June 25, 2012

Mysterious Girlfriend X Ep. 10

When a sadist is flogging the crap out of his victim, he might, for a moment, put down his whip and treat them with something soft, but this isn't mercy, it's to make the contrast even harsher for what's to come next.  While Episode 8 was hard to watch, Episode 9 was the caress of some bunny fur before the savage beating that is Episode 10.  Like a slow wall of lava coming down the Volcano, threatening to push you into the shark-infested sea.  You see inevitable disaster coming, no matter which path you take.

And of course, Tsubaki being Tsubaki, every wrong decision he makes only pushes him deeper into the jaws of the trap.  The poor sot, being destined to make the wrong choices by narrative necessity.

This was very difficult to watch.  I found myself stopping the player a lot.  I didn't want things to go the way they did, but I guess that says something when you're involved enough you want to characters to be happy, and this episode set things up for them to be anything but.

To start with, Tsubaki is being an idiot again at a bookstore buying some magazine that is featuring Imai Momoka, but that isn't the source of his problem this time.  That's waiting for him outside.  The short-haired girl is Hayakawa.  The same one who used to have waist-length hair and was Tsubaki's crush throughout middle school.  The one whose picture he used to carry around in his wallet, and whose picture he destroyed in the first episode to prove his love for Urabe.  He blew her off once before, but she's back.

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At first, Tsubaki didn't even recognize her with her hair cut short.  But she knew who he was, and wanted to talk to him.  Now, I can't write this from the point of view of not having watched the episode through, but I'll try to avoid jumping too far ahead.  She makes casual talk about their old friends, but she's actually pumping him for information.  Asking about Ueno and Nishida, for example, gets her to know about Ueno having a girlfriend, and allows her to go after her first real bit of intelligence, asking Tsubaki if he has a girlfriend too.  (Oddly, HS picks up on the name Nishida, while SD misses it, they also miss his use of the English "Nice body" to describe Oka).

And if Nostalgia doesn't work, there's always Waterboarding.
"Here, Diagonally."  "Pretty sneaky, Sis."

Of course, he denies it.  She flatters him by saying she was positive he did.  Why?  Because she knew he was so totally into her in Jr. High, but now he acts like he barely cares, as proven by the fact he didn't recognize her with her hair cut short.  This is a bit shocking to him, because he didn't think she knew about his crush.  And as they discuss it, she apparently didn't mind his creepy staring, because she was checking him out with a mirror in the lid of her pencil box.  He admits he was staring at her beautiful hair.  She teases him a little bit about it, making him uncomfortable. ("Did you want to touch it?")

"'Do you have a girlfriend?' is NOT a probing question, really!"
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"I was sure you were SO into me, you'd recognize me with short hair.  Joke's on me, eh?"
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Whoa, Sepia-tone, that's some Serious reminiscing.

They adjourn from the playground to a bench nearby where she tells him that it makes her feel better to talk about the past, when she knew someone had a crush on her, because her boyfriend just dumped her (and there's only one reason why a woman will let a piece of information like that slip).  Tsubaki realizes that the breakup must be why she cut her hair - Okay, I don't get that, but it must be a Japanese thing.  Because talking about the past makes her feel better, Tsubaki says they can talk about it all she likes, and offers some rather creepy details about his obsession with her.  Upon telling her, he realizes what he did with a lost strand of hair sounds creepy, but she says it isn't, and confesses to a creepy bit of her own behavior - stealing a coffee mug that someone she liked used, and kissing the place where his lips drank from it.  (I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering if it was his in retrospect).  So she says she thinks this kind of behavior is normal, while Tsubaki thinks to himself that it definitely is not.

Operation Rekindle is GO!
"Humiliate myself to make you feel better?  Sure, that's who I am!"
"Getting his hair and blood for the Ritual was the hard part."
"Getting very creeped out here, and I've got a high threshold."
"Look, I know you're a nice girl and would be a fine date for some Goth or maybe a serial killer."

But instead of finding an excuse to bug out, he continues to try to cheer her up, but at least he tries to shift back to the present, telling her that he can't believe any guy would dump such a nice and wonderful girl like he knew her to be when he had a crush on her.  She thanks him, then turns on the waterworks.  Making a woman cry is one of his weaknesses, but the mess she's made of herself is another one, including a drip of saliva running down her chin, and the poor conditioned boy can't help but react.  He is sorely tempted, and she starts asking him if they can see each other and keep talking from time to time.  He looks at the drool, and curiosity overwhelms his good sense (which as we know is very easily overwhelmed) and almost unbidden he utters that if he can taste her saliva, he will agree to continue meeting and talking.  Instantly he catches himself and swears it was just a bad joke.  But the fool gave her an In, and she would gladly do it in order to get what she wants - him.  So she pulls out a moistened finger (hmmm, Pink.) and offers him up a sample, and he is quite sorely tempted, but he remembers that this is his bond with Urabe, something that doing this might break, and he does the first sensible thing out of the whole encounter, he refuses her.  But he's still the loser here, because she uses this refusal to guilt-trip more information out of him, the fact that he DOES have a girlfriend, what they do, AND he gives her her name.

