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship has different boundaries and levels than a normal relationship, they’re both still human beings in the end, and give into human emotions that the audience can connect with. Jealousy and sadness over the idea that someone you love isn’t yours to love anymore, or fear of that same love being taken to a level that you can’t control- these are all emotions that can be seen in a relationship, any relationship. It’s these emotions, as seen in these episodes, as well as these actions, that make the show come back from being just an oddity and make it have an emotional, mature touch to it that makes me love it so much. It’s not just a romance series, or a slice of life show. Nazo no Kanojo X knows when to be serious and when to be wacky- traits shared by a similar show, FLCL, and that’s the exact reason why it’s delivering so consistently so far. I can only raise my hopes for this show- and mind you, they keep raising.
Enjoyment Level: 10/10