OP Sequence

OP: 「いつだって。」 (Itsudatte.) by ダイスケ (Daisuke)
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「おんなのこって なんでできてる? ~01*Roses are red, violets are blue~」 (Onna no Ko-tte Nande Dekiteru?)
“Girls, What Are They Made Of? ~01*Roses are red, violets are blue~”

On the surface, it seems like the uplifting calm palette and art style of Hourou Musuko will tell a tale of happiness, life, and a little bit of love. While the latter two might still be true, happiness is nowhere near to be found for the protagonists in this series, leaving only a growing desperation for acceptance.

Hailing from AIC Classic with Aniplex, and airing on Noitamina, Hourou Musuko is the adaptation of an eight-year still running manga. The story begins right from the beginning of middle school, a time in a child’s life where “changes” begin to occur. It’s a rather fragile period, yet exciting, and while most kids find themselves moving along without issue, those with different interests soon realize a terrifying predicament. At a time when “fitting in” is crucial, as anything else may result in unimaginable bullying, Nitori Shuuichi (Hatakeyama Kousuke) finds himself well aware that he is different, hinging on less than a handful of people for support.

It’s hard to tell at times, but Nitori Shuuichi is a boy. A pretty-faced boy to be exact, one that was good enough to model, but quit. Yet, he finds himself wanting to dress as a girl. Dressing as one makes him happy, and getting complimented on his looks makes him happier (probably as a girl). He doesn’t seem to feel like it’s an issue, but his schoolmates might, giving him a dilemma that has plagued him since elementary school. On the other side, Takatsuki Yoshino (Seto Asami) is a girl, except wishing to dress as a boy. I assume she deals with the same issues, but her narration only began near the end, perhaps continuing next episode. I’m not sure if their likeness led to Nitori confessing to Yoshino, but she rejected him, and they hadn’t made up until, well, this episode. Confessing probably screwed up their trio friendship with Chiba Saori, who is implied to have feelings for Nitori. There’s also a ton of supporting characters with past relationships from grade school, and it’s pretty cool to see such a web of relations not only with young kids like these, but actual meaningful bonds that will definitely surface in the coming episodes. Apparently these relationships were developed slowly with the manga, since it started them off as fifth graders, but AIC decided to jump the adaptation to seventh grade, or their start of middle school. I’m not sure how they’re going to deal with skipping so much development, but that might be the reason the first episode was a little hard to follow. Curiously, as I was watching, I wondered if it was more effective if you could tell what gender a character is, or the fact that anime makes it so easy that you can’t. At one point, I was on the verge of losing it to the idea that everyone might be cross dressing. In any case, it definitely dampens the heavy material presented here, as character appearances become less of a concern than the focus of central themes.

The problems were presented, characters were introduced, and there seems to be a ton of things to develop, equating to a potentially great story here. The whole episode flowed really well, as the characters were introduced cleverly using a class setting, following with conflicts and histories in the middle, and eventually reaching a climax of the truth in how Nitori feels, closing with the two mains mending their friendship. In terms of story telling, Musuko was definitely one of the best I’ve seen this season. The unique animation style works well, and the bright colors look great, especially in the night scenes, where the contrast really shows. There’s a ton of gorgeous sakura petal scenes, and it definitely makes the show very attractive for onlookers and watchers, but the plot isn’t something to scoff at either. Given the source material already doing well, there’s a high chance Musuko will turn into a great show this season, if not the rest of 2011. I also don’t usually have much to say about background music, but Musuko’s piano tracks were brilliant when setting a mood. I do have a weak spot for soft piano music though.

Even though its playful appearance says otherwise, Musuko is a realistic series, dealing with real problems, and with the right direction and development as the weeks wear on, arguably real people. To put it in another perspective, it’s like a live action drama in the medium of anime. While I’m sure drama fans have no qualms dealing with this kind of show, casual viewers may walk in expecting something completely different. So to let you know now, Musuko will generally be a serious series, but it will be a good series. People should try it out for some new experiences and maybe broaden their tastes. Who knows, you may end up with some new feelings you never knew you had.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「For You」 by Rie fu
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Preview

102 Comments

  1. This episode was fairly different from what I remember of reading the manga, albeit this was quite some time ago. I don’t necessarily approve of the time skip, because too much of what contributed to the character of the characters has been left out.

    If you enjoyed this episode, I suggest going back and reading the manga, to at least see what brought this series to fruitition.

    Kim_Pine
  2. During the Bridge scene, they use Chopin’s Etiude in E major Tristesse violin. Tristesse is French for sadness and they have Nitori sync to the music while she is crying. Very hard thing to notice, but I had some help.

