Anime of Tomorrow
Hourou Musuko (last thoughts)
Final impression – well written 9/10
Winter 2011 (Alternate titles – Wandering Son)
Nitori is a confused young boy who feels a need to explore his identity in much greater detail than other people his age. In elementary school his closest friends always told him that he looked good in girls’ clothes, but his cross-dressing “hobby” goes much deeper into his psyche than just enjoying wearing dresses and skirts. Takatsuki is in a similar, reversed situation to Nitori, but she’s much more certain of her desire to be like a man than Nitori is of his femininity. The most interesting facet of this dichotomy is the two of them are the best of friends. But as they start junior high school and begin the journey towards becoming young adults, the problems surrounding their gender identities will have to be addressed.
In the short time since its conclusion, Houruo Musuko has already solidified itself as an anime that breaks the mold. Anime that really explore societal issues like gender identity are few and far between, but when they do come up, it helps legitimize anime as an art form. The opening and ending themes are beautifully composed and fit well with the image this anime wants to deliver (please listen to Rie Fu’s wonderful bilingual singing). While there’s nothing to really complain about in Houruo Musuko, there’s also never a climactic or even a dramatic moment to give an emotional rush for Nitori’s controversial circumstances. It’s all dealt with rather calmly and fails to take advantage of the emotional baggage associated with the issues it wants to address. But that’s just a choice of stylistic direction rather than a shortcoming of the anime to deliver an interesting story. Houruo Musuko also brings a refreshing style both in its pastel-color art and story with the two protagonists being introverts surrounded by more flamboyant side characters. It’s a level of believability not often seen, which easily pushes it into the top list of influential anime.