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Hourou Musuko – 11 (END)

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「放浪息子はどこまでも ~Wandering son’s progress~」 (Hourou Musuko wa Doko made mo ~Wandering son’s progress~)
“Always a Wandering Son ~Wandering son’s progress~”

This was certainly a satisfying finale. Slice of life doesn’t really ever conclude since there is no central plotline to start with, but there was some closure and previous events were alluded to, making it feel somewhat like the conclusion of an essay. For one, I would say the three main characters Nitori, Takatsuki and Saori have definitely made up, after their friendship broke up before the events of the anime. They had their nostalgic moment with the three of them together, as they were in elementary school. Saori has definitely softened up her personality as well, and is finally on good terms with Taktsuki again.

Romance among them ends at a standstill though. There was a touching moment between Saori and Nitori while she was helping him crossdress, but I just can’t see them getting together as a couple. Takatsuki and Nitori remain as just friends for now but they have definitely gotten pretty close. Anna is back too and she can’t face Maho after dumping Nitori, probably because their relationship really was concluded rather “incompletely” in my opinion. They had a much needed talk to tie up loose ends and it looks like it did a lot of good to Anna especially as she said she didn’t quite understand Nitori’s situation in the beginning. I really do like how Nitori speaks his mind openly, and his “I still like you” to Anna blew my mind away and made Anna blush like hell, possibly tearing up too.

The other characters got some closure in the last episode as well. I haven’t read the manga, and so my thoughts echo Nitori’s words that it’s hard to tell whether Doi is mean or nice. Personally, I think he’s both (as people are in real life), and although he’s not a very likable character I’m glad the series ended with Nitori and Doi on a civil note, without grudges. They actually worked together on the script for the play, which of course is mutually beneficial. I really don’t understand why they are doing a gender bender play again (gender bender maid cafe in Maho’s class too) given the incidents in the last few episodes. Most gender bender plays I’ve watched are usually done in part for some comedic effect and it’s probably the same way here; I don’t see Nitori’s class getting that much more tolerant. Nevertheless, it was a good point to end the anime on, and it felt a bit like Lucky Star in that the scene cuts at the curtain, which does provide the same emotional hit that makes for a “happy ending”.

 

 

Final Impressions

I actually got into this series initially because of the unusualness of the premise and the unique art style, then got hooked. Hourou Musuko is definitely one of the best slice-of-life dramas I’ve seen, because of its great character development and realism. Stepping back and looking at all the episodes together, there is no way this show is “boring” and although things go rather subtly at times, the characters all progress greatly and the way they interact changes a lot. It’s a great mix of light humor, romance, friendship and personal struggles.

One of the highlights for me includes Nitori and Anna’s relationship. Even if it didn’t work out in the end, I still really enjoyed seeing them together and their quirkiness was fun to watch and I’m sure they’ll remain friends in the future. As it was the first for both of them, I think it influenced their development heavily, and in a good way. There wasn’t any direct implication but Nitori and his sister’s relationship also seems to have improved through Anna. Takatsuki and Saori were also memorable for me and their relationship had one of the biggest shifts throughout the series. I do wish Saori’s personal struggles were shown more explicitly, since she just came off as a prick in the begining, but it later becomes clear that she is much more than that. I still vividly remember the scene with Saori praying in the church and wish more of such was shown.

Per its genre, Hourou Musuku is very character driven and a snapshot into a specific period in life of the characters. There’s not all that much “happening” and the pace can be pretty laid back, but the characters are awesome and the interactions intricate, which is definitely what made the show for me. The characters are well designed (I especially like Sarashima), and the characters are far from one-sided, even someone like Doi who could be considered a “villain”. It seems impossible to hate anyone in this series. Because of the large cast shown, there can be a lack of focus at times, but in the end most things do tie back to the main characters.