    Eric
      1. Actually seems normal for me. I know some gender benders myself and I always refer to them as their perceived gender. Both as a respect thing and because they just don’t act as their biological gender.

        SpacyRicochet
      2. Let’s just say at this point in the anime, I don’t have a clue what their true reason wishing to cross dress is. If it’s a gender identity issue, then yes, I would agree, if not, then maybe not. Obviously it seems to be a gender identity problem seeing from your experiences with the series, but I’m going to refrain from such “respect” to avoid confusion in future posts/comments.

      3. I was going to use “s/he” but seeing as Nitori was dressed as a girl while on the bridge, I thought he (sex) was in performing the female gender. To read more on gender performance, look up Judith Butler.

        Eric
      1. Yeah, I made some mistakes in identifying the music during the bridge scene. I concede that it is not violin but piano, which is obvious, but I needed to rewatch it to make sure. I am not sure if your song is the right one though.

        Eric
  3. Is really a shame that they didn´t start the series from the beginning but still looks like that is going to be a awesome series… Please tell me, that you are going to continue blogging this series.

    King Dragun
      1. you would not believe how pleased we are here to here you are to be carrying on.

        it was very visually stunning the music went well and i believe even if it wasn’t in piano but in another string it would still work beautifully, the music is not in the instrument but how it is played and what the composition is. ever heard black metal played softly on a harp? point made i’m sure 😛

        but yes its something i’m also thinking of covering it is something that is serious to the point i was genuinely going to cry that it ended when over!

        i think this will be one that people will stumble apon and end up liking even though it is controversial, and that is such a good thing for all us Anime lovers is it not?

        Pureauraa
  4. The writing for the narrations of this show are amazing. When Nitori describes his feelings through those staring at him, it really does speak in a different way. Also, love the side-character life here! I can’t wait to see the interactions between them.

    Btw Kii, I think you won this round :3.

    /give cookie

    Zanibas
  5. ok… not a big fan of the art style used here for some reason, and maybe I just don’t have a thing for cross dressing… but I will keep this in my HD for a while waiting for more plot to unfold…
    As you said, I was a bit too confused about the character interactions right now…

    jrj
  6. This somehow strike me as a series that will be better adapted into a 2-3 hours movie(probably divided into several movies if necessary) so it won’t be wasting excessive time in the drama aspect which usually plague most of drama stories. Screen caps show gorgeous art though which I hope won’t decline in future episode.

    aiueo123
  7. Before the anime premiered, I read the first few chapters of the manga. The beginning is so delightful and addictive that I ended up reading until chapter 34, but stopped myself for the anime.

    So for me, the idea of watching this right off the bat is like watching a show’s Season 2 not having seen Season 1; such a terrible idea. I really recommend reading chapters 1-34 before even watching this episode, as you will be spoiled by it if you want to read the manga!

    But as far as the anime goes, it is brilliant so far. The art is just gorgeous and the animation is silky smooth; each frame looks like promotional art. I really like the voice acting, because it is all very gender neutral, switching back and forth between sounding boyish and girlish which fits this series so well, and I am getting the OST.

    The only thing I am concerned with is how the production plan to begin the adaption at chapter 34 changes the type of story Hourou Musuko is. This is not a story of remembering the past, but moving towards the future, but in order to explain everything, they are going to need to spend a lot of time in reminiscence. That radically changes the feel of the story, and also how the plot is going to play out. I don’t want flashbacks to be the bulk of the story when the author didn’t intend it to be that way. I don’t want my Hourou Musuko and this Hourou Musuko to be different.

    On a lighter note, my other gripe is the OP. Talk about boring, although I adore the ending.

    innerchihiro
  8. hmm, a little Boring for my tastes but nicely done, i’ll give it a few more eps. but on another note THIS is exactly why i LOVE ANIME, a show of this subject matter….could you imagine American “Saturday morning” type shows doing something like this???……..yeah, me neither. LOL @ the “faded hues” used in da show.. i was like “Wait a minute!?! i’m pretty sure I’m not on extacy right now…

    BROOKLYN otaku
  9. Man… That was amazing. I’d even go as far as to strike similarities with 5cm per second for it’s gentle style and how it deals with (almost) everyday and very real situations. My heart goes out to this anime. T_T

    SirMuffin
  10. Wow, now that’s what I call animation and art done right, that aspect was just perfect. As for the transgenderism – I can tolerate that as long as the two main characters are a couple, otherwise it might get a bit squicky.

    dietwarrior
  11. I actually like this anime, having not heard of it until now. But a bigger appeal to me is probably because I can personally relate to the characters. As a kid I was a tomboy because I grew up around boys since there were no girls, and I eventually started acting like one and cross dressing. But unlike the characters, I grew out of it by the second grade. But I can still understand the feelings of wanting to be and do something you can’t.

