One of the most maddening things about human relationships is our frequent inability to escape from previously established patterns of interaction with people. We return home to visit parents to find them – and ourselves – slipping into well-worn and often dysfunctional habits of communication and behavior.
As Nitori Shuichi begins 7th grade in Wandering Son, Volume 5 (Amazon | RightStuf), I couldn’t but help feel as if I was reading a return to old habits and relationships. Chiba’s still angry, Mako’s still perceptive in an awkwardly adult way, Sasa’s still energetic and Nitori and Takatsuki are still fighting battles on multiple fronts. A few relationships have changed, but many have not and the tensions they create fill the book with chapters that look eerily like the shadows of earlier chapters. But, even as I say that, I realize I’m being ungenerous. Everyone – especially Nitori and Takatsuki – have indeed changed.
Which is why I almost found it frustrating that the plot complication of the gender-switch play was introduced…again. Yes, it works for this class and yes it allows the characters to work some stuff out, but don’t you wonder if the rest of the kids in the class thought, “Really? Again?!”
And the super awkward obsession of the teacher is, well, just straight up freaky. Now I’m wondering if any of my teachers looked at me and thought of some past person they knew instead. (-_-);
The issue of the gendered uniforms is subsumed in Chizuru’s wearing of the boy’s uniform because she feels like it, while Takatsuki, who desperately desire to do so, does not. And Nitori is almost reflexively denying the desire to wear girl’s clothes, but Mako rightfully points out that they may not be able to get away with it for much longer. Puberty creeps ever closer.
In all sincerity, I am reviewing this volume for the last scene in which Chiba, in an unusually lucid moment, asks Nitori if he likes Takatsuki as a boy who likes a girl, or as the girl he wants to be liking Takatsuki as a girl. I’d also add the possibility that Nitori as a girl could like Takastuki as a boy. Not surprisingly, Nitori cannot answer that question. It’s a tough one and the answer to it is the primary reason I’ll read the next volumes.
Art – 8
Story – 9
Characters – 9
LGBTQ – 8
Overall – 9
I find this series deeply uncomfortable reading, but I keep coming back. I want to see how this plays out.