Was going to write about Fractale but the 360p version makes for miserable viewing and even worse screencaps. Besides, I have a lot to say about Wandering Son and not all of it is positive. Or should I say not all of it is negative, I’m not sure which my readers were expecting more of.
Wandering Son is gentle. I call it ‘fluffy’. That doesn’t mean ‘fluff’ in the same way I would describe the likes of K-ON or Squid Girl, as in anime that hold no weight. ‘Fluffy’ is more the tone Wandering Son takes to it’s story telling. It’s almost like it’s afraid of hitting us with anything that might scare us away. Even the animation style feels like the artists are afraid of putting too much weight into the drawings, which leaves some of the character designs with these odd gaps in their heads where the artist was almost too afraid to touch the page with his digital brush in fear the design might come off to harsh. The dialogue is simplified to the extreme, using incredibly simple phrasing to convey highly complex emotions. The BGM is all tinkly piano music like it’s trying to soothe our poor hearts to a calmer land. There’s no humour. Humour might mean we’d stop taking it seriously and jolt us out of fluffy dreamland.
This is what many people call beautiful. Wandering Son fans are one of the most picky and insecure bunch I’ve ever come across. Terrified that anyone might mistake their anime for anything other than the soft series that it is, they desperately point out that this anime doesn’t play the trap card for laughs nor titillation. This is serious! They’re also desperate to point out that this is a drama and hard hitting stuff will come along. It’s not hard hitting though, is it guys? Come on. It will be as hard hitting as a styrofoam. It wants to stroke out hair and tell us it’s all OK. That we’re special and beautiful. I really don’t like this style of story-telling. It feels…damnit, what’s the word. Demeaning? Wait I know, it’s patronising. Don’t stroke me with the proverbial feather, I want the harsh sledgehammer of storytelling. It’s annoying but, far more importantly, it’s boring. I could be a harsh git here and suggest the reason anime fans like this sort of stuff is because they’re emotionally insecure and need cuddling. In fact, I will suggest that. The reason anime fans like this sort of stuff is because they’re emotionally insecure and need cuddling.
I did say there would be positives in this review though. While I made fun of the art style earlier and the characters extremely shiny heads, I rather liked it. It was animated smoothly, fits the style of show perfectly and is certainly original, which I’ll always give extra marks for. There was a bit of explosion of characters at the start, which made it difficult to keep up who’s who, especially when you weren’t sure what gender each character was. But I was able to get a grasp on some of the characters and it did a remarkably good job of getting across their character types. These certainly aren’t stereotypical archetypes on show. By the end of the episode I found I ‘got’ what made the lead two tick. One complaint I often have with simplified dialogue is it feels like a cop out for expressing complex emotions (hello Cross Game). In Wandering Son it felt more like these kids didn’t understand their own emotions.
It’s just a generally well made show that gets what it wants to be. It’s just what it wants to be is something that grates me the wrong way with a grater made out of vanilla ice cream and pillows. I’m certainly interested in watching more. I’d hate to think I’m the type of guy so stuck in his ways that he’s not open to possibly enjoying new genres. Maybe I need a cuddle too.