Wandering Son Episode #04 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, February 03, 2011
Release Date: Thursday, February 03, 2011

With the play taking more of a center stage and being called out on his feelings, Nitori's feeling even a bit more trapped than usual.

What They Say:
Episode 4 - I Give You My Name

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Wandering Son progresses, you really get a feel for a kind of storytelling that you often don't see in anime. While slice of life sows are out there in full force every season, few feel as true and honest as this one does. Most tend to spend time with brightly colored characters doing mundane but interesting things as they go from one minor event to another. There's most definitely a charm to it and we've seen a good many of them and enjoyed them. But Wandering Son provides an undercurrent of sadness and tension to it as the lead characters try to go through their days and lives with varying degrees of secrets that they either find shameful or difficult to express without being ridiculed. Though it's not always out there, there's a kind of trapped feeling about them that permeates much of their expression that's profoundly sad even as they do normal things.

Where the show takes a curious turn is when Nitori is at home with friends and gets confronted about his feelings with regards to Takatsuki. With the Romeo and Juliet play in mind, there's a curiosity about the way the two are and what kind of interest they have in each other. While that alone would make for a charming story idea, having it where they both dress differently when they can, him as a girl and she as a boy, it makes you wonder more about how such a relationship would be and, as Nitori is asked, does he want Takatsuki to like him as a boy or a girl and vice versa. Seeing the two of them out together on a day off both wearing clothes opposite of their gender makes this all the more apparent as it's the kind of date that really makes you wonder more about how they could connect on a more emotional level.

The time the two spend leads to Nitori being rather honest about what he wants out of life in a way when it comes to the way he dresses and feels. It's particularly amusing how it's done while he's in the girls bathroom with her outside the stall talking to him. Of course, he's not entirely clear and she doesn't quite get it, but it's one of those good bonding moments where Takatsuki realizes that he's saying some important things. This comes as the importance of the play ramps up as the teacher asks for people to help with it and that leads to quite a few people getting involved after Takatsuki offers her help. There's some curious and amusing rivalries that come from it and the reactions and cascade effect of it is priceless as it happens. Nitori for his part is entirely adorable with how he reacts to it all and handles some of the spillover effect from it.

In Summary:
Wandering Son has really found quite the balance in dealing with what's obviously its main draw with the cross dressing and transgender potential material and the simple aspect of the lives of these characters. It's a very delicate balance to be sure, but it walks it with such seeming ease and heart to it that you're so easily drawn in. I almost wish the few pieces from the opening part of the ending song were used more in the episode because it feels so wholly appropriate and when I reach it at the end of the episode, it just hits home all the much more. This episode brings us some really strong material overall with Nitori really being honest about things, at least in his mind as he says them, and it shifts what's happening with the play a bit more which could lead to a whole lot of heartache and hurt. But it could lead to so much more as well that it leaves you on edge wanting more right away which is a very good sign.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Crunchyroll
Running time: 24
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Wandering Son