Wandering Son First Impressions

by RP on January 13, 2011 · 13 comments

Scamp didn’t really like the first episode, but is going to continue watching Wandering Son. I liked the first episode, but am going to drop the show. Explain that to me momma. And also explain how the traps always get the girls? I’m just saying.

hourou-musuko-1

Kids are always so cute in pictures

Hourou Musuko, or Wandering Son, follows the lives of three middle school friends, all of whom are androgynous enough to be confused with one another. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what happened in this episode. It’s possible there’s a love triangle. I think Chiba, the hot tempered, girly girl, has a thing for Nitori, the cross dressing girly boy. And Takatsuki, the not-cross-dressing-but-wishes-she-was boyish girl, may or may not have a thing for either Chiba or Nitori. Make sense? Adding to my confusion was that Takatsuki and Nitori also share the same monologue throughout the show, as both of them suffer through some gender confusion issues. Nitori at least engages in some rogue cross-dressing, but it appears Takatsuki hasn’t quite made that jump, which makes her envious of others who do – including Chizuru, a tall, cross-dressing girly girl.

Yeesh. 6th grade was never this complicated when I was growing up.

hourou-musuko-2

Always wait AT LEAST 10 minutes for people to leave before doing something embarrassing

So with all that said, I think the uniqueness of the anime becomes clear. Not dissimilar from a slice of life, the episode unfolds slowly and delicately (Scamp would call it fluffy). I can’t believe AIC is behind this. But it’s much different from your typical slice of life, because there’s a feeling of discord throughout the whole episode. It’s not like you’re watching Aria or K-ON. There’s almost no comedy, and the internal monologues and struggles that each of these characters face is at the forefront of the whole episode. Don’t let the pace fool you, this is a drama that touches on some weighty issues. But, Wandering Son also does a very good job at getting you to empathize and understand the characters. It’s a little weird at first, because a.) traps are usually for laughing at (Mako-cakes) or pining for (Hideyoshi ♥) and b.) transgenderism isn’t exactly a hotbed social issue I’ve spent much time mulling over, but I had a lot of empathy for Nitori and by transitive property, Takatsuki. I’ve never had any trappish desires, but I felt like I could relate to their broader identity issues.

Wandering Son also features one of my favorite EDs of the season – and one of the rare Japanese songs I’ve heard where the singer actually sings English and not Engrish! I had to double check that she was Japanese, but yeah, Rie Fu.

So, if Wandering Son’s got so many good points, why am I not going to watch it? I… I don’t really know. I guess I don’t want to put the mental and emotional investment into following it. I got the impression that it’s the type of show that’s going to try to scratch at raw emotions – piss you off, shed a tear, etc. The thought occurred to me as I was watching this… Wandering Son is the rare show that, I would guess, has no built-in fanbase. It’s not shoujo. It’s not shoujo ai. It’s not slice of life. It’s not comedy. It’s not artfaggery. It’s not a typical romantic drama. It’s not an intellectual drama. It’s hard to classify. Which might explain why it seems to have such a devoted fanbase. If you’re a fan, there’s probably something very specific about it that you like, because it doesn’t have the typical category tropes to rely on.

So without seeing Fractale, I’m going to call Wandering Son the most unique show of the season. It’s very good, but it’s not for me.

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