As for the subject matter, no clear statements or opinions are given about gender identity disorder, and the story is just shown as it is without implicit messages, which I find to be one of the pluses of Hourou Musuko. Obviously it’s a controversial topic, and gender roles can be very complex, but this makes it a very strong backbone to the series. It shows a lot of glaring issues in our society, and there is much that could be discussed from double standards to intolerance which shows. Stepping back at looking at the themes, these gender roles are definitely sociological products (that includes gender identity disorder), as opposed to biological sex, and in my opinion they just cause unnecessary boundaries and divisiveness especially against the deviants. Because of these issues though Hourou Musuko ends up as a really niche series. Most people I talked with about it were quite turned off by the premise; it seems “traps” are only appropriate as comedic fodder. It’s unfortunate since a lot of people will miss out on an interesting series. Echoing Divine’s sentiments, those complaining about the “decline of the quality of anime these days” really should look to series like this.

April 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm
31 comments »
  • April 1, 2011 at 12:12 pmPIMPOLLA

    Soprendente anime! muestra una realidad encantadora, es de las pocas series que me han cautivado hasta el final, y debo de aceptar que al ver a Nitori y a Takaktsuki separados fue una conmición desde el mismo principio, más con Anna, un final inesperado, muestra una relidad que cambió MUCHO mi forma de ver a la gente. :)

  • April 1, 2011 at 12:14 pmAisu

    Going to miss seeing Hourou each week. It’s such a calm slice-of-life that it was comfortable, but kept a clear plot and never stopped developing characters. I personally liked Doi because of the fact he was never either completely nice or completely mean. But I also got the vibe that he liked Nitori a little, in a way, from all of his reactions.

    Anna, Sasa, and Chi-chan will be deeply missed ; ___;

  • April 1, 2011 at 12:16 pmEternith

    I only watched the first episode because it felt too slow to me. Maybe I should try picking it back up someday from all this positive feedback I’m hearing.

  • April 1, 2011 at 12:51 pmPera

    I was really suprised over how much chapter’s they could cover this episode. I have read the manga. I’m not sure, but Anna and Nitori end up back togehter as a couple as I see it. But one complain I have about this anime is it should have gotten more episode’s. Not only because I enjoyed this show through the entire season, but they jumped over a lot of chapters.
    But this was a satisfying end, and I was very happy to see them managed to squeeze in the scene between Anna and Nitori in the end.
    I really liked that scene in the manga and it was fun watching that in the anime also

    • April 1, 2011 at 4:14 pmAlec

      I too have read the manga xD

      If it were to have more than 12 episodes, I think hourou Musuko would be so dragging. I think it is fine the way it is.

  • April 1, 2011 at 1:19 pmKumaKaori

    Easily my favorite series of the season. Was wonderful week in and week out to see the characters flourish, struggle, fight, apologize, grow, and develop.

    The eternal pastel feel is an interesting effect, and keeps things soft and vague. Sharp colors, and high contrast of, say TTGL, would (oh god. I’m imagining a parody now XD;. Perhaps the year 3 play ;P?) not work well for a series like this.

    Sarashina wins out as my favorite character. In the midst of a bunch of people who fret and worry more than can be healthy, her free spirited-ness and not giving a damn make her awesome ^_^.

    Not a series I’d recommend for everyone, as the subject matter is a touchy subject, but if you’re looking for some honest humanity, and are willing to accept their troubles, go for it. It’ll be worth it.

    ^^ hahaha, heeee, Takatsuki with that one piece over her clothes is -so- her.

    I’m a little disappointed at who picked up the english license for the manga, as they only seem to be releasing hardcovers at this point :/. Out of touch with the industry <_<;. May end up picking it up anyways~.

    • April 1, 2011 at 2:46 pmOrinX

      Also my favorite series this season, even after madoka. When an anime makes me want to read the original you know its done its job.

  • April 1, 2011 at 1:43 pmn0216332

    hmmm, i dunno what to say about this series… ending was way too open for my liking… but i know this is just a snapshot out of its massively long manga. but im too lazy to read ¬_¬ … all in all it was enjoyable to watch… but i dont see the point of watching it as of yet… its like watching 10 min of a really slow pace film… cant conclude… and they didnt…. so i guess it does its job as an anime adaptation… that is to make me want to read the manga…

  • April 1, 2011 at 3:43 pmSenakuuri

    What a shame that this show has already reached its end.
    The beautiful artwork and the characters really made it worthwhile.

