Manga Review: Wandering Son Volume Seven

Wandering Son Volume Seven is a manga by Shimura Takako, and it was published in North America by Fantagraphics Books in 2014. I don’t see a rating listed anywhere on this volume, but I would personally recommend Wandering Son to manga readers who are 13 or 14 years of age and older.

Wandering Son Volume 7
Written by: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Enterbrain
English Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Release Date: September 7, 2014

Wandering Son tells the story of two characters: Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki. On the back of the first volume of the series, Fantagraphics describes Shuichi as a boy who wants to be a girl and Yoshino as a girl who wants to be a boy. Back in the fifth grade, they both enjoyed dressing as the opposite gender, and their friends would encourage them; in my view, most of their friends viewed this more as fun and games. However, it’s obvious that it’s not just a game for both Shuichi and Yoshino. Shuichi’s older sister, Maho, knows about Shuichi dressing up as a girl, and she’s against it. Shuichi tries to hide this from Maho.

As the series progresses and sees the characters going through puberty, most of the characters are simply dealing with regular issues encountered during adolescence. However, for Shuichi, Yoshino, and their friend, Makoto Ariga, they are also dealing with their gender identities.

This volume sees Momoko becoming jealous of how much time Chizuru spends around Shuichi and the others, to the point where she’s either trying to exclude them from activities or Momoko stays away from activities in order to not be around them. With the way this tension has been building, I have a sneaking suspicion that Momoko is going to be completely breaking away from Chizuru and the others at some point.

Meanwhile, Shuichi develops acne and is quite self-conscious about it. Shuichi enlists help from Anna, a model who works with Maho. One thing leads to another, and Anna ends up becoming Shuichi’s girlfriend. Honestly, I hadn’t seen that development coming, so I was caught off-guard. It’s an interesting development for the series. I like it, and I think it works.

Later, when Shuichi dresses as a girl and Yoshino dresses a boy and they go to visit Yuki, Yoshino learns about Shuichi and Anna. When they head home, Yoshino suggests that they stop doing what they’ve been doing because Anna wouldn’t like it. I’m sure that this comment will stick with Shuichi and potentially have an effect on how Shuichi approaches the relationship with Anna. And while I like Shuichi’s relationship with Anna, I’m afraid something’s going to happen to cause it to fall apart before the end of the series.

But quite a bit of the volume focuses on Saori being jealous of Yoshino because of feelings that Saori has for Shuichi. During a confrontation, Yoshino blurts out that Shuichi is dating Anna, and Saori disappears from school and mopes around at home. Yoshino gets the job of taking homework to Saori, and tries to convince Saori that they no longer have a reason to fight. While that’s not necessarily successful, Yoshino convinces Saori to go on the class skip trip; during the trip, Saori and Yoshino have a conversation where Soari learns of Yoshino’s desire to be a boy. With Saori’s attitude up to this point, I was afraid that she’d make fun of Yoshino, but she didn’t. At this point, I doubt that these two will ever truly be friends again, but it appears that Saori is at least willing to interact with Yoshino without being forced to.

With each volume I read of Wandering Son, I continue to be impressed with Takako’s depiction of the subjects of gender identity, adolescence, and teenage drama. I also appreciate the sensitivity that Takako uses when depicting these subjects. And the progression of the overall story up to this point has been realistic and has made Wandering Son an enjoyable reading experience.

While this particular volume threw in some surprises I hadn’t expected, these events are realistic for the story that’s being told. And the characters continue to be endearing to the reader, and now I have to wait impatiently in order to read the next volume of the series. I read a rumor that Volume Eight is supposed to come out in May 2015, but I haven’t seen anything to corroborate this rumor. Regardless of when Volume Eight comes out, there’s still going to be a wait in order to find out what happens to Nitori, Yoshino, and the others.

Wandering Son has been included on the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table Rainbow list for three years in a row, and it was the first manga to ever be included on the list. In addition, the series was selected by the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association division as one of the top 10 graphic novels for teens in 2012. Now that I’ve read the first seven volumes of Wandering Son, I can see why the series has been included on both of these lists.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Wandering Son Volume Seven that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional posts about Wandering Son:

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