Wandering Son

Shimura, Takako (Author) and Thorn, Matt (Translator). (2011). Wandering Son, Volume 1. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books.

This lovely graphic novel collects the first 8 chapters of manga serial Wandering Son, written and illustrated by Shimura Takako.  This volume was first published in Japan in 2003 by Enterbrain; this 2011 Fantagraphics edition is the first English version published in North America.  As of this review, 6 of the 15 volumes have been released in English.  There is also a 12-episode anime adaptation that aired on television in Japan in 2011 and was then released on BD/DVD.

Wandering Son follows two friends starting in the fifth grade.  Shuichi Nitori is shy and effeminate and described as a “boy who wants to be a girl.”  Yoshino Takatsuki is described as handsome and cool, and is a “girl who wants to be a boy.”  Together they explore gender identity in terms of clothing, hair styles, and behavior, while dealing with entering puberty and the rigors of schoolwork and social life.  The art is simple and very evocative, expressing very well the pace and feel of the story, which is slow and rather dreamlike.  Although there has been some criticism of the somewhat unrealistic portrayal of the characters’ age level, Wandering Son has enjoyed very positive reception and was selected for the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) 2012 Great Graphic Novels Top Ten list.  I believe that fans of coming-of-age manga will very much enjoy this series, regardless of their own gender identity.

About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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