The manga series continues to impress. Mostly, this is because the experience of a young boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who identifies as a boy are played out slowly over many volumes.
I have reached volume 7, published in English by Fanatagraphics. Shimura Takako’s words have been translated by Matt Thorn so that we can people like me (who don’t read Japanese) can understand the story of Nitori and Takatsuki and their ongoing conflicts with identity.
Conflict is probably too strong a word since both children would be very happy if the world around them was more accepting. For Nitori the first signs of acne bring new concerns about his growing body. The pupils at the school embark on another gender bending play and the ski trip provides another backdrop for the young people to try out their identities.
The story works for the most part because the two main characters are so sweet. Their friendship group is something of a mixed bag and I have to admit to finding some of the girls around them both a little melodramatic. On the edge of the story is Seya, a boy whose interest in Nitori is confusing to them both. As this unfolds, the complications of gender, identity and friendship should further intertwine.
The ‘Wandering Son’ manga series is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?