Wandering Son: The Ballad of Chi and Sasa

So far she is the Undefeated of the EAST in this school.

One of the things that bothered me about Wandering Son was my inability to comprehend Nitori and Takataski’s desire to physically convert to the other gender. I understand that there is at least one confirmed gender reassigned character I didn’t quite understand their desire or insistence that their gender identity be manifested physically. It was good to get a few insights from SCCSAV members who had read the manga and it was illuminating to get some information on future development. In any other series I might have dismissed this as average teenage wangst but because Wandering Son is treating the subject matter with respect I am inclined to treat Nitori and Takataski’s personal problems less harshly even if I do not quite understand them.

I like how Chi is literally a kickass character.

Wandering Son is a curious series since these days in the West at least you already have great variation in gender roles and on the surface of it Takatasuki and Nitori would have an easy solution to their problems, damning public opinion. However I guess in Japan it is not that easy more so since they are kids that are only now hitting puberty. I am thoroughly against surgery for the sake of vanity since there are so many risks involved I have mixed feelings about gender reassignment since fundamentally even if you seek to change your gender surgically in the end you aren’t whole so to speak. It only changes outside appearances and is but a partial transformation moreover the stigma is increased at the same time. However for now Takatsuki at least has reconciled with the fact that she will never be a wash board and hopefully it is a sign that all she really needed was a change in attitude.

Here I think Chi-chan is a great foil to Takatsuki in particular and Nitori in general. Within three episodes Chi has demonstrated a better balance of walking that gender line than either Takatsuki and Nitori. I was pretty much sold on Chi-chan when she knocked that Junior on her ass who was making a sad attempt at bullying. Chi-chan is more than a comic relief character in my mind because she is comfortable indulging in masculine tendencies while being comfortable in her feminine state. Chi is certainly eccentric but I like how she is pretty much the Alpha Dog of the group despite having the least history with everyone. While bullying is pretty much the norm at their age I am glad that Chi and Chiba already showed everyone how to deal with it, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. Within their playground at least that is all that it takes since there is no  Middle School American Football team to help amp up the aggression. Malevolence is one thing but physicality is quite another and Chi and Chiba have seen off their aggressors who are now cowering and BEING AFRAID.

Chi-chan already had her gender issue solved since she is much less conscious of the opinions of her peers and is quite comfortable in her own skin when doing what she wants to do without deferring to the idiot opinions of her peers or seniors. I am not sure what Japanese nuances Chi-chan is disregarding but for the most part I welcome her free spirit attitude in contrast to a social system that would some how make juniors feel entitled to respect by mere virtue of their age. Age be damned I say respect is always earned one way or another to demand it without deed means one deserves no respect at all.

I am not sure if there is a bias in Japan against sports girls since they usually don’t come up as winners in love but I personally find something undeniably attractive by athletic girls not in direct competition with Isurugi Noe. Chi and Takatsuki are no exception as I highly approve of their participation in basketball. I think participation in the sport will make them better people in the long run since basketball is is very much a team sport as one super star player can only do so much. May their team play more like the Celtics than the Lakers, since I doubt either of them are good enough on their own to be LeBron/Durant/Stoudemire class in terms of making a that big an improvement in their team’s competitiveness. I think that these days in the West at least there is a greater acceptance of tomboys than there is for Nancy Girls, so Takatsuki’s desire to seemingly more masculine is probably more readily accepted within western fandom.

While Day has a better explanation about Takatsuki’s reaction to getting groped by Chi-chan I hope it becomes water under the bridge soon. I’ll be honest though I had no problems with Chi-chan grabbing onto Takatsuki’s Hopes and Dreams given my support for all things yuri. I still can’t entirely sympathize with how Takatsuki felt, I can understand the dislike for being groped but she seemed way too mad at a friend who she knew was impulsive and seems to have an all too obvious admiration for other girls. Moreover Takatsuki never talked to Chi-chan about her troubles with her growing bust or her interest in similar hobbies. It might be that the things scare her but it should be by her age an expected thing otherwise her mother has failed her immensely by not being there for the first bra, which I understand is an awkward but necessary ritual for girls growing up. Still despite the parenting fail I am glad Takatsuki chose to go with a sports bra despite the parenting fail. It is a sort of compromise as she accepts her physiological reality and at the same time embraces her masculine outlet.

