12 Episode Anime series, based off the Manga by Takako Shimura. Aired in English by Crunchyroll
Growing up can be a trying time for a teenager, trying to find ones place in a world which is rapidly changing around them. Not only that they themselves are changing as well. It can be a tough time, a funny time, and a time of many emotions.
Wandering Son is an anime the focuses on a group of teenagers going through these emotions. Shuichi Nitori, Yoshino Takatsuki, and Saori Chiba are entering first year of junior high. All three are coming off a rough break up of their friendship when Shuichi confessed his love for Yoshino but Yoshino said she wasn’t ready for it. Saori is also interested in Shuichi, but she was rejected by him. And Shuichi and Yoshino are also into cross dressing, with Shuichi wanting to be a girl and Yoshino a boy.
What follows is a series that captures the tensions and joys of not only growing up as a teenager, but also dealing with the issues of gender identity and how one looks at oneself. Instead of playing itself off as a slapstick comedy, like other anime or manga do with cross dressing, it instead plays it seriously. But it also doesn’t fall into an overly dramatic story like a live action series would. There are many great moments of warm humour in the series, as well as moments of caring and romance.
This really is one of the better coming of age stories in anime, the pacing and music fit the story perfectly. It helps that the music is understated but fitting perfectly to the series. AIC Classics uses a washed, almost water colour look to the animation and it makes the series one of the better looking ones of the season. And the voice acting fits every character in the show perfectly.
Which is good because the story deserves quality animation. It’s slow pace, balanced look at the positives and negatives of growing up is refreshing compared to other school anime. The fact it’s perhaps the best series I’ve seen dealing with cross dressing as a real issue makes it even better. This is the kind of unique story that anime can tell and can tell better than live action. It shows that TV anime can indeed be art when done right and I wish more shows would be like it.
Wandering son demands and deserves to be watched, even if you don’t like school anime. It is hands down one of the best, if not the best, anime of the year.
(The manga is being released by Fantagraphics in English, and should be checked out as well…)