Waitaminute.  Tsubaki thinks she's cuter like this?  Boy, you are one damaged unit.
"Fool!  You won't be rid of me that easily.  That move only works for Ultraman!"
Think of what you stand to lose.  Okay, maybe not the best motivator.

Advantage Hayakawa.  Having obtained the necessary intelligence, she cheerfully takes her leave.  He has the barest glimmer that something is up, but he has NO idea.

Okay, we're done here.

Hayakawa, meanwhile goes home and integrates this new information into her fantasies of having him.  I would say that her fantasies have a rather dominant flair to them - like she could have made him do whatever she wanted in Jr. High, and she wants to recapture that opportunity.

"On your knees, Slave!  I offer you degradation for your devotion."
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"I could have had him years ago.  What a waste of time."

Is she hugging her, or crushing the life out of her?

After the break, we see Urabe walking by herself when she is intercepted by Hayakawa, who politely introduces herself, and is greeted with entirely appropriate skepticism by Urabe.  Urabe interrupts her spiel by saying "I know who you are."  But this doesn't deflect her one bit.  Starting with a base of flattery, and building on their commonality with Tsubaki, she tries to ingratiate herself to Urabe.  She gives Urabe a program book and Invitation to the Hoshinome Girls School 70th annual cultural festival (That's Hayakawa's elite school, an the reason she's not still a classmate of his), and then further sets the hook by telling her that Tsubaki is going to be there, and she might see something very interesting.  Can you say "Trap?"

"It's not stalking unless we used to date."
"Oh great..."
"So I never dated your boyfriend, but I could have.  We have that in common."
"Excellent Smithers."
"It's a book about a different way of thinking."
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"Seriously, that book changed my life."
"Anyway, come or you'll never know how I stole your boyfriend.  And I HATE Plan B."

So the next step is to bait the trap.  That night, Tsubaki comes running out of the house in the dark to rendezvous at nearby phone booth from which Hayakawa summoned him. (more suggestions of a pre-cell-phone era).  She is sporting a bruise on her left temple that she claims came from her ex-boyfriend wanting to get back together.  She called to enlist Tsubaki's help in a lame scheme to drive him off, Tsubaki must accompany her to the Hoshinome Girls School 70th annual cultural festival this Sunday so that he can see them together there and he will give up on her.  Tsubaki, as a Man and as a friend, agrees, but mentally he's apologizing to Urabe because he knows this looks bad, but he still hasn't gotten it through his thick head that hiding things from her and lying to her is the wrong way to handle things.

Tsubaki Akira, Man of Action!
"Gotta remember my lines...."
The Big Reveal
"Have I guilted you into acceding to my will yet?"
"It's a strange way I have of saying 'Thank you for being my fool.'."

But he's not the only one lying.  After Hayakawa leaves him, having extracted his promise to be at the festival, pretending to be her boyfriend, she stops in a park and using the public faucet there, takes a moment to wash off the makeup she used to fake the bruise on her face.  If the bruise is fake, it calls into question the entire existence of the "Old boyfriend who dumped her."  One might even take support for that from the truthful statement that going to an all-girls school, she doesn't meet many guys who would be friends and could help her out.  Which is probably her motivation for the entire plot.

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Hayakawa is clearly a much more accomplished liar than Tsubaki.  This is amply demonstrated when Urabe tests him.  Hayakawa told her that he would be there, so she innocently asks him if he has any plans for Sunday.  He stammers out that he and Ueno are going to go shopping on Sunday.  She already knows this is a doubtful, but to her, Hayakawa is not a reliable source.  It doesn't matter, the next day Oka comes running up with a program for the Festival, telling her that she is making Ueno go with her to it.  (Urabe's reaction to the sight of the book is brief shock.  Blink and you miss it, but funny).  Oka has her role in the evil, suggesting that it could just be that Tsubaki got the dates wrong, OR he's lying.

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"Why am I not convinced?"
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"Not you too!"
"Why not?  This book changed my life."
"He could be lying to you."

No chance for a confrontation (Although logically there should be, since there's a trip home after this scene) because it's off to the Festival.   And this is where things push the creepy scale to 11.  The Festival involved cultural costumes, but Hayakawa's "Costume" is her middle school uniform, and a wig to restore her looks to how she was when Tsubaki was crushing on her, she thought it would be the best thing to wear "for him."

"I'm throwing away everything for one act of gallantry, for a fake cause.  Yay me."
"Holy Cosplay Batman!"
"This book looked a lot more professional on the outside."
"Mrs. Robinson?"
Going all out to try to seduce him, aren't you? (Not a prefect De-pan, damned wind.)

