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 Post subject: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 16th, 2011, 5:52 am 
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Weekly Discussion for Hourou Musuko. Spoilers will be aho after this, so tread with caution unless you are so awesomely up to date.

To briefly introduce the series, Hourou Musuko is a serious character drama involving kids in their first year of middle school. Most notably one gender confused boy and one gender confused girl. And mind you this is serious, not slapstick nonsense which is a very rare approach on such topics these days(traps have been flanderized to kingdom come and back). I find the directing to be wonderful, telling you just enough to understand what is going on but keeping enough witheld to keep you coming back for more all while keeping you interested in the current affair of things. Also has a very water colour like animation style. To be really brief, serious artsy character drama. Like your serious character dramas? Tired of slapstick comedy ruining any chance of good drama opportunities? This is for you.

Ball rolling starts now.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 16th, 2011, 2:59 pm 
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After watching a single episode I cannot say much about the series, I made a few more notes about Madoka, and even those are not exactly many.

But, yes, the water color element is I'd like to say soothing. It reminds me somewhat of Sentimental Graffiti artwork that I have seen:
Attachment:
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Chie 005.JPG [ 62.66 KiB | Viewed 2702 times ]


So far you've been speaking of one gender-confused girl... while on first glance there are two: Yoshino (short black hair) and Chizuru (long black hair), although so far it seems that for the latter wearing a boy's uniform (she says "Sume'eri" = "stand-up collar") is a mere contemporary matter of mood, saying she wore the uniform because she felt like it and that she'd also come in "Shifuku" (everyday, "civilian" clothes) on occasions. So we might conclude that Chizuru is not really gender-confused but rather "gender-liberal", or free of the gender behavior restrictions that society has set up.

One thing about the self-introduction that the new junior high students do in absence of the teacher, who's late:
As Shûichi, the gender-confused and (outside school) very cross-dressing protagonist is about to end his self-introduction one of the new classmates asks him whether it was true that he and Yoshino had been a couple back in elementary school - which another girl named Saori "comments" by whacking him so hard with a book that he falls off his chair. Such a scene would have been hilarious and funny in a comedy, but bear in mind that this is not comedy. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. We're talking about an act of violence, and it's not humorized in any way. This is drama.

This brings me to the description of the series on ANN, where some author wrote that Shûichi and Yoshino only became friends in junior high (quote: "he quickly makes friends with the tomboyish Yoshino"), while from my understanding of what is shown and said in the episode it is obvious that they've already known each other. For example, they're both from Nishigaoka Elementary School and a question like the one mentioned in the paragraph above would hardly appear if they didn't at least know each other.

Anyways, I'm very pleased with the voice cast, Mizuhara Kaoru, Chiba Saeko, and Horie Yui being a part of it. Apart from few exceptions I'd say that we're listening to realistic voices of people that age, there is no adding of cuteness by raising the pitch, which is all too usual. So it's a pleasure listening imho.
The soundtrack music is another pleasure in my eyes, or rather, in my ears. It wonderfully underlines the atmosphere.

Now, according to the proposal I should make a statement about what I expect to happen... but I'm not sure what I expect. Since this is drama and not comedy there's, in the long run, no guarantee that it will end in a satisfying way. I don't expect any dead bodies but some sorrow, since a teenage boy is expected to fit into gender role clichées and if you show weaknesses, of which "being feminine" is one, you draw bullies to you like excrements draw flies. On the other hand I'm still not sure whether the series will be that serious, but at least some psychological suffering, call it juvenile angst, if you like, will be involved.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Spoilers will be aho after this

Spoilers will be what? :P2:

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
traps have been flanderized to kingdom come and back

"Flanderize" is also not in my dictionary. :sweat:

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 16th, 2011, 3:44 pm 
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I reckon long haired girl Chizuru isn't going to be a focus. She's just going to be a side character. Yoshino however is most probably the female lead, and with her relationship with the gender confused protagonist.... thus my reference to the one and one. And Chizuru might not even be gender confused or anything, maybe she just has her quirks.


Anyway since the thread is dedicated to weekly discussion, chances are we'll be spitting spoilers left right and center. Sure we can highlight everything but thats a bit... man this is weekly discussion. Stay up to date and watch out and we'll all be happy.

