By: Peggy Sue Wood | @peggyseditorial
Hey, it’s Transgender Awareness Week!
Hourou Musuko, also called Wandering Son, is about the transgender and transexual experience. The work follows Shuuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki as they attempt to discover their true selves. Both feel as though they were born into the wrong body, Shuuichi stuck as a male and Yoshino stuck as a female. The two face the struggle with their conflicting self-identities asn bodies as they enter puberty, make friends, fall in love, and face some very real and difficult choices that go along with any coming of age tale. What makes this story uniques is the in-depth reveal of the two children’s psyche as they develop from children into adults.
Takako Shimura’s in Hourou Musuko is worth its critical acclaim as she takes a serious and heart felt approach to the topic of gender identity and LGBT struggles. This is not her only work either and I would argue that all of her productions have some sincere value to them as you can tell her talent for writing these emotion filled stories is done with the intent to create understanding if not acceptance from the reader.
Both the manga and anime are really great. One of the things I like most, which is true I believe of all her works, is the use of pastel and water-like colors in colored images. The anime does a great job of keeping to a similar pale color scheme for the most part even in moments dense with different colors, for example:
You can see that even though the image directly above features many colors, some that are bright and some that are dark, the depiction as a whole is still very soft. The darks and brights are muted and it plays well to create the delicate nature of the story before us.
This attention in the art and story shows great care towards the topic at hand and is a work I would recommend to anyone interested in learning about the trans-experience from both a psychological view and a social one. I think the development of the characters is truly beautiful and does a lot to do away with the often negative or bad-endings of such characters that we see in other works. We also see how it changes over time with (spoilers) Shuuichi choosing to move forward as a woman in adulthood and with Yoshino outgrowing her feelings of body dysphoria.
The series’ MyAnimeList synopsis is as follows: Effeminate fifth grader Shuuichi Nitori is considered by most to be one of the prettiest girls in school, but much to her dismay, she is actually biologically male. Fortunately, Shuuichi has a childhood friend who has similar feelings of discomfort related to gender identity: the lanky tomboy Yoshino Takatsuki, who, though biologically female, does not identify as a girl. These two friends share a similar secret and find solace in one another; however, their lives become even more complicated when they must tread the unfamiliar waters of a new school, attempt to make new friends, and struggle to maintain old ones. Faced with nearly insurmountable odds, they must learn to deal with the harsh realities of growing up, transsexuality, relationships, and acceptance.