Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hourou Musuko - 104

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“Mii-tan’s Father – 2”

I’m not at all sure how I feel about a new character being introduced at this stage of the game.  We’re well over 100 chapters in, and seem nowhere close to wrapping up the arcs of any of the major characters.  Many in the cast don’t appear for several chapters at a time as is, as there’s simply too many threads to follow.

That said, Ebina-san – Mii-tan’s father – is a character who seems to have the potential to be a catalyst in pushing Nitorin to the next stage of his personal journey.  Almost the entire chapter is devoted to his life – we see him as a (wonderful) father to his little girl, going through marriage interviews set up by his family, and interacting with his Mom, who has apparently moved in to take care of Mii-tan.  And all the while, Ebina'-san continues to live a secret life.

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As he wrestles with the question of just who the “real” Ebina-san is, he also ponders the fate of the odd boy he met at the café.  Obviously, the man and the boy are at vastly different stages in their journey.  Ebina asks himself what kind of girl Nitorin would make, and answers in fascinating fashion “Cute – but in what way?”  Ebina-san is no longer cute, of course, and soon enough he’ll need to keep his excursions hidden even from his daughter.  But will he keep cross-dressing?  As the question of another marriage is raised, he must ask himself if “be yourself” is really as practical a motto in real-life as it is in anime.

Given that Nitorin and Ebina have exchanged numbers at Minamoto’s prompting and that Ebina-san has already called once, it seems fair to assume there’s going to be some sort of mentor relationship forming there.  We still don’t know if Ebina-san is interested in women, or if he was in love with his wife – only that he sees himself as a woman.  I think he and Nitorin might be able to learn from each other, as Nitorin in some ways is the more experienced cross-dresser, and he knows what Ebina never will – what it’s like to pass for a girl in public.  But will this take us closer to the big answers – who Nitorin plans to be, and how he plans to get there?

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4 comments:

  1. I was left so confused by this chapter, we haven't seen the main characters in so long! While Ebina-san's story is compelling it just throws so many OTHER questions onto the mountain of questions that already exists. Where are we going with all this? Is this a story about cross-dressing, gender identity, being straight, being gay … all of the above?! I know 'confusion' is a running theme but at this point it's getting a bit hard to follow as a reader.

    *head spinning*

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  2. I sympathize, ELX. As much as I love watching these characters live their lives, I really would like to start seeing a few answers. Nitorin is obviously the MC, but I'm curious about the others as well.

    Still, it does look as if Ebina-san is going to be the one to nudge Nitorin towards his story arc - and presumably the manga's - conclusion. If I had to guess, I think both Nitorin and Ebina are straight guys who love to dress as women, and I think each can learn something from the other.

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  3. This will be a bit long...
    I think the Ebina-san arc acts as the another side of transgenderism that we did not see with Yuki, which in some respects fits a few of the Japanese transgender stereotypes and is a rare case for going full time. Ebina is a much more common case of a person who did not find acceptance and has created practical limits after starting a family.

    Now, of course, you could be right, and Ebina could be a straight male who desires to cross-dress. I doubt it, however, because of the general aim of the series and descriptions thereof. Even if I ignore some of volume descriptions, I had the sense that Ebina was what Yuki could have become if she had not accepted herself, and that Ebina shows Nitori a path that foils.

    Yuki has a job at a gay bar. It is outside in the red light district where being transgendered is "acceptable". She is also not on good terms with her parents, so she has already faced rejection, but she found acceptance in her childhood friend and now boyfriend Shiina.

    Ebina is on the inside. He raises the question of the cultural difficulties a Japanese environment places on having a job and family. He is where it is unacceptable. He is no actor on the television to be a cross-dressing clown but someone who works at a bank.

    As we have seen, Ebina is limiting his time spent as a woman because of practical concern for his daughters well-being in Japanese society and for his relationship with his daughter (note Ebina probably also recognizes through the gaze that he is merely a man dressed as a woman). Ebina's specific worry is that is of Mii-tan "understanding" what Ebina is doing and rejecting her. With the fear of rejection evening extending to his daughter, Ebina has decided to limit his time spent in woman's clothing and make-up to his free time with Mii-tan before she reaches an age in which she would "understand".

    I got the second volume of Hourou Musuko as translated by Thorn a few days ago. It has a nice short essay on transgenderism in Japan at the end.

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  4. The note on the gaze only means how Ebina will feel how people will see "him".

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