If there is one issue that has become increasingly more important in media, it is representation. I’ll admit that for a long time the concept was a bit foreign. The first time it was ever brought up to me was in my sophomore English class, and even then I only kind of understood it. As someone who’s only to minority status is through religious affiliation, it never really felt like that big of a deal. Since probably around the time I started this blog, I’ve become much more receptive to the idea, and with having just finished Wandering Son, It has become all the more clear not only how important these stories are, but just how powerful they can be.
Wandering Son mainly focuses on the stories of two students, Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki, who, at the beginning of the show, are just starting their first year in middle school. The two have been childhood friends for awhile, but these two also share a secret: their transgender. Nitori, a boy, identifies as a girl, and Takatsuki, a girl, identifies as a boy. The two realize that middle school is going to be much harder between trying to keep their secret, making friends, and mending old relationships.
One of the most heartbreakingly well-written parts of this show is just how much of the characters pain you can feel through the story. Even for people who do not necessarily understand transgenderism, and there are still many, it is incredibly easy to feel the pain that Nitori and Takatsuki are going through. As kids, it is clear that they do not really have the ability to articulate what it is they are feeling, and most of their friends do not have the capacity to understand. Add in the extremely socially conservative Japanese culture, and you get just a glimpse of what any transgender kid growing up in Japan must be feeling.
It is also a testament to the show’s writing that even in a small, eleven window period that most of the characters feel fleshed out and most of the plot lines resolved. Both Nitori and Takatsuki come to terms with who they want to be, and who they feel they are. Chiba learns to accept that, despite her love for Nitori, that it is a love that will probably never come to pass. Mako, who at the beginning seems somewhat unimportant, ends up getting his own incredibly satisfying character arc. Even Anna, who only shows up about half-way through, manages to come across as the kind, understanding, somewhat stand-offish person the story meant for her to be.
Really, my only complaint on a story level is that there is not more. The pacing of the story was extremely well handled, with each episode having both continuing the plot as well as further highlighting the theme of identity is vital to a person’s life in every episode. However, after the eleventh episode, when a lot of the drama seems to ramp up again, it just stops. All the built up progress that was made with the two main characters and the audience is left feeling betrayed.
Wandering Son is a show where the animation takes a bit of a back seat to the writing and the characters. That is not to say that the show’s animation is bad, but simply to say that it was not the focus of the production team when making the show. Still, for what it is, it works. The show’s color palette focuses mostly on using lighter, more faded colors to emphasize a lot of the elements of its plot, like a lack of understanding about one’s self, as well as the growing distance between people.
Nothing among the show’s musical score stands out as being particularly brilliant or deserving of praise, but it is by no means bad. The music does a great job in assisting in creating tension in the story when it needs to, like near the end of the show when Nitori starts to feel his and Takatsuki’s friendship growing apart because of his relationship with Anna.
It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write a formal review, and I’m really glad that I was able to find a show so worth reviewing. Wandering Son is very much a modern story, one filled with heartbreak, confusion, betrayal, redemption, and acceptance. Even its core theme of not being able to reveal your identity can be relatable in some way to one degree or another. I would absolutely suggest you check it out.
What do you guys think of Hourou Musuko Wandering Son? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!