As for Flanderization, it refers to Flanders from the Simpsons. At first he was just that religious neighbour, then they kinda took it to new levels and turned him into such a ridiculous joke that it stopped being funny already.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... derization
But the whole dealy with traps has had a whole bunch of usual tropes driven home and back and all the way to mars that its gotten old. Here we have a fresh and serious take on the whole issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 23rd, 2011, 7:26 pm 
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I am honored by you waiting for me to come out first with the second episode. :sweat:
But I don't think there's much to say because the purpose of the second episode was to put a spotlight on some character relations.

Shûichi's older sister Maho is not exactly happy with her brother being transgender. I guess she fears some sort of social backlash should his preferences leak.

Momo is obviously strongly attached to Chizuru, who's not much acting like a girl. Momo's attachment to and admiration for Chizuru seems to go pretty far, as can be seen in her very protective nature in spite of Chizuru not needing protection in any way.
Chizuru describing herself as "kenka-tsuyoi" is a male attribute to her character. She's indeed not "gender-confused", she has already decided to act like it suits her best. Congratulations, Chizuru.

The focus of the episode is on Saori and Yoshino. So Saori likes Shûichi and is jealous because Shûichi confessed to Yoshino who turned him down (I suppose). Although this happened nine months ago the grudge still holds, and it needs an outside "enemy" (the somehow indignant chicks from a sophomore class) to bring them together again.
I have not fully understood what the reason for the trouble is... Saori has not greeted or has not introduced herself to the seniors properly? I'm not sure.

The flashback of Yoshino's and Saori's confrontation gives a glimpse of the plot that was not included in the Anime, so I guess we'll get flashbacks when needed and it won't be too hard to follow the Anime without knowing the Manga. Some people in German forums are already crying their eyes out after the first episode, complaining how this series might ever come across in a comprehensible way after skipping the first four volumes of the Manga.
Isn't that stupid? How many series, good series, make it clear in episode one what's going on and who's in with whom? Some Manga fan must have started this avalanche of doubt and the lemmings are following. Why don't they watch first and then complain - if necessary, and so far I doubt the necessity to cry.

On a sidenote I found it interesting that there are no people in the opening sequence.
What do you think the artist wants to tell us?

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: January 27th, 2011, 5:47 am 
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The seniors were greeting the freshers at the entrance and Saori completely snubbed them. They felt insulted and decided to go pick a fight afterwards, and Saori falsely accuses them of ignoring her when she greeted them back. Which she confesses to at the end of the episode. While the two seniors did overreact, it was really Saori's attitude problems that started it.

Funny thing about the feedback from viewers that I have noticed-

-People who haven't read the manga have no problem following it and love it.
-People who have read the manga and whinging about how it might be hard for others to follow and blardy blah.

The anime is going to be pretty short, like 12 episodes or something so I reckon plunging us into the thick of it where things are most interesting while using flashbacks would be the best way to adapt it. And if we are still curious about details afterwards, we can go read the manga or something.

At any rate I quite like the drama between Saori and Yoshino.

Not sure if theres any particular meaning in the OP sequence. They just want to do something different visually I guess, which they are already doing with the animation style of theirs.
======================

Episode 3 EDIT. Since its out and all.

Quite a slow episode(although its a pretty slow show anyway). Mako confirmed to be gender confused as well, I was wondering if he was from episode two due to the whole hairclip thing. They do raise an important issue though: hitting puberty. It stops becoming so simple when your genders become more physically defined and its already having its mental impact on Yoshino.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 2nd, 2011, 2:02 pm 
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Storm_Shinobi wrote:
if we are still curious about details afterwards, we can go read the manga or something.

It's definitely a Manga that I want!

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Episode 3 EDIT. Since its out and all. Quite a slow episode (although its a pretty slow show anyway).

I didn't find it slow at all, at least no slower than the rest - and I'd like to stress that this is slowfood, als opposed to feast-and-forget fastfood like Strike Witches... speaking of which... hm... later.

It is Saori's "attitude problem" that's creating a certain level of tension among characters, although it does not seem to turn out in a way that you would expect. Saori is outspoken and she displays her emotions with hardly any brakes attached. What's interesting are her nuances as displayed in episode 3.

She says to Momo: "Atashi wa anta no koto nan ka daikirai yo" ("I kinda hate you!"),
and to Chizuru: "Anata no koto mo suki ja nai" ("I don't like you, too").
First off we have the easily recognized difference between hating someone and not liking a person.
What's more important,imho, is that Saori adresses Momo as "anta" while she uses "anata" for Chizuru. "Anata", meaning "you" amongst acquaintances and friends, is standard language and therefore more polite than the rather casual, in this case no doubt condescending, short form "anta" (which, as you might remember from Evangelion, was the form of adress used by Asuka for Shinji).
I am very eager to see how Saori's relationship to the rest of the main characters will develop.

