Wandering Son 2
July 17, 2012
Shimura Takako – Fantagraphics – 2012 – 13+ volumes
I like this series so much, it’s difficult for me to talk about. Volume 3 is set for release this coming week, and I realized I hadn’t written up volume 2 yet. This is a travesty, and one I intend to right ASAP.
One of the reasons I have such problems writing this series up is that it is very good, and Shimura Takako does a great job of conveying the gender identity issues of Shuichi and Yoshino. The pair are feeling their way through life and what it’s like to be themselves, and it’s so well-written that I’m right there with them. With a story like this, I can’t even begin to predict what will happen next. There are a lot of characters that support Shuichi and Yoshino, but at the same time, there’s always that sense of dread that they will be found out and their parents, teacher, or someone else will intervene. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far it hasn’t. Maybe it won’t. And maybe it won’t matter if it does.
There’s more exploring in this issue, as Yoshino and Shuichi continue to go out together, dressed in what makes them comfortable. Shuichi begins to doubt the wisdom in this, shying away from gifts from Yoshino and Saori, and dressing like a girl makes him even shyer than he already is. But the pair meet an ally in Yuki-san. Yuki-san is an adult that takes to the two quickly. It’s obvious that she knows the secret the pair share, but she doesn’t let on, and the two hang out with her. This creeped me out a little, but Yuki-san doesn’t seem to have any malicious intent towards the youngsters, and in fact is (or was) a man herself. Her boyfriend figures things out immediately, but Shuichi and Yoshino continue to hang out with her. Trouble may be coming, though, as Shuichi accidentally lets it slip that he has an adult friend, and some start asking questions.
There are other little life events scattered throughout. Yoshino gets her first period, and Shuichi answers the door dressed as a girl one day while home alone, causing one of his sister’s friends to fall in love with the “younger sister.” This doesn’t go very good places, especially since Shuichi’s sister has a crush on the boy who has a crush on her younger sister. She figures things out by the end of the volume in a very ugly moment, but the resolution to this only made me like the series more.
I feel like I don’t have very much more commentary or insight to offer, and I always feel bad, since it seems like all I have for you is a plot summary. But again, it’s difficult for me to pick at this, since this is all new to me, and it’s difficult for me to analyze the narrative and characters since the series is so well-written and fresh. But it’s definitely worth a read, if you are at all curious about the story of a pair of youngsters who are realizing they are more comfortable being the opposite gender. The two moved up a grade here, and honestly, nothing would make me more happy than to see this series age the two to adulthood. Again, I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m definitely along for the ride, and can’t wait to read volume 3 this week.