    Lilian
    1. A girl being a tomboy is so much easier than a boy dressing up as a girl (see I don’t even know if there’s a term), and it’s actually pretty common since no gender roles are enforced by kids themselves at that age. Even if you didn’t grow out of it, it would probably be acceptable until High School. However, if you were interested in dating by then, you might change whatever you deem necessary to become an entirely new person. Oh high school.

  12. Man, this show will probably be the best that I’ve seen. I still need to see how the adaptation will go, but I think that my impression of it will remain positive till the end. I’m actually not that disappointed to see that they skipped a lot of chapters, but I could’ve been more pleased to see the manga’s earlier chapters animated. They were just better shown not as flashbacks.

    Anyhow, I really, really love the art! It stays very true to shimura’s style. And my god, the sakura petals, narration and especially how the angst was delivered took my breath away!! I’m being literal here. LOL. Believe me, I think I almost cried when nitori cried at the bridge. Dang! Angst is just delicious! XDD I decided to stop reading the manga since I want to be surprised with the following events actually.

    It’s funny how looking at nitori scared me. SHE FAQING LOOKS LIKE A REAL GIRL!!! XDD takatsuki’s shortened hair was just fine. I still like her. XDD btw, seeing how somewhat supportive the friends were warmed my heart. XD with saori, I think I like how she’s portrayed. She obviously has a huge crush on nitori and…(oops! I might spoil something) I find the love triangle awesome ,But, I still want nitori to end up with takatsuki! LOL. Saeko as chizuru ftw!! XDD I caught minako’s voice but not aki’s though.. oh! Sasa’s adorable!!! <3

    Lastly, I’m very certain that I’ll follow this till the world ends xDDD

    keiOnDaisuki
  13. Oh wow that was pretty. The art was just gorgeous especially the night scene with the sakura petals. I don’t care if Nitori’s a boy or agirl, she/he is freakin cute. Her/his love interest
    Yoshino is as cute as hell too. The plot is very heavy for such a lighthearted series and I can see this series go into serious issues of society. I’m taken aback on how a simple middle-school story like this turned out to be pretty serious/mature. Its only the first episode though and I’m putting this in the “Oh yea this show is awesome yet not a lot of people will watch it” category.

    ahelo
  14. This is one of those shows that really surprised me. I never really intended to watch this show, and it was just something to do while Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica finished transfering. But I am so glad I did watch it. It definately has the same feel as Aoi Hana and this is no surprise as both manga series were written by the same author. I loved Aoi Hana and I’m sure I’ll love this show equally as much.

    Kou
  15. I thought this was going to be a little more risque, but I was surprised. After watching Kuragehime, it seems more natural because of Kuranosuke’s openess about cross-dressing. :]

    Shirt
    1. I think it was also Kuranosuke’s strong personality and self-confidence that made it waaay easier to watch him cross-dress. Little kids could call him (hugging Tsukimi) a lesbian and he would just shout at them to shut up xD Nitora on the other hand is already ashamed and scared by people simply looking at him.
      Furthermore Kuranosuke’s reasons for cross-dressing weren’t as… how should I put it… serious? I can only guess that Nitora must have some serious identy-issues…

      …..geez, talking about Kuranosuke makes me miss Kuragehime so badly -sniff-

      SummelBaerli
  16. Very very interesting, I kinda like the themes of this show. It’s very down to earth and deals with a very interesting problem. I should really read the manga as well, shouldn’t I lol.

    Sora no Kaze
  17. So generally he likes the opposite sex, so what does it makes him? is he gay or just love cross-dressing? or probably gay cause he knows the girls is a tomboy? just want to clarify it…

    kl2auz
    1. It’s more complicated than that. I don’t believe Nitori to be gay in that sense but a crisis as far as gender identity. Nitori’s experience and feelings would reflect the pre-op (before the sex/gender change operation) patients before physical gender change process. Psychologically, they can’t identify themselves with the gender they were born with. It creates, for onlookers, a feeling that they are attracted to the same gender as themselves when they mostly/truly don’t see it that way.

      If Nitori completed the operation to then date only girls (aka the gender he had become), then yes, Nitori would be a homosexual. In this case, Nitori is attracted to Yoshino who is of the opposite gender (pre-op) and having the similar issues as far as gender identity.

