If I spent the past two years expanding my tastes in anime (while I attempted to watch as many Gundam shows as I could), I plan to spend most of my anime viewing this year on my backlogged robot shows (there are so many). I didn’t plan to watch Wandering Son anymore this season because it seemed too way out there for my tastes, until Mobile Suit Victory Gundam sucked so hard that I struggle so much to finish off the last 4 episodes.
I needed something very different to get my mind off V Gundam because the last thing I want to do is write another hateful post. No matter how fun I try to have making those posts, they are still contrary to my disposition and involve more masochism than I care to think further about.
Okay, what’s great about Wandering Son? It makes me have to approach the subject matter on its own terms. It’s not making it easy for me, not letting me impose upon it my stock ideas (however progressive I think they are). It’s challenging me. This works so well in this pilot episode, because my attention is held by the fine illustrations. This show is very, very pretty.
What’s not so great about Wandering Son?
I am lost after the deluge of characters. There are so many, and a lot of them seem so significant. If I am going to enjoy this as much as I want to, I’m going to need one of those character relationship charts (like they make for some shows in magazine articles). I’d appreciate it if anyone can link me to a translated one for this show.
I think the rather gorgeous rendering of the setting, and the environment adds to the feeling of innocence that’s very strong in the work (I haven’t seen this kind of pretty environments in TV anime since Kimi ni Todoke). This is very important given the sensitive time the characters will be portrayed in – not in terms of an era, but rather the adolescence within which they experience many, many firsts.
It is also in adolescence we get to do so many ephemeral yet compelling things. It is no mystery for my how most anime and manga are populated with characters so young. It isn’t very interesting anymore to question why so many lead pilots of robot anime are high school freshmen or even younger.
This age, is the beginning of possibility. As a kid I can talk about wanting to become a firefighter or an astronaut, but after age 12 it becomes just that bit more serious externally, while internally, I start taking things ridiculously serious. So here we have characters exploring self-expression via appearances. Our wandering son wants to look like a daughter.
Is it fundamentally different from her older sister’s self-expression? She wants to look pretty, wear the pretty dress, and be looked at (she’s some kind of model doing a shoot). He doesn’t have those aspirations at all (at lest not that we can find out at this point), but he too wants to look pretty and wear the pretty dress.
Meanwhile, other wandering daughters are doing an Utena and wearing boys’ uniforms.
It’s oh-so-tempting to read this through a lens of gender politics, or with a sexual spin. But I’m challenged not to, because the presentation makes such a great effort to give that feeling of innocence. And when its time for us to pluck that fruit as viewers, I do wish it’s ripe and ready.