Hello there. Here is another review for my quest to reach a thousand. This is review number nine and today I’ll talk about a slice of life anime. I know the genre has a bit of a bad rep for being slow and boring. I have my fair share of slice of life anime I hate. It’s a hard genre to love but most of the time; the genre delivers some of the best anime around. Sure it doesn’t have gravity defying stuff or super powered beings fighting for two weeks and such but the genre holds something truly unique. It is real. The genre borrows real life subjects and turns it magical.
I remember my first slice of life, it was Asatte no Houkou. I was really captivated by it. It’s very slow and boring but life isn’t all about message in a bottles or dragons in your backyard. I am in love with this genre and I hope I can convince you try this one today.
The anime is entitled Hourou Musuko. It’s an eleven episode anime about gender identity. Let’s read on.
The story depicts a young boy named Shuichi Nitori who wants to be a girl, and his friend Yoshino Takatsuki, a girl who wants to be a boy. The series deals with issues such as transsexuality, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty.
Taking the Pants Off
I know that a review is supposed to urge you to try and watch a particular anime and I feel kind of weird to tell you that this anime is just ordinary. I can’t seem to use the word awesome or amazing to describe this anime. I seem to have a strange attraction to this kind of anime. The kind of anime that feels boring and doesn’t impress upon first impression. I seem to have a soft spot for this kind of anime. While these anime aren’t amazing or awesome, I do describe this kind of anime as honest.
I will try my best to convince you to try and pick up this anime. Hourou Musuko is an anime about growing up. The feelings you experience when growing up. It tells a nice picture about unrequited love, the journey to finding oneself and its ultimate attraction, the freedom from gender roles. The anime follows three friends who had a rocky relationship upon entering middle school. Shuichi Nitori is a very effeminate boy who enjoys cross dressing. He keeps at a secret from his parents but close friends know about it. His close friends and his sister know about his little hobby and actually enjoy seeing him cross dress. He has a body built like a young girl so he often dresses up as one. This hobby of his becomes somewhat serious. He wants to be a girl. The anime has this serious issue to present but it tells it with a childish approach. Nitori wants to wear girl’s clothes but he is attracted to the opposite sex. He confesses to his close friend, Yoshino Takatsuki.
Takatsuki is also a special person. She is a girl but has the looks of a young boy. She often enjoys dressing up as a boy. She shares this secret with Nitori. Their relationship has a gone a little awkward when Nitori confesses to her and she rejected him. They both agree to be friends but they feel their relationship is already different.
The situation turns whacky when their other close friend, Saori Chiba, becomes jealous of Takatsuki after she was rejected by Nitori. The first half of the anime focuses on Satori after the status quo was unfolded. Satori cannot control her emotions. She comes off rude and a bit bitter. She would express her disdain whenever possible. Her jealousy over the relationship between Nitori and Takatsuki serves as the main reason she cannot move on. Other friends try to help Satori but she slowly come to realize why she fell in love with Nitori in the first place.
It all boils down to the school festival when Satori and Nitori was tasked to do a script for the class play. It’s about a gender bender play about Romeo and Juliet. Their time spent together writing the script helps Satori a bit about her wavering feelings. However, she stills holds an extreme jealousy over Nitori and Takatsuki getting along. The first half of the series ends beautifully with Satori realizing her feelings.
The pacing of the anime is slow but it feels very real. I’ve been rejected before and the healing process isn’t always delicate. There is a huge cast introduced in the first half. The three friends would grow into seven and each character is very crucial. It’s with the help of her friends that Satori slowly comes out of her stubborn shell.
The second half of the anime revolves around Nitori himself. He confesses to a girl he likes and they became an item. He slowly matures but his love for cross dressing still remains. He slowly tries to be who he is by coming to school dressed as a boy. This decision wasn’t easy and he was relatively made fun of for his decision. He felt like an outcast and his life spiraled into a huge mistake. The anime ended quite nicely with Nitori accepting who he is.
It’s hard not spoil the story but I doubt people would take a glance at this beautiful anime. As I said before, the story is very honest. It does not try to exaggerate itself. It tries to be real and it’s something I can’t help but appreciate. The topic of cross dressing and accepting the idea is a touchy subject. I’ve seen it in other anime and it’s usually used as a comic relief. It’s always the flamboyant stereotype we come to expect when discussing the topic. It’s rare to see an anime go all the way to the core and try to be emotional with the topic. I’ve had a lot of gay friends and cross dressers, their decision to being who they are is often met with a frown. The feeling of rejection, abandonment and betrayal are common elements about the story of a person who comes out of the closet. Most of them hide in their flamboyant personality but deep down, such feeling persists. So I really applause the anime for trying to be honest about it. At first it feels like Nitori’s hobby is something he’ll grow out of but slowly but surely, the feeling is stronger than expected.
Nitori keeps his masculinity though. He shows his feeling to two different girls and he actually rejects one. Satori is a nice piece of slice of life so I really want to beat Nitori with a shoe. Still though, the anime has a wonderful plot and there is no boring moment despite it being slow. The pacing is nice and it doesn’t drag on. The anime did a wonderful job of storytelling and it’s hard to achieve a nice story with such a simple approach. The anime does not disappoint.
Sight and Sound
For once I have something to say about this section. The art is in a lighter template and it has a cool look about it. The anime is presented like a very nice story book and the color is that of a light pastel which makes the anime stand out. It depends on you if you do not like such approach but I, for one, love it. The animation helps in bring the point across that the anime is a slice of life and the themes are very warm hearted.
The soundtrack is the best part. It utilizes a wonderful piano arrangement to establish the mood. When I first watched the anime, it felt very melancholic and somewhat nostalgic. The piano in the background also helps the dialogue whenever something emotional is being said by the characters.
The ending is a wonderful touch. The song is “For You” by Rie Fu. I have heard of Rie Fu before but I was never a fan until now. The song delivers the anime’s message quite nicely and I find myself closing my eyes as the song is being played. The opening though is a little different though. “Ittsudatte” by Daisuke feels a bit different than the anime. It’s more upbeat but it doesn’t really ruin the anime.
5/10 “The anime is unique and its light hearted nature is something people can enjoy.”
As I said before, the anime is honest and very real. Viewers can appreciate what the anime has to offer and I’m sure it’ll leave smiling after you finish it. I know Slice of Life can be hard to stomach but I assure you that this anime is excellent and its approach to a touchy subject is very admirable.