Nitori has always been a bit of a girly kind of boy. He likes to cook, he’s sensative and has little in common with the other 5th-grade boys. He’s even cuter than his older sister, Maho, who wants to be a model. Saori Chiba is a classmate who seems to understand him, but mostly just likes dressing him up. He strikes up a friendship with Takatsuki, a tall girl who is very much a tomboy and who everyone calls “Takatsuki-kun”. They meet and befriend a gorgeous
woman, Yuki, who is actually a transsexual. All the while, Nitori is discovering how good he looks as a girl, and how much he likes it.
Hourou Musuko centers around elementary- and middle-school children, but is a seinen manga, targeted at college-age readers. Although the look back at school days relies heavily on nostalgia, the issues the characters are wrestling with are very adult. Nitori isn’t gay in the sense that he has no real idea of, or interest in, sexuality or romance. He is more interested in having friends, and likes acting and dressing as a girl. For both him and Takatsuki, their friends and families are loving and supportive, but there is some tension with the schoolmates acting in proscribed manners.
Things move slowly in this manga, focused on social situations and the feelings of the characters. It almost makes you think it’s sort of shoujo, but there’s little in the way of overwrought interior dialogue (or screentone, either). It’s a slice-of-life story and despite the sexually liminal nature of the plot, it still manages to capture the reader with distinct and heartwarming characterizations. The crossdressing makes me think of sexual roles versus sexual gender…and those two versus sexuality. Hourou Musuko is much more concerned with sexual roles in society than with mere titillation, which I liked very much.
Shimura employs a very clean style, but somehow manages to retain a sketchbook sort of look, making it look as if she had simply sat down and effortlessly sketched her perfectly cute faces–impossible, as those of you who do art well know. Art this effective is always the result of hard work, and it certainly shows here. Most of her panels leave out the background of any kind, once she has set up the scene. She is an obviously very accomplished artist, since her figure studies are realistic and foreshortening of limbs or bodies (a sure giveaway of an artist’s skill) is very well-done.
Kotonoha’s scanlation is typically of high-quality for them, the whites are white and the blacks are clean black. The typesetting is well-suited to the style of the manga, while being easy to read. I highly recommend downloading this one.
From the standpoint of a storyteller, the slice of life genre is the biggest you can use and because it's slice of life it can make for a long story. The problem however, is that the genre is almost always filled with generic things. You'll get a protagonist in a high school full of tropes, and despite what the writer might want you to believe, if you've watch or read slice of life then you've probably seen it all before. That's where Hourou Musuko stands out. While it is slice of life, it is more specifically the characters' life, which makes it one of few
manga in this genre that you can actually say you haven't seen before.
Despite being little more than its synopsis, Hourou Musuko has a very enjoyable story. This is because it is slice of life and surprisingly enough, it lives up to that point. When the story begins the characters are very young and naive, but as it goes onward they slowly grow older, and the hardships they experienced before leave a very imposing mark. When they approach situations that resemble these events, self-doubt manifested through the past billows upward, and makes them question if they should or could do it again. This is very realistic, which all slice of life manga don't need, but should have a little more of . It's a very character driven story, and Shimura's attention to character depth, makes it a very involving tale.
Because I'm not much of a visual artist myself, I can't exactly give Hourou Musuko's art any justice when it come to critique, but in my opinion it's suitable for the story. When done in color pages, it looks sort of like a water painting, and uses very pastel colors to go with the over all lighter essence of the story. Character design is simple and won't likely be how you remember them, but its clear that Shimura tries to make an effort, and she has admitted in one omake that her art isn't very good. This however is my critique, and while I can't say that it will appeal to the artist in you, I can say that its simpler look does a good job at giving form to its story.
The trait that undeniable ranks highest amongst all of Hourou Musuko's traits, is its characterization and and character development, which is important when going into a story like this. It is a manga that shows how far the slice of life genre can be taken when the mangaka isn't just looking for a plane to throw the characters into. What makes the story is the characters, and Shimura pays enough attention to all of them to make them stand out. It is not a cast of anime tropes, thrown into a typical setting but real people in a real setting, thrown into a fictional world. If you have a life that resembles any of the characters, or even if you don't it is possible to see a bit of yourself in them which makes them that much more endearing.
The enjoyment you'll find in Hourou Musuko is extremely high, if its not your type of manga then its likely that you won't read it but if you do you won't have to worry about drama being unnecessarily thrown in. Slice of life is an unfortunate genre that more oft than not, comes in two form. One is comedy which can be good sometimes, but is otherwise an excuse to make a story where nothing happens. The other is drama which goes out of its way to prove that it can be that. Again there are some dramas that are actually good, but its not hard to happen upon one that slings the drama into your face. At times, life can be hard, and at others it can make you smile, and if any manga I've read is a testament to that, then Hourou Musuko would be it.
The story is involving, the art suits it, the characters it portrays are very well done, and all of this only adds to its enjoyability. What adds to its overall score though is that it is a seinen, and unlike a lot of other seinen that are generally just gore and porn, Hourou Musuko has a reason for being classified as that. The reason it's a seinen is not just because it has things that can't be put in shonen, but because those things require you to think. You have to be mature to read it. This is of course debatable, but I implore you to give it a look before you make your decision. For being a rather well woven story,with a likable cast that drive it well, I award Hourou Musuko with a 9 out of 10. However it does have a lot of characters, and not all of them get enough time, which inevitably took away from the ending score.
After having a tough time getting into the series and having to restart a few times, I raced through the second half of Wandering Son in a single day. Now I’m just lying here in a haze, trying to collect myself into a human being again. I feel like this writeup is a necessary step in the process. Let’s do this.
Wandering Son, or Hourou Musuko, is a manga about the self. It's extremely introverted, with characters lost in thought, staying home from school, and mulling over their anxieties all the time. When a character makes a particularly bold decision, they’re often ridiculed and punished for
it. There’s always other stuff going on, but most of these bold decisions are about gender identity. This is a manga, perhaps THE manga in the eyes of many, about dysphoria and being transgender. The uniqueness of Wandering Son is that it starts our cast off in elementary school, right before the onset of puberty. This gives us a different perspective than many other trans mangas, which star college-aged characters grappling with their identity while being young adults. But wow, this is a uniquely brutal perspective.
At the start of the manga we are shown our main characters, Nitori Shuuichi and Takatsuki Yoshino. Shuuichi wants to dress like a girl and Yoshino wants to dress like a boy. Pretty early on, Yoshino’s identity issues are sidelined so the plot can zero in on Shuuichi - compared to everyone else, he’s suffering immensely. He’s trapped in a world that doesn’t know how to help girls like him, but even he doesn’t know that yet. However, his world seems to be built perfectly around enabling his crossdressing, from friends that keep encouraging him to endless school festivals revolving around gender-swapped plays. Unlike other mangas, our trans character here is not deeply repressed, which makes the relentless march of time all the more painful to watch.
Going into Wandering Son, I didn’t realize that we would see these kids grow up all the way from sixth grade to the end of high school. Instead of timeskips or focusing on a single year, our cast just keeps gaining years. You know how in a lot of anime and manga, high school graduation almost feels like a metaphor for death? For once, that implication actually carries some extra meaning. Puberty stops for no one, and with every passing year our protagonist Shuuichi will be less and less able to convincingly present as female. Throughout these 123 chapters, we see Shuuichi grow, not okay with any of the physical developments happening to him but unable to do anything. This is cruel and painful, especially as a trans woman who went through the exact same motions, just more internalized.
If you read through Wandering Son with the adolescence of Shuuchi as your guiding narrative thread, you will end up with a truly existentially depressing manga. Seriously, this perspective is more personally painful to me than anything even Goodnight Punpun can conjure up. It’s a good thing there are other, more palatable narrative threads woven throughout. Yoshino’s story, for one, never reaches these levels of anguish. Their classmates have fights and relationships and arcs. The adults in this story stand out a lot – more on some of them later. And last but not least, there’s a wonderful slow-burning romance throughout the second half of the manga. Shuuchi having friends and lovers through all of this is the authors’s greatest act of kindness throughout the story, reminding us that even people who are very clearly suffering still deserve and will find people who support them. This is a very important message for any dysphoric people who find this manga and want to use it as solace.
But still…this is not a very hopeful manga. At least it isn’t to me.
Shuuichi gets the girl, so that’s a happy ending, right? Except every little bit of subtext is arguing the exact opposite. Let me explain further. Shuuchi meets 2 adult trans women throughout the series. The first is young, pretty, and lives happily with her husband. This seems like the perfect role model for Shuuchi and any dysphoric readers! A beacon of hope that yes, it is possible to transition and live a great life. But she kind of stops being an influencing voice for Shuuchi, for whatever reason. Instead in the manga’s endgame we are introduced to an older closeted trans person. Living as a husband and father for all these years, after their wife’s death they took to crossdressing in her clothes. This character is totally unable to pass. In a sense she doesn’t care, although she worries immensely about how her young daughter will view her. Forgive my weird pronouns throughout that. Anyways, compared to the first trans woman this is a character we are clearly supposed to feel pity for, unable to pass in a world where passing means everything, and burdened with single fatherhood at that too. I would love to comment more on the specific hardships of transitioning at an older age, but alas I lack knowledge of that experience. This old woman shows up in the third-to-last chapter, so clearly she’s meant to represent something. As Shuuchi grows older and older we mentally associate him with her instead of the younger trans woman. Shuuchi’s love interest even makes a passing remark about being okay with dating a weird crossdresser well into old age, which is kind of cute but also reinforces that Shuuchi will never be able to truly transition and will be stuck uncomfortably as a man, feeling like a crossdresser instead of a “real woman”. This is immensely depressing. I’m lucky as all hell to have the resources and social ability to start transitioning as a young adult. Too see the subtextual conclusion of this manga boil down to “yeah, Shuuchi is forever stuck as a boy wanting to be a girl, but that’s kind of okay” feels like a punch in the gut. This is a very good author who is able to write to the trans experience impressively well for being a cis woman. However, for the love of me I can’t tell if she intended the ending to be this melancholy or if I accidentally extracted an extra layer of suffering out of it. It doesn’t matter, this is how I still feel at the end of the day. This is my ultimate takeaway from Wandering Son, and it’s what tore me apart. I’m sorry if my feelings are unrelatable or if my writing style was accidentally problematic or if my takeaways are just plain wrong. I wanted to make my wallowing as productive as can be and this writeup/explanation is what I settled on. So thanks for sticking through it.
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Wandering Son is good, I think. It’s not as deeply relatable for me as some other trans-themed mangas, but it’s still a worthwhile read with a unique youth perspective. It’s not fetishistic, instead it’s both sympathetic and cruel in oscillating doses. If you can relate strongly to the dysphoria stuff in this manga, then that’s wonderful. But don’t be fatalistic about your assigned gender, even if the manga seems to be towards Shuuchi. A happy future may seem impossible right now, but one day Things Will Be Better.
Hourou Musuko is nothing more than your run of the mill shoujo manga with a crossdressing twist. If you are like me and come expecting a story about boys and girls growing up as transsexuals, this will leave you sorely disappointed. What this title offers instead is loads of teenage drama, love triangles, love confessions, first dates...- everything strictly heterosexual and involving kids as young as 12 years old.
There's one actual MtF, adult transsexual in the story, but she's presented as a sexual deviant and a predator, making sexual advances on a preteen child.
As for the main characters, they seem more confused than anything. The
girl in particular does little to differentiate herself from the standard tomboy seen in so many stories before. The boy is fascinated with crossdressing in secret, but is otherwise a very passive and boring kid. You never get the feeling that there's an internal struggle going on, or that he even identifies himself as a girl. If you've ever seen testimonies of actual transgendered kids, this is nothing like that, even the parents don't seem to know about the situation!
With the main hook treated in such a superficial and drawn out manner, all that's left is a generic story about the romantic lives of preteens and some decent artwork (cute faces with little variation, some good establishing shots followed by many bland panel backgrounds).
At the time of this review there are 116 chapters published. I read the first 50 or so, but before writing this I made sure to check the latest chapters and found them to be more of the same, so I'm fairly confident in my judgment.
