(放浪息子, Hōrō Musuko
?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Takako Shimura. It began serialization in the December 2002 issue of the monthly seinen manga magazine Comic Beam
. The first tankōbon
volume was released by Enterbrain in July 2003 in Japan; as of March 2010, ten volumes have been released. The series is licensed in English by Fantagraphics Books, which is scheduled to release the first volume in North America in March 2011. An anime adaptation produced by AIC Classic and directed by Ei Aoki will begin airing in Japan in January 2011.
The story depicts a young boy named Shūichi Nitori who wants to be a girl, and his friend Yoshino Takatsuki, a girl who wants to be a boy. The series deals with issues such as transsexuality, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty. Shimura was originally going to write the story about a girl in high school who wants to be a boy, but she realized that a boy who wants to become a girl before entering into puberty would have a lot of worries related to growing up, and changed the story to fit this model. Wandering Son
was selected as a recommended work by the awards jury of the tenth Japan Media Arts Festival in 2006. The series has been lauded for its use of gender reversal as the core of the story, though the emotional realism of the young characters has been called into question.
At the start of Wandering Son
, Shūichi Nitori is a young, effeminate boy in the fifth grade who transfers into a new school where he quickly becomes friends with a tall, boyish girl in his class named Yoshino Takatsuki. Yoshino soon learns of Shūichi's desire to be a girl and tells him that she wants to be a boy. Shūichi also becomes friends with two other girls in his class: Saori Chiba and Kanako Sasa. Saori instantly takes a liking to Shūichi and continuously encourages him to cross-dress.
After Shūichi and his friends enter sixth grade, Yoshino cuts her hair to a short, boyish style. Shūichi meets a boy his age from another class named Makoto Ariga who also secretly wants to be a girl. Shūichi and Yoshino meet an adult transsexual woman named Yuki living with a man named Shiina. Shūichi and Yoshino become friends with Yuki and Shiina and continue meeting with them. Shūichi's older sister Maho becomes a model and eventually becomes friends with Maico, a teen model whom she idolizes, and two other teen models: Tamaki Satō and Anna Suehiro. Maho gets a boyfriend, Riku Seya, and Shūichi confesses to Yoshino he likes her, but she cannot reciprocate his feelings. After Saori learns of this, she confesses she likes Shūichi, but he too cannot return her feelings. This results in a falling-out between Shūichi's friends as they prepare to enter junior high school.
In junior high school, they meet a tall, eccentric girl who befriends everyone named Chizuru Sarashina and her prickly friend Momoko Shirai, who does not get along well with the others—especially Saori. Eventually, Saori and Yoshino rejoin Shūichi's group of friends, though Saori says she still hates Yoshino and Momoko. Shūichi and Anna start dating, much to the surprise of his friends and sister. Yoshino and Saori manage to halfway repair their friendship, though Saori is still standoffish to others.