March 27, 2011

Wandering Son Ep10: When A Man Becomes A Woman

Posted in Wandering Son tagged , , , at 10:21 pm by meotwister5

I think it’s easy to blame children for things that are expected for adults to try and understand, or if not, at least tolerate.  The age of adolescence is one of a tussle of identity versus identity confusion according to Erik Erikson, and this is the time when young men and women search for who they are, especially when it comes to sexuality and gender roles.  This is also the time when a lot of people who feel “different” start to question themselves and assert the identity they believe to be.

For Nitorin, he has always said he wanted to be a girl.  There is perhaps no greater place to assert one’s chosen gender at that age than their most public of places:  the school.

This is who he wants to be.

Schools naturally insist on uniformity in their students.  It may be a personal statement for Nitorin, but it’s still against school rules.  He gets reported and his parents naturally question on him on his motives.  As his friends state, he unflinchingly and convincingly declares why he cross dresses and why he came to school as a girl, without any hesitation.  He may be full of confidence and pride, but his peers do not share his sentiments and thus make fun of him.  His friends of course try to defend him and help him, but he still feels the pains of alienation and bullying around him.  He retreats to the infirmary where his friends help him, but he prefers to be apart from the eyes of everyone else.

When the choice for their next school festival production comes up, he again comes into the spotlight in the genderbender play.  He becomes the director, and after a while the teasing of others has died down.  Even then, he still has issues with one of the catalysts for his sudden choice: Doi.

Be confident in your decision.

One must admit that for someone who doesn’t want to have testicles, it takes a tremendous amount of balls to do what he did that day, despite knowing full well what could happen if he does.  I have to respect Shuu for his brave, if rather foolhardy, decision to assert his personal identity and cross dress to school.  Initially it’s easy to see that he was heavily influenced by Sarashina and Yoshino and that Doi gave him one final push, but as he says in the end it was his choice to do it.  No one could have forced him to do it and no one could have dressed him up as such.  At the end of the day he made up his mind, put on a blouse, skirt and his trusty wig, and strolled into the gate nervous but with his head held (relatively) high.

It was rather foolhardy of course, because one has to ask if this was worth the trouble he’d be getting himself and people around him (especially Maho, or as she says anyway).  In the end it is still a very personal choice, and only Shuu can say for sure if the potential alienation and bullying was worth it.  The look on his face says it was.  That is his right and his right alone.

It's nice to have friends who will stick with you.

Doi is rather questionable, and puzzling, individual.  I think it is also easy to dismiss him as jerkwad trying to make fun of Nitorin.  As he spends time with him and even gets to know Yuki, his sometimes plain expression belies a certain degree of confusion regarding who Nitorin really is, and even possibly how he relates to himself.  He himself had previously admitted that he does not understand how a man could be so beautiful.  We see some semblance of blushing here and there, and despite how he did have an active hand at getting Nitorin to cross dress to school, there have actually been no instances in this school where he actually makes fun of him.  It’s as if he got him to dress as such to fulfill a sense of twisted curiosity, that Nitorin for him is something of an oddity.  Perhaps twisted is a wrong word to use.  He gives him a great amount of attention ever since he realized just how good he looks as a girl.

Perhaps he likes Nitorin?  That suggests that Doi himself may have hidden homosexual tendencies and feelings.  His actions could be seen as him creating reaction formations to his own personal feelings, with Nitorin being the physical symbol of his own issues.  He could be projecting onto Nitorin, who is a somewhat open cross dresser, issues he is not willing to face within himself.  It would be great if the story would try to explore this.

Four words a guy dreads to hear.

As for Anna, who just broke up with Nitorin using four words most men would cry upon hearing, it also puts some light into the way she really views her relationship with him.  By her own admission she says she would think of him as a little sister of sorts.  With Maiko’s perverted proddings she admits this to her and to himself.  Of course she says due to the weight of his cross dressing desires hanging on, but does seeing him as a cute little brother or sister encompass everything she feels for him?  Was their relationship nothing more than a puppy-love attraction?  Sucks to be him if this were the case, but when I see them together I can see that there is something more than this.  The whole cross dressing issues only muddies the entirety of it, and causes some strain in their relationship they both don’t fully understand.

Maho, of course, has all the right in the world to feel some irritation over Nitorin’s cross dressing.  Naturally since he has a tendency to wear her clothes and invade her privacy, but even then despite her sometimes violent reactions, she still cares for her younger sibling in ways very much similar to many sibling relationships.  She cares, in her own way.

What's up with this guy?

Incidentally this episode was considered 10 and 11 together, which is understandable considering the happenings in Japan right now.  This doesn’t change the fact that next week is season (series?) finale.  They’ll be ending it in the middle of actual manga, just after a climactic event, so how they’ll wrap it up without feeling open ended (assuming there’s no sequel) might be a bit of a challenge.  Seeing the way AIC has handled it of course, I think they’ll pull it off.

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