Shuichi is a boy who would rather be a girl, preferring to dress like one when alone and now only recently, outside. Yoshino on the other side is a girl who would rather be a boy, hoping to adapt the boy’s school uniform and always dressing in a masculine fashion. Shuichi asked Yoshino out but was turned down….and to make matters worse, his sister, a model, suddenly discovers his ‘habit’. As if puberty wasn’t a hard enough time for boys and girls…
With girly boys in girls clothing becoming such a trope played for fanservice and laughs lately, it’s certainly refreshing to see a series take on the topic of transexual children with respect. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Kinoshita Hideyoshi, mind you, but you know what I mean) Hourou Musuko treats the issue very gently and offers a surprisingly realistic portrayal of what a young trans person may go through, in a very subdued and pleasant way. The characters, in part due to their character designs and in part to the way they act, seem very real. There are even parts where they seem to address the viewer in a documentary kind of way. Plus, as you can see from these caps, the art looks beautiful, as though the original manga came to life. It’s a refreshingly different look that certainly makes it stand out.
Of course it’s all well and good to have an anime that shows respect and delicacy to trans kids and looks nice whilst doing it, but is it good? And that’s the main problem here. I wanted to like this show, I really, really did, even if just for the fact that it was the new kid on the Noitamina block. The problem is the terrible idea at the studio that they start the anime in volume 5 of the manga (or so I’ve heard) instead of….at the start. I’ve missed 5 volumes worth of getting to know these characters. Sure, they seem real, but I barely know who they are. I can’t empathise with them as well as I’m supposed to be. Then there’s the fact that the plot is really all over the place in this episode…little indication is given as to when it veers into flashbacks, and I honestly couldn’t figure out who was the trans boy and who was the trans girl until the very end (was that intentional?) . It’s a real shame because this could easily be a great series if it didn’t screw up what should be in the first episode. Perhaps I’d like it better had I read the original manga first.
Problems that weren’t to do with the pacing are the fact that the mangaka seems to have a bit of a problem with sameface, which makes the characters pretty hard to tell apart (and the limited hair styles, whilst realistic, doesn’t really help). That and, even though it’s lovely and charming and pleasant…it isn’t terribly exciting to me, and it seemed like a huge chunk of the episodes were the two main characters narrating “what are little girls made of?””what are little boys made of?” ad nauseam. I can’t help being disappointed after getting so excited for this one. That said, I will watch the next episode and see what they’re going to do with it, so I’m still undecided on blogging.