“If you sat an alien down and screened for him all the movies made in America in any given year, their first question would be “why do most of these have close up shots of dicks going into various orifices?” See, a huge percentage of films made in North America are hardcore porn because it’s cheap as chips to make and very lucrative. But when we think of “American cinema”, My Ass is Haunted is not usually part of the conversation. We compartmentalise porn and regular cinema, while filing Japanese hentai simply under “animé”. Japan’s porn tends to be animated, but other that there’s no real difference. The Japanese are no more “weird” or “sick” than we are.“
I wrote that back in my review of Akira, the first animé I ever reviewed for this blog. It was a plea for mutual respect and understanding between nations, a plea I must now formally retract because oh my God Japan’s weird guys.
Japan is so, so, so weird.
So a few years back I got really into the Attack on Titan animé and because I got sick of waiting for the next season to come out I decided to just buy the manga. And I did this because nobody warned me that the artwork is bad enough to cause serious corneal damage.
Now, the manga also included a question and answer between creator Hajime Isayama and his young fans. And one of the questions he was asked was “What’s your fetish?”* Not “do you have a fetish?”, “what is your fetish?”, because in Japan, fetishes are like assholes; everyone has one and it’s fun to stick eggplants up there while dressed as a gender-swapped Abraham Lincoln. And okay, that’s fine. That Japanese society just assumes you have some weird sexual kink and doesn’t judge you for it is kinda inspiring honestly. But, much like its love of radioactive lizards or its borders during the thirties and forties, Japan just has to take things a little too far.
Consider the following story:
- Dude has one weird, very specific fetish.
- Dude makes a comic catering to that fetish.
- Said comic becomes very popular.
- Considerable money is spent adapting this comic into an animation.
- Rather than hiding the result in an attic, yet more money is spent localising this animation so that the whole world can get in on this.
- Poor unfortunate rodent has to review this travesty.
Now, for all its faults, let us just recognise that in the West the above story does not get further than step two.
The dude is Riichi Ueshiba, the manga/animé is Mysterious Girlfriend X and the fetish is well we’ll get to that.
So the manga originally ran from 2006 to 2014 for a total of 12 volumes whereas the animé consists of a mere 13 episodes. This surprised me honestly, because the animé does not feel like several years of storyline have been crammed into a baker’s dozen of episodes. This show is positively languid.
Our hero is a Japanese schoolboy named Akira. He’s shy and has never had a girlfriend, and is having weird dreams about flowers and fluid and butterflies opening their silky velvety wings and trains entering tunnels so obviously he’s worried about his exams. Anyway, a new girl named Urabe joins his class and everyone wants to be friends with her despite the fact that she looks like climbed out of a TV set to kill the people who watched her video tape.
Urabe has weird habits, like breaking out laughing at inopportune times and falling asleep in class. Anywhere else, I’d say she was on drugs but this is Japan so it’s probably something to do with shrines. Anyway, Akira finds her asleep in the classroom after school and wakes her up. She looks up and he sees her eyes for the first time and realises that she’s actually really cute. She leaves and he sees that she’s left a pool of drool on her desk. And then he…
So first of all, thank you. Thank you Riichi Ueshiba for making me retroactively regret every kiss I have ever had. Because now I realise that they all involved puttng someone else’s spit in my mouth and obviously that is disgusting and perverse and what is even wrong with me?
Soon after that, Akira falls mysteriously ill. I mean, everyone thinks it’s mysterious, it’s really not. If you’re just going to start sampling the lukewarm mouth juice of random strangers honestly it’d be a fucking medical miracle if you didn’t get sick. So Akira’s at home with a fever being tended to by his sister who raised him after his parents died, presumably from disgust. Urabe arrives unexpectantly at his house and tells him that she knows what he did. She tells him that the reason he’s become sick is because he is now addicted to her spit because he’s in love with her so now she is going to be his girlfriend, his “Mysterious Girlfriend X” if you will. And so now they begin a relationship of walking home from school everyday and her feeding him some of her spit so he won’t die like he’s her goddamn crack whore. Also, she’s got a magic pair of scissors that can cut through anything. Sure. Why not?
I would be lying if I said the central premise didn’t squick me out but that’s not even the part that makes me really uncomfortable. Every episode ends with long lingering shots of the main female characters sleeping with drool coming coming out of their mouths and the series is full of panty shots and butt shots and close ups of legs and these are children, I remind you. These are high school age girls. And sure, Mysterious Girlfriend X is not alone in this. Hell, this is tame all things considered. This shit absolutely infests animé as a genre. But with something like, say, Neon Genesis Evangelion there’s enough good to make me, well, not forgive the pervy shit but at least to content myself with sitting with my knitting in the corner tutting disapprovingly. MGX commits the greatest sin any piece of smut can commit; it’s boring.
There’s little to no plot to speak of, each episode has some banal slice-of-life problem thrown at our protagonists, Urabe acts weird and the episode ends with Akira basically turning to the camera and saying “Wow, she sure is mysterious, that girlfriend X o’ mine”.
Anything this plot light has to get by on its characters and MGX is not exactly bringing a deep bench. All the boys are creepy perverts and all the girls are…actually, also creepy perverts. It’s refreshingly egalitarian in that regard.
The episode where I finally packed it in was Number 8; “Mysterious Sensation” where Akira has a dream about touching Urabe’s breast and can’t stop thinking about it. When she finds out about it, she offers to let him cop a feel and he does. And then he just goes berserk and pins her to her bed and starts licking her ear because this fucking show can’t even have sexual assault without making it weird. When he realises that Urabe is crying, Akira is horrified at what he’s done and the next day he apologies sincerely to Urabe which…sigh, okay that’s something I guess. But then she tells him not to feel bad because she actually enjoyed having her ear licked and anyway it was also her fault for letting him touch her boob…
Done. That was it.
Done with this thing. I never want to see it again, I don’t want it in my house any more, I don’t even want to admit to anyone that I’ve seen it (he said. On his blog. On the internet).
When it comes to a show like this, there’s really only one response.
Competent TV quality animé.
The Leads: 02/20
Alternate between bland and deeply unsettling.
The Villain: N/A
Riichi Ueshiba’s drool fetish is not actually a character in this. It just feels that way.
Supporting Characters: 03/20
You won’t find a more deplorable group of ciphers, perverts, freaks, sex criminals and lunatics this side of the GOP.
Appropriately for cartoon about sweet, addicting saliva, the theme music is sugary, catchy and ultimately colourless.
FINAL SCORE: 25%
NEXT UPDATE: 12 December 2019
NEXT TIME: Fact 1, it’s almost Christmas! Fact 2, Frozen is back baby! So what better movie to review than…
*For the record, the answer was “women with hairy toes”.