Thursday, 13 January 2011

Wandering Son - Episode 1

Starting a new school is a pretty big deal at the best of times... however, when you're starting a new school and you're the first episode of a noitaminA timeslot series, you're pretty much guaranteed a pretty hefty slice of thought-provoking drama to chew on.

Certainly, Wandering Son wastes no time in dumping us slap-bang into the middle of its ensemble of characters as they begin their middle school life with an initial focus upon Nitori, a boy who complains of the discomfort of his new uniform for reasons that soon become clear.  With a class introductory session that's missing said classes new teacher entirely (you can't get the staff these days), the normally formal process of introducing yourself to your new classmates soon becomes corrupted by rumours Nitori dating a girl named Yoshino Takatsuki, which of course causes quite a commotion.

Of course, it's Nitori and Takatsuki who are the two main players in this series as this opening episode sets up the relationship for the viewer as well as what makes this show unique - the fact that the former wants to dress as a girl while the latter would far rather look like a boy.  They aren't the only ones judging by this opening either, although with all of that established it's Nitori who we really follow as we see him supported by his friends, holding an odd sort of relationship with his sister, and of course mulling over his friendship with Takatsuki.

Truth be told, I'm struggling to know what to say about this first episode of Wandering Son simply because I feel like I haven't processed it in head yet.  Given the way the series jumps into its story and subject matter there's a lot to take in and plenty of complex inter-relationships to ponder, and given the subtle nature in which much of this is presented it requires some genuine thought as opposed to the series opting for flashing neon lights which tell you what you should be thinking or feeling.

The good news is that it's that under-stated, confident and subtle air to the series that makes it feel so compelling here - this is a series that doesn't feel the need to spell things out for us, and this bodes well for a story which I suspect will generate plenty of unique takes and opinions amongst those who watch it.  I'm going to refrain from any such opinions at this early stage about the content of the series for the reason I expressed at the start of the last paragraph, but there's certainly an equal and slightly odd beauty about the show's animation style - at times it looks gorgeous, while its aesthetic is a clear attempt to keep the feel of the manga intact with generally good results.. although yes, everyone does have very shiny hair.

Overall then, I'm excited for Wandering Son - not in a "wow, that cliffhanger means that next week can't come soon enough" kind of way, but in the sense that there's a huge amount of potential within this series in terms of drama and exploration of gender, relationships and so on,while the show also looks quite ready to mix itself in with the odd slither of humour to good effect too.  Oh, and I'm a sucker for Clair de Lune as well, which always helps I suppose.

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