Hourou Musuko Episode 10
What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here.
Series Premise: Hourou Musuko, a.k.a. “Wandering Son” is a weekly television series that aired between January and March 2011, based on a long-running manga series by Takako Shimura. Shuichi is a boy who wants to become a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to become a boy. Both of them are on the cusp of puberty, exploring their own identities and such unexplored topics as transsexualism and gender identity as they enter the difficult years of junior high school.
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ep. tl;dr review: Fallout after Shuichi’s cross-dressing school; His actions affect not only himself, but everyone around him.
Episode Summary: Shuichi is sent to the nurse’s office, then sent home, and he soon becomes the talk of the school. Some of his friends and acquaintances are supportive, while some classmates are cruel and others cannot understand. Over the next several months, Shuichi no longer cross-dresses, but we learn just how much his actions have affected those around him, and his relationships to them can never be the same as they were before.
My Impressions: I watched this episode after watching the tenth episode of Fractale, and while the two series are completely different in so many ways, it so painfully clear why Hourou Musuko is infinitely superior: Hourou Musuko is truly a well-thought-out, well-written story. There’s no flash-bang explosions, no high-minded concepts or lofty speeches, no world-ending decisions or fantastical ideas. But instead, we are treated to real, honest, down-to-earth believable characters that have been thoroughly fleshed out, that the viewer can relate to easily.
The operative word above is real, which may be overused to describe Hourou Musuko, but it fits so well. The story itself is a bit left-of-center (I mean, really, gender dysphoria among middle school students?), but it is handled with such aplomb and care that you totally are drawn into the story.
You really feel for Shuichi after he pulls his “stunt”. Of course he knew it would cause a big stink, of course he knows that it’s different for boys than it is for girls (as in the Yoshino double-standard), but of course he knew it was an action he had to do if he (she?) was to remain true to himself, fallout be damned.
And boy, does the fallout really range far and wide. Remember this is not as much a story about Shuichi as it is about those around him as well, and as he angsts over his actions for the next several months, we get glimpses of how it has affected those around him. We see his parents trying to show their love, but not understanding his actions, hoping he’ll grow out of it or it will be corrected. We see his girlfriend scandalized and shying away. We see some of his friends being overly supportive, we see his classmates mercilessly teasing him. Thankfully, we see his sister finally standing up for him and showing familial care. Most head-scratching is Doi, who even now I can’t figure out his angle.
In any case, watching Hourou Musuko remains both an uncomfortable (sometimes bitter/bittersweet) as well as an intriguing experience. You really feel for all the characters. There’s still two episodes left to reach some sort of conclusion, although you know the story does not end there, it never does. Whatever happens, it’s not going to be a storybook happy ending (as Shuichi fantasized last episode), but it is definitely going to be real. (Tritely overused word again, but boy does it fit).
P.S. What I actually watched was an unusual compilation scenes from the 10th and 11th episodes which aired in the 10th-episode timeslot on television back in March, and it was followed by a broadcast of the “11th episode” the following week. Somewhat confusing, but I’m watching/reviewing in the broadcast order, so there you go. When Hourou Musuko was released on DVD later in 2011, this episode was apparently expanded into full-length 10th and 11th episodes, and the next (and final) episode I’m going to review became the 12th episode. Since Hourou Musuko is definitely worth watching again, I’ll catch those versions the second time around.
For more information:
- My earlier reviews:
- Info resources: My Anime List, Anime News Network, AniDB, and Wikipedia
- Watch full episodes online: on Crunchyroll
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “Ultimately, what makes a great series for me is one that makes you feel something strongly. This one meets and exceeds that standard. It would take a cold, cold heart not to want to take these kids in your arms and protect them, let them know everything is going to be OK – especially Shu. Problem is, of course, it probably won’t be.” – Lost in America
- “This episode was all about the growth of all our characters, and the way in which it has been subtly yet realistically developed at a gradual pace has produced a rather excellent coming of age story. I guess you could say I’ve come to really appreciate how each character grew out of their flaws, in their own clumsy yet very human and endearing way. Grade: 4.6/5.” – Emory Anime Club
- “It was just an amazing aftermath to last week’s episode and made even better by a time skip along the way that showed Nitori actually growing up. The condensed nature of this episode left out quite a bit, but the added a whole bunch of new stuff to this series. ” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
- It’s rare that we get a show with so many characters of such depth…In Hourou Musuko each episode is divided more evenly between all of the characters, so it needs to pace things tightly. It never wastes time – every moment is well spent in showing something new about the characters.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog