放浪息子 Hourou Musuko, Wandering Son
July 23, 2013 3:57 PM   Subscribe

放浪息子 Hourou Musuko (often translated as Wandering Son) is one of the better depictions of transgender life in manga and anime (and maybe in any medium). It's a slice of life drama about two young people who are trans and starting middle school in Japan. The manga is being published in English by Fantagraphics, and the anime is officially licensed in English subs on Crunchyroll.

The Japanese edition of the manga recently wrapped up (Google translation). The anime appears to be finished, with one season only.
posted by jiawen (16 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

志村貴子 Shimura Takako (official Japanese blog), the author and artist of the manga, understands trans issues quite well; I get indications that she might be genderqueer, but in any case, she writes with a lot of sympathy.

I just started watching the anime, and I'm not clear where exactly in the manga's continuity the anime falls, but it's got a beautiful painterly aesthetic that mirrors the tranquil style of the manga well.

Disclaimers: 放浪息子 is one of the most sensitive portrayals of trans life in anime or manga ever, though it's also very realistic and honest, so possible trigger warnings for gender dysphoria. Also, I'm not totally enamored with how Yuki-chan is written, and I haven't finished either the anime or the manga, so I don't know how well it all ends.

And by the way, try reloading the official website more than once!
posted by jiawen at 3:58 PM on July 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

I watched a few episodes of the TV show when it started airing, then lost track of it somewhere, somehow--but I really enjoyed it a lot and it left a big positive impression on me. It has a very Makoto Shinkai feel, both in aesthetic and tone, which works really well. The books look really lovely, and I've been meaning to pick them up for a while... I should finish the show! Entirely apart from the sympathetic and realistic portrayal of trans youth, it's one of the better slice of life/drama style animes I've seen.
posted by byanyothername at 4:10 PM on July 23, 2013

Shimura Takako is an amazing artist in general; "Aoi hana" is another fantastic comic, especially the first few volumes (although when I watched a few episodes of the anime the voice acting made me cringe).
posted by No-sword at 5:43 PM on July 23, 2013

I loved both the Aoi Hana and Hourou Musuko anime. Might check out the manga.
posted by cthuljew at 10:51 PM on July 23, 2013

Interesting. I've been looking for new interesting anime to watch and this hits the spot.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:30 AM on July 24, 2013

Warning for trans people with still unresolved issues buried in their childhood memories: the manga is beautiful and moving and occasionally problematic and it made me cry buckets.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:51 AM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm somewhere in the middle of this and really enjoying it. Absolutely beautiful animation.

I have a couple Crunchyroll trial codes. If anyone would like to watch without commercials, MeMail me.
posted by maryr at 8:02 AM on July 24, 2013

Is there anywhere I can view this online?
posted by odinsdream at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2013

odinsdream, do you mean the anime? It's in my FPP: the "English subs" link.
posted by jiawen at 12:34 PM on July 25, 2013

Thanks - I meant the manga, too.
posted by odinsdream at 1:01 PM on July 25, 2013

No place legal, so far as I know.
posted by jiawen at 1:21 PM on July 25, 2013

Has everyone seen it all now? Can we talk without worrying about spoilers?
posted by jiawen at 4:34 PM on July 31, 2013

The anime is two years old and the thread is a week plus old. I think it's fair game.

Let's just preface from here on in the thread:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ HERE BE SPOILERS! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

posted by maryr at 4:49 PM on July 31, 2013

Okay, here's one thing: does the anime make sense to anyone who hasn't read the manga? It seems like the anime doesn't even try to make things make sense -- it's either an giving a series of impressions that don't necessarily hang together, or it's assuming you've read the manga.

The manga also has that sense of pointilist impressionism, but it makes a lot more sense in the end, I think. It starts to feel less like reading a narrative that's happening as you read it, and more like someone recollecting things that happened to them in the past. It sometimes forms a cohesive narrative (more often than the anime, I think), but sometimes doesn't -- like real memories. I like how the occasional flashbacks and callbacks bring the rest of the story into focus.

Where does Shuu go after the series ends? For a long time, I thought there was a strong parallel being set up with Yuki, but it sounds like Shuu goes to university, which Yuki didn't. So while the strong parallels with Yuki has me thinking Shuu was going to end up working in a hostess bar and being Doi's girlfriend, in the end I think Shimura is saying that Shuu's future isn't necessarily so.

Still some problems with the way trans experience is shown in the series, but this is easily one of the best portrayals around. A lot of nuanced possibilities illustrated, with lives that fit the stereotypes and lives that don't,
posted by jiawen at 7:19 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, here's one thing: does the anime make sense to anyone who hasn't read the manga? It seems like the anime doesn't even try to make things make sense -- it's either an giving a series of impressions that don't necessarily hang together, or it's assuming you've read the manga.

I've just read the first two paragraphs of your comment and volume one of the manga. I actually watched up to the opening credits when the FPP went up, wasn't really getting into it, then the title sequence is really long, so I got fed up and tracked down the manga. Having read volume one is, I think, making it a lot easier for me to follow the anime, though the stories seem pretty disjoint so far (they're still in grade school in volume one). I think this is mostly because I'm having some trouble recognising the characters from scene to scene. This is a problem I sometimes have with films in general* and I think it might be exacerbated by the style of animation (I don't watch anime usually). So Shu's wig is not helping me. It took me a little while to get the hang of the manga as well, actually, but it seems much more linear than the anime.

*I saw Bourne Legacy and didn't realise that Jeremy Renner with a beard and Jeremy Renner without a beard were the same person. I am never going to live that down, by the way.
posted by hoyland at 3:24 PM on August 4, 2013

Yeah, Shimura apologizes for that in at least one of the author diaries, saying that she draws characters that look alike. I kept getting Chi and Anna confused, even though their personalities are totally different. I think Shimura even lampshades it a bit in some of the later manga chapters, with characters confusing each other from behind.
posted by jiawen at 9:56 PM on August 4, 2013

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