What are little girls made of? Sugar. Spice. And…
Hato-kun: Turns out this isn’t my last first impressions! Which is fine by me, because the last show is actually awesome in it’s own right. However, Hourou Musuko (or Wandering Son, if you’re feeling particularly foreign)! For me, it will most likely be the Kuragehime of this season (not just because it’s 11 episodes), but because it’s just not something you see very often. It seems like it could be a pretty special thing.
Sassy: I’m pretty excited about this series, mainly because I thought the manga was so good. Here’s to hoping the anime delivers.
We start the episode with a simple and sweet monologue from a middle school student, asking ‘What are little girls made of?’. If you think about it later, it’s a little creepy. His name is Nitori Shuuichi, and he’s just entered middle school. After his monologue, we’re bombarded with introductions and new characters who are just about to enter an Entrance Ceremony. While it’s a little overwhelming, the art and animation keep things bubbly, bright and all round appealing. Combined with a catchy and upbeat OP from Daisuke, it’s a great start to a new show.
We return in the middle of the ceremony and things begin to take shape. Shuuichi has just moved to his new school with a lot of his old friends from elementary. And there are a few important ones to note. Ariga Makoto, a short boy with glasses and freckles and one of Shuuichi’s best friends, Sasa Kanako, a brown-haired twin-tailed girl, Chiba Saori, a seemingly violent dark haired girl, and as you’ll find out, Takatsuki Yoshino, a tall boyish girl. As Shuuichi makes his introduction, some rude bastard cuts in, blurting out that Takatsuki and Shuuichi dated previously. The kid in question gets slapped around by Saori after she gets agitated, and some students begin to think she likes Shuuichi. Oh, gossip. How we love you.
Now, we know that Shuuichi and Takatsuki have a past, but what kind? It also seems that Chiba is involved to some degree. Interesting. During the lunch break, Takatsuki runs into someone from her class by the name of Sarashina Chizuru. She’s a tall girl with long, flowing hair. And for some reason, she’s wearing a boys uniform. Chizuru suggests that Takatsuki joins the basket ball team as she’s rather tall, and jokes that she felt like wearing a boys uniform that day, so she did. Takatsuki somewhat admires her. As the day comes to a close, Makoto and Shuuichi part ways, Shuuichi runs into town and straight into a restroom to clothes. Not only clothes, but genders as well. You see, Shuuichi likes cross-dressing and desperately wants to become a girl.
Before they changed school, Chiba, Takatsuki and Shuuichi used to be close. They knew that he cross dressed and they accepted him, like real friends would, which is sweet. We also learn that Shuuichi confessed to Takatsuki, only to be turned down. The reason being was that she didn’t fully understand what love was at the time (that’s pretty deep…). We also learn a little something about Takatsuki as well. After a conversation with an older friend of hers, we find out that Takatsuki, is also a cross-drssed and desperately wants to become a boy. Now we start to see what’s going on. Shuuichi walks around the city dressed as a girl, thinking to himself and also genuinely enjoying himself. From what we see, it looks like it’s what he really wants.
When he arrives home he runs into his sister, Nitori Maho, and one of her friends. They leave the house to meet someone, and Shuuichi spots a dress hanging from the wall of his room. Inspired by something that happened earlier in the city, on a whim he tries on the dress, obviously pleased with himself. As he goes to put on the last touches, his sister barges in, claiming she forgot her cellphone. She fights with him, trying to rip it off him. He pushes her over and runs out of the house, his sister yelling out to him, saying he’s sick. As he runs through the streets, by chance he passes Takatsuki. He stops and tries to collect himself, but just ends up crying. Takatsuki gives him her sweater, saying she saw someone wearing a skirt and sweater earlier. After talking, it seems they finally make up, putting behind them what happened between them and Shuuichi realizes that they’ll still always be friends. D’awww.
‘Come to the dark siiiiiiiideeeeeeeee. Join meeee!’
That dude in the background to the left has a MASSIVE HEAD.
