January 30, 2011

Wandering Son Ep3: The Road to Adolescence

Posted in Wandering Son tagged , , , , at 12:11 am by meotwister5

Let me begin with a quick background on puberty.  First off, the depiction of Yoshino is rather spot on:  puberty is considered to begin during the first stage of breast growth, Tanner Stage I, and menarche actually happens 1-3 years after that.  Yoshino probably has had them growing on for a while, her age is more or less on par.

The issue of voice cracking is sometimes a misconception.  The first event in male puberty is the enlargement of the genitals.  On that note however, it really is the voice changing that tends to be the first thing boys notice when they come of age, even though they tend to occur 2-3 years after the start of puberty.

Anyway enough of the biology lesson.

Stress on a daily basis.

Their teacher has a proposition: he suggests that it’s time for the class to start making their plans for the school festival on what they want to have as their booth.  Saorin, almost expectantly, has a rather bold suggestion: a genderbender play.  In most cases you’d think the class would have certain reservations about this idea, but since it seems that they voted overwhelmingly for it, it becomes their project for the festival.  In order to get things done, and because it seems only Nitorin and Saorin even bothered, the two of them end up trying to put their stories together to make one play for the class’ production.

While all this happens, of course, Yoshino has to deal with the fact that she cannot really stop the fact that her breasts are growing, in parallel to how Nitorin and Mako realize through Maho’s boyfriend that their own voices will begin to crack some day…

That's what friends are for.

The stand out performance of the show really has to be Nanri Yuuka’s Saori Chiba.  While I will not deny that the two newbies are doing a fantastic job for their first roles, the quietly explosive temperament of Saorin could not have been done any better than Nanri Yuuka’s intense yet soft-spoken tone of voice, a capacity that reminds me a lot of Nakahara Mai’s status of perfecting that type of delivery.  Saorin exudes the state of mind of a very much confused young woman just starting to climb the hill known as adolescence, yet trying to focus and make sense of the undeniable fact that beginnings of spiking hormones are also doing this to her.  When I say also, I mean it because we can’t simply say that she’s temperamental because of the sudden presence of estrogen in her blood, but that this also compounds with the fact that she herself by her current nature is confused and unpredictable.  As emotions mix, she finds it difficult to separate them as emotions mash up and explode in different directions, almost unmindful of who they hit.

Just like a typical young adolescent.

Someone hit the rape alarm!

The genderbender play that Nitorin fantasizes about stands as a very strict contrast to the fact that he and Mako have realized, through Riku, that puberty is about to pound through their door.  As he writes the play that is an obvious allusion to his and Yoshino’s own desires to become a woman and man respectively, one cannot help but almost see it as his own attempt to cling on to his personal fantasies in the light of the fact that he too, eventually, will have to face the fact that his voice will change, and everything that comes with it.  An almost classic opposition of fantasy versus reality.  The changing of voice usually stands as the first event that emotionally brings in the fact that puberty has come and, as he and Mako have realized, there ain’t a damn thing they can do about it.

So as he writes his play he can only fantasize how much he wishes this story could become real, but in the end knowing full well that there’s no way go really go against one’s genes.  This is an inevitability for all boys.  As much as he wants to cling in to his child-like and girl-like physical and mental innocence, there will come a time when his body will ultimately change.  Until the time comes when he gets the chance to try and undo what genetics has done, this is a fact of growing up he has to deal with.  He cannot stay an idealistic child forever.

The fantasy of children.

In contrast to boys, I presume that the the other realization that one’s breasts are getting bigger is one of the first signs of puberty for girls apart from menarche.  Yoshino of course refuses to wear a bra, wishing that he was flat as a board like Nitorin, but also cannot deny the fact that she’s going to have to wear it eventually.  People have chided her towards finally doing it despite her resistance, but as she looks at herself in the mirror she knows that there’s nothing she can do about it.  This is again biology at work, and this is a fact she too must face, only now compared to Nitorin who has yet to feel his voice change, Yoshino is forced to deal with this issue the very same episode.  This becomes a more immediate event to her that she must deal with now, compared to Nitorin who still has time to savor his ability to still look like a girl.

As she passes by him, he notices that she has decided to wear a bra.  Does this mean that she has given up and conceded to the demands of estrogen?  I can’t really tell here or even in the manga, perhaps it is more apt to say that she does so because she doesn’t have a choice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s given up.  Like Nitorin, they both know that as much as they want to resist it, this is a part of growing up.  However, if they truly want it, they can still find ways to find their ideal bodies when the age of adolescence ends.

Look closer.

The marching orders of puberty has been delivered to the testosterone and estrogen in these kids.  Actually in a matter of years they won’t be called kids anymore.  They’ll be teenagers.  You know what that means.

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