I would say if you've ever struggled with your gender identity you have to read this. If you've never struggled with your gender identity, you still have to read this it's so good.
Ok so, the review, i read this whole series over the course of two days and it destroyed me emotionally. I think the ways in which the two main characters struggle with their gender identities is shockingly real and hit incredibly close to home for me. I'm a trans girl and like I have never found a character who I can see myself so clearly in. I think the characters and their growth
and inner conflicts are incredible. This applies to all characters for me. I think the story isn't going to be for everyone as the pacing can be very slow, especially in the middle of the manga. But I think it does an incredible job of portraying real life. The art is pretty clean and the characters are all distinct enough. EVeryone's pretty cute and distinct enough that it's easy to tell everyone apart. This story just has such a heavy emotional effect, I'm still trying to come to terms with it. I seriously would recommend this manga to everyone, its truly powerful and it does an excellent job of exploring gender identity, puberty, transness, love and relationships, its so powerful!!!
Sexuality and gender orientation is the topic debated for many generations and is also still continuing.
This manga is a story about a guy named Shuuichi Nitori (Shuu) who has a best friend(a girl) named Yoshino Takatsuki who wants to be a boy, so she makes him wear her clothes instead of her. Although a bit reluctant at first but also interested, Shuu starts cross-dressing on the demands of her, various friends and even his sister as they all admire his cute personality. What started as a fun habit or for admiration, later leads to a point which makes him question his gender orientation.
So as to
not spoil the story, let me tell something about myself so you can understand why I was able to like this manga:
Almost all weak boys have this boyish trait (manly) and girly trait (cute side) present in them. The me who used to do things based on what the society thinks or how my friends would like me, I very much hated the girly trait inside me so as to not get teased or laughed at, and hence I suppressed it and always wanted to become a man quickly. Since I was also attracted to females, so this was more like a catalyst for me embracing the manly trait and I don't regret my decision. But who knows what would have happened if I was introduced to the world of cross-dressing, I might have embraced the other side more.
So as you can understand from my story that I could have turned to either gender depending on the situation, thoughts, circumstances etc. Besides this, I have also met many on the internet who are cross-dressers, I've had a premonition mindset that they were just perverts who wanted to touch girl's clothes and wear them.
But nevertheless, this manga explains you various topics from people like me who stayed as it is, people like Shuu who experienced change from childhood and people who embrace it at a later stage of age and many other questions related to gender and sexuality.
Your mindset would completely change, after reading this manga. In fact, I have decided to bluntly support people who come out as LGBT or even asexuality. It's not that I would ask them to change their gender quickly, just being moral support and telling them that, you are there for them makes them feel secure, because God knows how many months and years they might have thought and struggled to whether tell about their inner feelings to others. Talking out in a way not to hurting them, helps to clear yours and their's misunderstandings and misconceptions.
Although this manga tells the story from childhood to the age of 18 years, it does have some boring or rather tiring parts for about 20-30 chapters(as it was hard to explain the circumstances of huge cast of characters) but that's what makes it a masterpiece as it fleshes out every part of character development without much hurry, also the art is little confusing sometimes as to who is speaking to whom, but then this manga was never written with any malicious intent, in fact, it doesn't even have a proper kissing scene drawn.
I would definitely recommend this manga as you can't understand these hard topics by just watching a 2 hours movie, it needs some time and that's what this manga does properly. It was an emotional and beautiful journey while reading it, I hope you enjoy too.
Hourou Musuko or The Transient Son is a beautiful slice of life story that you can relate to and seems so realistic.
It's about Nitori Suuichi, a boy who not only looks cute as a girl but seems so well suited as one. Thing is, he does want to become a girl. And his friend, Takatsuki Yoshino is quite the opposite. She is a girl who wants to become a boy...
When I first looked at this manga I first thought 'ewww, there are gays in here!'. Man was I wrong. The story is so realistic you can't help but continue to read. Not everyone has
a friend who wants to be the opposite gender. Looking into the world of one of these people gives you a different view on how everyone and everything else is seen from their eyes.
I would've given the story a 10 but unfortunately, everytime I catch up on the manga I get bored. So bored I feel like dropping the manga entirely. However, I make myself read it because I know the manga is definitely worth it. Slice of life just needs to ease in before you get gripped.
