Posted 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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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 12:29 PM)
    I just read the book. Never saw the films.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:18 AM)
    Lolita is one of my favourite films of all time.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:17 AM)
    It is easy to see however how people would wander to seeing lolita herself as a victim as people traditionally see the child as the victim in that situation.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 11:15 AM)
    @Aidan: My opinion of lolita matches yours. However I would like to ask of the film adaptations which one worked better for you, the one with James mason or the one with Jeremy Irons?
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    I didn’t like how people tended to degrade the characters just to match their view and forcefully paint black and white over it. It ain’t that simple.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:47 AM)
    For example I read Lolita recently. In my opinion it was about two remarkable flawed indivuals. Horrible in there own ways. However when I looked at reviews of it I couldn’t help but notice that people tended to take sides. Either Humbert was the naive man taken in by a succubus or Lolita was the poor stupid girl abused by a monster.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:40 AM)
    One of the reason I feel we hear about world war 2 far more than world war 1 is that it can be so easily be portrayed as good vs evil. Hitler was a perfect supervillain. Maybe even birthed the supervillain in fiction. It wasn’t like world war 1 which was not just one countries fault and was mainly boring trench fights. Moral complexity isn’t really what the masses like. They have a tendency to paint things black and white.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Friend, heard of it. No real interest in playing it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:27 AM)
    @Mikey, I know apocalypse now was based on heart of darkness. It’s just that the man who made spec ops said it was based on Heart of darkness but he took way more from apocalypse now than he did from Heart of darkness.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Apr 16. 2014 10:25 AM)
    @Ninjarealist, I had a peak at the congo free state. Damn. You gotta wonder how someone pulls shit like this off and look in the mirrior and not think “Man, I am such an asshole.” Surprising that you hear bitching about 9/11 all the time and yet barely anything about this.
    It’s surprising the kind of unbelievable stuff that went down in history. For one I never knew Columbus was such a monster.

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