Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)

Disclaimer : I’ve read the manga.

What’s it about ?

A boy who’d rather be a girl. A girl who’d rather be a boy. But the onset of puberty might ruin it all…

Characters

Suichi Nitori, our main character. He’s been experimenting with dressing as a girl for years, and by now he’s wandering in the streets alone in full drag. He describes himself as “wishy-washy”, and that’s pretty accurate.

Yoshino Takatsuki, his accomplice in crossdressing. They used to go on “dates” in the city (with her as a boy and him as a girl), but things have been awkward ever since he confessed to her and she refused.

Chizuru Sarashina, a bold girl who shows up in a male uniform for the first day of middle school just for the heck of it. She immediately becomes a role model for Yoshino.

Saori Chiba, a very jealous girl who has a thing for Suichi. Also an avid church-goer.

Maho Nitori, Suichi’s sister. Has started a modelling career, and is thus a bit annoyed that he’s using her best clothes when she’s not looking. But she’s not that hostile to his hobby. (Heck, they both started modelling together, although he has since dropped out.)

And TONS of other characters, like Suichi’s bespectacled sidekick, his and Yoshino’s adult transsexual friend, Maho’s model friend who has a thing for Suichi… But they barely get to do anything in this episode.

Production Values

It looks very pretty, with a gorgeous-looking watercolor look that extends to the characters. The classical score completes the “artsy” tone.

The OP is very bizarre : a fancy CG type for the credits over shots of the school… but it’s completely empty, devoid of any human beings. Are they planning to fill it with characters as the series goes ? The song’s nothing special. Meanwhile, the ED has a nice moody song that contrasts with minimalistic animation.

Overall Impression

Oh, dear. What were they thinking ?

If you’re feeling completely lost, like you’re joining this series halfway through… Well, you’re not entirely wrong, considering this adapts the start of Volume FIVE of the manga. As a result, there’s heaps of backstory alluded to, and major story beats are told rather than shown. Also, tons of supporting characters are barely introduced. I can’t help but wonder what somebody completely new to the series would understand of it.

But on the other hand, this episode does try to fit in lots of awkward exposition, to the detriment of its actual story. This is supposed to be Chizuru’s big entrance, and it feels like a complete afterthought. Urgh. It’s only in the second half that it starts finding its footing, when Suichi’s moody wandering through the city finally gets the space it needs to breathe (and I loved the wonderfully awkward end to the episode).

I’m sure that once this series gets a bit more underway, it will become much better. The source material is remarkable, after all. But the sudden jump midway into the story is sure to alienate most non-fans, which ain’t good for a series with such a difficult subject matter. I really can’t understand it : why not relate Suichi & Yoshino’s relationship from the start ? This is just baffling.

via [In which I review] New anime, Winter 2010-2011 – Page 16.

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Jhiday

I've been kinda blogging about anime for years... but mostly on forums (such as RPG.net's Tangency) and other sites. This site is an archive for all that stuff, just in case.

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