Roll credits.  It may be the tenth episode, but it's the first two (or more) part plot in the series.

While there have been a lot of threats to Tsubaki and Urabe's relationship, they've all been internal, (mostly caused by Tsubaki) but this is the first time there is an external threat to their couplehood, and it looks serious.  It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and it's really hard on you if you're hoping they work it all out.

Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be getting any bunny fur in Episode 11.

Posted by: Mauser at 04:06 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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June 17, 2012

Mysterious Girlfriend X Ep. 09

Ah, sweet relief. After the heaviness of the last episode, a lighter and more humorous story. The topics for the day are jealousy and possessiveness, and playing with your hair.

The story opens in Urabe's bedroom, where she gets up with a serious case of bed-head, and just goes to school that way. Just as Tsubaki is thinking what a mess she is, Oka comes up and tells her what a mess she is, and offers to fix her up.

Look who sleeps nude
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Spoiling that image immediately.

A quick trip to some spare room, and some serious detangling later, Urabe emerges looking so different, the reaction is "Who's that girl? She's really cute!" Tsubaki is surprised that he can see her eyes, and Yajima runs up to tell her how great she looks. Oka pokes her head in to say she did it - one must get credit for one's meddling. (It's hard to see, but the front of her chair is off the ground from the pull of the brush.)

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"*grunt* you know, *oof* shaved heads are *argh* in Vogue too..."
I can see!
"I did this, pay attention to me!"

The whole day is different. With her hair out of her face, the guys in Gym running laps around the field where the girls are playing Vollyball start talking about how cute she is, and start talking about things like asking her out, which pisses off Tsubaki to no end. (Really, why not end the pretense? I've never known a good reason for it.)

"Suddenly I like Weird Girls... and Vollyball."
Frigging Multi-plane clouds.

On the way home, his jealousy over the attention she received comes to the surface. He asks if she's going to style her hair like that again. Her answer is totally passive, she doesn't much care. "It's like this because Oka did it, if she does it again tomorrow, it might look like this." (not an actual translation). Tsubaki asks that if it's possible, could she just go back to normal? She skewers him with a simple "Why?" He thinks to himself that he's worked so hard to see Urabe's face over time, and that to have it just exposed to everyone isn't right. Without actually saying anything, Urabe must have picked up on this, because she pulls out the hair ties and shakes out her hair. Then she asks him to give her his hands, which she places on her head and tells him to mess up her hair, forcefully. "There, back to normal." She says that if he doesn't like the other hairstyle, then she won't wear it. He decides that this is how he likes her hair, and she confesses that she actually kinda liked having him muss her hair.

(Too many shots, but I couldn't decide which ones to ditch)
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Deconstructing Beauty, and finding something more Real

The next day, Oka, the Mad Hair Stylist wants to strike again. After all, everyone loved her image change yesterday. Urabe refuses, twice, stunning Oka. But Oka is quick to try to ferret out the reason. She figures that Tsubaki didn't like it. Urabe denies it, but you have to watch those visual metaphors, like the water running in the outdoor sink suggesting the saliva transfer.... Oka says that Tsubaki DOES seem a little possessive, explaining that he doesn't want the other boys seeing her face. (What, Tsubaki's a Muslim now?) This conclusion hadn't occurred to Urabe, who is stunned enough that Oka can sample her reaction. And from this she has to ask, "When Tsubaki asked you to return your hair to normal, something happened with you two, didn't it?" Urabe's answer is non-specific enough to make Oka curious, leaving it at "Tsubaki did something that made me feel good." This of course really gets Oka going, so Urabe gets up and demonstrates, vigorously ruffling Oka's hair. This leaves her speechless.

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"Wanna do it again?"  "No."
Utter Incomprehension.  Don't let this happen to you.
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"I bet you did something kinky."  Amazingly, it's still attached.
Woody Allen... Sleeper... Orgasmatron... Google it.

On the way home from school this time following Ueno and Oka for once, Oka stops and demands that Ueno ruffle her hair. He, of course, has no idea what's going on, but he's not the one who makes decisions in their relationship. It also rather strikingly shows their size differences to me. When he's done, she's blissed out and her glasses are fogged. She concludes that Urabe was right about having your hair mussed by someone you like feeling good. "Those two sure do some interesting things." (HS translates interesting as "Kinky").

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"You want me to do what? In the street?"
"Gort!  Klaatu Barada Nicto!  Klaatu Barada Nicto!"
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Amazingly, it's still attached. (Okay, I used that before.  Didn't want to do the Scooby Doo joke.)
Can we do Barbarella next?
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"Hmmm, a new way of messing with people's heads."

REALLY cute Eyecatch (full size)

After the break, we go to the roof of the school, where one enterprising fellow named Nakajima from the photography club is selling photos he snapped of Urabe's new hairstyle for ¥300 each. Most of the guys are interested and buy them. Tsubaki is livid. Ueno notices his fury, but doesn't understand it because he's not in on their relationship. Tsubaki brushes it off, but he keeps stewing about how Urabe belongs to him alone. Then it occurs to him that that is a really possessive way of thinking.

