The final days before the cultural festival leads to a lot of conversations, healing and moving forward for this middle school group of kids.
What They Say:
Shuichi is put in charge of the script for the genderbent play for the cultural festival, so he participates in practice, while staying in the nurse's office during the day. Doi improvisation on Shuichi's script is a surprising hit, so Shuichi grits his teeth and asks Doi to help with the script. Meanwhile, Saori invites Shuichi over to wear girls' clothes for the first time in a while. Things are almost back to the way they were, but nevertheless... Shuichi reflects as he looks at Saori's dresses. And finally, the cultural festival is here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The cultural festival is about to hit and there's a lot of activity going on throughout the school. One of the classes is doing a presentation at city hall to talk about the history of the city, others are doing the painting and designing of banners and other such usual activities. For Shu's class, they're working through the script for the play but it's turned a little problematic. While Shu has written a decent script, it's not exactly working too well because the dialogue is too stiff and wooden. Doi sort of saves the day with his adlibs, cruel they may be, and that puts the play on a slightly different course as he now asks Doi for help in writing it. The relationship between these two young men is truly awkward in a number of ways since it's uncertain of where it will really go.
Outside of school, Shu has started to gain back some of his relationships with Takatsuki after the way things had gone and there's actually a very pleasant sequence involving three of them trying on clothes which has Shu thinking again and again that he really doesn't care for guys clothes since they're just so ordinary compared to what women can wear. It's good to see Shu patching things up where he can after all that has happened, abbreviated though it may be from the previous episode that combined two into one, and to see that they're making progress on being friends again. The same is true with Doi as the two of them work together on the script for the play, getting along in a way that they didn't years ago yet still having a little edge of nervousness about it all.
Much of the episode is made up of the small moments as they go through their lives at this stage, slowly working things out in partial form, lots of things left unsaid but kind of understood and largely working towards the culture festival. There are some good conversations to be had at times, showing what middle school kids are going through in general as well as the special situation that Shu and Takatsuki go through and how it impacts and ripples out to others. There's also the really interesting aspect that's play where Anna tells Shu that no matter how he looked and acted, she always viewed him as a boy, and not a girl, which is why she had so little issue with it. There's some exceptionally good material with this segment, both in what goes on between them and with those watching on from elsewhere, that reveals much about a very basic truth. Even with what Shu has been like, he's still really just an ordinary boy.
Wandering Son brings things to a close in the right way here as it covers the various relationships and feelings of its core cast of characters. While it does that, it leaves a lot of it very open to interpretation while basically saying that life does go on, changes do happen and the way we're perceived is often very different from how we perceive ourselves. Shu has gone through a lot of things over the course of the show and he's come out better for it, though some now see that he's not quite as special as they though. And Shu, for his part, never thought of himself as special but just tried to be who he was even though there were consequences. There's a lot to like with this show, even with its kind of stilted and disjointed storytelling at times, and it's one that I think will have good replay value in a full sitting with all the episodes available. It's the kind of show that won't do well in this market for home video here, but would be an ideal pickup for the sake of diversity if the license is cheap enough. Definitely one to have in any collection, and worth watching the simulcast if you think it will never happen.
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.