      In other words and if they go through the operations, Nitori would officially become a girl (physically and already going through the psychological process). Yoshino would also become a boy. If they dated and you would just meet them AFTER the physical operations (as far as I know, it’s always been a series of operations), they would be completely look like a heterosexual couple aka “boy dates/loves/marries girl”.

      Right now for both Nitori and Yoshino’s outer social circles (aka the ones that are not close/intimate with them), they are pointed out to be cross-dressers and/or homosexuals. Personally (and like I’ve read in certain comments here) in real life, I would point out Nitori to be a she and Yoshino a he in respect to their feelings and struggles.

      The series is something I’ve wanted to see right off the bat when I’ve read the manga and the winter preview (I actually was surprised it was picked up and a big bow of respect for making this happen). I’ve known some friends who had gone/wanted through the operations and watching this made my heart skips a few beats. It’s a difficult struggle to be accepted as they (Nitori and Yoshino), themselves, want to be seen as. Not everyone survives the process.

      Graphically, this first episode is a piece of art in itself. The pastels, the music, the voice acting, animation are beautiful. This is not going to be a light hearted series, it deals with real issues that are happening everywhere. I count myself blessed to (have) know(n) great and wonderful friends who came to share their struggles with.

      Shinjiro
      1. Sorry for the bad English (some of you have probably realized it’s not my first language lol) and I pressed on the submit instead of the preview. I just hope you did understand what I meant to say here.

        Shinjiro
    2. he’s not gay. that’s what i can perceive. he falls for girls but loves to cross-dress and i think,that’s that. same with nitori, i don’t think she’s a lesbo. XD

      anyway, shimura must be crazy if she won’t have these two end up together!! DX i’m gonna kill her!

      keiOnDaisuki
  18. Looks like a very beautiful show. I’m still confused about the who-is-who and who-has-feelings-for-whom etc, but I hope they’ll make things more clear soon. I din’t intend on reading the manga just yet. Maybe I’ll do that when the anime finished, but right now I wanna have the full anime-experience xD
    Thanks for blogging the show, Kiiragi! 😀

    SummelBaerli
  19. Two years of waiting, and it’s finally here. I’m already really loving it, despite the large portion they skipped. I want to believe they’ll make it wonderful, even with the measly 11 episodes.
    Really happy you’re blogging this.

    teisey
    1. *nods* i was like seeing animated sakura petals for the first time. it’s just too amazing. top-notch animation apparently. i’m expecting more scenes like that…XD AIC classic just rockz! as well as aniplex! XD

      keiOnDaisuki
  20. After seeing the 2011 winter preview, and reading the synopsis for Hourou Musuko I decided to read the manga. 8hrs later I read through 92 chapters and fell in love with it.

    I enjoyed the anime a lot as well, although I feel that the series could have started from where the manga started and make 2 seasons rather than where it did began. But having read the manga so recently, it felt like what the anime did was start in a place semi-appropriate for the fans of the manga and going from there with little flashbacks. You know, like the producers were aiming towards the Hourou Musuko manga fans from the beginning.

    But the anime played out extremely well and it might very well top my favorite anime where Cardcaptor Sakura currently sits.

    My琴し(MyKotoShi)
  21. What a gorgeous episode! I’m loving the colour scheme and the blurred shading used on the characters. I’ll admit having not read the manga this episode was a tad confusing due to the influx of characters introduced. But in this case, it’s a plus because they serve as excellent foil for the main characters. Definitely on my watch list!

    frice
  22. From my point of view. i like the color+anime+music. story wise i don’t know yet.
    it seems that from what i predict they will do a “oh this scene i reminds me of(flash back) or (in the beginning) i have a hard time on that day (flash back)blah blah balh then next episode.
    It would really fit with the background music using that kind of theme.
    When i was reading this post, my confusion was cleared since i didnt now who was who(crossdressing characters sometimes confuse me). it still concerns me though who was in the picture in the cellphone.
    https://randomc.net/image/Hourou%20Musuko/Hourou%20Musuko%20-%2001%20-%2012.jpg
    (─‿‿─) pls dont spoil me. hehehehe.
    all in all. i liked the anime. it gives a new feel. it makes you get absorb on how the music plays while the anime runs giving you a light and heavy feel in the heart. and as usual the petal art, it never gets old making things think oh this is a new beginning.
    my face after reading ——> (‘∀’) enlightened

    ♕Croosboy♕
  23. I can’t wait for the next episode. The manga is so beautiful and it seems like the anime will be, too. Hopefully, it’ll help teach a thing or two about gender issues (it’s beyond cross dressing).

    Charlo

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