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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  • k-off
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 08:07 AM)
    But the MC keeps digging a deeper hole for himself every chapter that it gets frustrating to read.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 06:23 AM)
    @Aidan in hindsight, you missed Ore ga Doutei wi Sutetara- it’s a textbook definition of an antiharem.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 05:44 AM)
    @Friend I’ll be glad to give you guys advice about NYC and LA if you need it. Like where to avoid, where to eat, sleep, etc.
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 04:51 AM)
    @Emma I really can’t wait to see where that one goes. It’s been a scintillating read so far. I’m mostl interested in the whole Ecchan plotline. Also, yeah, I have been flying through these recs. I just have been severely depressed this past week or so and as a result have felt an intense craving for this type of manga.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 04:21 AM)
    @Friend: I understand that, and true the tickets themselves will be expensive (unless you plan this smartly and avoid the busy seasons), but once you’re here we’ll treat you guys and cover the activities.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 02:51 AM)
    @Realist: I’m hearing very promising things about the untranslated chapters of kuzu no honkai, that it gets pretty crazy later on.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 02:50 AM)
    @Friend But you live in Stockholm- you’re pretty rich.
  • Friend
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 02:45 AM)
    *My friends and I are
  • Friend
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 02:45 AM)
    @Bam It all depends on our budget X( we’re all artists, we’re poor XD
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 29. 2014 02:43 AM)
    @Friend: would be a pleasure. I’m in Northern California but if you’re coming to the US then it would be a shame to miss the chance to see San Fransisco anyways, specially given your artistic inclinations. So try to make that a destination ;)

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