Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Wandering Son: Full Series Review
Based on the Manga of the same name by Takako Shimura chronicles the trials of Shuuichi Nitori a young boy who is in all respects a quiet somewhat passive boy who self-identifies as a girl and wants to be accepted by himself and society as such while his small group of friends haveing varying reactions to this from taciturn and snarky Chiba Saori turning to Christianity to process the revelation of her friend's gender confusion while also continuing to loan Shuuichi girl clothes while his other friend Makoto Ariga struggles with the same problem as Shuuichi but feels even less comfortable given that he is not more traditionally "cute" as Shuuichi while Puberty hangs over Shuuichi like The Sword of Damocles. With the series exploring these admittedly controversial subjects with sympathy and an even non-judgemental hand. That is why I can say I respect this series Shuuichi is not valorized to the point that he simply becomes merely a totem for the Transgender community. While those who react negatively to Shuuichi are not demonized and made inhuman monsters Chiba, for instance, is seen more as confused while Shuuichi's sister Maho often has right to be angry with him taking her clothes without her permission even if she is often overly harsh to him. While the directing captures everything in a blurry pastel-colored world of falling cherry blossoms and transitory feelings this after a few episodes the directing tends to make the world feel unreal and less grounded by series end. Mari Okada for her part as a writer turns in a competent adaptive script that never feels overwrought but the character writing becomes unbelievable due to the age of the characters and their almost adult-like maturity and then bafflingly this maturity winks in and out of the characters actions with them acting like adults at one moment and like petulant children the next so the series can't even keep the tone of the series right in places. Still, I have to respect Okada for respecting the intelligence of the audience and not using it as polemic or to spoonfeed the audience a moral. As a technical achievement and for broaching this subject with grace and humanity Wandering Son is to be praised. Yet I can not recommend it to those who have not at least thought about these issues in depth as it is really easy to see Shuuichi and his pain and let your empathy cloud your reasoning and assume that Transgenderism is a moral good. It is not the worldview espoused in this series is morally toxic and part of the Culture Of Death. as far as the why of Shuuichi's gender confusion it appears to be a mixture of Autogynephilia (for more on this concept see The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism by J. Michael Bailey and the controversies surrounding it Galileo's Middle Finger by Alice Dreger) and him thinking of himself as a woman from an early age. In short to The Regenerate mind this is nothing more than a moral tragedy but intellectual honesty should compel any thoughtful Christian to at least listen before responding. In short much like Motoi Yoshida's Koi Kaze, Wandering Son presents a morally abhorrent lifestyle and series of moral choices without any real judgment neither condemning Shuuichi and only asking for understanding. Believe me, it gives me no pleasure to say these things but moral courage and honesty compel me. If you are willing to really look at your own presuppositions and why you believe certain things about Gender Wandering Son is a series that pays back in spades the effort you put in. Although pacing problems in the final episode make the narrative grind to an almost halt and the ending is inconclusive along with the Manga's publishing in English by Fantagraphics being halted at Eight volumes due to lackluster sales despite rave critcal reviews.