"Full House"
My first Horizontal de-pan.
Well, what do you expect?  You've only got a crappy Polaroid.
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"Who, us?"

Nakajima calls over to Ueno and Tsubaki, asking if they want to buy any, Tsubaki is torn. As much as he hates the other guys having pictures of HIS girlfriend, he really wants some, but he doesn't want to have to pay someone else for pictures of HIS girlfriend. Ueno's rationale for not buying is much simpler - Oka. Then someone fatefully mentions that Urabe looks like one of the latest Idols, Imai Momoka.

Dun dun DAAAA!

Tsubaki, who reads Film Fan magazines all the time, apparently hasn't heard of this idol and is suddenly interested after hearing that she looks like his girlfriend. But then, she's only famous so far for doing a bottled water commercial.

That day after school, after parting with Urabe, Tsubaki diverts from going home and hits the bookstore first to pick up the Imai Momoka photo book. The dumbass would rather spend ¥3000 on pictures of a girl who looks like his girlfriend than a tenth of that for an actual picture. And to make matters worse, as he is buying it, Ueno catches him at it. This isn't an immediate disaster, since he doesn't know that he's seeing Urabe, but just wait.

Actually, I only comment on all the wide pics because they run into the small ones otherwise.
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As you can see, that doesn't happen the other way.

Tsubaki is immediately up in his room to look at his new  porn  book. In his favor, he is comparing everything he looks at to Urabe, and usually she comes out on top, especially in the swimsuit pictures. (There are WAY too many pans of the book to do them all.) EXCEPT, there is one picture of the young idol smiling a big free and open smile, and Urabe never smiles like that. This becomes his favorite in the entire book, and he pronounces it a good buy.

These two are clickable.
Ever think YOU are the reason Urabe won't smile like this?
A love of books will stay with you for a lifetime

The next day, while walking to school, Ueno and Oka are talking about how Nakajima was selling pictures of Urabe.  Oka teasingly asks him if he bought any, and he gives the right answer.  Then she asks about Tsubaki, and is surprised by the negative answer.  But Ueno offers that Urabe is probably his type, since he spotted him yesterday buying the Imai Momoka book - getting it exactly backwards.

Hmmm, What sort of Deviltry can I use this for?

What follows is Oka's most thoughtless and potentially destructive act of meddling ever.  When she joins Urabe for lunch, she brings along a copy of the book (from wherever she got it), pulls Urabe's bangs from her face, and pronounces her Imai Momoka's double.  Like Tsubaki, Urabe has been blissfully ignorant of the Idol's existence, but Oka explains, AND says that Tsubaki just bought her photo collection - Ueno saw him buying it - and she's sure he bought it because she looks like you, Urabe.

"Ignore the kid behind the dumpster, he wasn't popular anyway."
"You're twins!"  "What about my twins?"

That afternoon, on the way back from school, after his dose, Urabe confronts him coolly about the photo book (amazing that he didn't pick up her emotions from the drool at that point).  She asks him if he has it, and he asks how she knew.  She asks if she really looks like the idol, and he says yes, and that the reason he bought it was because she looked like her.  She says that she wants to see it, and tells him to get it and bring it back, and they'll meet in the park.

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In the park, she pages though the book, and not knowing how to read Urabe's mood - something he should learn as a survival tactic - he tries to share enthusiastically.  She closes the book and hands it back to him, and asks him, which picture is his favorite?  He holds up the picture of the big smile, and Urabe gets up and tells him to hold still.  NOW he figures out what's coming, and the scissors come out.  In seconds, the book is confetti.  "Tsubaki-kun, you're my boyfriend, so I don't think it's necessary for you to be attracted to an idol who looks like me." (SubDesu) "You're supposed to be my boyfriend, so you don't need to worship an Idol who looks like me." (HorribleSubs)

"You know, they say when couples share Erotica, it can lead to better sex."
"I'd love it if you tried THIS position."
"No."  (I was going to have a great de-pan of her drawing her scissors, but she moved, dammit!)
"I said we were going to be each-other's firsts.  You need to save your strength."

Relieved to be in one piece, Tsubaki comes to the conclusion that maybe Urabe is a little possessive as well.

Amazingly, it's still attached.

Posted by: Mauser at 07:58 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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June 06, 2012

Mysterious Girlfriend X Ep. 08

Oh... my... god.

This episode TOTALLY went in a direction I didn't expect. Heart-wrenchingly so. And while in this blog I let go freely with the spoilers since it would be unreadable otherwise, I urge you to wait until you've watched it before you go any further.


