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Nazo no Kanojo X / 謎の彼女X (2012)

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Nazo no Kanojo X - recenzja anime - rascal.pl
Nazo no Kanojo X (2012)

Tsubaki Akira is an average high school student. One day Urabe Mikoto joins his class and takes the seat next to him. Urabe Mikoto gives the impression of being secretive and even cold – the fact that her hair covers half her face doesn’t make it any easier to read her emotions. On the very first day she gets the name of the weirdo, because she suddenly bursts out laughing during the class. She doesn’t even try to make any friends, instead preferring to nap at her desk during breaks. A few days later, Tsubaki finds Urabe asleep after class and decides to wake her up.

She leaves the room, but as he looks at the desk where she was sitting, he notices her saliva… of which he wants to taste without hesitation. The next day, he does not show up at school because he wakes up with a high fever. Mikoto visits him at home after class is over and very directly asks if he tasted her saliva. A confused Akira nods, to which the girl states that his fever is not caused by illness, but rather by longing for her and symptoms of withdrawal from her saliva like a heavy drug. To prove her point, she licks her index finger and with a quick motion puts it in his mouth, causing his fever to disappear momentarily and his mood to improve…

Nazo no Kanojo X – Audiovisual design

Video

When I started watching the first episode, I experienced a sort of shock. Most of the time I was under the impression that the animation was done using standard cell methods, as it was until the late 90’s. Of course, I was aware that this was impossible for many reasons, but as I live – I haven’t seen such a good representation of classic animation using digital methods (aside from literally a few seconds in the fifth episode, where a train was shown in 3D – although they blended the vehicle in quite well, it was impossible for my eye to unsee it).

Mój szok był spotęgowany, ponieważ widziałem kilka serii studia Hoods Entertainment i o ile większość wyglądała po prostu poprawnie. Były też takie, które odstraszały. 3D Kanojo – znajduje się w jednym z moich podsumowań w sekcji najgorzej wyglądających serii roku. I tutaj nawet nie chodzi o samą animację, lecz w zasadzie o każdy aspekt. Projekty postaci bardzo przypominają końcówkę lat 90. Podobnie jak cieniowanie – coś niesamowitego, sam styl rysowania teł i nakładania animacji postaci na nie, oraz przepiękna gra światłem. Dbałość o szczegóły zrobiła na mnie ogromne wrażenie.

My shock was amplified, because I’ve seen several series by Hoods Entertainment, and while most of them looked just right, there were also some that were a complete eyesore (3D Kanojo – included in one of my summaries in the worst-looking series section of the year). And here it’s not even about the animation itself, but basically about every aspect. The character designs are very reminiscent of the late 90s, as is the shading – something amazing, the sheer style of drawing backgrounds and superimposing character animation on them, and the beautiful play with light. Attention to detail made a huge impression on me.

This kind of quality was somehow maintained until the very end of the series, so basically, from the first to the last episode, we are guaranteed a feast for our eyes. Anyone who recalls with nostalgia the second half of the 90s when it comes to anime and what it was like back then, will be in awe while watching Nazo no Kanojo X. Fortunately, it doesn’t end with just audio and video, but more on that later.

Audio

As for the soundtrack – it’s also excellent. The songs from the opening and ending will surely find their way into my playlists (and again – they’re a typhoon of nostalgia), the soundtrack perfectly emphasized the atmosphere of many scenes and the mysteriousness of the whole thing. The voice actors fit their roles brilliantly, although some people will probably be quite surprised when they hear the voice of the main female character for the first time. Yoshitani Ayako is not a voice actress, but a TV drama actress. Because of this, her voice stands out a lot, but after two episodes I found that she really fits the role and character of Urabe Mikoto perfectly. Also worthy of mention is Hirohashi Ryou lending her voice to Oka Ayuko, the girlfriend of the main character’s friend.

Nazo no Kanojo X – Plot and Characters

Introduction

As unusual and strange as the description sounds, that’s exactly what the entire series is. The direction by Watanabe Ayumu made a huge impression on me. The creators (and probably also the author of the source material – but I’ll find out only after I read the manga, which is already on its way from Japan) relied on a rather unusual plot device – you could have already noticed it partially by reading the description above.

