krpalmer: (anime)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Some manga series I read each new volume of as it appears in print over here, and try my best to get up to speed again with what’s happening (although the pauses between volumes can get longer as I get further into series and they have to wait for chapters to be compiled over in Japan). Other manga series I manage to pile up and push through in more of a marathon, although I’ve wound up interspersing volumes of different series in between with the thought this will feel less overwhelming. I suppose that second way of doing things makes it easier to comment on a series as a whole.

It somehow feels like it’s been a good while since I heard about an anime series called “Mysterious Girlfriend X,” talked up at the time with much glee about “drool.” In the end, it was just one more series I couldn’t find the time to watch streaming, but when Vertical licensed the manga it had been adapted from I did get that second chance that shows up every so often. However, I also noticed the two-volumes-in-one omnibuses showing up in the area bookstore without starting to buy them. Then, a third chance appeared when the series was bundled at the online store Right Stuf, and this time I bought it. It did take me a good part of last year to get around to starting into the stack of six omnibuses even so, but I had spent a lot of that time going through stacks of Skip Beat! and Princess Jellyfish.

Mysterious Girlfriend X starts with a high school boy named Akira Tsubaki taking note of a girl his age named Mikoto Urabe, her eyes often hidden by her shaggy hair. After falling asleep at her desk, Urabe leaves some drool on the desktop, and for whatever reason Tsubaki wipes the puddle up and tastes it... This manages, as Urabe explains, to form a bond between them they keep up by her feeding him fingertip-worth daily doses of drool on the way back from school, but keeping boundaries up against more conventional displays of affection with the aid of scissors she carries stuck in the side of her underwear. The “daily routine” does manage to communicate the emotions beneath Urabe’s often deadpan exterior.

This fusion of outré unusualness and the chaste conventionalities more familiar from a particular slice of manga and anime (even if this can get mixed up with “look but don’t touch”) did work for me; even having a bit more time each day now that I’ve put aside the Love Live mobile game might not explain just why I was plugging through the manga at a good clip. I hadn’t got too far into the manga before I realised I’d managed to read an earlier work by its creator Riichi Ueshiba, if through the dodgy means of “scanlations.” That earlier spirit-hunting action most sticks in my memory now for the obsessive detail of its backgrounds; there was only a bit of that in Mysterious Girlfriend X and that seemed to fade back with time. By the time I’d got about halfway into the later series, though, I did get to wondering about “guest characters being introduced to set up plot arcs that stretch things along,” including an idol singer who looks an awful lot like Urabe but has a different mechanical surprise under her own skirts and an “art unknowingly imitates life” student movie; the story didn’t overload with characters for me by any shot, though.

At last, the manga ran out; I happened to notice Ueshiba’s afterword talking about how it had run in serialization for ten years and pondered what might have happened to potential “there from the start” readers over that time. It hadn’t taken me anywhere near as long once I’d got started, but in its own way it had been refreshing (if not as refreshing as Urabe’s drool was for Tsubaki).

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