First Impressions: Wandering Son

 

Summary: Shuicihi Nitori appears to be a shy and quiet preteen boy, when he transfers to a new school he quickly makes friends with the tomboyish Yoshino Takatsuki who sits next to him. It soon becomes apparent that both Shucihi and Yoshino are more than simply a sensitive boy and masculine girl, they both are transgendered. Together they decide to take the first steps toward becoming the people they want to be.

Review: The descriptions of Wandering Son don’t really do it justice. Most of the short blubs and the description on MAL talk about gender confusion dealing with Transsexualism. It definitely covers those issues but the way it is stated so bluntly had me thinking of skipping the series. Wandering Son has perhaps the sweetest and most genuine first episodes I have ever seen. What the show is about is the pains of growing up and discovering yourself, beginning to find your own identity. Yes, that is expressed through a boy who wants to dress in woman’s clothe and s a girl who dresses like a boy. However, gender swap becomes a representation of the themes that Wandering Son is dealing with more than anything.

My favorite scene of the first episode was when Nitori decided to try on his sister’s new outfit. She discovers him doing it and freaks out, attacks him, and calls him a freak as the young boy runs out of the house and into the city wearing an undershirt and a tiny pink skirt. During dinner his sister silently gives him one of her fried shrimp. That small gesture is so encompassing of a sibling relationship, the two could have this devastating fight and yet settle things without a word being said to each other. That genuine feeling runs between all of the character relationships which enable the gender issues to be a compelling aspect of the show. Wandering son isn’t attempting to be edgy by bringing up gender issues, it is attempting to treat this traumatic time in Nitori’s life in an authentic way and his issues with gender are simply an extension of the honest way the show is attempt to present his life. The first episode was a joy to watch and this is the only show this season where I’m eagerly awaiting new episodes.

The art of the show is incredible. It is in a water color style which gives the show a whimsical feeling, almost like a memory. It also serves to give the show a unique and memorable look to help it stand apart from the mostly generic looking shows this season. Granted, the character designs aren’t anything special they are simple painted with light, almost pastel, colors in the non-uniform look that water colors give an image. It is striking compared to the universal polish that computer aided animation is able to give to modern anime.

The narrative is where the series starts to run into problems. The first episode hints at an event that happened off screen, but in a limited way. The entire second episode is about dealing with the event and from a person who is new to these characters I was overwhelmed and lost quickly. The anime doesn’t start at the same point as the manga, rather decides to show a single arc in the middle. The narrative so far shows the problem with that; the audience lacks information required to understand the characters and the drama.

Verdict: I desperately want to like Wandering Son but the structure of the series makes that difficult. If anything, it makes me want to go and read the manga in order to understand what is happening. It commits some serious narrative errors by tossing the audience into the middle of an ongoing story arc. If Wandering Son is to recover they need to give the audience time to figure out who the characters are and where the conflict is coming from. Failing that, the series serves as service for fans of the manga.

(Summery from Animenewsnetwork.com)

One thought on “First Impressions: Wandering Son

  1. "If anything, it makes me want to go and read the manga in order to understand what is happening."I did and it was so worth it. I think the anime starts around chapter 30 or so if my memory serves right but I just kept on reading it was so good. It explains the current conflict between the Shuu, Chiba, and Takatsuki. It also explains who the "woman" Takatsuki meets with that gives her the boy's uniform and how they met. If you don't mind taking the time to read it I would really recommend it.

    Like

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