Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son)

"What are little girls made of?"

Wandering Son is an eleven episode Drama/Slice of Life anime based off the manga by Takako Shimura and published by Enterbrain. The anime is from AIC Classic and premiered in Japan in January 14th of this year and is currently finishing it's run.

Shuichi Nitori is a young, effeminate boy who has just entered middle school. Yoshino Takasuki is a tall, boyish girl in the same class. Both of them have know each other since elementary school, and became fast friends when they learned of each others desire to be the opposite gender. Nitori tends to cross dress while he's around town or at home, while Takasuki has short hair and begins to wear more boys clothes. Both children begin taking the first steps toward who they truly desire to be.

When it comes to the look of the anime, it looks as if you're watching a moving color pencil drawing in a sketch book. There is a lot of white, making the other colors rather faded. It's certainly a rare look for an anime, considering what I have seen before. I don't really know any other anime that have this same look so it's a good change of pace when it comes to the look and animation. At the same time, however, although the look is unique it's really hard to focus on what's really taking [place with so much white and faded colors.

The story itself takes a little bit to get into and really understand, and can even be a bit confusing some times. This series starts on the first day of middle school which, if you have read the manga, is wrong. The manga starts with our main characters in elementary school. So, this means, there will be some parts you don't quite understand at first. Unless you have read the manga then you'll get lost after ten minutes of the first episode. Don't worry too much though, parts of the series do get explained with dialogue and few flashbacks. Also, the story can be a little slow at times; making it seem like forever before something really major happens. This isn't a real bad thing, considering this is a slice of life anime, but it can sometimes be agonizing wondering when the story will really get going.

The characters, from what I've seen, are fairly well developed. The two main characters, Nitori and Takasuki show more development then the other characters, however there is one other character that has some development involved. Saori Chiba, a classmate, has a decent amount of development. She has has a crush on Nitori for a long time, yet she is the person who encourages him to cross dress. Kind of a conflicting situation within herself. The one character that kind of bugs me is Makoto Ariga, another boy in the class who wants to be a girl. I didn't even know that he wanted to be a girl too till I read something online, and THEN I saw it on the show. This character is just not defined clearly in the first couple episodes. He does become more developed later on when he ends up taking on the major role in the class's gender bender play.

The main theme of this anime, as I stated before, is gender identity. This is certainly a topic you almost never see come up on TV these days, let alone an anime series! Sure, maybe there's bits of messaging in some shows, but never has a show been completely been about gender identity (at least from what I've seen). The way Wandering Son portrays this theme is rather well done. It not only shows how the two main characters deal with finding their own place and becoming who they are, but it shows how other people are effected as well. For example, Nitori's older sister beats him whenever she catches him cross dressing. Then there's Chiba's love for Nitori, the boy. This anime breaks down barriers and starts to show us what the life of a transgender person is like, especially a child's life.

In the end, Hourou Musuko is a groundbreaking and unique anime from beginning to end; from story to style and animation. It brings to light, a modern day issue and brings it back to it's origins of childhood when a person believes they are someone else; because that's when most transgender people begin to think that way. It tells the story if the individual as well as those around them, showing the torment as well as the triumph they feel once they get to be who they are. So, again, I'm going to ask this question of all of you:

"What are little girls really made of?"

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