Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 1 – Review

Today I reviewed Mysterious Girlfriend X, that weird manga with the spit-bond premise. I’d actually watched the anime a while back, and enjoyed it more than I expected too, even though the second half kind of fell apart. But this volume didn’t get to any of the show’s weaker material, and thus was more or less strong from start to finish. At its best, Mysterious Girlfriend X uses its fundamentally uncomfortable premise to explore how adolescent sexuality really is fundamentally uncomfortable, full of weird jolts of intimacy and difficult navigation of personal boundaries. The manga isn’t always able to make good on that premise, but there’s enough strong stuff here to make at least this volume an easy recommendation.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my progressively lazier chapter notes below!

Mysterious Girlfriend X

Chapter 1

“When a boy learns about sex for the first time, he’s sure to wonder what kind of girl his first partner will be.” The very first line

Mikoto Urabe, the girl, whose eyes are concealed, hiding her feelings

Akira Tsubaki is the boy

The art is very old-school, but very appealing. The panels are full of stuff, mostly people

The style of shading, where there are very few full blacks, is also nice. It gives the pages a general even, balanced tone

She acts very strangely, an exaggerated version of the mystery of girls

And then when he sees her eyes for the first time, he’s shocked. A moment of intimacy

And he does it. He licks her drool without thinking

“Urabe and I were in some strange town, and we danced together.” The strange fever dreams of adolescent lust. This spread is wonderful, and such a great core idea

And Urabe knows everything about his sickness. It’s love-sickness

“Why do you have scissors tucked in your panties?” “Because that’s just how I am.” The storytelling is totally surreal on a base level. It’s tricky to evaluate a story so wholly conceived on the level of metaphor

He realizes he likes her over time, even though they don’t really talk much

She wants him to think of a creative way to make a move on her

“Whenever something makes me really happy, a flood of drool spills out of my mouth”

“The voice said that you would be the first guy I have sex with”

Chapter 2

Getting nervous about asking to hold hands, getting shut down

“Don’t ever hug me without my permission.” Navigating boundaries over time

“Proving” that they really have a bond

The backgrounds are quite detailed, and the shading remains nice. Nothing truly remarkable visually, but solid, workmanly art

And then he has a dream where he sleeps with her

Another nice detail is that they’re both horny adolescents. They both have these feelings

Chapter 3

All of these dreamworld interludes are fantastic

And they all illustrate his current desires in their own way

They almost remind me of Hieronymus Bosch

He wants a picture of her smiling, she won’t smile for that

Hayakawa, his old crush, appears

Trying to approach a greater honesty about their feelings

Chapter 4

Tsubaki’s friend Ueno is going out with Oka

Keeping relationships a secret

Getting jealous about them having already kissed

“I didn’t want our first kiss to be out of nowhere. It should happen when we’re emotionally connected”

Chapter 5

Kind of a throwaway chapter. Another boy asks Urabe out, and Urabe uses a pretty ridiculous trick to “test” her bond. Doesn’t really work with the main metaphor, and treats the fantasy conceit as an actual magic skill

Chapter 6

The book generally captures how girls can kind of overwhelm guys at this age. Maturing faster means they can take the lead in relationships

Getting to see your girlfriend in a swimsuit

“That girl is my girlfriend, isn’t she?” A well-observed thought. That moment when you see the person you’re dating and you’re briefly taken aback

Ueno giving Tsubaki ideas about his relationship

Urabe’s really happy about hearing she looks cute in her swimsuit

Chapter 7

Visiting his girlfriend’s room

“I guess girls are perverts too”

And they finally have a date

Chapter 8

Oka starts to make friends with Urabe

Turns out they have a bond, too

Chapter 9

Oka becomes interested in them because she saw them after school, so there actually is a legitimate, understandable reason

On top of that, Urabe saying she doesn’t need friends because she has Tsubaki is a totally understandable response for a teenager

“I can also convey feelings that I haven’t expressed in words”

Chapter 10

Tsubaki runs into a girl who he shares movie tastes with, and thus can actually have a conversation with

Chapter 11

The girls discussing visiting their boyfriend’s house

Oka is a lot less shy than Urabe. Each of the same-sex pairs kind of push their friend in a variety of understandable ways

Chapter 12

More routine shifts in winter

Chapter 13

Visiting his mother’s grave

Urabe wants to visit as well

One thought on “Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 1 – Review

  1. I don’t know if the author decided that the early chapter dream sequences were not where he wanted to take the manga, or if they were simply too much work, because they don’t show up again. That one spread was the only reason I kept reading, hoping for more things like it, but nope.

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