Even more amazing is Chizuru's reaction: "Nan ka hakkiri-shita hito, yappari Chi-chan ano hito ga suki da yo."
("She's so outspoken, I really like her after all!")
I did not expect her to show such feminine traits, but I think this emphasizes the point that she has found her way to keep the golden mean, so to speak, between the various established gender-typical behaviorisms.
(I don't mean to be sexist, but according to my personal experience women eventually want their men outspoken and decisive.)

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Mako confirmed to be gender confused as well, I was wondering if he was from episode two due to the whole hairclip thing.

I can't agree to that unless you give me concrete evidence.
Mako said in episode 2: "Boku tte, otoko no hito ga suki na no ka na..." ("I wonder whether I rather like men") (it's the "hairclip thing" scene you are referring to at about 13:00 min.).
So he's not sure about being homosexual, he is not confused about his gender.
Transgender people feel like they were born in the wrong body, but homosexuals are very much aware of their biological gender. Both types like partners of their own gender, but the psychological reasons and their respective selfawareness are somewhat different.
So far I'm willing to contribute anything he says in episode 3 to the Tôsakugeki (invert theater?) rehearsal that they do, and even if he considers himself the "feminine" part of a future homosexual relationship it does not constitute "gender-confusion".

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
It stops becoming so simple when your genders become more physically defined and its already having its mental impact on Yoshino.

And I think it's a relatively harmless kind of impact. The impact of puberty on male transgenders is more severe, and not just a few kill themselves when they hit puberty and find their voice tuned to a very unladylike base frequency of about 100 Hz.
I read in a serious German paper that there is a hormone treatment that delays puberty up to two years and if the patient after that time is still willing to have his/her sex changed it will be done, and it will only be done after that delay. But it's legal and possible to leave the unwanted biological gender behind with hardly a trace left.

Speaking of physical changes, I was also surprised by how "literary" they got with the dialogue scene of Shûichi and Yoshino in the infirmary, where they say or at least strongly imply that they preferred to have the respective other's appearance, with regard to the chest.

Shûichi's dream sequence, in which he imagines everybody being turned into the opposite sex and where she is having tea with a happy looking Yoshino, came across just as strong imho. I am impressed with the tactfulness and discretion with which the authors plead the case.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 10th, 2011, 9:02 pm 
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Episode 4 starts somewhat vague but eventually offers good contents.
Shûichi makes it clear that his vision of the ideal Romeo and Juliet adaptation involves a gender swap of Yoshino and himself, so that Yoshino is Romeo and he himself becomes Juliet. He conveys this to Yoshino who is pretty overwhelmed by the effort and thought he put into the play, while she just considered it some fun task for the school festival.
Later Saori reveals (in prayer) that she also wishes to become Romeo in order to have a deeper relationship with Shûichi, and she's clearly not just talking about the play.

Surprisingly, Saori prays in a church, not at a shrine or temple, and the line of the lady at the entrance ("Long time no see") suggests that Saori is indeed a part of the Christian minority in Japan (like, 2 % of the total population in 2005, according to the CIA World Fact book). I wonder how they're gonna handle this aspect of her character, if they in fact make the notion that she's Christian an aspect of her character somehow.

Most striking: The idea of changing names. Yoshino, somewhat jokingly, suggests to Shûichi that they should swap names according to their, well, nature. After learning that Shûichi was reprimanded by his sister Maho for using her name while rehearsing a female voice for the mock genderswap planned for the school festival Yoshino offers him her name and asks him to give her his name.
Saori suggests the same, she'd rather be Nitori (Shûichi) while Saori would be more fitting to him, but I cannot say inhowfar she believes what she says, because I'm under the impression that she is the type who uses clever manipulation to achieve what she wants. But that's just an impression, I cannot really back that up by more than her obvious resentment of giving up on Shûichi.