The art is quite unique. Whenever I see coloured pages I'm very surprised, each and every time. The manga is water coloured. The colours are smudgy but it really suits the manga as the water colours give off a peaceful vibe.
As for the actual art, I really like it. Nitori does look like a cute girl and Takatsuki does look like a handsome boy. The art is really cute and suitable for this kind of manga.
I thought I would not like this style of art but turns out I really like it and is very suitable for the manga.
I love the characters. I absolutely love Nitori and Takatsuki. Their actions are just so realistic you yourself could even imagine yourself doing what they were doing. Chiba Saori is a very realistic character too. Even though I just hate her I really like her development. She tries to be good. She wants to be good but she just can't control her emotions.
I really do love the characters and it is also one of the manga's strong points.
Enjoyment & Overall: 10
Yes I have admitted that this manga bores me when I start to read where I left off but you have just gotta love this manga. It is very enjoyable once you get into it. I've pretty much confessed my love to this manga so I'm taking off now.
I'll just start by saying this: I've never seen any media, manga or otherwise, deal with trans youth as well as this series. The messy, confusing and difficult nature of handling the transition through puberty as a sexual minority is handled here with nothing held back, characters are not locked into stereotypes but grow and change as they mature to the point where they are scarcely recognizable by the series' end. If that premise alone interests you it is a must-read. That being said I will stop short of calling it a masterpiece due to some issues with the way the plot progresses and is
explained to the reader. Overall I give it an 8/10.
Hourou musuko is fundamentally a slice of life series that progresses over a very long time period. In 123 chapters it covers the day to day lives of the characters from the 5th grade until they enter college. Because of this massive amount of time to cover, the setting of the series changes every dozen chapters or so, characters are moved around to different classes/schools, and friendships perpetually re-allign. While this plays to the realism of the series it makes following character interactions difficult, and this is a character-driven series with no other overarching plot. There's a fairly large cast who all have their own friendships, crushes, relationships and families that become hard to recall especially with the appearance of characters constantly changing as they age. It becomes especially difficult when all of these characters seem to have different nicknames for each other!
Besides this, at times the storytelling can be jumbled. Since character perspective jumps so frequently it's hard to tell what subplot we're supposed to be following, or if a new one is being established. It also doesn't help that events aren't clearly linear, or that timeskips of months can occur inbetween panels on the same page. Often the series simply changes a major relationship between characters and doesn't explain why until several chapters later, with a flashback. This occurs progressively more frequently as the series goes on, especially as the rate of time passing seems to speed up in the second half of the series. All of this being said despite the story being difficult to follow at times, it is quite good for a slice of life series, certainly more in depth than the genre's average.
The art of the series is usually fairly basic to the point where many secondary characters look very similar and it's hard to tell them apart until their names are used. However, a lot of key scenes are very well drawn, as are the two main characters Shuuichi and Yoshino. The quality of the art also seems to progress with the series, not surprising since it took over a decade to complete.
This is the real strength of the series. The major characters got absolutely flawless character development, they're all living breathing people who change as they grow up, as the events of their lives unfold. It's hard to speak of the specifics of what makes the character work so great without spoiling the series so I'll just leave it at this: absolutely amazing.
The only thing that prevents it from being a 10/10 in my opinion is the sheer size of the cast seems unnecessary, while none of the minor characters are one-dimensional some of them seemed to lack purpose. Momoko comes to mind, who is little more than the jealous friend of Chizuru, herself a minor character. Plenty of pages are devoted to Momoko's friendship with Chizuru, or to Momoko fighting with Saori or Chizuru herself but it never seems to tie into the rest of the story, or lead to anything meaningful, and I'm not sure why she was added to the story at all.
In the end, I loved it. I loved these confused kids trying to make sense of the world in the same way we all have to, in the most painfully real way possible. I loved how it starts and I loved how it ended, but this series is not a fairytale. It's not even really a romance series, and if that's what you're hoping to enjoy from it you'll be a bit disappointed. If you're down for something that takes every trope of school life manga and throws it out the window, though, I strongly suggest you give it a read.