"Hourou Musuko (The Wandering Son)"

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"Hourou Musuko (The Wandering Son)"

Postby Danny_the_'Net » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:11 am

To be honest, I really don’t like slice-of-life stories all that much. I rather prefer my reading selections to have a hint of action, adventure, supernatural/fantasy elements, etc. I mean, isn’t the point of reading fiction to escape the doldroms of everyday life and find yourself in a world so different for your own that you forget about your own troubles for a while?

Well, I’m happy to say that this story has proven me wrong in that notion. Reading Hourou Musuko has been a real treat for me, a step forward into a genre that I didn’t enjoy that much before. This story has something that really grabbed me in a way that every good author has taken hold of their readers: real humanity. These are people just like you and me. They suffer, they endure, they laugh, they cry, they stumble, they help each other up, they go through life as anyone else would, facing challenges that many people can’t even imagine going through. And the real emotion that they feel, even in those silent, still moments, is so profoundly moving that you will find yourself on the verge of tears as your heart breaks for them.

For those of you who have never read the story, I'll provide a brief summary. Hourou Musuko (known as "Wandering Son" or "Transient Son" stateside) is a manga written and drawn by Japan's own, critically acclaimed Takako Shimura (known for her sensitve take on LGBTQAA topics), and tells the story of two kids who are just starting Fifth Grade, a time in their lives that represents the end of childhood innocence and the transition into a bigger world. Both Shuichi Nitori and his friend Yoshino Takatsuki are happy kids enjoying life with loving families and a close group of friends, a seemingly average childhood for kids in Japan. However, they share a secret that really complicates this time of life, which is already complicated no matter who you are. Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, while Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy. Thus begins our story, following them through life as they grow into who they are and find their way through this crazy world.

Even though I have never experienced anything like what Shuichi and Yoshino are going through in the stories, I found myself feeling drawn to their characters in a way that not many other heroes/villains/etc have in the past. They just seemed far more human to me than the others, and I really believed in the topics touched on with their struggles and triumphs throughout the course of the story thus far. As someone who has an interesting gender-studies and transgender/transsexual topics in fiction (ever since I picked up a copy of Ranma 1/2 in high-school :P), I really enjoyed Takako's viewpoints on transsexuality and gender-related issues in her story, especially since I tend to agree with her on a lot of them. The term “gender” is a psychological and social thing, it is how we see ourselves in terms of who we are in personality and nature, it does not define our physical form. The word that does that is a biological term that is rooted in anatomy, and that is our “physical/biological/birth sex.” Though the former is very much influenced by society’s view of the latter, the world’s close-minded definition of who we are as individuals should never limit us to who we truly are. This something we decide for ourselves.

My apologies for the ranting on this subject, I hope that this doesn't disinterest you in picking up this story. I really recommend it, as not only does it touch on a topic that is of real interest to me, but it paints a beautiful picture of the ups-and-downs of growing-up and how kids like Yoshino and Shuichi- and their friends and family for that matter- go through life with this hanging over their heads. Takako portrays both Shuichi and Yoshino's very private journey through life with a loving sense of affection and sensitivity to their well-being, peppering the story with bits of gentle humor that helps to lighten otherwise dour moods in some places. My personal favorite side-character has to be Yuki, a post-op transwoman who is really a joy to read whenever she and her boyfriend Shiina appear. She just has this spark of life about her that radiates a contagious sort of happiness, and her upbeat attitude is really hard to shake :D.

I would really recommend this series to anyone who loves a good story with a deep, well-written human angle to it. As the summary states for almost every review of Hourou Musuko, "anyone who has enjoyed The Rose of Versailles or Anne of Green Gables will love this book." The story is still on-going, and usually updates every so often on certain reading sites like Mangafox or Mangareader. There was also an anime made for the series, but it takes place a little further into the story, leaves out an incident or two, and deviates from the plot slightly at one point.

Hope you guys enjoyed the read, and I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts about this topic. Thanks again for giving this thread a look, I hope that I didn't butcher the topic too horribly, and that I didn't screw up on certain aspects of the story or anything else big :oops:. Anyhow, catch you later, gang :)!!
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