An Oasis of Thoughts

Twelve Days of Anime – Day #8: The Complex Simplicity of Nazo no Kanojo X

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Note: the next posts will be delayed. I am working on the 2012 in Review right now!

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I don’t hide the fact that I absolutely loved Nazo no Kanojo X, in fact I’m very confident in stating that it was the best romance series of 2012. It managed to win me over with it’s charm, innocence and retro art style and still manages to get creative during scenes I least expect it to.

Undoubtedly, it’s the saliva factor that drives everyone away from watching this show but that seems to have weeded out the few bad seeds who want to stomp on a good show because of it. This show also loves to leave a lot to the viewer’s imagination: it’s probable that Urabe is an alien, with all of those shots of her spaceship keychain on her bag among other things but the show doesn’t flat out tell you that. Small things like that really get on my good side. But what makes me fall head over heels about NazoKano, is that it always felt so innocent. There wasn’t anything that seemed too dark or too bright, it took the middle of the road approach. Let’s put it this way: take out the saliva aspect of the show and you have the most down-to-earth romance series. The first episode was a fake out, it took the spit to ridiculous levels but none of the episodes following episode 1 ever went THAT far.

Nazo no Kanojo X - May02

I think using the word “normal” may not seem to fit the image of NazoKano, but looking back that’s the feeling I always got from it. Normal shy guy Tsubaki, normal love triangle, normal misunderstandings, but NazoKano added its own charms and made it look less cliche and stale. Example #1: the art style. I’m not usually a fan of retro art, but it was handled quite well here. It didn’t get too old to where I had to check what year this show took place in, but it definitely had a retro vibe. Could it be because of a small animation budget? Perhaps, but instead of just taking the lazy way with the same generic school bell ringing, the same generic classroom interiors and the same generic character designs, NazoKano mixed it up just enough to make a difference without completing going against the traditional animation process. What I’m saying is, is that NazoKano brings enough fresh air and change to a genre I feel is stale and repetitive, but it doesn’t completely abandon the genre’s most notable aspects (the love triangle being a major aspect). This show may seem like a spit fetishist’s dream come true, but it is remarkably mature and wiser than many would give it credit for. Honestly, I don’t think enough people give this show the kind of credit and attention it deserves.

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I especially loved Tsubaki. He’s just so normal! Not a whiny brat,  not an emotional wreck, not an empty shell, just the kind of person we all are. Scenes where other guys are checking out Urabe, Tsubaki doesn’t just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen (or he’s too dense to figure it out), but he also doesn’t start beating the crap out of them (Hi, Yoshida Haru). He simply says, in somewhat a dorky fashion, that Urabe is his. I don’t know if everyone agrees with me on this, but I just think Tsubaki is the kind of kid who we once use to be and I see a bit of myself from middle school in Tsubaki.

For me, NazoKano is quite honestly a down to earth show despite the saliva being a prominent tool in Urabe and Tsubaki’s relationship. It’s down to earth, but it still manages to have moments of sheer ingeniousness and why I titled this post “complex simplicity” – because it has aspects of both, but at the same time it could be one or the other. It’s a rare thing to accomplish, but NazoKano is the kind of show that just knows what it’s doing and it doesn’t try to water down the messages it sends. I really like that kind of presentation and storytelling.

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