Published: May 20, 1978 to ?
Authors: Ikeda, Riyoko (Story & Art)
Score: 7.671 (scored by 530 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top manga page.
Popular Tagsdrama gender bender
Apr 21, 2013
The story is relatively simple. Claudine de Montesse is the daughter of a French nobleman and the first child to truly resemble his father. He began identifying as a male at the age of 8, claiming that he was born in the wrong body, much to the surprise of his family. His well intentioned but confused mother takes him to a doctor, not knowing quite what to do. The doctor and Claudine become friends, though they hardly ever spend any time together. The only people who truly accept his sexuality are his father and his clingy childhood friend Rosemarie. Unfortunately, even with their support, Claudine's attempts to find love and be accepted as a man wind up ending in tragedy one by one, especially when he discovers certain secrets about his family and his loves that he may not be prepared for.
You may be surprised by the rating I gave this. You may be thinking, "If you really think this manga deserves a 7 out of 10, why are you gushing about it? Don't you like it?" Well, the reason I ranked this manga rather low is because there are quite a lot of things in this that sort of felt really forced or turned me off. The first of them is the melodrama. It places a bit too much emphasis on certain scenes, making them come off as very forced, especially the characters' reactions (though I think that's because of the way they're drawn). But then again, this was drawn in the seventies after all, so melodrama was the standard at the time. The second thing that really irked me were some of the twists that were revealed. I won't go into detail about them and the melodrama, as these twists happen to be VERY FULL OF SPOILERS and have a HUGE affect on the story afterward. What should be a good manga about the transsexual main character is somewhat overshadowed by a strange, convoluted, and unnecessary love dodecahedron that's much too complicated for even me to keep track of, and the actions of some of the characters really made me cringe. I feel that if the manga was a bit longer, it could have developed these things more and made them a lot more subtle. I wonder if the subject matter is why the manga is so short? Maybe Ikeda wasn't able to go beyond one volume?
However, even with the manga's huge and glaringly obvious flaws that keep me from rating it much higher, I still respect it wholly. Why? There's just so many little details about this manga that I really appreciate. For one thing, Claudine's father actually accepts her sexuality even though in the 19th century, transsexuality or homosexuality were considered mental disorders and maligned by everyone back in that time period, and he conveys this with this line: "God made an error in not giving him a male body." If that's not a true sign of love and appreciation, then I don't know what is, even though he has his own issues later on. Normally, the fathers are the ones who are the quickest to hate their children if they decide to be homosexual or transsexual. It's just SO UNGODLY refreshing to find a fictional father figure who still loves his child regardless of what they decide they are! And in a manga taking place in the 20th century, no less!
Another thing I truly appreciate is Claudine himself. From what I'm hearing from other places, transsexuals have been portrayed in manga and anime as flamboyantly gay or just acting gay for the sake of showing off their sexuality, which is rather insensitive. Wandering Son is an exception to this rule, along with Claudine. Claudine is a wonderful and well-rounded character. He's not flamboyant or flirty or any other poorly executed gay stereotype. He's simply a human being who has flaws, makes some mistakes, is easily saddened by tragic events in his life, and who deserves as much respect, love, and acceptance as everyone else does, but most people he meets don't like him because he's "technically" a girl and not a man, which he claims to be. However, I will admit, the final thing about this manga that irked me was the ending. Not because it was rushed or not well done or anything like that. In fact, it's very well done and well worth it. But it's just plain sad. Sad sad sad. I won't spoil it, but let's just say that what Claudine does at the end is sadly reminiscent of what young gay and transsexual kids are doing after years of bullying drive them over the edge today. I wish it had a happy ending, but still, this ending is well done so I'll give it some slack.
Despite all of this manga's problems, this is definitely a guilty pleasure manga that I'll definitely keep reading. If the forced twists and love triangles were removed, it'd be a masterpiece. But I can wholly love it for what it does do absolutely right, and more people should too! read more