Posted by psgels on 27 January 2011 with categories: Hourou Musuko




Most of the time when anime use far-away shots, this is to save budget: after all, it’s easier to draw something smaller because you don’t need as much detail. Hourou Musuko however puts a great amount of detail into these shots, making them look just great. It’s really something that could not be done before the era of HD. On top of that, I also love the attention this series spends on its backgrounds. I don’t mean the regular background art: that’s just some art with a watercolour filter over it. Instead, I love how this show draws all of the people in the background, with all sorts of realistic poses and make them more than a bunch of cardboard copy-pasted cut-outs that are just there to fill space.

This episode, among many others, also introduced a staple of school-based series: the school festival. Interestingly, with some help from Saori the thing that the class ended up doing was a gender-bender play. Interestingly, the students get to write the play themselves (by Shuuichi and Saori, to be exact). It’s here where Shuuichi shows that he’s actually a capable writer, but like most writers of his age, he’s very much into self-insert fan-fiction.

Oh, and this series broke another big taboo here as well: some people actually have a relationship with each other. Maho (Shuuichi’s sister) actually has a boyfriend; romance isn’t limited to a bunch of love triangles surrounding the main couple! And even the lead couple is more than just “will they won’t they”: while it’s true that it’s still uncertain whether or not they will end up together, it does seem like they actually both considered to go into a relationship, but chose to just stay as friends. That’s actually much better compared to all of those character that are oblivious to their own feelings and refuse to take their relationships anywhere.

Probably the biggest question-mark of this episode was: who actually knows about Shuuichi wanting to be a girl, and who actually knows about about Yoshino wanting to be a girl? I’m suspecting that very few know about the latter, but at this point I’m not quite sure why exactly Mahou didn’t want her boyfriend to see her brother, because Riku seemed more surprised at Maho wanting to strip her brother than that brother actually walking around in girls’ clothes.

Overall it’s a great depiction of middle schoolers, though. Their actions at times are a bit irrational, like when Saori tried to dress up Shuuichi despite earlier telling him not to, and at the same time it’s not like this show is caught up in its own angst at all: the tension comes and goes very quickly and naturally. Is it as good as Aoi Hana, though? At this point, I’d say not yet: Aoi Hana brought in even more layers in making its characters feel alive. At the same time though, I don’t see it doomed to remain in Aoi Hana’s shadow: if the rest of the episodes are good enough, I can really see this show getting progressively better as it goes on.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

9 Responses

  1. Firechick says:

    Umm, actually, Yoshino wants to be a BOY. Small error.

  2. iggycakes says:

    Well, since the anime started the series off when the main characters enter middle school, there’s a bit of background story missing. Anyway, Riku (or Seya, whichever) was originally interested in Shuu because he thought Shu was a girl. When Riku finds out that Shu’s a boy, he gets mad at Maho… but that works out in the end as you can see Maho and Riku are now dating. So basically, Maho doesn’t want Riku to see Shu crossdressing because of that whole thing. (Also, I’m pretty sure Maho has a complex about her little brother being much cuter than herself. She might be afraid that Riku still thinks that Shu is cuter or something. I doubt Maho would admit that to herself though)

  3. dthiswhtuseek says:

    Maho has already said something along those lines already which is why her complex sort of fluctuates later on depending on the situation.

  4. Lilyvess says:

    “but at this point I’m not quite sure why exactly Mahou didn’t want her boyfriend to see her brother, because Riku seemed more surprised at Maho wanting to strip her brother than that brother actually walking around in girls’ clothes.”

    Episode two stated that Riku already saw Nitori as a girl and thought Nitori was cute. This causes Maho some jealousy issues, afraid Riku will think Nitori is cuter than her.

  5. Sapphire says:

    Great episode review, psgels. I liked it very much!

  6. Kanao says:

    Guys… your comments are a bit spoiler-ish. If the anime covered it at all in episode 2, I didn’t notice it. I’m sure they plan to do a small flashback or two to explain it as it was fairly important in the manga…

  7. dthiswhtuseek says:

    Yeah, this show can be pretty subtle about certain plot points ain’t it?

  8. Juliancan says:

    Well, I think this one has a better execution in terms of the characters’ psychology.

    I mean, In Aoi Hana, it was quite easy introducing many things because some things were already laid upon them such as the childhood friend cliché. Also, the fact that Aoi Hana was set in high school significantly facilitates the storyline since they already have been in some important phases of adolescence and.. Well you cannot expect Hourou Musuko to be overwhelmingly deep in a philosophical kind of way considering that they are children who act on their primal desires.

  9. JP says:

    The dialog is too on the nose and these characters speak as if they are adults (not realistic at all). And the decision to do a “genderbender” play just smacks of obviousness. Dropping the show, mainly because I understood the characters in the great opening episode and the follow up second episode, and now I’m just bored.

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  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    But Eva just left a bad taste in my mouth as a whole, I understand that Bam you are very passinette about it and thats fine, I wasn’t aiming to provoke. I just feel that its frustrating that like alot of certain anime, that I am not allowed to dislike it or have reason to.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    If anything at least I found Ikuhara’s symbolism while obvious at least in utena and straightforward was at least visually interesting to look at.
    I love every David Lynch film and again I thought Lain was exceptional.

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