author : shimura takako
pages : [hardcover] 208
The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.
Written and drawn by one of today’s most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino’s very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace. Book One introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own. Yoshino is rudely reminded of her sex by immature boys whose budding interest in girls takes clumsily cruel forms. Shuichi’s secret is discovered by Saori, a perceptive and eccentric classmate. And it is Saori who suggests that the fifth graders put on a production of The Rose of Versailles for the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders, with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men. Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.
I recently read a whole stack of graphic novels to try to get me into the genre. While I feel like Wandering Son had some interesting concepts, it certainly wasn’t the best book for me.
I liked the characters but felt like they were a little unrealistic. I feel like they were always pushing for these situations that kids would typically treat in a cruel way, not how they’re dealt with in this manga. While I know that there’s still a lot more of this story to go, I’m not sure that much actually progressed in this book, even with those situations present. I do think that I’ll pick up the next installment because I’ve seen that it’s considered one of the best of the series.
I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m new to this genre that the characters felt flat to me. No one was fully fleshed out and I couldn’t predict how anyone would react to anything because they had dull personalities. I was interested to see where the plot was going to go with this, though, so that kept me pushing through. Perhaps future volumes take the bare bones laid out here and capitalize on them in a way that’s even better than I could imagine.
I’d recommend this book as an unconventional read. The style was interesting and while the art wasn’t something that I’d rave about, it was cute and fit with the narrative. I think there are others out there who’ll enjoy this more than I did!