Now for a long time, my criticism of Tsubaki is that he needs to grow a pair. Well, there's a problem when you suddenly obtain some and don't know how to handle them properly. Male urges are a powerful thing, and if you don't have a grip on them, they can send you to some very dark places. I have also had a revelation about Urabe. The reason she is such a calm and complete master of her reality is because she keeps that bubble of reality very, very small. This whole series has been slowly dragging her out of her comfort zone and leading her into unfamiliar territory, which is why she keeps such a death-grip on her progress. She also has so little context for this that her reactions seem off-kilter to the rest of us.

The episode opens in Tsubaki's surreal dream world, where Urabe has just offered to allow him to touch her breasts, and he gives them a bit of a honk. He is disturbed by this sensation because it persists in his hand after he awakens. He wonders if they feel in reality the way they felt in his dream, and feels guilty about obsessing about such things on a fine Sunday morning in Autumn. He realizes he needs to get out of the house to distract himself, but like a cheesy comedy movie, everywhere he goes he gets reminded of breasts, from the meat pies his sister is offering for breakfast to the bookstore he frequents, where he can't seem to avoid pictures of women.

We all have dreams....
"It's like Lady MacBeth, only I don't want to wash it."
Is that Yakity Sax I hear in the distance?
Backgrounds like this, just for a simple walk-through with one line of dialogue amaze me.

He gives up on the idea of the bookstore as a distraction, and wanders around. Eventually winding up at the place where he and Urabe part ways on the way home from school. He speculates that she must live in the direction she normally heads off in (a perfectly reasonable guess), and eventually he passes an apartment building and wonders if she lives in a place like that (getting into creepy premonition territory there), and no sooner has that thought crossed his mind than Urabe nearly plants her bike in the small of his back, asking why he's in front of her home (Ding! Freaky Coincidence Achieved.)

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Seems like it's been a year, but I never go past this point....
♫... on the street where you live...♪
"Where do I catch the #5 bus?"  "In the small of the back if you don't get off the street."

He's a bit thrown by this, and actually wants to get away, but she stops him, and invites him up for something to drink.

That fine Autumn morning is starting to turn dark and cloudy. Cue the ominous symbolism. (She also lives on the 10th floor. I'm not sure if that's supposed to mean something, but they do dwell on that for a moment).

She lets him into the (again darkened) apartment, and it is revealed that she's the only one home. She leads him to her room, which is unbelievably spartan, with no art or posters on the walls (Correction, by the head of her bed are a couple of UFO-related items). Although one clue that it IS hers is the book about Paper Art on the desk. She takes off her coat and BAM, he is faced with her figure in a very snug black sweater, leading to near flashbacks to his dream - his hand clenching on its own. While Urabe makes Coffee, he tries to distract himself with the contents of the room, and unfortunately latches on to her bed, taking in her scent from the bedding, where she catches him.

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We've secretly replaced Mikoto's sweater kittens with tiger cubs, let's see if he notices the difference....
"What happened to those panties I gave you?"  "They were clean."

It looks even more like rain. He thinks it's incredible luck that should it rain, he can shelter there.


Urabe's intuitions are still strong, and she bluntly asks him if there's something on his mind. He just can't quite confess, even after he thinks this opportunity is a gift from God. I began to notice at this point the exasperated sigh she lets out each time she lets something like this slide.

The thunder rumbles. The sky turns black. Urabe gets up to turn on a light, and BOOM, lightning so loud she's startled and falls, right into Tsubaki's arms. His hand is around her waist, just a finger's width from realizing his dream....

... there it is!

... and the Scissors come out. She eyes him accusingly, asking him why he was trying to take advantage of the situation, and asking him again for a truthful answer about what is preoccupying him.

In Three-D!

And FINALLY he answers her honestly. He tells her about his dream, that he touched her breast in his dream. And either pressing him, or genuinely intrigued, she asks him how it felt. He tells her everything, and mentally questions himself for being so blunt (It's a Japanese thing, I guess.)

Strangely, she puts down the scissors, and kneels on the floor before him. Perhaps it's her urge to experiment with her power. She snakes one hand up her sweater and fondles her own breast, then offers him a taste of her pheromone-laced saliva. The sensation is so much more real than the dream, it brings a tear to his eye. Although I wonder if the source is a sadness of hers. That isn't called, out, but it's my theory. She then says that he may actually touch her himself.

Your Offer Intrigues me....
Copping a feel by proxy... still better than the imagination.

Lightning illuminates the room.

Igor! Now!  The Switch!

Tsubaki balks, something about "Didn't their feelings need to be in sync first?" (The translations are really different here, and as a matter of fact, the HorribleSubs encoding is extra dark), but she'll have none of it, having gone this far, she actually gives him to the count of three to do it. He does it on Three, apologizing as he reaches out and plants his paw on her breast. It is a revelation, he can feel her heart beating in her chest. He is so overcome by this, he does the unthinkable....

"Strangely, this is far less erotic than I was led to believe."

