Moving on to being second year students starts the kids down some new paths.
What They Say:
The seasons turn as spring comes again. Shuichi and his friends are now second-years, and Saori returns from an extensive absence. Everybody rejoices, but as new class assignments for the new term are revealed, Shuichi ends up in the same class as Doi, who was a pest back in grade school. Meanwhile, Yoshino is inspired to take a new step after seeing Chizuru wear a boys' uniform to school again. At the same time, Maho tells Shuichi to stop dressing like a girl since he's going out with Anna. Shuichi, after considerable deliberation, decides to tell Anna that he likes to dress up as a girl.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The passage of time in Wandering Son has felt a little odd from the start, especially since it was hard to pin things down at first, and the series is moving events forward again as the cast is now moving on to their second year and discovering who is in what class, which offers up some new fun. One of the changes that's made here is the return of Saori who was explained away with an 'extensive absence' for awhile. There's also mention of Doi, someone that used to bother Shu a lot back in grade school now being in his class which offers up some potential challenges. But what you want to know more about is just how the relationship between Shu and Anna is going now that some time has passed and they've moved on to this new level.
Shu going out with Anna certainly had its small ripple effect, especially on the understated moment where Takatsuki gets her hair cut short since she's not able to slowly pursue him like she was before. She had feeling for him for awhile but was never sure on how to act on it .She's dancing around the edge of the reason with others though so as to protect herself, but she's so close to actually saying something about it that you can feel her practically begging to be asked with how she responds. Interestingly, where some of the serious change comes from with this episode though is when Maho confronts Shu about his cross dressing and insists that he can't continue to go out with her if he does so, since as she put it, Anna is a normal girl. It's a tough thing for Shu since he wants to be true to himself but he genuinely likes Anna as well and doesn't want to jeopardize that.
Having Shu reveal his cross dressing nature to Anna is something of a surprise, as is her reaction where he finds it cute and even says he should dress up that way the next time they have a date. It's a conflicting message in a way since she actually says she's not weirded out by it and thinks of it as something of him being like a little sister because of it. Yet she talks about future dates at the same time, which makes you less sure of exactly what their relationship is like. This gets further complicated when kissing comes up among friends and he makes a play of sorts for her and they end up talking it out. You know there's something going on when Shu even says he's not sure if he wants to kiss her, but feels like he needs to go through the routine and expectations of a relationship in this way. The way these kids hold things close to the chest yet find ways of expressing them at the most awkward of times is very amusing, but it also cuts deep if you've been through the same yourself. Watching a karaoke session here alone makes for some of the most awkward moments in the series to date that they have to go through, Shu in particular.
Wandering Son brings in a lot of good material here as we see more of how Shu's relationship, if it can be called that in some ways, is developing with Anna and how she reacts to his revelation. These kids all have their hearts ready to be damaged and you can sense how it's happening quietly for some of them already, with Takatsuki hurting the most obviously but also some issues at hand for Shu as he doesn't know if he's just going through the motions or feeling something earnestly and honestly. There's a lot of wonderful material in here that deals with these kids in a way few shows ever even try to do and I love the strange honesty that continues to come out in the least expected of moments and ways. And like every episode prior, that ending song is exactly how the show makes you feel when you reach that moment. Very good stuff here.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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