Wandering Son First Impressions

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.

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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.

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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.

13 Replies to “Wandering Son First Impressions”

  1. I don’t think you should stop watching something because it’s uncomfortable. Unless it’s baseless uncomfort like some horror is, you owe it to yourself to watch it

  2. I feel the same way. There was not any (at least not thus far) great feeling of uneasiness while I was watching this – perhaps because I am no longer an insecure teenager who would fret over those things in fear of becoming like that himself – however I was left wondering why and if to continue watching this. There was obviously some effort put into this, which is evident from the smooth animation and the pacing (even though many say it’s moving too fast, I would it to be just right); on the other hand, things could get nasty for an average straight male viewer like myself. So as long as the two main characters continue to display feelings for each other and leave the transgenderism as something they merely like to do as a hobby I suppose I will follow this anime. Though I will always check the blogosphere prior to each episode 😆

    1. I think the big draw of the show, like Juliancan mentioned below, will depend on how much you like and relate to the characters. I think the show will tell be able to tell a good story, but sometimes that’s just not enough.

      1. You are quite possibly right. However if it does manage to strike a note with an average viewer who can’t literally put him/herself in character’s shoes, as in all those who’ve felt different and rejected by the society for reasons other than transgenderism or sexual preference, then it might be good enough. Or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to look at a few more delicious falling cherry petal shots (^_^)

        1. Yeah, I don’t think you need to empathize with transgender issues to enjoy the show. There’s broader themes that I think people can latch onto, whether it’s loneliness or lack of self confidence or just the challenges of growing up. But with that said, I think the setup is definitely something that lends itself to be more niche-y.

  3. I was so confused when I watched this last night. Granted, that might have been partially because I was semi-sleeping, but I mostly got very lost on which person was which. I enjoyed the episode more-or-less though, and I think I’ll rewatch it to make sense of it before the second one.

    Also, the ending theme was excellent.

    1. Heh, it wasn’t just you, kudos to the show producers. They did a good job of getting that ambiguity across. It also didn’t help that they were sharing the same monologue.

  4. Well I like how they did not underestimate their characters. Indeed, from Shuichi to his friends, every single character seems life-like and the portrayal of their dilemma was perfectly executed. I guess this is one of the genre that you might call, character study where an anime series involves around the psychological study of a character and the environment surround him, kind of like aoi Bungaku.

  5. Sorry I’m late to this, but to throw in my 2 pence: I really enjoyed it and thought it handled the character and thematic development in a subtle and engaging, often thrilling, way. As much as I love trappiness in comedy, it’s great to see a show that tackles transgender issues in such a serious but accessible way, without skimping on the pacing and storytelling either. Of course it’s gonna hit close to heart for many people, transgendered or otherwise, but if you’re drawn to it you should go for it. Don’t fear the traps, RP! 😛

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