Anyways, it's mostly a philosphical thing I'd say. Names are important. If something does not have a name it does not exist, in a way that it does not come to our consciousness (and that statement is just for introduction). Limiting the scope of perception to humans, if you think about it, names have power, and not just in fantasy literature, you know, where an evil sorcerer will steal the souls of people who carelessly tell him their names, or the concept that demons have real names, and if you know them they must faithfully do your bidding and stuff. If you're walking down the street (singing do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do or not) and someone calls your name you will turn your head out of a reflex. It takes a lot of awareness to avoid this, like, by instantly (and I mean instantly) deciding whether it's the voice of someone who knows you, or whether it's a completely unrelated person calling out to someone equally unrelated who happens to have the same name as you. Which is nearly impossible unless you are some sort of superbeing or really well trained.

Apart from that a name carries a meaning or connotations at least. That has become very unimportant in the so-called western world, where your name is often decided on a whim of your parents with a name of a grandfather or another close relative being mixed in, where you have to consult an ethymological source in order to find out about the actual meaning of your name. Like, my name means "the one who serves".
But not (yet) so in Japan where they use Kanji that have a distinct meaning and enhanced meaning in combination, names consist of morphemes that are in current use, and you'll know what your name means as soon as you learn how to use the current language.

E.g. the first morpheme in Shûichi (shû, ) has connotations of training and self-improvement. In the given context, we might say "character development".
Chizuru's last name's (Sarashina) second morpheme (shina, ) conveys a meaning that translates as "coquetry", which in a broad sense means that a person is acting paradoxically on purpose and thus drawing attention. Can that not be said about Chizuru? Her first name means "1000 cranes", but I'm not sure about what connotations cranes actually carry in Japan. I heard that in China, whose culture was the major influence on Japanese mythology, cranes are symbols of long life and wisdom. I also read about a legend that folding 1000 (paper) cranes will grant you a wish.
Makoto (Mako-chan) is an easier case I dare say, since he has only one morpheme in his first name (), and it means honesty, loyalty, purity, and that's exactly the role he has, isn't it.

Media make frequent use of "telling names" (like in naming the Gundam main character Yamato, which stands for everything that's considered positive in Japan) and nobody should ever believe that a character received her or his name just like that.

Last but not least I'm not sure what to make out of Anna (Maho's modelling friend) giving a cell phone strap to Shûichi that everyone describes as "kimochi warui", as in "giving bad vibrations".

Uaaah, it's way past midnight... I thought I could handle this post in 20 minutes or so. Dammit. As I write I find more and more ideas to put in... Hôrô Musuko is really inspiring.

I'll go about Madoka ep. 5 tomorrow.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2011, 9:35 am 
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Hôrô Musuko episode 5.
They made a statement that I had been waiting for ever since I heard of gender identity disorder years ago. But I'll go about in the order given in my notes.

What are Saori's criteria for and actual consequences of disliking someone?
The episode shows the core bunch of characters, Shûichi, Makoto and Yoshino, Saori, Sasa, Chizuru and Momo, peacefully assembled - in Saori's home, eating cake. If I don't like someone, I don't invite him or her to my home, right? Even if Saori gives in to pressure as it is exercised in eastern Asia to achieve "social harmony", or accepts the necessity to discuss the script of their "Romeo & Juliet" play with exactly these people, I cannot quite grasp her motivation. They could have met somewhere else.

Ha, speaking of "social harmony": I remember a personal case, like, in, when was it, in the mid-90s I think. I was at a fair in a neighboring village, meeting some friends, who had other friends with them whom I in turn barely knew, and we were generally having a good time. Then in the early evening one of the lesser known dudes says "I gotta go fetch something at my house", and the rest of us replied that we had sat long enough anyway and would go with him to have a little walk. So we arrived at his house and he turned to me and said, in a decided tone: "You're staying outside!"
I just stood there with my mouth open, as the others, about six or seven people, all went inside. What had I done? Had I said something inappropriate at some point today? One of them was obviously embarrassed and said he was sorry. I knew he meant it but the day was over for me. When the initial shock had passed I turned around and walked back home. A little bit of social harmony wouldn't be so bad I guess, although I usually critisize the east-Asian notion as a form of peer pressure to stay in line, much like the "lack of patriotism" accusation in the US.

Anyways, back to the kids: With regard to Saori, there were a couple of lines that I did not quite understand. For once, Saori asks Makoto to vote for her to get the stage role that she prefers, but later it is shown that all roles, independant from the actor's gender, will be decided by lot. When it then turns out that Makoto will be Juliet and Saori will be Romeo, and Makoto feels bad for Shûichi for not getting the lead role as Juliet, Saori decides, over a few dialogue lines, that it would be better to kill all acting characters of the play. I missed the argumentative steps between "I dislike servile people" and "Everybody must die!"
She seems to have a general dislike of people, describing herself as a "dark person", which was the reason why she had no friends - which is not true, it's her perception of things, imho indicating that most of all she dislikes herself.

The gathering at Saori's is also coincidentally attended by Ninomiya Fumiya, Saori's sandbox acquaintance who likes to think of himself as her boyfriend. Now, Fumiya conveys some information. Less important is Saori saying that they simply went to the same church, further solidifying the evidence that Saori's family is Christian. Yes, Japanese mix religion a lot, but normal, Shintô-Buddhist Japanese do not attend church on a regular basis (on a whim at best) as long as it's not for an "exotic" western marriage show.
More important, Fumiya recognizes Shûichi from Saori's descriptions and detonates a "bomb": "Ah! You're Nitori who dresses in women's clothes!"
Silence.
He said it in a totally sociable tone, I'm not under the impression that he wanted to hurt Shûichi's social standing (as Shûichi is a sort of rival to him). It's more like you are being introduced to someone and you sau "Oh, you're the person whom I asked what time it was, last week at the station!"

Well, okay, so now the circle of people who know about Shûichi's nature has expanded beyond Saori, Yoshino, and Makoto. They do not quite elaborate on everyone's reaction beyond the initial surprise. It's just Chizuru who seems to be excited beyond delight about what she just learned ("Is that true? Have you been doing that for a long time? Habitually?"), with a look on her face as if she had just found her long lost brother - or a brother in spirit for that matter.
Yoshino is not amused and abruptly leaves. Why?
If she had felt that Shûichi was in a bind she probably would have stayed to support him. But nobody is attacking him and Chizuru is sympathetic to Shûichi's "problem". I tend to think that Yoshino leaves to avoid the topic in which she herself is immersed neck-deep. Looks like a confidence problem, should that be the case.

But Fumiya goes further, alone in his bathroom in the evening following that scene which I found remarkable. He ponders Shûichi's popularity with Saori and speaks in a relatively deep voice, looking at himself in the mirror, with a sincere look on his face.
Then he dons a hair band and pulls up a towel to conceal his chest, just like women tend to do, and speaks to himself in a higher-pitched voice - eventually concluding that he was cuter/prettier than Shûichi. Which is a strange statement for a young man who so far thinks of himself as a male person. It's girls, animals, and things who are "kawaii", while boys are "handsome", that is, Fumiya "breaks" the "male code of gender conduct", in language as well as behavior, as he compares his (fledgling) masculinity with his (potential) femininity. I think he meant it more in jest but it is still amazing from a certain point of view.

A short look at Anna, who is shown at a shooting session somewhere in town, and Yoshino and Shûichi happen to pass by. Shûichi rightly observes that the Anna at the shoot is not like the Anna he knows. In front of the camera she smiles and acts all cute, while in private life she is more of a reserved and offish character.
On a sidenote it seems to me that at least some model agencies support the natural character of their models and do not urge them to be cute and smiling all the time - which is appealing in its own way.

But now for that statement that I mentioned in the beginning.
Saori and Makoto rehearse for the roles in class, the others are sitting in front of them. Makoto, in character, begins a sentence in a trembling voice, and one of the girls in the audience starts laughing because, well, because it sounds so queer. Another girl scolds her, but nonetheless there is laughter about the performance.
Saori reacts in a surprising way: She ad-libs a line in order to make him feel better, like:
"Release from this window your heart chained down by embarrassment! You are the most beautiful of all."
She, on the other hand, receives applause - for her performance, not for her ad-lib line, as only one boy asks himself whether there is such a dialogue line in the script. Her performance was "kakko-ii", which is most often attributed to male persons.
What is the single most important notion of this little scene, with regard to gender identity disorder?

If you're physically a girl who is mentally a boy you will of course encounter lots of problems with your social environment, but you will be more readily accepted than the other way round.
If you're physically a boy who's mentally a girl society will give you a much harder time, as girlish behavior in boys is far less accepted (at least in so-called western cultures) than tomboyish girls. Women wear trousers without anybody noticing it. But whenever a guy goes out in women's clothing... he will be stared at to say the least.
Let's interpret this - why is that so?
Because our society, despite all our social and cultural achievements, still regards females as an inferior life form.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2011, 2:28 pm 
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Knowing some of the characters, they probably just took the lead and charged into Saori's home and her mom was probably all too happy to let them in.

Somehow I don't think Fumiya quite thinks about what he is doing much. He just spontaneously says what comes to mind and acts on things bluntly, probably without much thought to others. In that sense he is somewhat similar to Saori as they are both pretty self centered. Although one is bright as day and the other is dark as night.


Saori's anti-social antics are pretty cute and fun to watch. Although I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2011, 4:56 pm 
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Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Knowing some of the characters, they probably just took the lead and charged into Saori's home and her mom was probably all too happy to let them in.

I dunno... that would be a matter of character depiction, forcing situations upon people and such... I don't think they'd give you this kind of situation, as you described it, without showing how it came to be, if it was not consensual. No, seems too blunt for this series.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Saori's anti-social antics are pretty cute and fun to watch.

Her being somewhat anti-social is depicted in an exaggerated way - she's unusually open and straightforward about it - and I guess that's why some people could perceive that behavior as funny. Humor by exaggeration, a classic element of entertainment.
Personally I think the series is too serious to really mean her to be funny. It's more like it fits into her perception that "they don't like me anyways, so why hold back?"
If her "antics" were meant to amuse I think there'd be more humor in Hôrô Musuko, and I am very grateful that they're not destroying the so far well-depicted mood by adding alibi humor to please the average viewer.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: February 25th, 2011, 1:48 pm 
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Episode 6 sees Romeo and Juliet on stage, with reversed role genders as planned by Saori: boys play female characters, girls play male characters.
The play looks well executed, I have rarely seen such compassion on stage by pupils or students. Additionally Makoto finds some self-confidence, finally, after Yuki consoling Shûichi for not playing the lead role had not exactly contributed to his initial opinion of being an inappropriate choice for his role.

Fumiya indeed goes on displaying himself as a superficial person. He's already yawning at the beginning of the play, and listlessly applauding just because everyone else does.

A little piece of linguistic interest: Anna uses the pronoun "atashi-ra" to refer to "us" and Maiko teasingly corrects her, suggesting "watashi" instead of "atashi", the former being a neutral form while the latter is an exclusively female term, implying that "atashi" does not fit Anna's personality (I don't think so either).
Then again Anna contrasts the female pronoun (first person singular) by using "-ra" as a multiplier (first person plural). In this case, "-tachi" would be the neutral form, while "-ra" is more often used by men. So her language is a bit off the neutral standard, and in two opposite ways so, at the same time. We have to consider that she seems to have a certain image - Chizuru, who likes straightforward characters, says she didn't like Anna because she made an ill-natured impression. Somehow this must have come across although the two have never met and Anna seems to act "out of character" during photo sessions. Must have been a first-sight evaluation.
Has Anna fallen for Shûichi in a way that makes her rediscover her femininity?

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: March 4th, 2011, 10:39 am 
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Instead the opposite happens! Nitori falls for Anna. Nitorin and Anna start going out. Very interesting development, since Nitorin was the one that took the initiative. Which makes me wonder if he might start considering 'being a boy' at some stage. Its hard to say just how involved emotionally they are. Anna seems to take it pretty simply. And is Nitori really in love or are other feelings just kinda muddled in, like general interest and fascination with another individual? (although well that can be said to be love in a sense)

Although that development was kinda sudden, I'm more interested in the impact on Takatsuki and Saori. Saori decides to become a recluse and Takatsuki decides its best for them to make up with their conflict in interests gone. Takatsuki's persistence on the matter is rather interesting, leads me to believe that she is in fact rather fond of Saori despite all the flak she receives. Probably why she agonizes over it that much during club times.

Of course theres the matter of just how Nitori is going to react to Takatsuki distancing herself.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: March 14th, 2011, 10:29 am 
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The Acnes from Pimpleton have arrived. :lol:

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Nitori falls for Anna. (...) Which makes me wonder if he might start considering 'being a boy' at some stage.

Well, he is the "wandering boy", his self-image has not yet been fully established. It's very much within the psychological possibilities that he considers himself a girl but at the same time falls in love with a girl, although I'd rather say that he is confusing affection with love. It's obvious that she likes him in a way, considering that she gives him small presents, and she counsels him with regard to skin care. I'm pretty sure it's affection from his side since she is pretty much what he strives to be: A girl with pretty skin and some boyish attitudes. I can't imagine that this relationship will last this way.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
the impact on Takatsuki and Saori. Saori decides to become a recluse and Takatsuki decides its best for them to make up with their conflict in interests gone.

