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.