Nitori is a much more odd case his attraction to Takatsuki is all too plain but he’s not a fagela given his lack of attraction to men in general. What is odd is that he likes male attention and embraces the remarks that he is cute, but at no point so far has he shown a like for boys. In fact he seems to hate his God given gender more intensely that Takatsuki. Where Takatsuki seems to have taken Chi-chan’s example as a blue print for her own gender identity Nitori needs to have it physically manifested and seems to have poor relationship with other boys who aren’t Makoto, who shares Nitori’s habits and is hot for his male teacher. Takatsuki has a strong friendship with Sasa and has a tenuous one with Chiba, that has gone sour due to love rivalry, but all in all Takatsuki is better along socially than Nitori.

I wonder if this his issue is not so much about his sexuality or his gender but his lack of comfort with going against the grain. I cannot fathom how he can stay cute forever in the sense that boys will find him cute though puberty might be kind and girls may still find him cute in his later years. His admiration of Chi-chan is also pretty certain but Chi-chan is behaving more like a boy than a girl and if boys are icky why embrace Chi-chan being combative and full of fire that boys usually have. Perhaps it is due to my residency in San Francisco all these years but him cross dressing isn’t that big a deal for me, I don’t find it weird per se, but given the sad reality of hate crimes it is an invitation to disaster should he be found out. I don’t see the need for it really since he doesn’t need it for a disguise, if he likes fooling people that is one thing but his cross dressing is less about trickery than to get praise.

It would be sad if this is the only praise Nitori lives for as it will end as soon as he starts getting a change in voice and stubble on his chin. I can’t empathize wholly with him because Nitori also seems to be of the opinion that traditional masculine traits like stoicism and fiery courage are not for him. I prefer to democratize both since I feel strongly that courage and stoicism are in short supply these days, thus despite my desire to sympathize with Nitori I find myself lamenting that he is a sissy that lacks the courage to stand up for himself. It might be a double standard but I personally don’t think so since stoicism and courage are considered virtues. That Nitori is so certain that other boys are so icky he will be utterly reliant on Chiba and Takatsuki for defending his honor. That I think would be kind of sad since Nitori is going to go through a lot worse once puberty hits with full force.

Other than Chi-chan I have taken a keen liking to Sasa-chan, I am glad that she is not some idiot loli going on and on about onii-chan. Instead Sasa seems to be a paragon when it comes to friendship since she is still trying to bring Chiba and Takatsuki together. Both of the latter seem rather intent on not speaking with eachother and Chiba at least has been trying to bring Sasa closer into her orbit. While Chiba and Takatsuki are having major malfunctions of their own Sasa seems to be the most level headed of the lot and I do admire Sasa’s gumption for not picking sides and just letting Takatsuki and Chiba have a fallout. Sasa might not have a lot going for her right now but she has a big heart within her small stature. I am not sure why she feels the need to keep Chiba and Takatsuki together but I am inerested in finding out how far back Sasa goes considering she does not come up often in the flash backs.

I suspect that times are only going to get harder for Takatsuki and the shipping war between Chiba and Takatsuki will still remain tense. Thankfully Sasa will be there to help Takatsuki and Chiba through their hard times since Sasa has the trust of both. With any luck neither will suffer alone since Sasa seems to have a rare kind of loyalty and tenacity that would put many a mecha pilot to shame. Normally when I like the support characters more than the mains it usually means there is something wrong with the series, but in the case of Wandering Son the subject matter is difficult for me ot empathize with but since Chi-chan and Sasa are normal enough that they offer me an avenue to take in Wandering Son.


I wonder if a Sasa hug can stop a Bright SLAP.

Sasa, may be short of stature but she is big of heart.

What a mean old lady, yelling at poor Sasa like that.

It's been a while since I'd seen a Friend Triangle...

Sasa i would like to personally thank you for still being friends with these two idiots.

Sasa knows that they just got a Zeus given miracle but such is the folly of men/women.

Pretty much sums up how I am approaching the show.

She's not taking this very well...

If nothing else you can move to the US and become a famed sportscaster for ESPN.

Chi-chan wants to GET FRIENDLY.

Seems she found a surprise...

I wonder what passed through Chi-chan's mind when the realization dawned on her.

Chi may be a lecher but she is not a jerk...

