ANIME & MANGA - Article
11:42 - 5th August 2013, by NEO Staff

Wandering Son

When we first heard that Aniplex would be producing a series that dealt with transgender identity issues - a part of the sexuality spectrum that's rarely addressed at all - we were immediately cautious. Surely we'd end up with some wacky series about comedic misunderstandings or a guy that's forced to dress as a girl for some contrived plot reason, right?

Thankfully, no, and our concerns were all mooted by the wonderful Hourou Musoko, or Wandering Son. Based on a manga by Takako Shimura, the 11-episode anime adaptation challenges just about every preconception you might have, whether it's how TV anime can address sensitive issues, or about transgender issues themselves. To be honest, we should have had a bit more faith - the series airs on Fuji TV's spectacular 'noitaminA' block, which has made itself the home of quality, thought-provoking content, and rarely disappointed us.

Wandering Son focuses on Shuichi Nitori, a young boy entering Junior High School, who just happens to prefer wearing girls' clothes. Narrated in first person, the series introduces us to his classmates and friends, most notably Yoshino Takatsuki. Like Shuichi, Yoshino isn't comfortable in her own skin, and prefers to dress and act like a boy. At some point prior to the first episode, the pair have argued and more or less fallen out, though come to a reconciliation after Shuichi is driven from his home in tears when his sister discovers him in female clothes - just one small, but devastatingly personal condemnation of the person he feels he truly is.

The real charm of the series is in the innocent and matter-of-fact way that Shuichi and Yoshino's gender identity is presented. Most importantly, it's utterly non-sexual, and although there is humour to be found, it's never at the expense of either of them.

With its sedate pace and lush, watercoloured visuals, Wandering Son is definitely a slice of life show, but it's a slice of a life most people aren't even aware of. Calm, considered and beautiful, this could well be the show of the season.

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