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Hourou Musuko – Episode 1 Impressions

January 14, 2011

Rembrandt, Return of the Prodigal Son, 1662, (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)

Hourou Musuko – Episode 1 Impressions

Transvestism vs Transsexualism

First and foremost, I would like to point out that this anime is very different from others featuring similar characters. So far, like Kuranosuke for instance, the characters in Hourou Musuko have  cross-dressing tendencies, but they are not just transvestites, as we’ll see further in the series: both present with gender dysphoria and might have gender identity disorder.

ICD-10: Gender Identity Disorder in Children

F64.2 Gender identity disorder of childhood: A disorder, usually first manifest during early childhood (and always well before puberty), characterized by a persistent and intense distress about assigned sex, together with a desire to be (or insistence that one is) of the other sex. There is a persistent preoccupation with the dress and activities of the opposite sex and repudiation of the individual’s own sex. The diagnosis requires a profound disturbance of the normal gender identity; mere tomboyishness in girls or girlish behavior in boys is not sufficient. Gender identity disorders in individuals who have reached or are entering puberty should not be classified here but in F66.

DSM-IV-TR: Gender Identity Disorder

  • Long-standing and strong identification with another gender
  • Long-standing disquiet about the sex assigned or a sense of incongruity in the gender-assigned role of that sex
  • The diagnosis is not made if the individual also has physical intersex characteristics.
  • Significant clinical discomfort or impairment at work, social situations, or other important life areas.

Prodigal Son

Hourou Musuko is a pun on hōtō musuko (放蕩息子) – “prodigal son”. Most of you are probably familiar with the story. We don’t know the ending of the series yet, but, in the context of this anime, it might represent the resurrection that the protagonists will reach at some point, fully integrating their new identities.

“But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.” – Luke 15:32, World English Bible

The Bridge Scene

One of my favorite moments of the episode was the bridge scene. Chopin’s Etude no. 3 in E major, Op. 10 no. 3, “Tristesse” made it even more special. Tristesse means sadness in French. Here is a violin version.

11 comments

  1. Oh gosh, I love the muted colours and visuals. The bridge scene is my favourite scene as well. The music they used amplify the emotions that scene conveys. Works so beautifully. I gotta say I’m as confused about the two leads as they are about their genders.😆


    • I also like the visuals🙂

      Many people mentioned confusion because the episode introduced many characters and character design, as the creator herself confesses, is very similar. Also for those who have not read many it is not very clear what is going on.


  2. Hah! I had the feeling that the music used in that scene was classical…I just couldn’t identify it, even though I thought I’d heard parts of that before. Thanks for identifying it!


    • Yes, that often happens when we hear something familiar, but can’t quite recall the exact title. You are welcome!🙂


  3. What’s F66? and how is ‘disorder’ defined? I mean no one chooses his/her sex, so I find it only natural that some people would not like how they were born- it’s like parents, you can’t choose them😛

    Yesterday I saw fractale, I’ll watch Wandering Son today, and you just made me 100x more interested in following the series! I’d like to read more about gender issues and sexual orientation- and more Japanese! T_T (I miss all the puns and hidden meaninga, that’s just frustrating…)


    • Those are just codes.

      Yes, it is bound to happen, but the problem is how people react to it. One of the key components of all disorders in DSM is “significant clinical discomfort or impairment at work, social situations, or other important life areas.” Also you have the holy trinity: duration, frequency, intensity.

      Oh, thank you! I am glad that my post had some impact🙂

      Gender is a fascinating topic. Fortunately, my cultural anthropology professor, an expert in the field of gender studies, covered many interesting issues in class I took years ago. Wiki article can be a place to start (if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see several topics).


      • watched it! it’s going to be one of DEH best anime in years.

        about disorder…well, can’t that be aplied to homosexuals as well? I mean, I don’t think that the person has the problem, but the society… it’s them that they bully and cause problems to the person… don’t like the whole theory… makes those people sick who need treatment and that’s not the case


        • No, it is very different, but I agree that the society does have a long way to go, however, we’ve made some progress if you look back at the last century.

          Again, as I mentioned, the person does have a problem. The problem is not that what s/he is doing is wrong, the problem is that his/her identification with one gender, while possessing a body of another gender, causes him/her significant distress and interferes with his/her daily functioning. That’s why these people need treatment. Not the treatment to make them go back to being “normal”, but the treatment to make them happy. People have to go through substantial trouble, such as hormone replacement therapy and surgery. They also tend to have high level of psychological distress. As someone told me, “There are two types of trans people: strong ones and dead ones.” because some people believe that the suicide is the only way to remove such misery…


          • that answer of two types is depressing the least😦 In europe we’ve made a progress, but the rest of the world?

            Thanks for the explanation.


            • Yes, it is depressing…😦

              Unfortunately, it might take decades…

              You are welcome.


  4. […] However, I would like to direct people to this post over at Kitsune’s Thoughts […]



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