Well, someone already did a play on Wayward Son, so…
Let’s just start right into it.
I’m still not crazy about the character talking to the camera thing that they use to open this episode, although they thankfully don’t close out the episode that way. It just feels too after-school special that way… although less so with Saori, probably since she’s simply talking about her relationship with Nitori and Takatsuki, not about gender issues. However, I do feel as if Saori looks even less attractive as a character than she probably already seems, given how the book-hitting incident was rendered.
I actually really like Saori. I think she can be fairly cruel, but I also really enjoy how, well, harsh of a character she is. There are plenty of ice queen anime characters out there, but Saori’s characterization runs beyond “quiet, ignores people”, and leaves the moe out of it completely. She’s just not willing to take crap at all. I’m not sure I’d get along with her terribly well in real-life, but she’s a refreshing sort of female character.
She also contrasts with Sarashina quite a bit in the way she handles situations she doesn’t like. She’s just very calm and straightforward about it, none of the absurdity that Sarashina brings along. I do like Sarashina, too, but her character-type is a lot more common than Saori’s. I will note, though, that she doesn’t take it beyond believability.
Character I’m feeling bad for in this episode? Makoto. Poor kid. Hot for the teacher! That’s quite the first same-sex crush, isn’t it?
I’m sure a few people have fled Hourou Musuko with this episode, as what I think its true strength has become quite apparent, yet I also realize that slice-of-life makes some folks slice-of-sad (well, or slice-of-rage). Hourou Musuko handles things in such an understated manner that the entire thing ends up having a lot more impact than if everyone was screaming and throwing things. A lot of shows touching on LGBT themes often run to total melodrama, but HM avoids it by tempering its dead serious approach to these themes by having the most fraught moments be over things that most people deal with. Who hasn’t had inter-group tension over something like attraction? And who hasn’t had run-ins with people at school?
To most viewers, this comes off as a light ‘see, those people are just like everyone else’ thing. However, to some LGBT viewers, its a little more complex than that. Instead, the message becomes ‘see, those people who are like you are like everyone else’ which in turn becomes ‘you’re like everyone else’. On the face of it, not being a little snowflake may seem a bit bleak, but this is actually a comforting thing, as many folks are used to dealing with a sense of isolation and alienation. And even if those feelings are in the past, there’s still something utterly refreshing about seeing oneself reflected in pop culture.
I also like this approach since it isn’t so angst-soaked. There are characters who are unhappy in this show. But there’s this overall positive feeling about the show; it isn’t drowning in sorrow. None of these kids are complete social outcasts. They’ve got good friends, and they overall seem to be pretty happy. In fact, their tableau of friendship right at the end made me nostalgic for middle school! Or, ha, rather, a middle school that never was! But, seriously? Making me yearn for those days again? Well, shit, they must be making it all look pretty damn good, considering I’d rather gouge out my own eye teeth with a paint scraper than go re-visit my middle school era.
So, yes, the kids have their issues. But you know what? The kids are alright. What a wonderful concept.