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Manga Review: Wandering Son Volume Three by Shimura Takako

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Wandering Son Volume Three is a manga by Shimura Takako, and it was published in North America by Fantagraphics Books in 2012. 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.

Shuichi’s older sister, Maho goes to a modeling agency in the hopes of being selected so she can work with her idol, Maiko. She makes Shuichi come along with her to the “cattle call.” When it’s her turn, Maho says that if they accept her, they also have to accept Shuichi because she says he’s cuter than most girls when he’s dressed like a girl. Maho also gets the idea to make Shuichi dress up as a girl and go on dates with Seya, her classmate who met Shuichi when he was dressed as a girl.

Meanwhile, one of the school bullies gets his hands on the diary that Shuichi and Yoshino have been sharing back and forth; the bully reads it aloud. Yoshino becomes angry and rips up the diary, and refuses to acknowledge Shuichi. While Yoshino is ignoring Shuichi, he makes friends with a classmate named Makoto; it turns out Makoto shares Shuichi’s secret.

This volume of Wandering Son contains a lot of teenage drama, and it’s very realistic teenage drama. My 14-year-old daughter has also been reading this series, and when we talked about this volume, she said that while the exact situations may not have been the same, the type of drama taking place between the characters was reminiscent to a lot of the drama she saw during her years in middle school. Considering that many of the characters are in sixth and seventh grade, her comparison with middle school drama and antics are right on.

The art continues to be rather simplistic in nature, but the simplicity works for Takako’s storytelling. However, there is one drawing that really stands out in this volume; over pages 130 and 131, there’s a detailed drawing of Seya standing in front of a tank at the aquarium. Not only does the fact that it spans two pages make it stand out, but it’s also one of the few drawings in this volume to utilize quite a bit of detail.

I have to say that the cover and the first couple of pages confuse me. On the cover, a winter scene is being depicted, and on the inside pages describing the characters, Shuichi and Yoshino are dressed like Santa’s elves. However, there is nothing in this volume that is set either during winter or during the Christmas season, so these art choices are a little puzzling.

The Wandering Son manga series continues to impress me with its frank look at both the lives of young people and at LGBT issues. Wandering Son is a manga series that’s really worth checking out.

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About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.