Nazo no Kanojo X – briefly about the characters and plot

The characters are finding out about their emotions through their saliva (or rather, they are experiencing the emotions currently accompanying them). Akira and Mikoto have a rather special bond that makes this possible. Although, superficially, it looks like the author’s fetish (causing disgust in a large number of people for some unspecified reason – which I personally find quite difficult to understand, taking into account the fact that we basically exchange saliva with our partner every time we kiss), I actually perceived it as a metaphorical presentation of the development of the main protagonists’ (and not only their) relationship and feelings. The very idea of showing it in such a way is very original. Speaking of metaphors, we can find them literally at each and every corner in the visual form

The directing style of Nazo no Kanojo X

It is worth to observe what is happening in the background – even small details. The usage of light plays an important role as well – depending on the time of day and the colors of the scenery, we could tell the nature of a given scene or a foreshadowing of what is going to happen next – it reminded me a bit of Anno Hideaki’s style, which I wrote about extensively while reviewing KareKano. Nazo no Kanojo X focuses on mystery from the beginning, giving us rudimentary information about the characters while at the same time, in a rather expressive style, showing the chemistry between Akira and Mikoto while maintaining a rather slow pace. Such an atmosphere prevails until the very end of the series, which made me reach for subsequent episodes in a natural way, curious about the development of feelings between them and the revealing of more secrets.

There was, of course, the beach episode (in fact, just a fragment whose style of execution, both visually and in terms of the flow of events, made me feel incredibly nostalgic) and a short drama related to Akira’s one-sided love from his previous school near the end of the series – but the drama had a very satisfying ending and contributed significantly to solidifying the bond between the two characters. In addition to the main couple, some time was devoted to the relationship between Akira’s friend Kouhei and his girlfriend Ayuko, who attends the same class. Their paths intertwine in almost every episode, and Ayuko herself becomes Mikoto’s only friend until the very end.

An unusual way to show the proximity of friendship development

As I mentioned above – each episode shows beautiful, innocent love and a slow, but passionate discovery of one’s feelings, desires and expectations from the other half. The main character, despite showing immaturity at times, is aware of it and in his actions – despite everything – quite direct. He is not afraid to talk too much about his feelings or dreams closely related to the object of his affection, and when the situation requires action, he does his best to prove how much he cares about this relationship. He also often succumbs to various temptations, but in the crucial moments he is able to cope with them in a better or worse way, thinking of his loved one.

Mikoto, on the other hand, is a very mysterious girl, but mysteriousness is not always a good thing. In this case, of course, the situation is different – her mysteriousness intrigues in many ways, and you just want to explore it piece by piece. Urabe Mikoto is an example of a perfectly realized kuudere, hiding a fountain of feelings, just waiting for an opportunity to show its beauty in full, at the right time.

Nazo no Kanojo X captivated me mainly because of how naturally every aspect of this work works together and complements each other, much like the main characters in their familiarity. Additionally, a pinch of mysticism in romances is always a good thing and adds depth to the titles, and this is no different.

The music doesn’t seem to stand out, nor does it make me want to listen to it again, but after a while I realized what an excellent job Hasegawa Tomoki did with the soundtrack, which in an unimaginably subtle way emphasized the atmosphere of the current events, perfectly matching both what we see on screen and what we feel, as well as the voices of the characters themselves.

Evaluation and Summary

I recommend Nazo no Kanojo X above all to fans of romances open to looking for metaphors and symbolism in the presented material while watching, and for something that shows feelings in an unconventional way. The visuals and direction take a handful of cues from classic series of this type from three decades ago (which I personally think is really brilliant), so if you also love this style, you’ll fall in love with this title instantly. For me personally, every aspect made an incredible impression – by the way, I absorbed the whole thing practically at once, which rarely happens. I don’t know how such a gem was hidden from me for so many years, but I’m glad I finally found it. One of the best romances I’ve seen. I can’t wait until a courier knocks on my door with a package from Japan containing the entire manga set so I can read to the end how Akira and Mikoto’s fate will unfold.

Finalny werdykt

Final evaluation

Which translation do I recommend to watch Nazo no Kanojo X

  • Final8 – This release uses GotWoot subtitles. As for the translation itself – I could pick on a few minor details, but overall it’s really very well done and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.
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