Wanna wear a ponytail?

Then you need to find a good tailor, miss.

I approve of her choice.

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  1. Fencedude
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    I don’t have much to add, but I must say your analysis here is fantastic.

    Takatsuki and Nitori’s reactions to puberty are interesting. Takatsuki has the more immediate crisis, but ultimately it won’t change that much for her, and she couldn’t not wear a bra, after all. While for Nitori, its still theoretical, but when it does hit, its going to destroy the one thing in life that seems to make him feel comfortable.

    Like I said elsewhere, “Secondary sexual characteristics are a bitch”.

    Makoto’s an interesting case, and comparing him to Nitori is instructive. Nitori hasn’t demonstrated any interest in men, past wanting to be seen as cute, and has clearly expressed interest in at least one girl (Takatsuki). On the other hand, Makoto seems like he’s actually gay, and his friendship with Nitori gives him a way of expressing it. I don’t think he’s transgendered like Nitori is (or seems to be, still very young to be firmly assigning such labels, but thats clearly what it seems to be), but they’ve found a friendship in their mutual outcastness. Hard to say who will have it worse when it comes out though.

    And yes, Chi-chan and Sasa are the best parts of the show.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      It will be interesting to see the differences and similarities between Nitori and Makoto. You are right though Nitori has more riding on him being cute than Takatsuki has on being a boy. The latter at least has sports.

  2. Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Utena wore a male uniform just fine even with her female bosom, so it should go just fine.

    I don’t really have much left to say about the gender dynamics, except that I agree that the show does seem to treat the subject respectfully, and thus makes it more interesting to me.

    • Fencedude
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Utena was also not transgendered. She was arguably gay (and certainly bi), but not transgendered.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Takatsuki will take up fencing after getting her custom uniform.

  3. Posted February 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, Takatsuki’s tomboyish clothes never upset me, and as you say, it could be our American influence. Here, it’s common to see girls in baggy sweaters and gym-like attire (*blush*), so seeing Takatsuki dressed as so doesn’t bother me at all. That is, it doesn’t make me go “EWWW WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER?!?!”

    I had no problems with Chi-chan grabbing onto Takatsuki’s Hopes and Dreams given my support for all things yuri.


    I can understand the dislike for being groped but she seemed way too mad at a friend who she knew was impulsive and seems to have an all too obvious admiration for other girls.

    WHOA WHOA WHOA NOW YOU HOLD THE PHONE THERE, MISTER/MISSY!!! I don’t know what part of America you’re from (okay you’re from San Francisco), but sexual harassment is still sexual harassment, whether it’s girl to girl, friend to friend, or middle schooler to middle schooler. I don’t think you understand how serious something like that is. You can’t just go grabbing your friends junk just because of your “too obvious admiration for other girls”. In fact, I’d say yuri gon’ messed you up! YEAH, YOU HEARD ME!!! HOW DARE YOU COMPARE THE STANDARD TROUPES OF YURI TO A MASTERPIECE LIKE HOUROU MUSUKO!?!?!

    Sasa i would like to personally thank you for still being friends with these two idiots.

    Hey hey hey, maybe Chiba is a bit rough, but Takatsuki is no idiot. If anything, she’s defending herself from Chiba’s constant attacks. It was Takastuki who put up with Chiba, but as witnessed in episode 2’s flashback, she wasn’t having it anymore.

    • Crusader
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      I have sat through annual sexual harassment training every damn year since 2004, and the real bitch of the whole thing is that it is all dependent on the victim feeling offended. Sure unwanted touching is wrong, but Chi-chan and Takatsuki are friends and given that it is the first offense so long as Takatsuki makes it clear she doesn’t like it and Chi-chan doesn’t do it again there is no problem.

      Keep in mind the definition of sexual harassment is very very vague, touching doesn’t even have to be involved. Since every one has different standards of conduct it is difficult to nail down every thing, just having some love songs on the radio is grounds enough for a sexual harassment if someone felt offended enough. Hell I got heat from one female co-worker for tapping on her shoulder because we had a meeting and her headphones were too loud. It was resolved easily enough but if she got real offended it would have resulted in paper work.

      Since I am not a “missy” I could also claim to feel sexually harassed by your comment, again all that is required is someone to feel offended.

