“Love Me Gently”
If Shin Sekai Yori is the anime that always seems to end after five minutes, Hourou Musuko is the manga that always seems to end after a few panels.
How I wish this was a weekly – 20 pages after waiting a month just doesn’t cut it. And that makes chapters devoted to Ebina-san – as more than half this one was – somewhat problematic. I like him and find his dilemma interesting, and it’s defensible to say that he’s a very important character in framing the possibilities for Shuu’s future. But I get antsy when the focus even turns to characters I know well like Mako and Maho, because I want the spotlight to be on Nitorin, Anna and Takatsuki.
Ebina, for his part, is facing an interesting dilemma. He’s actually getting along with the girl his mother set up his marriage meeting with, and could almost see the lure of blending in – but at heart he still longs to be the guy in the wig, even if that means people staring and laughing. And because he sees that as potentially hurting his daughter he sees himself as selfish for having those feelings. The poor guy is in a no-win situation, really.
As for Nitorin, he’s having lunch with the guy he loaned his “cosplay” wig to for the sports festival antics, and being treated as payment for getting the wig sweaty and stinky. What really strikes me is just how hard it is sometimes to really get the mind around the concept of Shuu dating Anna – not because of his gender issues, but because compared to her he really does seem like a child. His embarrassed reaction at seeing Anna’s picture in his friend’s idol magazine – the blush, the sheepish smile, the soft “I like Anna-chan” – is obviously adorably sweet, but it’s the reaction of an innocent. And Anna, while sweet, is no innocent – and it’s been clear for a while that she wants to move things along faster than Nitorin seems ready to (though his body may feel differently).
I haven’t quite figured out Maho’s game when it comes to that relationship. To say she hasn’t been supportive would be a profound understatement. Why tell Shuu to go out with Anna dressed as a girl – is it because she thinks it’s embarrassing for Anna to be seen with Nitorin as a boy? I suppose it’s progress when she says “I can’t just tell you to stop dating her if you like her” – but what gives her the rate to tell either of them anything at all? Whatever Shuu and Anna decide – and they have plenty of challenges in their path despite the fact that it’s abundantly clear they sincerely have strong feelings for each other – it’s really none of Maho’s business whatsoever.