Tsubaki tackles Urabe to the floor. She reaches for her scissors on the floor, just barely in her grasp. As she fumbles with them, and begs him to stop, he sees her ear, and starts licking it. She drops the scissors and starts to cry, but all Tsubaki can see are her lips, and he leans forward to taste them....

This is why she never let you hug her, you moron.
"No means No" is clearly an America-only thing.
For once, I wanted her to carry through on her threats.
The ear was an odd choice.
If this had gone forward, who knows what the Pheromones would have carried.
This is your Girlfriend. This is your Girlfriend on Rape. Any Questions?

And then he sees her tears, and realizes that he has done this. That he got carried away and made her cry, and he feels horrible (as he should). He asks her if she's mad, and strangely she answers that she isn't. But he leaves her there laying on the floor, saying how sorry he is, and runs home in the pouring rain.

"What have I done?!"
Yeah, just leave her there. It's not like you can do anything else.
I don't think "Gomen" really cuts it at this point.
"Wait, that's it? I was all ready to close my eyes and think of England. And I've never even been to England!"

Afterwards, she pinches her own ear, and more tears flow. Apparently she's a crier. Maybe it's true that she didn't mind this so much. Doesn't make it right though.


But things never end conveniently. There's always a next day, and the next day is Monday, at School. The story skips what I can imagine is a terribly awkward morning sitting next to each other in class, and instead cuts to lunch with Urabe and Oka - actually, the end of lunch. After polishing off the last morsel, Urabe offers Oka a taste of her saliva, something so rare (at least to get voluntarily) that Oka enthusiastically takes it. Suddenly her body gets hot and face is so flushed that her glasses fog up. She has to ask if something happened between Urabe and Tsubaki, and Urabe admits something did happen the day before. Thinking about it, she says that she experienced a sensation she'd never felt before. Oka asks her specifically what happened, but Urabe declines to answer, and amazingly, Oka accepts that, but tells her that being in love will make one feel all kinds of new things, and it's normal. Urabe is curious, and asks Oka if she's been feeling different things since dating Ueno. And she admits its going slowly, and certainly nothing like the reaction she just had passed to her. Oka speculates that they have gotten even further along than she and Ueno have, and Urabe cuts the conversation short, and actually runs away. Oka's glasses fog up again, and she says that something VERY significant must have happened between them, and she reveals that she's kinda been in competition, thinking that she'd been ahead of them all this time.

"Compared to this feeling, my sex life seems inadequate."
"Sorry, I feel a very sudden need for some privacy."
"Oh great, does this mean I'm going to start having rape ravishment fantasies now?"

Urabe, having run off, finds a narrow space between the buildings to hide. She reaches up into her hair and pinches her ear, flushing and panting as a result. It seems that her ear pushes a button with her, perhaps triggering a memory of her feelings at that moment before, which may not be what we assume.

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Finally it's back to class, and Tsubaki is sitting there during Chemistry, thinking about what happened and feeling like a total shit.

Cut now to their walk home, and he is abjectly apologizing. But she asks why. "Because I made you cry." "I told you I wasn't mad." At the end of their walk, as she's about to give him his daily dose, he refuses, saying he's not worthy. He insists that she slap him. He says it's not whether she's mad or not, but that he did something to make her cry. (So really, it's about him getting right in his own head.) She warns him that it will hurt, and clearly it does. But then she pulls back her hair and tells him to touch her ear, then to squeeze it. Her thighs clench together, she lets out a little gasp and starts tearing up. She says that ever since what happened, when she touches her ear, she cries. Her sensations have changed, and even in the face of his apology, she says she doesn't mind it, in fact, she kinda likes it. (She is an odd girl). But if what happened yesterday hurt him, she needs to know, and so she takes a sample from him. And she discovers that her slap really does hurt as her own cheek reddens. She insists that she has some responsibility for what happened, and while saying that relieves Tsubaki a little of his guilt, he still wishes she hadn't taken on the bruising from the slap, because that shouldn't happen to his girl. Those words clearly have an effect on her, and she quickly gives him his dose and runs off, while he flushes.

"Really, you don't need the Wakizashi."
Amazingly, it stays attached.
It's a disturbing cross between pain and arousal.
"Wow, I guess I don't hit like a girl."
"Let's not do this again.  At least not before we invest in some Serious Leather."

It's hard to judge, from a number of angles, what exactly is going on in Urabe's head. Perhaps she wants to be "Taken" even though the time wasn't exactly right, and she was both aroused and saddened by the incident. It's true that she did have a grip on her scissors, and then let them go rather than slaughtering her boyfriend. I'd say there are cultural differences going on here, but considering that this is Urabe, I'm not even sure if any Japanese cultural norms apply, so her reactions are alien to me by at least two degrees of deviation. This episode has kicked their relationship way down the field, but almost broke it at the same time. The effect this will have on them in the future is yet to be known.  Maybe it will make them stronger, but at the cost of their innocence.

