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Update: I just spoke to a representative at Holland America who both apologized to me and assured me that they are going to make sure this sort of thing does not happen on their line again.
My main goal with this post was the bring light to the issue and prevent it from happening to other transgender and genderqueer people in the future; and I feel more confident after speaking to HAL that they are going to educate their crews. Thank you all for reading and helping me raise awareness.
Now that I have some version of my opinions on the cruise out of the way (summary: fucking amazing, a++++++ would buy again), I have to vent a little. This post would more accurately be titled “Holland America: The Bad” as the things I am going to talk about in no way reflect the actions or attitudes of the people who ran JoCoCruiseCrazy 2, or the other people on the cruise for that matter.
I have read a fair amount of complaining online about the way they compressed episodes 10 and 11 of Hourou Musuko together into one for television, though having now watched it I think this makes a lot of sense. They basically compressed close to two volumes of the manga into one episode (two on the dvd/blu-ray, I guess, but that is still remarkably fast). This was probably the hardest portion of the manga to read.
I would describe Hourou Musuko as being lots of building up to a big climactic event followed by a long refractory period before the events start building to the next event. Shuu going to school in the girl’s uniform is the climax if there was one, I honestly thought they would end the anime season on it. Though I am very happy they are covering the fallout as well and even happier they condensed it down. Shuu hiding out in the nurse’s office felt like it was going to last forever, and in a way it did. He first goes to the nurse’s office in chapter 69 (the beginning of 10+11) and then stays there until they recruit him for the play in chapter 79 (which happened towards the end of 10+11) which means for readers almost a full year passed of Shuu being shut off from the rest of the world. It really did feel like forever, and every month that passed felt harder and harder to bear.
So yes, I am happy things worked out the way they did. Viewers get spared the long wait and things get to move right along to the next big event, the next year’s school festival which seems like a perfect place to end the series. I do feel sad about missing Yuki’s wonderful retelling of her own past, we only got a very brief glimpse of it here, though I am hopeful it will show up in full on the Blu-ray.
I am not sure I have anything else insightful to add (implying anything I have said thus far will be insightful to anyone else) though Seya continues to be the perfect boyfriend. When Maho hugs him at the end of the episode, I felt exactly the same way.
Not that I feel like the Hourou Musuko anime adaptation needs to justify its existence to me (it has done a pretty great job of bringing the manga to life already in my opinion) but the sequence in episode nine of Shuu dreaming of normal life at school as a girl was beautifully done and only made the events of the rest of the episode that much tougher to swallow.
I have stated before that I believe Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son) to be the best transgender piece of fiction in existence. Takako Shimura, the manga’s author, completely encapsulates the experience of being transgendered, both the feelings that come along with it and the social repercussions that experimenting with gender brings. With twelve volumes and counting (the series is still running in Japan), I keep expecting the story to veer away from reality and into the typical fantasy escapism that is so common in Japanese manga, but Shimura never strays from the path that seems completely believable, never sugar coats reality or makes it easy for her characters. Fantagraphics is going to be releasing the manga in the United States soon (or well, eventually as the first book seems to keep being pushed back).
In addition, right now an anime adaptation of Hourou Musuko is running on Japanese TV. You can watch English-subtitled episodes online at Crunchyroll. I have wanted to talk about this for a while now, to say something profound about it but I have not been able to think of anything.
To me, the adaptation works. I realize that it may be geared towards readers of the comic in that the first episode did not have nearly enough exposition and character introduction before jumping right into the story, but I hope that new viewers will be able to catch up and stick with it.
In general I am amazed that the show is being made at all, far be it for me to criticize, and while there are a few things I dislike (the opening theme in particular) I am so completely overjoyed at seeing these characters come to life in such a beautiful fashion that I do not want to spoil the moment.
So in conclusion, I cannot recommend this series (both the comic and the anime) enough. I want to put it up on a pedestal, to somehow ensure that for generations to come it is cherished and loved in the same way I feel about it. Please read, please watch this.