  • April 1, 2011 at 3:44 pmRui Craveiro

    A lovely anime, without a doubt… characters, animation, story, premise: everything fits perfectly on this one. The slow pace wasn’t a problem for me ;)

  • April 1, 2011 at 4:06 pmMartianMage

    Just finished this series and I’d have to say this is an excellent slice of life anime. This is my 2nd favorite show for the winter season.

    Love the scene with Anna. :)

  • April 1, 2011 at 4:17 pmAlec

    Just like Aoi Hana, Horou Musuko will become one of the best underrated love/romance anime this decade.

    • April 1, 2011 at 5:49 pmJusta_Dream

      Yeah, Aoi Hana was great and I wish they had adapted more of that one too but it didn’t sell enough blu-ray/dvds to get them the go ahead for a 2nd Season(which they wanted to do), so you can guess what’s going to happen with this one. T_T

    • April 2, 2011 at 12:55 amAlec

      yeah! It is ironic that animes like Strike Witches, Quaser, To Love-Ru, Rosario Vampire, etc. got a second season.

    • April 3, 2011 at 3:54 amJo

      Makes me wish I understood Japanese so I could buy the DVD when it comes out..bump up sales so they can make a season 2..

      =)

  • April 1, 2011 at 5:38 pmJusta_Dream

    I also got into it the same way you did Prooof and, like you, was also hooked! With the way people(the majority anyway) view these kinds of things, I kinda of knew what to expect as far as what the characters were going to have to deal with. What I was really looking forward to every week was how these characters dealt with these issues. The anime did a great job of showing how each character reacted to and dealt with everything, as well as keeping it all realistic. It did seem that the characters were really mature for their age though(12-14 i think) but I guess since this all started back in elementary school, they were exposed to it really young. As a result, they had more time to get a good grasp on all of it or something like that. Anyway, it seems you pretty much said everything else I was going to say about this anime in your “Final Impressions” section Prooof ^_^ and, since I can’t really think of anything else to add right now, I guess that’s it. :)

    I wish they would adapt more material into an anime, though, but I know that won’t happen so the only thing left to do is to read the manga. I think someone was saying that it follows them into their high school years and that it was still ongoing? idk

    Oh and of course, thanks go to Kiiragi, Divine, and especially Prooof for covering this great anime! Looking forward to the new season!

  • April 1, 2011 at 5:40 pmHenDarou

    Definitely one of my favorites this season. I am not quite as satisfied with the ending, though. It was decent, but I feel like there wasn’t any closure in regard to the main issue. Don’t know if there’s any likelyhood for that to happen, but I would love a second season.

  • April 1, 2011 at 10:23 pmAndy

    fantastic show! nuff said

  • April 1, 2011 at 11:04 pmU238Willy

    This show was exquisite and beautiful. I think use of watercolors in this show created this heavy ‘white’ effect. Perhaps the whitewash effect was to remind us that we’re human first and a gender second. Maybe the thought was we’re clean slate before prejudice and judgments. In either case, it worked well. That’s what I saw in this show anyway, and I got more from its use here than in Aoi Hana. Both are great shows. The depth of emotion and the use of silence (the words left unsaid that speak louder than than the ones that were said) show that this story was well thought out. This will remain in my top 5 for 2011. I want to read the manga now, and as someone else mentioned, that’s a good feeling to close a show with.

  • April 1, 2011 at 11:34 pmTakaii

    The part that got me? When Nitori got Anna, again.
    <3

    • April 6, 2011 at 5:30 pmShirt

      8D

      I was just as shocked as she was. He was really in love with her! And rightfully so. She’s an amazing girl that’s really understanding. Until that point, I was a bit scared for their relationship but that really eased my worries and made for the “happy ending”.

      (Though a kiss between them would have been the sweetest victory.)

  • April 2, 2011 at 5:53 amBenigmatica

    Although this series is so sweet to watch, I think IMO that it needs another 12-episode season.

    But, I don’t have a clue of what happened to Shuuichi’s latest genderbender play though!

