Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?; Nazo No Kanojo X Episodes 10-11

Nazo no Kanojo X really knows how to mesh proper fanservice with comedy while subverting romcom elements in a stylish…and fresh manner.

The last two episodes of Nazo no Kanojo X were unique in that they were a two parter; something I feared would ruin the pacing of the show because it has consistently been doing episodics rather than an actual arc. Whereas Jormungand has two seasons and switches from a one-episode storyline to a two-parter, MGX only has 13 (I think?) episodes, so I was afraid this would be too drawn out. Luckily, I was proved wrong.

A central theme found in this show is mutual understanding in order for a relationship to progress. Urabe and Tsubaki’s bond is shared intimately not through sex, but through saliva- a body fluid that is excreted and look similar to the sexual fluids of a man/woman’s body. Whereas a female body excretes the egg, and the male the sperm/semen, saliva is shared by both the female and the male body. In essence, it’s an ‘equal’ sort of fluid, and thus most importantly, depends on the exchange. Tsubaki and Urabe’s relationship is founded on this very trust and act. To allow yourself to taste someone’s spit, or give your spit to someone else, is a very intimate, personal way of opening yourself up- emotionally and physically, and thus it’s a bond that should be treasured. So when Tsubaki nearly betrays this trust when not-so-ex middle school crush Hayakawa stumbles into his life once more, it’s something we should all throw shade at, am I right?

This is where MGX flourishes, in managing to be very adult with handling the complexity and many facets of a relationship.  At first, Hayakawa comes off as the typical scheming ex, trying to ‘lure’ Tsubaki through her feminine wiles and nearly succeeding until the Hero saves the day. It’s something we’ve seen in almost every typical Princess/Prince movie, but as always, this show does such good job of subverting the very tropes that make a romcom….a romcom. Hayakawa in a way, takes advantage not only of Tsubaki but herself as well. As she meets him she immediately demands that he swallows her spit, which luckily does trigger Tsubaki’s alertness to the situation; Tsubaki refuses politely, despite wanting to have tasted it anyways, because he still does very much have a crush on Hayakawa. It’s of course, not as dominant as it was before now that he has Urabe in his life, which is something Hayakawa noticed for herself. But if we parallel this with Tsubaki and Urabe’s relationship, the fact that Hayakawa in her first interaction with Tsubaki after these years pleads Tsubaki to take her spit comes off already as a wrong relationship. No, it’s not because Hayakawa is a ‘potential threat to Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship’. That’s something Urabe even says for herself as she closely watches, but never interferes (until truly necessary) Tsubaki and Hayakawa go to the fair. Hayakawa acts on a single connection, but not a rebounding one. She never once does say that she loved Tsubaki; only that she was aware  that Tsubaki had feelings for her during middle school. Would Tsubaki then, have found her spit so sweet, like Urabe did in the showdown? Girls tend to understand their own gender well, and my guess is that the sort of feelings Urabe went through- jealousy, a sense of desired belonging- is what allowed her to understand Hayakawa’s feelings so well.

But Hayakawa’s feelings are not for Tsubaki. They are a reflection of the bitter and sad feelings she has for the boy who dumped her, whom she loved so much. Hayakawa thus takes her vulnerability and Tsubaki’s good heart into account and tries to make the most of it. The show does not put her in a bad light for this though; every character has their flaws, and just as Tsubaki acts on his flaw for trying to see the best of people (a flaw which ultimately saves him in the end though) and Urabe is so assertive and dominative in her relationship with Tsubaki to the point that he does have doubts sometimes about the actual nature of their relationship, Hayakawa’s doubts herself and turns that doubt into a desperate act to regain her self confidence. Doubt is the key to progress though. Despite Tsubaki being so secretive about his ‘date’ with Hayakawa at the fair, Urabe finds out for the most part anyway (with the help of her friend of course) but never actually physically interferes with their date until Tsubaki verbally disagrees to tasting Hayakawa’s spit for a second time after much hesitation. You just don’t share your spit with anyone- Tsubaki has only shared his spit with Urabe, and while Urabe does share her spit with Oka, it’s based on friendship, not on actual romance. (Though arguably, if Tsubaki shared his spit with a guy, would Urabe have a problem with it- and would Tsubaki even share his spit with a guy in the first place?) Urabe’s idea of a contest makes perfect sense in that aspect. Even after it’s agreed that the strength of Urabe and Tsubaki’s bond- a bond that fundamentally lies on the basis of trust and a mutual understanding and love for each other – Hayakawa does not turn into yet another jealous, useless secondary character. She adds dimension to the story by allowing both Urabe and Tsubaki to grow while at the same time, giving herself enough character development so that Urabe acknowledges Hayakawa not as a rival, nor as a friend, but an individual who has had her own difficulties in life but cannot be sorely judged for it. Just like Tsubaki does not truly judge or cast Urabe as an outsider because of her oddities, Hayakawa is not judged by the show for her weakness and taking advantage of it. We all have our faults; all we can do is change and acknowledge them. And that’s what this show is about: acknowledgment and how strongly built relationships rely on that acknowledgement.

On a side note, the very awkward but hilarious aspect of the girls stripping naked in the daylight to battle for Tsubaki’s heart (which interestingly enough, didn’t really rely on Tsubaki as it relied more on the girls’ understanding of their feelings toward their respective  lovers) was really well done. It’s just the sort of bizarre touch Nazo no Kanojo X has in its stories, but somehow doesn’t feel so out of place or overdone. Once again, a great example of really using fanservice and sexual imagery in a different way than usual. Of course, there are still some regular elements- like the nosebleeds and the hand slapping.

Ouch.

With two episodes left, and realistically speaking, a low chance for renewal, I’m say it right here: I’m going to miss this show, for all of its quirks and lovely subtle touches to the idea of what it means to be a “romantic comedy.”  Most likely the show will end with two 1-episode stories but that’s fine enough with me; MGX has showed more than enough that it can really control its storytelling and I look forward to a great and satisfying ending. In other words: I guess it’s time to head on over and read the manga….but until then, we have two solid episodes of Urabe and Tsubaki’s dynamic relationship to look forward to!

Enjoyment Level: 9/10

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