There's another metaphor in here aside from the weather that's not immediately apparent. On the way to Urabe's house, Tsubaki passes a park with shrubs that are in bloom. On the way back, in the pouring rain, the ferocity of the storm has knocked many of the petals to the ground, clearly symbolizing the damage that's been done.

Posted by: Mauser at 11:02 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 2287 words, total size 18 kb.

June 03, 2012

Mysterious Girlfriend X Ep. 07

As I mentioned before, it seems that a lot of these episodes tell two stories, although this time they're a little less clearly demarked. A little bird told me that this is already up to volume 4 of the Manga, and that the series may have an Anime Original ending. The upshot is some things are really compressed. So the two threads are, Urabe's talent for running and whether or not to join the track team, and the healing power of swimsuits.

Yes, that means there WILL be more de-pans below. If you wanna jump ahead, that's okay. I'll be here when you get back.

Our story opens in the girls gym class where they're doing speed trials, and Urabe is up against Yajima, the fastest girl on the track team, and the finish is really close. Oka, who was running the stop watch comes up to her and tells her how amazing the run was, and then Yajima comes up and tries to recruit her for the Track Team. Urabe, of course, isn't interested in joining any after-school clubs, but at least she is drafted for the relay at the school P.E. festival. What follows is one of the most awkward high-fives ever, and Urabe is left looking at her hand quizzically.

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On the way home, Tsubaki is commenting on this news about the Festival, he's very impressed (And of course, she isn't). This leads to him thinking about how athletic she is, in particular how fast she is with her "Panty Scissors". Urabe mentions how Yajima invited her to join the Track team, and Tsubaki is even more impressed and wants to know if she'll do it. In one of the sweet moments we occasionally get from Urabe, she says "I can't join. Because, if I join an after-school club I won't be able to walk home with you after school." Tsubaki is so touched by the sentiment that he tries to glomp onto her, which she dodges with her lightning speed. While she forcefully reminds him not to hug her without permission, he reflects on how her speed is proof of her excellent athleticism.

What would you do, girls, faced with THIS?
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Later, at practice for the P.E. Festival, Oka pops up for her favorite hobby, meddling. As Urabe takes a break, Oka brings her some water, and probes her about why they're practicing during lunch, when normally she'd be sleeping on her desk, and isn't that tough on her? And then she pokes her about not joining track, but comes to the very odd conclusion that this is kind of sexy. Urabe is just as confused by this logic as I am, but Oka explains, rather lengthily that if she joined track, her legs could be trained to the point of winning regional meets, but "... these beautiful legs, Tsubaki-kun gets to hog them all to himself." And to emphasize her point, Oka starts stroking Urabe's thighs, much to her shock. (If Tsubaki had done it, he'd be a dead man). Oka further explains that she's sussed out that Urabe is doing all this just so she can walk home with Tsubaki. It's true, but the way Oka spins it (everything, really) shows how sex-obsessed she is. She blows Oka off by returning to practice, which Oka takes as confirmation of her theory.

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"What is this? National Molest Urabe week?!"
"Two words - Bad Touch."

We switch to Tsubaki, who is watching the practice from the classroom window. He is pleased to see that Urabe is running the "Anchor" of the relay, and the other girls seem to really appreciate her. Later, at home, after taking a bath, his sister tells him that she's just had his winter school uniform cleaned. During this exchange, she says two ominous things: First, she warns him to dry his hair after his bath or he'll catch a cold, and the second, after Tsubaki takes his Uniform to his room, is she reveals that she's had her old school uniform cleaned and remarkably, it still fits. If she weren't such a cipher, that might carry more meaning, but it can't bode well.

Click to embiggen. A difficult de-pan, it was actually multi-plane!

Speaking of ominous, when Tsubaki goes to bed, he reflects on how it seems (to him anyway) that Urabe is getting closer ot Oka, and getting along with Yajima and the other runners. "I should be happy for her, but I feel like I'm gradually losing her." WTF! Aside from the question of just how much you've actually "Got", you already know you're stuck with her for whatever that's worth. I dunno, if that's what the "Average" high schooler is like in Japan, no wonder the birth rate is down.

Well, I guess Tsubaki was so concerned about sharing Urabe that he went to bed with wet hair, because he catches a super flu and is out of school, which gives Oka more ammo for meddling. While feeding Urabe some nummy-looking food (Looks like Tempura shrimp wrapped in Bacon, and we all know EVERYTHING is better with bacon) she discusses how the teacher said he'd be out for days, and what a shame it will be for him to miss the P.E. Festival. Then, she sets her next trap, "So, since he's your boyfriend, aren't you going to visit him?" Urabe innocently lets out the affirmative, and Oka goes in for the kill, talking about how Ueno had the flu a couple weeks ago, and what she did to help him get over it. Now I may have spoiled it above, but for viewers, she whispers it in Urabe's ear, and convinces her that the what-she-did helped him get well enough to come to school the next day.