They reacted in a way that I find completely in congruence with their respective character traits. Saori falls in a sort of despair and Yoshino fails in her attempt to appear totally okay with the development. The characters are cliché enough to foresee that.

Storm_Shinobi wrote:
Takatsuki's persistence on the matter is rather interesting, leads me to believe that she is in fact rather fond of Saori despite all the flak she receives.

It might just be that Yoshino realizes that Saori is in fact a lonely girl who gives a strong and independant face but who despite or rather because of her words and behaviorisms desperately wants true friends.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: March 17th, 2011, 7:17 pm 
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Episode 8 shows confrontation and yet we see that everything might turn out okay.
Or maybe it's more like character relationships become more complicated while it looks like they might all get along with each other eventually.

But I kinda missed how time went by. A schoolyear has passed if I'm not mistaken but the kids get divided up into different classes. That seems strange to me who's been together in school with the same guys for nine years (after elementary school), and I've never heard of classes being rearranged in Japan either... but it might be something that just didn't catch my eye.

Chizuru is energetic as ever... I'd like to know what motivates her, what drives her.

Yoshino with somewhat longer hair. Looks good. Does she feel less of a need to become a guy now that Shûichi has a girlfriend? Or does she (re-) approach Saori who has rediscovered the friendship she deemed lost? Let's not forget about the necktie she applies to her girls' uniform, she hasn't quite given up on the female-to-male idea. The boys' uniform is still in her wardrobe.

The confrontation at Uta Ichiba. Well done scene, although I get the feeling that there are quite a lot of toilet scenes all over the series... anyways, the viewer might initially think that the combination of Saori, Yoshino, and Anna in the same room might be in a way competitive, but unexpectedly it is Anna who skillfully (or simply straightforward honestly) dissipates these concerns. She praises Yoshino for her body height and if I got it right she expresses amazement at Saori's singing (which the audience doesn't get to hear, I feel cheated).

What amazed me was Yoshino freely talking about their respective relationship to Shûichi, would Japanese people really talk about such intimate topics to outsiders (which is what Anna is as opposed to Yoshino, Saori, and Shûichi on the other hand who've known each other for quite a while)?
Just as amazing was Shûichi's and Anna's dialogue about kissing. Anna reacted in a very calm and positive way. I thought she'd be at least slightly embarrassed ("he's talking about first base!?") but she seems to have no such girly traits. At least that's the cliché, strong-minded and cool on the surface but vulnerable and sensitive on the inside. But not Anna. She is indeed strong-minded and smart. I like her better with every episode.

Saori asking for Sake and beer... well, that was sorta shocking. In Japan you mustn't drink alcohol until you're 21, and yet nobody in the karaoke booth seemed to really object. It didn't happen, but still her statement caught me unprepared.

Then there's this Doi guy. I'm not sure what to make of him. Makoto says he used to be a bully - has he changed or is he preparing a scheme to make a fool out of Shûichi? I'm paranoid enough (or tainted by other storylines you could say) to believe the latter, but in a way I think it wouldn't suit the overall mood of this series to have something really hostile such as psychoterrorism. I mean, when everyone had left he took Shûichi's hand... it seemed so exaggerated when in fact Japanese are even less likely to casually touch each other than westerners. Then again it could just be that he seeks access to Yuki.

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 Post subject: Re: Hourou Musuko/Wandering Boy Weekly Discussion
PostPosted: March 20th, 2011, 6:36 pm 
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Episode 9 has come to town and I am very pleased with it.
I'll go about its contents one by one.

Yoshino acts more daring by wearing the boys' uniform. The summer version without the jacket but still she's wearing the shirt and trousers. Result: Her social environment praises her, although the teachers seem undecided what to make of this. The first scene at the gate has one of the teachers in disbelief. In fact I'm wondering whether Chizuru made the same impression, but we do not learn how her case was resolved although she has already shown up twice wearing her Sume'eri.

Chizuru, on the other hand, has also decided to wear a tie instead of a... I dunno the word... that knotted thing the girls wear under their shirt's collar. Are Yoshino and Chizuru inspiring each other? Then again I get the feeling that Chizuru is just fooling around, she shows two extremes: On the one hand wearing a boys' uniform, on the other hand wearing very girly twintails (which don't suit her at all). She just doesn't care about gender-imposed dresscodes.

