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12 days of anime #3 – Courage [Hourou Musuko]

23.12.2015

Hmmm, Nitori…

HM 8 - sing

Nitori doesn’t seem like a character that I would like at first. Sometimes I find it hard to tolerate timid people. Whenever they need to ask you for something, their voice is too soft. They choose safe and kind words and are always afraid that they may upset you in one way or another. They have the tendency to beat around the bush while your impatience boils. If I’m in the wrong mood, their behaviour may seem irritating. (But admittedly, I’ll classify myself as having traits of shyness, so it’s no wonder I hate myself.) If I were to judge Nitori some months ago when I first read the manga, I would say that he’s shy, soft, meek, or something like that. On reconsidering for some time, I may change the impression to “courageous” and approve of the fact that three beautiful young girls in the series fall for him.

Since I’m keen on Shimura Takako as the original creator behind Hourou Musuko and Aoi Hana, I have to say that she has bestowed a right mix of characteristics to Nitori. I didn’t feel remotely interested in him initially. The boy shows signs that I would hate in other people, but he is also so likeable that it’s not easy to put a finger on what secret ingredients are put into outlining him until the last anime episode spells it out to me. I’m slow to notice indeed, very much like Takatsuki.

Anna:    And you were so cool. You might look like this shy boy, but you always speak your mind. I’ve always seen you as a boy. Even though you look like a girl, I didn’t feel like you were one. But when I heard you went to school in a sailor uniform, I got confused. That’s why I said those things. I’m sorry.

Nitori:   I’m still in love with you. But, well… This is how I am, so it might make you uncomfortable.

Anna:    How can you say that stuff like it’s no big deal?!

~ Hourou Musuko 12 ~

HM 7 - guilty Takatsuki

As it took me quite a few months to recognize Nitori’s courage, it took about the same amount of time to admit that I do identify to a greater extent with Takatsuki. She is a coward, so am I. Transgender issues somehow mystify me and I don’t feel comfortable talking about it when my knowledge is so little. To me, the story of Takatsuki resembles the stories of many girls growing up and wanting to deny changes that happen to their body, then eventually they accept that nothing can be changed and warm up to reality. Takatsuki, unfortunately, wasn’t born with the attitude of a rebel. She had great fun looking like a boy because people don’t judge tomboys. But as Takatsuki enters high school and puberty, the distinction between boys ang girls are more marked. She soon loses the upper hand, desperately waiting for some miracle to rescue her from the state of confusion.

Between the two main characters, Takatsuki appears to be the stronger with a mature look and composure, yet her incongruity repeatedly weakens her. Fearing of breaking the norms, Takatsuki wears a skirt to school, only to be later envious of Sarashina in a boy uniform. Takatsuki’s steps are small and hesitant. While Nitori bombs the school with his sailor uniform, she is more prudent by first experimenting with a tie, then moving on to trousers. She might let her hair grow partly out of her own desire, though Chiba’s approval gets the bigger share of the motivation. When Nitori consult her about his rebellious ideas, Takatsuki angrily brushes that off at the thought of social pressure. To the one that constantly seeks to be approved like Takatsuki, this fight for an opposite gender is much more than she can bear.

HM 8 - Nitori

Back to Nitori, Nitori is just… weird. Or by that I mean, he and I are not on the same page at all. Again, my mind reflects that of Takatsuki, especially considering how her admiration leads her to have feelings for him later on in the manga even though Takatsuki used to downright reject his love. The more I’m aware of my cowardice, the more I grow fond of straightforward people. Courage, in this case, adds up to Nitori’s congruity, as opposed to Takatsuki’s case. Nitori has a very clear idea about who he wants to be and never backs down on it. He may fit the role of the bullied student at school, in fact, he is already bullied due to his girliness and soft manner, but his insistence on being a girl is enormous. Gender is the only thing in his mind (besides his girlfriend, perhaps) so he time and time again writes drama scripts conveying his wishes, actively makes a statement to  his date about his crossdressing habit and shamelessly enjoys appearing as a girl in public.

Whereas Takatsuki wants to be mistaken for a man, Nitori wants no misunderstanding. He honestly speaks his mind, even if that means to say unpleasant things, for he wants people to see him as he does – a girl. Until they accept that, Nitori wouldn’t settle. There’s very little more to know about Nitori because he wants to first solve his identity issue, of which his assigned gender is at the heart. That is the beauty of Nitori: the congruity and the need to be understood rightly; they on the one hand benefit from his courage, on the other hand give him the necessary courage to confront judgements.

I couldn’t care less about his shyness now. Moreover, I’m impressed with his shamelessness. Takatsuki stops, but Nitori is going places. He seems a good role model, just saying.

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