  • April 2, 2011 at 11:48 amSirMuffin

    Oh man, I just watched it and really enjoyed it. I’m all out on (witty) comments, so I’d just like to thank both Kiiragi and Prooof for covering it till the very end because, I’m sure for the few who watched it or perhaps will watch it in the future, you’re posts will provide something they can relate to. I’m glad you guys didn’t decide to drop it!

  • April 2, 2011 at 7:20 pmshiki

    I am going to miss this so much. Honestly the spring mine up is gonna be great but nothing is gonna be on par with this cause it was just so….real.

  • April 3, 2011 at 3:57 amJo

    I’m gonna miss this show..best show this season, thats for sure..
    can’t wait for the OST to come out.

    =)

  • April 3, 2011 at 6:49 amNadavu

    I loved this show. It’s simply a great slice of life story, regardless of the gender issue. The production was good and the animation style, though it took me an episode or two to get used to, was accommodating.
    I started reading the manga back when the earth quaked + tsunami + atomic crisis delayed schedules, and I recommend everyone who enjoyed the show to pick it up. I had to stop reading it midway because I was catching up to the anime, but now I’ll be going back to it with vengeance.
    As far as criticism, I don’t think the anime did a very good job with Takatsuki, who I openly disliked until reading the manga, where she receives much more focus. But, I guess you can only have so much material adapted with 11 episodes..
    My favorite character is been Chiba Saori, but I surprisingly found myself starting to like Shirai Momoko, of all people…
    All in all, and awesome show I’ve enjoyed greatly. I wish for more slice of live shows of this quality to be aired…

  • April 4, 2011 at 6:55 amOgi

    It seems that there’s something in the boy’s soul like a steady rock in a channel or a big tree in the wind, so that he behaves so impressively calmly and bravely. It’s a very very good end to this story because in this final episode Nitori found that no matter it’s possible for him to be a girl or not, there would be a way to have a full and happy life. He’s been wanting to be a girl for all the time, and he’s never faked his true feeling even once, and he expressed himself by going to school in a girl’s dress and he finally overcame the worrying to be laughed at and came back to his classroom, and he realize the most important thing is the stage play, and he has began, I think, to find an important fact that though in life there is something, being a real girl, for example, that he really has nothing to do about, he indeed has something, making a stage play with friends, for example, to do for his life enrichment and peace in heart.

  • April 4, 2011 at 1:16 pminnerchihiro

    Good adaption. This series just makes me more excited about the manga.

    Relationship wise, I have to say I’m not a big fan of Anna and Nitori, even though I LOVE Anna. I just don’t get good vibes from them together, and I think that Takatsuki understands Nitori more. Even when he’s with Anna, he’s thinking of Takatsuki.

    However, I also think Takatsuki and Chiba have a compelling relationship, and I love Chiba so… argh. This series is very difficult to ship.

    Regardless of romance, this series shows the endearing relationships of all of the characters that are so realistic and easy to relate to. Regardless of whether or not the audience suffers from gender identity disorder, the series picks at the confusing and ever changing feelings of young adults trying to find themselves, and I’m glad that that is the main theme rather than getting to bogged down with gender identity.

  • April 6, 2011 at 5:26 pmShirt

    Nitori is a hero in my book. I was blown away too with his “I still like you.” Just the seriousness and power behind it. How could she not melt before his manliness? Thank you for blogging this show. I enjoyed it very much and choose my friends based on whether or not they liked it. (lol)

  • April 6, 2011 at 10:01 pmEric

    As I have said to others, I am mad about this episode. As I saw it, the ending is a serious subversion of transsexualism and the manga. They probably did this because the ‘general public’ wanted an ending that reinforced their cisexism. They want to see someone ‘grow out’ of gender confusion. They want the ‘problem’ to go away and ‘absolute gender roles’ to return to their unquestioned state. I once heard that Japan has some of the strictest gender roles, but I do not blame Japan but those responsible for telling the truth.

  • May 10, 2011 at 12:10 pmnubc4kez

    Not much to say except that it’s an amazing piece of work. I haven’t read the manga, so I think I’m missing out a lot of plot here. Onward to the manga! Then to other anime..