Some would call this a wardrobe malfunction. I call it ‘hipster’.
The Grudge. Only cuter. And less dead.
Sassy: The art and music really did it for me here. By art, I mean the coloring specifically. Shimura Takako, the author of the manga, has this watercolor-like style on her color pages, which was unusually appealing, and I think the animators have definitely reproduced it faithfully here. The colors are a bit faded, and you can see the inhomogeneity in supposedly solid blocks of color, as if the artist was coloring by hand with a paintbrush and unable to keep the pressure perfectly stable. Watching this anime is like watching a moving picture storybook, which leaves you with this fresh feeling when it’s over.
The music is already leaving an impression on me, despite being very minimal and quiet. It’s mostly slow, tranquil tracks with only a few instruments, with several of them being piano only. It gives the story a feeling of being suspended in time, even though time actually passes very, very quickly in this series. This shaky sense of time is also a part of the manga, where the story often skips ahead, then filling in any gaps with flashbacks. On one hand, it might seem like poor planning, but I think it’s a fun way to experience the story.
I’m already familiar with this series, so I’m going to be biased in my overall impression of it, but as you can tell, I really enjoyed this episode. Obviously the series won’t be for everyone due to the subject matter, but it was definitely good for me. The anime also starts in the middle of the story, so I’m curious to see how they’re going to bring new viewers up to speed with all the characters’ relationships with each other. The story is written very realistically, so each individual character has really complicated relationships with each of the others. For example, Chiba is quite an interesting girl…
It might be difficult to get at first because it’s really fragmented right now, but I think a lot of you will enjoy this series. The serious theme is a nice change of pace from the fantasies and comedies. Even if the transgender theme doesn’t appeal to you, I would check it out for the great storytelling.
Hato-kun: I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. Probably because I’m so manly. Describing it as ‘brutal’ wouldn’t really do it justice, but ‘brutal’ seems to be the male equivalent. I can’t be like ‘Dude, Hourou Musuko was about these kids cross-dressing! It was so brutal!’, and if I did, people might start to question my sanity. I guess I’ll say that Hourou Musuko was downright sweet. It was cute in a weird trap kinda way, and the characters at times seem waaaay too mature for their age, but that’s what’s fun I guess. I was a little overwhelmed with how many character were introduced in such a short time, but the benefit of forcing so many on you in a short time, is that if it’s successful, you can create some wonderfully complicated stories. I’m hoping Hourou might to do something like that.
Another incredible high point was the art and animation. To me (at least) on first impressions it reminded me instantly of 5cm Per Second, which is brilliant because I loved that movie. I was also surprised that AIC handled the animation (Oreimo, Amagami), then again it’s most likely just different teams within the studio. The white was in the corners was a little annoying at first, but then I was like ‘Oh right, it’s only for outside in the light. That’s actually kinda cool.’ Though, the stand out was definitely when you first see Shuuichi cross dressing. For someone who didn’t know the plot, it would be a really interesting (or disturbing, whatever kinda person you are) twist in the story. And like I said above, Shuu really seemed like he (she?) was enjoying himself, and we really feel that that is who he’s meant to be.
I’m pretty sure you’ve guessed that there is an underlying romance in this show (well, I hope there will be). And it’s a very interesting one at that. I don’t know how many anime you’ve seen like this, but I for one haven’t seen one where both parts of the romance are cross-dressers and are desperately wanting to be the other sex. It’s slightly tragic in a sense that, if they were born how they wish themselves to be, they wouldn’t have to befall any of what will most undoubtedly happen to them. There’s always gonna be those few dickheads who tease them, you know it. And I’m looking forward to that episode. Because when it comes along, I’m sure as hell hoping their friends come up and beat the living daylights out of them.
Not too much on the preview front except for the name being ‘Hate, Hate, Despise ~Cry Baby Cry~‘. It sounds like something pretty nasty could happen, so maybe we should watch it. Luckily, I’ll be here next week to shed light on what will happen. This show seems good enough to do episodics on, yeah?