The cultural festival has arrived and it's time to put on the play before an actual audience.
What They Say:
Episode 6 - Cultural Festival
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The culture festival has arrived and everyone is getting ready for things. We've seen this act before in numerous other shows but when you get a show like Wandering Son, it has a very different feel to it. You know it will avoid the usual big dramatic moments, the overacting and the bigger than life feeling. So much of it feels like reality in a way that it's almost disconcerting. The maid café for example has normal sheets, plates and cups rather than anything elaborate and the streamers that are included are simple but effective. It looks much more honest than almost every other show out there and that helps to reinforce the way you're supposed to take things seriously when it comes to the characters and their emotions as it's being played straight as well.
Other activities have the same feeling, such as the haunted classroom that's created which has some cute moments to it as the students are rather bland about it overall. Some of the adults who walk through are cute in their own way as well as they look back at all of it with fondness, even down to the restroom signs and the like. There's a certain nostalgia that's easily created here for the adults who return and there's something calming about the fact that the kids are acting the same way they did when they were kids in similar situations. The festival has a simple but wonderful feel about it as it goes through the first half and shows most of the main cast going about their various jobs or preparing for their own activities such as the play itself.
The quiet nervousness before the play is a really welcome aspect as well. Rather than the large and loud moments as they panic and freak out, there's a lot of calm but you can see how they feel about it as they get ready to perform. Nitori's performance when he gets out there is hard to watch to be sure, because it feels so honest as he gets flustered and panics at first, and you wonder which way will it go. The play itself certainly has its charms and the reactions of others feels about right, both for those watching and the trio that leaves so as to not be a distraction. While my tolerance level for anime school plays has dropped significantly over the years, this one manages to work rather well since it keeps it short overall, focuses on certain key moments and allows for the cross dressing to be an interesting aspect of it that doesn't dominate it but also holds true to the way it was first acted out centuries ago.
Wandering Son gets through the cultural festival and play storyline fairly easily and without it becoming a major issue. While we've seen the play as a way that certain characters have come together, especially with everyone offering to help Nitori write it, it didn't turn into a defining moment or a statement about anything either. It gave us the kids going through an important coming of age experience with their peers as well as the adults who have come to view it through rose colored glasses. There's a strong nostalgia to be found in here, made even more blunt by the style of animation, but the overall look and design of the show plays heavily into drawing you to feel as one with the cast. I definitely came away appreciating everything that happens here and that it avoided being over the top or as a game changing moment. It's simply a moment in life, albeit one fraught with fun, nervousness, panic and worries.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.