      As for your anti-yuri leanings I suggest you either deal with it or go watch Dragon Crisis or something. Besides it is not necessarily the case that Chi-chan likes girls, and at any rate no malicious or malevolent intent was involved so no harm done IMHO. It was pretty much a joke gone awry me and my co-workers do mildly less when joking around.

      The problem with siding against Chiba now is that we have only seen things largely from her point of view. Either way I don’t want to take sides in their war for Nitori.

      • Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        First, I would like to apologize for my rude statements, specifically the “I don’t think you understand how serious something like that is”, since clearly (after reading your reply) you do understand, having been through sexual harassment training and such. Next, I have no problem with yuri; everyone is free to love who they want. My problem, and perhaps I was wrong to make statements towards you, is when people assume that because they are girls, because they are “friends”, and because this is an anime, that it is perfectly fine for girls to randomly grope each other. Mind you, this isn’t a comedy. Hourou Musuko takes its material seriously, so I was under the impression you were comparing Hourou Musuko to the majority of yuri titles, which, excuse my language, is mostly smut/something you wank-off to and/or comedy.

        Back on the friend thing: if each episode covers a day or so, then they’ve only been friends for *counts* THREE DAYS. I consider you my friend, too, and I think we’ve been pals longer than that, but I don’t think I have the right to touch you down there, even if I’m messing around. Which leads me back to my yuri statement: people will assume “YUCK GUYS TOUCHING??!! GROSS!!!”, but when it’s girl on girl it’s “Ah okay, that’s fine”. See where I’m getting at? I was under the wrong impression that you accept this groping because it’s “yuri” and I get the feeling you wouldn’t feel the same way if it were Makoto touching Nitori (male-on-male). Again, nothing wrong with yuri or any homosexual content. My problem is the majority who eat these titles, not to find comfort for like-minded individuals, but for sexual gratification. Which I guess is also okay but whatever.

        …we’re still friends, right? :<

        • Posted February 2, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

          Oh and I apologize for the “I’d say yuri gon’ messed you up!” statement, too. That was actually pretty rude, lol!

        • Crusader
          Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

          No offense taken, it is what it is, just try not to jump at things too much.

          This isn’t a comedy but Chi-chan seems to be a much ligher character compared to the primary triumvirate. As for fast friends these kids just got into Middle School and as such I do not expect them to be all that cognizant about sexuality at the 6th grade level, which would make them barely 12 at most. Again kids will be kids and they make faster friends at that age without the baggage or prejudice that will set in with the onset of years. More importantly new friends will test your boundaries and personal space part of being friends is learning to forgive.

          At 10-12 years i expect them to be rambunctious and impetuous, besides since Chi-chan and Takatsuki are teammates as well I expect them to want to be closer than if they were merely classmates. Basketball is a physical sport and it is well that Takatsuki got a sports bra, not sure if they will be like most teams any ways if the professional sports is any measure then physical pranks will happen it’s part of bonding I guess since personal space gets reduced as teams grow grow closer.

          Just because it is mature and serious doesn’t mean that it should be bereft of humor, part of the authenticity that it has is because it is taking place in reasonably normal conditions and there are moments in life when you just have to laugh despite emotional lows. If this were a parade of emo and angst I would not pay it much heed to be honest. I did cheer because it was yuri but it was not simply for that, it was the catalyst for Takatsuki to face the music and get a bra. Again as an athlete in a physical sport she will need to wear one for the sake of modesty, and it hammered home how Takatsuki could not ignore the problem since her physical changes are attracting attentions of all sorts. It was unfortunate that a trauma of sorts was what was needed but Takatsuki would not have arrived at that conclusion if she was left to go about as if nothing had been said at practice.

          It is unfortunate that you dislike yuri but I don’t see the need for me to tone down the abuse of yuri goggles or for you to take serious offense. No malice is intended and fundamentally these posts have no bearing on whether or not you should enjoy a show as you see fit. To be perfectly honest for me to not use yuri goggles is like asking me to cheer for my home teams’ sports rivals. Never going to happen sadly.

          • Fencedude
            Posted February 2, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

            The Yuri is really easy to read around Chi-chan anyway. Momo is virtually creaming herself over her Chi-chan in every scene.

