Review: Hourou Musuko
Hourou Musuko follows the story of a young boy named Shuuichi Nitori. A bit different to other boys in his class, Shuu is a very effeminate looking boy whose favourite pass time is to bake cookies and hang around with his friends. Though Shuu is somewhat quiet, he has many friends who are close to him. But one day, what started as a normal encounter was about to change his life completely. A rather boyish girl named Yoshino Takatsuki becomes his friend and during a study session, she catches him staring at a dress hung up on her wall which she never wore. When she suggests that he should wear the outfit, Shuu begins to think about what it would be like to wear womens clothing, his longing to become a girl begins soon after when an incident with a group study session had him dress up in girls clothing and he found that he felt so much more comfortable in girls clothing and being seen as a girl than he ever did as a boy.
Not long after, Shuu finds out that Yoshino is also a child who wishes to be the opposite gender and they begin to take journeys far away together where they can both be their true selves without worrying about being found out by their friends and peers.
Hourou Musuko is a great emotional manga dealing with issues that are often misunderstood by society. This manga is a not just a great story, but also a good example of what transgender people think and feel as well as the many doubts they have in public. This manga shows how cruel society is to the things they don't understand and how the way we treat people feels for the ones who are the subject of peoples prejudice.
As this story goes on, it becomes a given that Shuu is a proud cross-dresser who wants nothing more than to be a girl, the end of the manga does begin to show that even then Shuu is not 100% sure if his thoughts are right as he begins to develop due to puberty causing his voice to become deeper and his facial hair to grow. Shuu overcomes all these issues and continues on, striding his own path against all the prejudice.
Needless to say, I feel that Hourou Musuko is one of the best manga I have ever read. Though the ending was not quite what I would have liked as it leaves a lot in doubt, it is still a sweet ending and a somewhat happy which gives the manga an good overall feel.
I would recommend this manga to all those who love gender-switch manga as a must read, and to those who are not so certain about gender-switch stories, Shuu's quiet, innocent and somewhat romantic imagination is sure to keep even the most sceptic of us entertained.
Though I was probably one of the most eager fans waiting for the anime release for this manga in 2011, I must confess the anime to be a major disappointment. The story of the anime begins at approximately chapter 38 of the manga leaving out all of the most important beginning to the story. Though the anime does flashback to some of the skipped scenes, the fact that these chapters were not at the beginning ruins the flow of the whole story and fails to build up the understanding that is achieved with Shuu by the reader. I would not recommend watching the anime, but I would most certainly suggest Hourou Musuko as one of your must reads.