Title: Hourou Musuko
Genre: Drama, Romance
Summary: The story depicts a young boy named Shuuichi Nitori who wants to be a girl, and his friend Yoshino Takatsuki, a girl who wants to be a boy. The series deals with issues such as transsexuality, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty.
Review: Wandering Son was one of those anime that shouldn’t be picked up by everyone. However, for those of you who like a slice of life, drama this is probably one of the better I’ve seen. You could say that the main plot focused around living with crossing-dressing, but I would say it quite a bit more than that. The anime struck me as worth watching because I felt that I could relate, and personally feel that most audiences can. Wandering Son did a great job bringing back the troubles of middle school, a time of internal and external changes. Although most people don’t have to worry about the troubles of cross-dressing, some parts can still strike home.
The art style of Wandering Son was very fitting. It seemed almost like a sketch, using the powerful tool of negative space which is rare. For those of you who don’t quite know what I mean about negative space, it is basically the large amounts of white used. On the characters you will notice certain uncolored areas that make the anime seem incomplete. However, your mind automatically fills in the blank spaces with things like hair color or background images. The thing I liked most about it were the seemingly incomplete backgrounds. This purposly done style actually makes the anime stand out. My eyes would directly focus on the characters and the main actions going on. In many other anime (especially ones that have brilliant dynamic art), my eyes tend to wander around. I have actually missed quite a bit in other anime because I would read the subtitles then suddenly jump off into what the shop keeper was working on rather than the conversation between the main characters. Since Wandering Son isn’t one of those action packed anime, and filled with quite a bit of dialogue this was probably the best technique to keep the audiences’ attention on the characters. Much of the anime relied heavily on conversations which can quite frankly lose attention quickly.
The story was the main focus of Wandering Son. It didn’t have any crazy action or powerful scenes. Most of the time I would start thinking after the entire episode was finished because it was quite slow paced. As the episode was running I wouldn’t say my emotions fluxuate one way or the other. Although there were times when I felt bad for the discrimination toward boys dressing as girls, I couldn’t quite feel a high level of sympathy for the character. On top of the message I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I would also say Wandering Son did a good job simply bringing these types of issues forward. For example, it was clear that girls who dressed as boys didn’t need to go through much trouble. Although some of the classmates found it strange that a girl would come in a boy’s uniform, they were never placed as an outcast. Additionally the teachers didn’t do anything in terms of punishment. However, when Nitori came dressed as a girl… well let’s just say things didn’t go according to plan despite his friends support. I feel that these issues weren’t only true for Japan or kids in general. Knowing someone on a personal level that does a similar thing I’m sure helped my understanding of the situation a lot more. But even if you don’t know anyone who cross-dresses or wishes to be the opposite gender the anime still portrays the issues well. A girl can be a tomboy with no hassle, but a guy can’t be a tomgirl. As I said before this anime wasn’t just about cross-dressing, it also touched on other controversial issues such as homosexuality. Although brief, it was clear that the attraction one of the children felt toward his male teacher was confusing for him. It didn’t dive much deeper other than mentioning it once or twice in conversation. The series also brought about issues that are quite a bit more common. Like many people have experienced in reality, the friendships in Wandering Son were patchy. It was difficult to tell who were friends and enemies. The series did a great job keeping the broken, yet in progress of patching, relationships realistic. Overall Wandering Son was a powerful piece that did a great job bringing the audience in by setting up relatable situations. I strongly believe that there will be at least one character someone could relate to.
The soundtrack for Wandering Son fit perfectly. I enjoyed listening to the opening quite a bit. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to grab hold of an English sub of the lyrics (if someone could throw me a link I’d much appreciate it), but the beat definitely fit the mood. The same could be said about the background scenery. Opening with an empty classroom, a calm isolated setting made a tranquil atmosphere that sweeps audiences away. The ending is probably one of my favorite this season. The singer Rie Fu has a beautiful voice. Mixed with the simplistic melody and well written lyrics, I was blown away. It has easily set a permanent spot on my playlist.
Final statements: Wandering Son isn’t for everyone. I would say that most people who watch it should be expecting a drama slice of life more than romance. The slow pace and heavy dialogue makes it difficult to pay attention if the material doesn’t interest you from the get-go. As a fan of slice of life I appreciated what the creator was trying to do and thus give it a preferred watch. The issues the anime covers is one to take note of, or at least give a thought. Be who you want to be.