I dunno, Starducks… you’ve got some pretty stiff competition from Starbobs, if you ask me.
I continue to be quite impressed with the amount of information that AIC is managing to get into every episode; there’s this paradox that is quite striking about the whole thing, as episodes themselves seem quite long as they are happening yet once they are finished it seems as if no time has gone by at all. It seems like the pacing is very, very languid, and yet one comes away feeling like they’ve taken in a lot. I can’t quite put it into words correctly. But I can say that I like it, and I think it is an extremely effective way to fill in some of the gaps that were produced by picking up several volumes into the manga.
This episode raises an interesting question as to the existence of fixed sexual orientation, although it doesn’t address it directly nor does it actually ask it. Or, perhaps, rather, it questions how important gender in terms of attraction. Saori has a crush on Nitori, and likes having him dressed up in girls’ clothing. Seya had a crush on Nitori originally because he thought that he was a she, now he dates Maho, but he’s still clearly a bit thrown off by Nitori – he blushes when he sees Maho trying to strip him and also before that when in conversation with him at school. And Nitori himself has a crush on a girl who wants to be a boy and often dresses as one.
There are also some other characters who reinforce this line of skepticism who have yet to appear yet. I would like to reference them, but I’ll decline in favor of not giving anything away. I’m a bit more considerate of non-manga readers than some of my Shiki readers were.
One of the things I like a lot about Hourou Musuko, and which I actually only just noticed in watching this episode, is the size and diversity of the female cast. Its certainly a change of pace from most shows which orient themselves around a male lead, which either follow the model of having mostly male characters or go the harem route with full trope flair. The girls here aren’t all interested in Nitori (thank the lord), and there are no tsundere -types to be found. In fact, the closest comparison I can think of is the cast of MariMite in terms of character-types and characterization.
…oh, yeah, and something called Aoi Hana.
I can relate strongly to Takatsuki’s bra crisis. It was pretty earth shattering to me when my own mother told me privately that I needed to start wearing a bra; I can’t even conceive of how much it would’ve killed me to have a classmate loudly call me out in front of others about it.
…wow, actually, now that I think on it? There was a kid in my 7th grade class who constantly harassed me over his insistence that I never wore a bra. I’d completely forgotten about that. I found puberty to be fairly traumatizing without this kid doing that, either. I realllllly hated my breasts. Their development really weirded me out. Nowadays, I tend to think of them as handy hand-warmers for the wintertime, so I managed to adjust eventually. But, yeah, there was that kid… he probably did it because no one liked him in our class and we all thought he was really weird. He came out in high school, so the kid had probably been feeling traumatized himself by the changes he was going through and the things he was beginning to notice. When you’re not comfortable with yourself, you tend to actively make others uncomfortable. It kind of distracts from one’s own issues.
But kids are a bit cruel, aren’t they? Sarashina obviously didn’t mean any harm when she called out Takatsuki, nor did she when she grabbed her from behind toward the end of the episode. But she rattled Takatsuki pretty badly.
I wonder – which is worse? Intended cruelty, or unintended cruelty? Intended cruelty has that meanness of the ill will, but unintended cruelty is in some ways harsher, particularly if it comes from a friend. After all, a friend should know better than that, right? Obviously, Sarashina doesn’t know Takatsuki that well, doesn’t know about her desire to be a boy, so its a bit different than if it were, say, Saori who had pointed out the breast thing. But unintended cruelty nevertheless carries a hint of carelessness about it.
EDIT: Here’s a story that just surfaced on Salon about a mother renaming her transgendered child. It may be of some interest to you if you are following Hourou Musuko, particularly as it deals with a child who is roughly the same age as the kids in HM.
EDIT #2: Chronolynx has a great post over on T.H.A.T. Anime Blog about episode two. He explains how the show manages to pack so much info in so deftly in a much more well-written fashion. Chronolynx also talks about why Hourou Musuko is so refreshing an entry into the annals of anime.