Four hours in a room-temperature Bento box... I'm SURE it's safe.
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"Okay, I admit my standards for 'Salacious' are a bit low."

Urabe shows up at Tsubaki's house, where she hasn't been since the first episode, and recycles the same excuse to get past his sister, lying about having his homework. Now, sometimes one line might be a giveaway. In this case, when Big Sis introduces Urabe to Akira's room, she sweetly says "Take your time" (or "Make yourself at home."). I wonder if she knows. Nevertheless, just like before, she plops down on his sickbed and confesses to lying about the homework. Tsubaki notices the similarity to the previous situation, but Urabe points out that this time he is really sick, not just lovesick, and she doubts that her saliva would cure him, but they try anyway. And Tsubaki suddenly has a strong impression of Summer, and feels a lot better, so she leaves.

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"Don't break him."
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It's Deja Vu all over again.

Urabe then returns to a darkened apartment, which makes me wonder if she lives alone, and reveals that the impression of summer her pheromones communicated was because under her coat she was wearing a Bikini.

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"Home again, Home again. Jiggedy Jig."
Guess what happens if you click on this.

Now it's time for the festival (More data for the detective work, it's Fumidai High School). Oka is sitting with Urabe with the female participants, and she's snapping pictures of the goings-on. She comments that Tsubaki is there, and Urabe says that it's thanks to her, she took Oka's little story in mind and visited Tsubaki. Oka is, of course, hungry for all the salacious details, but fortunately for us, she flashes back on HER visit to her sick boyfriend.


Okay, while he may have had the flu, Ueno is a sick pup. Frequently there's a bit of voice play over the previews, usually that seems unrelated to the story, but a couple of episodes ago in one of those, Ueno is talking about wanting to see Oka in a bathing suit, but not wanting to go anywhere public, because he doesn't want to share that vision with anyone else. When Oka visits to cheer him up/help him out, That is the request he makes. Not for her to get him a book or tidy up, but "I wanna see you in your swimsuit." He expands, "I think if I can see you in a swimsuit - something I usually only see in the summer - I might get better." Manipulative little shit. When she just lets the silence run just a little too long, he breaks and says he is only kidding. That's when she says, "Is that all?" and says she'll be back in 40 minutes in her swimsuit.

"Is that all?"

One sight of this and he's out of bed, ready to pounce her, but she puts her foot down and orders him back to bed, threatening to break up with him if he lays a finger on her. It's clear who wears the pants in that couple, even when she's wearing a bikini. She then takes the opportunity to blow his mind.

The pan started at her feet, but was interrupted by a reaction shot.
George Romero's "Night of the Living Letch".
"EEK, suddenly your hand is HUGE!"
"It's just foreshortening, dumbass."
"So, this is what you wanted?"
"Who OWNS you baby?"
I know this would make ME feel better.

Remembering this, Oka asks Urabe if she modeled her swimsuit for Tsubaki, but she says that while she wore it, she didn't show it to him. "Oka-san, even to help my sick boyfriend, I'd never do a swimsuit striptease for him." and that is an illustration of the difference in morals between the two. Oka, not getting it, decides to sneak a sample to find out what Urabe is feeling about the idea, but she gets stopped with a classic sword-catch. Only through subterfuge and the use of a brilliant diversionary tactic ("Look, a kitty!") does she get the desired sample. The answer, "Oh, you're shy., I thought you have a more complicated reason than that, but I guess you just had a 'normal' girlish reason." Oh, the insult! Calling Urabe normal!

"Look! A Kitty!"

Then with a good-luck fondle to the thigh from Oka, it's off to the Relay Race. Tsubaki begins to get pissed about some of the guys making lewd comments about Urabe's legs, but once the baton gets to her, everyone is more amazed by her speed. The outcome is not in doubt (Although the staging sure is, since BOTH Yajima and Urabe have to pass everyone else in the race).

Nice legs? Really? Okay.
I've heard of "Upskirt" but "Upshirt"?
"I will call you Marcie, if you will call me Sir."

After school that day, Tsubaki goes to his shoe locker, only to find that someone has stolen his nametag. He then meets up with Urabe for their walk home, and he talks about how he thinks she should join track, and that he feels like he's holding her back from what she could accomplish. She detects BS, and then suddenly offers her dose right then. He gets a big smile on his face, and she tells him that he was lying about wanting her to do well in Track. How can she tell? Because she knows why he's smiling uncontrollably, and she lifts her skirt to reveal Tsubaki's locker tag pasted on her thigh, marking it his. She upbraids him about lying to her to protect what he thinks she's feeling. She really would rather be with him in the afternoons than winning races. Cue another evaded hug, and she offers to race him to the place they part ways.

"Well, I thought it was a little early in our relationship for a Tattoo or a Brand..."
"...but someday."

Posted by: Mauser at 10:24 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 1950 words, total size 15 kb.

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