“You And I Collide” – Hourou Musuko (anime) – 9/10 Snowballs

Ah, well, do I wish that we lived in a world where gender didn’t figure so prominently? Of course. Do I even think about myself as a woman when I go to make art? Of course not. ~Judy Chicago

Genre: Slice-of-Life/Genderbender/School

Review Status: Complete (11 Episodes/11 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: This is a pretty unique anime in terms of art, with a lovely watercolor-esque look to everything and bright pastels for color. The animation is very solid and smooth at all times.

Dub Vs. Sub: There is no dub, but the sub is fantastic.

Summary: Nitori Shuichi is a boy who wants to become a girl. He transfers to a new elementary school, and there, meets Takatsuki Yoshino, a tall and attractive young girl. Coincidentally, Yoshino also dreams of becoming the opposite sex. She lets Shuichi in on a secret that she cross dresses from time to time and visits places far from home. Due to the fact that they share the same secret, they become close. The two are now in middle school. In the midst of a crowd full of new people, the two search for their own paths; all the while facing the troubles and concerns that come along with puberty. (Crunchyroll)

Review: Hourou Musuko, or Wandering Son, starts out in the middle of the action and just keeps on running, relying on little tricks through the series in order to flesh out the events that happened before the series started (in the manga) and give insight into the characters. This works out really well, in terms of storyline. This is a crossroads for the characters, a turning point in adolescence as Shuichi makes more definitive moves to define who he is as a person. It also doesn’t take long to establish who the characters are and bring out their own internal conflicts… or, occasionally, the lack of them.

Puberty is a hard time for most people, and this anime highlights something we all deal with, but does so in a vastly different ways. Most girls discover that they want to be women, and go about it by discovering makeup, practicing kissing, and generally behaving in ways that emphasize their feminine qualities. Boys, in turn, discover they want to be men and emphasize their masculinity. Shuichi and Yoshino also have these desires, but for the opposite gender. There is no confusion on their part about wanting to be the other gender- it’s how to go about it that sends them (mostly Shuichi, however) into confusion. Will they cross-dress in public? Will they get surgeries when they are old enough? It’s tough enough dealing with family with these issues, so how can they deal with the public at large?

The story not only deals with questions of how to present their identity, but also touches on gender issues on society at large. The inherent sexism built into issues of clothing comes up when Yoshino has no problem dressing up as a boy, but when Shuichi comes to school as a girl he’s treated as a freak. The hypocrisy of an entire class being able to put on a gender-bender play with no issue, but an individual being excluded for it. The issues of love when one’s own gender identity comes into question.

Love is a big issue in this series, and one of the questions that was on my mind was whether homosexuality factored into this. For Yoshino and Shuichi, there’s no sign of it- they would love each other no matter what their genders were. It’s just love, and it’s only for each other. But others are affected by this, such as a girl who’s in love with Shuichi as he is. *There’s also a transsexual woman who is living with a man. The answer as to whether this makes her gay is ambiguous, to say the least. None of these issues are really explored on a deep level, only as to how they affect the character’s lives, which means I will be checking out the manga as soon as possible.* (As noted in the comments, I have been incorrect in identifying her as homosexual, but do feel that this is something that I’m not alone in being confused by. To my knowledge, I’m not friends with any trenssexuals, or know anyone I could ask about this issue. I’ve been confused by this issue for years because it’s not something that is talked about in my life. So please forgive my ignorance.)

It does show the effects on their lives quite well, though. There’s no clear path for them to follow, no definitive answers as to where this need to be another gender will lead them. The growth and change in their relationships is realistic, at times hard to watch, but at the same time beautiful in its own way. It ended at a good spot, with many things left unsaid, but a lot of room to infer what’s happening between the characters.

Overall, while there was an abrupt throw into the story, and a few dangling plot threads at the end, this still manages to come out as a wonderful, sensitive look into the issues of gender identity.

Recommended: 14+. There’s no language that I can recall, no nudity, no violence other than some mentions of a fight… just a solid look at gender confusion during puberty.

Other titles you might enjoy:

I.S. Intersexuality (manga)

Koi Kaze (anime and manga)

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Taylor Ramage
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 04:52:59

    I enjoyed this series as well and especially appreciated the ways that it questions gender norms without dramatizing everything. This makes the issues presented very real and probably much more palatable to people who don’t know a lot about gender identity issues. There is just one thing I’d like to point out/clarify: “There’s also a transsexual woman who is living with a man. The answer as to whether this makes her gay is ambiguous, to say the least.” From what I understand about transgendered folks, this situation would actually imply that both people are straight. Trans people generally prefer to be thought of as whatever gender they identify as, not their physical sex. I’ll admit that I don’t remember the character in question, but if she’s an MtF (male to female) transgender, then she’s a female regardless of her physicality, so the relationship she has with the man she lives with is most likely straight. Also, gender identity is different from sexual orientation. Most transgender people are actually straight, but some are gay. One of my friends happens to be a FtM (female to male) who is also gay.

    But as you said, this series doesn’t delve too deeply into these issues, which I think is great because it allows people to ask these questions and perhaps get rid of some of their preconceived notions about people who struggle with gender identity without getting totally lost. I feel that transgendered people are often depicted as fetishes or total lunatics, so it’s great that a series like this exists to depict the very average people who deal with these issues.

    Reply

    • sweetpea616
      Dec 12, 2011 @ 14:07:37

      “There is just one thing I’d like to point out/clarify…(isert super-long quote) gender identity is different from sexual orientation. Most transgender people are actually straight, but some are gay. One of my friends happens to be a FtM (female to male) who is also gay.”

      Thank you for making this point/explaining it. It can be hard for me to understand how a transgendered person identifies sexually (and gender-wise) because I myself have not gone through it. It always has thrown me into confusion as to whether originally being a man makes a MtF transgender homosexual (and vice-versa, for that matter), or whether I should then just refer to them as a heterosexual transgender, or just a heterosexual woman. It’s a minefield that can be rife with misunderstandings and misinterpretations, especially since I hang out with people who are *not* liberal about their interpretations on gender identity and sexual identity and would reject the idea that a man-even if he is transgendered MtF- living with a man is anything other than homosexual.

      So I do admit my own ignorance in this matter. Thank you.

      Reply

  2. Trackback: Best Anime of 2011 « Paper Chimes

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