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Manga Review: Wandering Son Volume Two by Shimura Takako

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Wandering Son Volume Two 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.

At the beginning of Volume Two, Shuichi and Yoshino, along with their friends, enter the sixth grade. Shuichi continues dressing as a girl, and also purchases a long-haired wig to help out with this.

One day, Shuichi is home from school with a fever, and has dressed up in the wig and girl outfit. One of Shuichi’s older sister’s classmates comes over to return a notebook, and becomes interested in Shuichi. Unfortunately, this event ends up revealing Shuichi’s secret to Maho.

While Yoshino and Shuichi are out on the town (with Yoshino wearing boys’ clothes and Shuichi wearing girls’ clothes and the wig), they meet an adult woman named Yuki who Yoshino had met in the first volume while dressed as a guy. They continue seeing Yuki, and learn that there’s more to Yuki than meets the eye. The volume ends with Shuichi and the other sixth graders going on a class trip, and Shuichi being bullied by one of the boys that’s on the trip.

I have to say that I hadn’t anticipated the twist with Yuki, so it was something that genuinely caught me off-guard. This volume also shows a realistic depiction of bullying; even though the boy doing the bullying doesn’t know Shuichi’s secret, the bully relies on stereotypes to start calling Shuichi an insult that is hurled at gay men.

I was a little concerned for Yoshino and Shuichi when they started hanging out with Yuki and Yuki’s partner. When they both come home later than expected one evening after spending time with them, I was glad to see their parents acting realistically.

When it comes to the art, the backgrounds are still on the minimalistic side. However, I think that the drawings of the actual characters were a little stronger in this volume. Even though the art may not be overly detailed, I think that the more minimal and simplistic art works for the story being told in this series. The main characters are still rather young and are still learning about the world, and I think the simplistic art works to reinforce this idea to the reader.

Just like the first volume, a Japanese pronunciation guide and a guide to the Japanese honorifics are included in this volume. Translator Matt Thorn also includes an essay called, “Transgendered in Japan,” and it helps to give the reader more of an understanding of the attitudes toward homosexuality in Japan, which helps to provide some context for Wandering Son.

I was just as impressed with the second volume of Wandering Son as I was with the first volume. I would recommend this manga series to readers who have an appreciation for literature that concerns LGBT issues.

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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.