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Wandering Son: Volume 1 by Shimura Takako

Wandering Son: Volume 1 (original 2003; edition 2011)

by Shimura Takako, Shimura Takako (Illustrator), Matt Thorn (Translator)

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1861663,528 (4.12)6
Title:Wandering Son: Volume 1
Authors:Shimura Takako
Other authors:Shimura Takako (Illustrator), Matt Thorn (Translator)
Info:Fantagraphics (2011), Hardcover, 192 pages
Collections:Your library, Read - owned
Tags:Japan, manga

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Wandering Son, Volume 1 by Shimura Takako (2003)


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... how do I even begin to review this volume?

I picked it up at the library today. I wasn't expecting to see it there, so I grabbed it at the first opportunity. The reason I was interested in this book is because it is a wonderful manga about two young trans people who become friends. I was desperate to read it because Japan's attitude to homosexuality and trans issues is a little bit of a mixed bag. Homosexuality (and everything else surrounding it) is kind of a niche, it is in and of itself its own little fetish and is cornered off, as it were, instead of being more widely-accepted and being mainstream.

So, any respresentations of LBTQIA people in Japanese media tend to be in that niche of 'sexual deviancy'. I was hopeful for this manga, though.

... I was not disappointed. Thank you, so much, Takako Shimura. This is a beautiful volume. Beautifully-drawn, simple, effortless lines, clean, neat, so well-polished, so easy to read. The text is also super simple, almost sparse but gives you just enough information to know where you are the in the character's arcs and conversations.

I love the two characters. They are beautiful and so well-written and so well-formed. They are quite young, so their language can be a little bit young, even a little bit problematic when referring to themselves, but Shimura handles this expertly. This is such a gentle, compassionate novel. It's so self-aware and carefully written. I teared up a lot (like a lot, like every 20 pages probably) and kept closing the book and holding it to my chest because it meant so much.

As someone who struggles with being cisgender, this was so validating to read and I can only imagine how validating it would be to read as a trans person. This is more than just a coming out story or a coming of age story.

The writing is simple enough but impactful enough that it would be a brilliant manga for a young person to read. (It is YA).

But if you've never read manga before, it would be easy for you to read, too. There's a couple of cool introductory pages where it talks about how to pronounce people's names and what certain suffixes mean and they also explain little tiny aspects of Japanese culture that might be an unknown to the reader. It's beautifully bound, in a really nice hardback edition and there are a few colour pages, too.

Please, if you ever read a manga, let it be this one.

Thank you, so much Takako Shimura. You have made such an important contribution to trans, YA, Japanese literature and to my life and I have no idea how to repay you expect to sing this books' praises from the rooftops and hope that someone hears me.

And seriously, where the fuck is the second volume because I NEED IT NOW D:

// oh, and a quick cw: for trans image / body issues and a couple of slurs. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
I watched a really interesting anime a few months back called Wandering Son which focuses on two main characters who are transgendered. It was such an intriguing storyline but I felt there was potential for so much more. Luckily, anime are generally based off of manga so I did a little search and Wandering Son, Vol.1 by Takako Shimura (translated by Matt Thorn) fell magically into my hands. As you can guess, there are a number of volumes in this series which consist of multiple issues. The story focuses on two fifth graders who share a secret: They both want to be the opposite gender. This is the second book that I've read which discusses gender identity but it's the first I've read with characters this young. There are the normal trials and tribulations of adolescence (puberty being one of them) as well as the added anxiety of gender identity and secrecy. It's an interesting storyline but unfortunately not a lot is covered in this volume (even less than in the anime) so I think I'm going to have to read several more before I get the more that I was craving. (I'm not sure if I'm interested enough to continue honestly.) The majority of the artwork is average but there are a few pages which really shine. If you're looking for an anime/manga combination that explores a topic which you may or may not be overly familiar with then you might want to give this one a chance...as long as you understand you'll have to be committed for the long haul. 5/10 since this volume fell short of my expectations. ( )
  AliceaP | Jul 15, 2016 |
This volume introduces Nitori Shuichi (original Japanese name order – family name first), a shy child who was born a boy but secretly dreams about being a girl. We also meet Takatsuki Yoshino, who secretly dresses as a boy and takes a train to places where no one thinks of her as a girl. And we meet Chiba Saori, a girl who wants to be a Christian and has been encouraging Shuichi's desire to dress as a girl (most of the characters refer to each other by their family names, but I'm going to try to stick with their given names to avoid confusion later on). Saori convinces the class to put on a play where girls dress as boys and boys dress as girls, so that Shuichi can dress as a girl without anyone thinking anything of it.

So far, this is a very spare, gentle, and awkward story. The primary reason I was on edge was because of what could happen. At any moment, characters' secret desires might be revealed to everyone. I felt bad for Yoshino, who was made fun of for having her first period, and Shuichi, who wanted so badly to have long hair and wear pretty dresses.

I checked this series out during my vacation because it had gotten a lot of buzz, and I wanted to finally see what it was like. Which maybe meant that my expectations were a little too high. It's a nice story, but not overwhelmingly awesome. However, considering how many manga series treat cross-dressing as a joke, and how few transgender characters there are who aren't played for laughs, Wandering Son definitely stands out.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Dec 20, 2015 |
A cute nice story about a boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who wants to be a boy. The first volume was just getting to know the characters and feeling out the situation. It will be interesting to see where this goes. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
A cute nice story about a boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who wants to be a boy. The first volume was just getting to know the characters and feeling out the situation. It will be interesting to see where this goes. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shimura Takakoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thorn, MattTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My big sister says her dream is to become Maiko's classmate in an idol high school.
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"The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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