I was a little surprised by Yoshino's mother's reaction, as she seemed to object her daughter's male clothing - is her family unaware of her sexual affinity? I may be mistaken but I am under the impression that Shûichi's family knows of his being transgender. Or does only Maho know about his crossdressing? This could be the first point where I miss what insight the longer running Manga might already have given.

Yoshino also asks Anna for permission to meet Shûichi in a platonic manner ("asobi" she says, "for fun"). It's indeed a pretty considerable act of hers to ask such a thing and anybody from the west would say, why would she need Anna's permission to meet a childhood friend? But it is a fine example of Japanese culture, where social harmony has a higher value than in the west, where the focus is on individualism, even if personal success means selling your grandmother.

Doi proves to be a hard to interpret character. As I suggested in my former comment he does aim at getting access to Yuki - but he does it in a totally open and straight-forward manner. He has Shûichi introduce him to her and frankly tells her that he thought she was beautiful. I'm baffled. If Doi was a sinister, bully sort of character, wouldn't he rather choose a sneaky approach? Like, ask Shûichi for pictures of her or something? Sitting there on her couch and having a conversation like he did takes a lot of inner strength which few people would have in such a situation, and it is that sort of greatness that evil characters usually do not have. Also, the usual bully would not get involved with his potential victim as much as Doi did by visiting Shûichi and have him show him his "female form". As a matter of fact, when he stood there looking at Shûichi in this dress I was half expecting Doi would kiss him... :sweat:

Speaking about Yuki... "o-Kama" she says, referring to herself. Originally the term would mean "queer", and so far I thought she was a lesbian living in a sort of fictitious/unconsummated marriage, a front to satisfy society or maybe her homophobe family. Something like that. But the word has a more specified meaning nowadays so I have to conclude that Yuki is actually a person who had a surgical gender reassignment or is a guy who looks like a lady by choice.
Doi seems sort of shocked, but not spiteful. So, if he's really scheming against Shûichi he at least is not a simple archetypical character.

There's of course a grain of doubt left in me, since Doi asks Shûichi to come to school in his female appearance, his reasoning being that Yoshino also acted true to her nature. The author could simply make a point by contrasting Yoshino's acknowledgment on the one hand and Shûichi's dismissal on the other, the point being that female-to-male is accepted while male-to-female unjustly is not. The following dialogues, especially Shûichi's with Chizuru, hint at what I have written earlier: A girl might dress like a boy, but things other than maybe rules and regulations don't matter. If the school rules say that a girl has to wear a skirt then that's it, but the unwritten rules of male-dominated society do not object a girl in boys' clothes. The situation for boys is very different.
"The hurdle is high for boys" says Shizuru, and she is absolutely right. Men dominate society because of their physical advantages, and boys have a more favorable standing than girls (as can be seen in selected abortions in China or India), but we must not fail to see that the expectations are higher for boys, as deviant behavior on the gender level is not as accepted as in the case of female deviants (compare the public image of male gays as opposed to female lesbians). It reminds me a bit of religious aspects: If you do not worship god you will burn in hell. Translated: If you don't act according to masculin standards you will be punished by public scorn.
Chizuru is sceptical and warns him that he might be bullied. Obviously an intelligent girl if she has figured out the differences in the expectations in gender-specific behavior at her age. I'm not sure whether I could have done that when I was 14. When I was 14 I was little more that your average adolescent idiot. ("A little" because at that time I had stopped bullying weaker people but I was still pretty ignorant about the fringes of mainstream society.)

The episode ends in one of the best cliffhangers that I have ever experienced: He does it. He wears a girl's uniform that he already owns and comes to school with it, perplexing the teachers at the gate - how will it turn out? The following episode is 11 of 12 - in a 12 episode series the usual time for the "catastrophé", the anti-climax.
Following a normal pattern Doi would turn out to be a pig who amuses himself at Shûichi's expense, but Shûichi's friends stand by his side and after a short laugh Doi realizes his wrongdoing, repents, and all is well. Problem is that this is not a normal series so I can't even make a wild guess what's gonna happen. I am so excited to see the next episode!

On a side note it looks like Anna keeps giving Shûichi presents - isn't that "the world upside-down"? Usually it's the male who sends the female presents, is it not? But be that as it may, it does not give me the impression that their relationship is on equal standing, no matter how well they might get along. He looks like the inferior part, more like in a senpai-kôhai or big sister-little brother type of relationship.

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