“She’s really risque in my dreams. She likes that we wear matching underwear, too.”
Life in certainly complicated for Shuuichi Nitori.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, what really makes Hourou Musuko stand out from the pack for me is that Takako-sensei manages to make her cast – especially Nitorin, of course – so exceptional while still having to struggle with completely normal adolescent issues. As if to prove my point, here are some of the excepts from Shuu’s “My Dream is…” essay.
- “Being able to paint my nails well”
- “To not feel guilty about masturbating”
- “To have sex”
- “Getting a voice like Godzilla”
- “Getting thick body hair like a gorilla”
- “Being reborn as a girl, no matter what”
- “To come to terms with my dream”
The trend in Hourou Musuko lately has definitely been melancholy (Nitorin uses the word to describe himself in this chapter) and somewhat ominous about the future. I’m still not sure where Takako is headed with this story, but what’s becoming more and more clear is that Shuu is well aware that the status quo of his existence is – for better or worse – becoming impossible to maintain (and of the hurt it’s causing his mother). We’re reminded pretty much every chapter (as is he) of that fact with some incident or another – this time the fact that Shuu has grown taller than Seya. The issue, of course, is not just that Shuu is hopelessly confused about who he is – that’s been the case for the entire series – but that he’s now hopelessly confused about who he wants to be.
Takako also cranks up the frankness of the series in a big way in this chapter. Not only do we see an image straight from Nitorin’s erotic dream – he and Anna kissing on a bed, wearing only matching bra and panties – but we see him engaged in an act of self-gratification twice, once while on the phone with Anna. It’s a reminder that Nitorin is very much no longer the child he was – something Takako has been reminding us of in various ways for several chapters now, but never so directly and insistently.
“So God – which are lies, and which are my real feelings? Even I don’t know. I don’t want to know.”
I’ve been worried for Shuu ever since the first chapter of Hourou Musuko, but never more so than now. As dark a ride as adolescence is even in less challenging situations, Takako has always struck a balanced tone with this series, between isolation and friendship, judgment and acceptance, and ultimately what seemed to matter most is that Shuu was never truly alone in facing it. The growing sense now, though, is that his journey is taking him to a place where no one – not even Takatsuki – can help him on his path. There are decisions that only he can make, and he’s going to have to make them soon.