  4. ectholion
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Traps sighted! Time to pick up this show and droping Kimi ni Todoke. Crusader I look forward to your posts ;)

    • Crusader
      Posted February 2, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      Chronolynx should be on this one if not it will be me I guess.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    I cannot believe how entirely and absolutely you ignored the fact that these are two transsexual children and for them their life is painful and troubling by virtue of simply existing, and made worse by the fact that society erases their existence, ridiculizes them, and at worst will assault and murder them. It is no small feat to come out as trans, especially in Japan, even Yuki who acts as their role model was disowned; they are twelve, they cannot risk being disowned. Nitorin’s story is the story of many girls in the world, born with the wrong body and striving to have the parts and shapes that her brain recognizes she should have. The transsexual brain doesn’t acknowledge the wrong body parts, their existence on what should be their body is both disgusting and traumatizing. When Takatsuki realized he was growing boobs, it was the same as any other young boy being told, even though he expected to grow up to be a cool strong guy, instead “Hey, even though you are a boy, here are these tumorous growths sprouting from your chest that will force people to think of you as a girl and make them deny your existence as a boy, making you pretend to be something you are not and therefore lie constantly to others filling in your role in society as a female and forever being denied the chance to ever know true love or acceptance since they will only care about a fake person who is not you, but someone you pretend to be because of your body.”

    This is literally the end of his world and hope, he has the brain structure of a male and he instinctively cannot accept not having a penis or actually having a chest, his brain is wired to think those are there . Takatsuki going through a female puberty is the worst thing he can imagine. Nitori going through a male puberty is even more unimaginably terrifying because of society’s demand that women be beautiful, and the deepening of the voice, musculature, and body hair that comes with a male puberty will be irreversible without surgery.

    If you lost your hand in war you would want plastic surgery to replace it.

    If you lost your face in a house fire you would want plastic surgery to replace it.

    If someone snuck into your bed at night and cut off your dick you would want surgery to replace it.

    If someone replaced your dick for a vagina by all that there is in this world you would still need a plastic surgeon to fix it so that it matches your body.

    Takatsuki is a boy, he deserves male pronouns. Nitori is a girl, she deserves the basic most simple form of respect, call her by female pronouns. They are not crossdressers, they are not traps, they are human beings who represent MANY MANY REAL LIFE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY EXIST. There are actual transsexual people out there, and guess what, not much media portrays them in a friendly realistic way. This is one of the only ones out there that does. You are not allowed to take a show made for a small minority and then change the meaning of it to suit your needs and make you feel good when almost every other show in the world is better suited to your understanding of the world. There are so many shows about crossdressers, gays, and lesbians, WATCH THOSE if that is what you want. This is about transsexuality.

    Part of the misunderstanding is that the anime completely ruined the story and makes all the scenes underwhelming and pathetic. This anime basically ignores the main theme of Hourou Musuko and tries to convince the viewers that the two protagonists are whiny and scared.


    They are facing incredible struggles, the manga is filled with subtlety and passion, it shows things the way they really are.

    Chi-chan groping Takatsuki didn’t cause anything, in actuality she grabbed his chest one day just for fun and he freaked the fuck out, then eventually HE BOUGHT A CHEST COMPRESSION VEST TO GET RID OF HIS BOOBS AND WHEN CHI-CHAN TRIED TO DO IT AGAIN SHE SAID HIS CHEST WAS COMPLETELY FLAT , WHICH MADE CHIBA ASK IF HE REALLY WANTED TO BE A BOY AND HE SAID YES, HE’S REALLY GOING TO DO IT.

    • Crusader
      Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Duly noted but the angry rant makes me less inclined to try and understand and more willing to vote Republican. I know you exist but I have never met any of you (or maybe I have but none of you have made it public knowledge), I am not aware of what changes need to be made from the scientific definition of gender. I am a science major my view of gender is defined by the presence of ovaries or testes, by XX or XY. I just discovered that your group views things differently, I will do my best to conform in the future. Still you do come off as rude and prejudiced against people who are different from you. By what right do you claim that non-transgendered people are not allowed to watch this series and try and deconstruct it? It is out there in public, anime and manga both…am I to understand that these are only for the transgendered master race and we undermensch are not allowed to enjoy it? If not then please understand that is the gist of your angry rant whether you meant it or not.

      Also I would prefer bionics over a surgical graft thank you very much.

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