Hourou Musuko Assorteds and Thoughts on Depictions of Transgendered Characters

I like inventing words. The word invented in this case is ‘assorteds’ – the word ‘assorted’ is not meant to appear in a pluralized form. However, as English is a beautifully alive and vibrant (if somewhat frustrating) language, I shall continue in the spirit of the noble Stephen Colbert and fuck with the rules of the language. I also simply couldn’t figure out any other title for the post, as there has been a surprising amount of news of relation to Hourou Musuko as of late.

By this point the fact that a. Hourou Musuko’s manga has been licensed for an American release, and that b. Hourou Musuko has gotten green-lit as a TV series is not news. However, here in the land of Day, someone has been either drunk or stupidly ill for the past week or so, so this did in fact constitute news for myself. As I blearily scrolled through anime-related news yesterday, I happened across both pieces of information… and basically died of shock immediately.


Its so awesome, I’ve already pre-ordered the first volume of the translated manga. However, I still do find it mildly surprising – yes, the anime adaptation of Takako Shimura’s manga Aoi Hana did get licensed by Crunchyroll. The manga, though, I might remind you, remains untouched by any English language distributor (although it is licensed by a French company in… France), something I suspect may be related to the unsteadiness of the market due to over-saturation that we’ve seen. I also have to admit that I find Horou Musuko, if anything, to be a title even less likely to find any market share here, as it is even more of a niche title than is Aoi Hana – its a manga about kids with gender issues; more importantly, it is a manga about kids with gender issues that isn’t a comedy.

I’d also like to point out at this juncture, too, that Aoi Hana was licensed by Crunchyroll, a company that utilizes an extremely low-cost model versus larger companies such as Funimation or… well, shit, Funi’s basically the only one left, isn’t it? Sentai/Section 23 is decently sized, but it certainly is no ADV. Anyway, I digress – Aoi Hana didn’t have to be wicked popular, basically, to justify its licensing, as the release format was fairly low-cost to begin with. Physical copies of books are a more expensive model.

Granted, I can certainly be accused of comparing apples and oranges. But I was surprised nonetheless.

Now, the TV adaptation – I think we are seeing this since Aoi Hana did fairly well in Japan, and appears to have increased manga sales at least modestly. For which I have to say – finally! People are recognizing the brilliance of Shimura’s works!

I really enjoy Aoi Hana and Hourou Musuko because they present very humane portraits of their characters, characters who are of groups which generally do not get afforded such treatment. Hourou Musuko is even more laudable in this regard since the amount of non-caricatured, respectful depictions of transgendered characters in anime and manga is tiny. Generally, the transgendered individual is played purely for comedic value, and even in instances where they are not, we are still meant to laugh at their nonconformism in the face of gender norms/expectations.

Hourou Musuko also does something we do not often see even when LGBT characters’ stories are presented – it gives us a depiction of a transgendered character who is adult, in a solid relationship, and who is happy. This is… well, shocking I think is the best term for it, although I find that such a word does have a vague sense of negative connotation to it. I’m so used to, as a reader, seeing characters who are teenagers and whom progress to a confession, maybe start a relationship, but then are subjected to an abrupt conclusion there. Adults are becoming more common, as are full-fledged relationships, but they still represent a minority in LGBT stories. So it was so wonderful to see a character shown to be fully functional and normal and non-heteronormative.

Anyway, totally unrelated, but I must confess I tend to prefer the translation ‘Transient Son’ as opposed to ‘Wandering Son’, which is the one being used for the American manga release. I cannot explain exactly why, and I’ll admit that both are accurate. I think its just that I tend to have a hang-up about words… I like the sounds of certain words over others. For example, I love the word ‘boulevard’ because of how it sounds. And ‘transient’ sounds more lovely to my ear than ‘wandering’.

At this point, I would like to encourage those of you who have not read Hourou Musuko at all to check it out, particularly if you have liked Aoi Hana. There are scanlations of it to be found, most easily through Baka Manga Updates. I would not tell you to go looking for scanlations of a licensed property, except that the release of the first volume will not appear until December of this year. If you do read it and like it, go order that first volume, though; it’d be extremely awesome if it moved enough copies to interest its publisher (Enterbrain, I believe) in licensing the Aoi Hana manga as well.

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10 Responses to Hourou Musuko Assorteds and Thoughts on Depictions of Transgendered Characters

  1. kluxorious says:

    yuri? since you mentioned Aoi Hana

  2. 2DT says:

    The one issue with Yuki that bothers me is that she has a slight touch of pedophilia about her, and definitely some lingering jealousy over natural-born girls. But on the other hand, her good traits (open, generous, wise to these confused children) are still front and center. So I suppose it’s better than making her an outright saint.

    By the way, this is certainly very happy news to me. An anime, wow… Thanks for the heads up.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I think I’m willing to forgive the early touches of pedophilia because, if I recall correctly, this faded over the course of the manga; as such, I tend to regard it as a sort of growing pain – Shimura first started writing Hourou Musuko in 2002, and, if I’m not mistaken, it was one of her earliest works. It did make me feel uncomfortable when I was reading it, but, like I said, it ended up fading quite a bit, which helped.

  3. Aorii says:

    Hourou Musuko might take itself seriously, but combining its extremely slow pacing and buildup (slow even for a slice-of-life) and a lack of any genderbending humor does make it rather boring to read at times. Personally I think it would be better if they actually played up the comedic value of its characters while maintaining the serious element.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      With so many options out there for people who enjoy genderbending humor, Hourou Musuko just doesn’t really need to go there, nor would it really benefit – its a crowded field, and the folks reading that sort of stuff aren’t really going to flock to something like this anyway, even if genderbent humor was added.

      I personally enjoy the laid-back pace. Admittedly I’m big on slice-of-life in general, though – and I’ll admit that such a pace isn’t for everyone.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Hello I somehow stumbled upon this blog and I just read that you said the manga was supposed to be licensed in french? It is my first language so I was wondering by which company and if I could get those. I know that Fantagraphics Books are going to publish the mangas in english but if they’re available in french I’d prefer that. I’m a huge Hourou Musuko fan đŸ˜€

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Actually, it is Aoi Hana that was licensed and has been released in French, not Hourou Musuko. However, in case you are interested in Aoi Hana, its being published by Asuka under the title Fleurs Bleues.

  5. PonderingDuck says:

    I love Hourou Musuko. I can’t believe it’s been around so long, but I’m glad I found it a while back. Yuki in the manga does have a thing for Takasuki in the beginning, which is a little weird, but I think the manga in general grew up – just looking at the characters from the beginning to the latest chapter, 94, you can see a huge difference. I wish there were more releases, because it’s not as if there is anything else like it. For those of us who are transgender, it’s nice to see a manga that appreciates all the aspects of our lives, and not focus on the genderbend and its differences. I’m glad it’s gaining ground. I wonder, when will one be able to buy the American release? I can’t wait to get it up here in the North.

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