Wandering Son, Volume 1 is my vote for manga most likely to cause a quiet revolution without becoming a best seller.
As you know, if you pay attention to any manga news at all, Wandering Son by Shimura Takako, is the story of two young people as they realize and deal with the fact that their gender does not match their bodies. In Volume One, we are introduced to the cast, and to the general situation in which Shuuichi and his classmate Yoshino start to deal with puberty and the disconnect they feel about their selves and the bodies in which those selves reside.
This past week I was pleased to be part of a discussion of this book at the Manga Out Loud podcast. I hope you’ll listen to it, as we discuss both the book and the anime in some detail.
The story itself is gentle…as I say in the podcast, almost tentative. This territory is difficult for many people to accept and the manga audience is not, for all that it enjoys stories of gender switching as comedy, as socially liberal as many might think. Shimura takes her time…and ours…to introduce the idea that a body may not be the right one to be in.
As a result, Volume 1 might feel a bit timid to those readers who are more used to Aoi Hana. Having just come off reading Volume 6 of Aoi Hana, I found myself a little surprised at the tentativeness of these first chapters…and then suddenly I realized that this manga is nearly ten years old. The strength Fumi shows was not born overnight and Shuuichi and Yoshino are younger than she is. After talking with the folks on the podcast, I realized what a profound revelation this series will be to people for whom this is an entirely alien discussion. And I’m utterly blown away by how deft and masterful Shimura has become in the last decade.
In conclusion, I’m going to cheat and quote Ed Sizemore from Twitter, when he said, “Wandering Son doesn’t just open up doors of perception for me, but makes me want to learn more about the real life experience of transgender people. To see world through their eyes so I can relate to them better.”
There will be no Wandering Son cosplayers, you won’t find Wandering Son figurines or headbands at conventions. But in these pages, Shimura can bring the thoughts and experiences of the transgender community to people who have never before thought about life from Shuuichi’s or Yoshino’s perspective. That is the revolution contained in the pages of Wandering Son.
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 0
Overall – 8
I hope you will all consider buying a copy of the manga for your library (or request that it buy a copy, if it still has the budget to do so.) Let’s change the world, one manga at a time – starting with this one. I’ve already got a copy for my Libary. ^_^