2. Reactions from significant others and the wider society
The climax of the series is the ‘crossdressing’ of the main characters in school. When Takatsuki wore the boy’s uniform, they get their teacher’s attention and the latter tries to make sense of them, but he isn’t aggressive or authoritative. He doesn’t understand that Takatsuki wore those clothes as an attire representing their gender wishes, rather he takes their action as disobedience/teenager’s rebellion or a way to look cool. His words are clear: “Takatsuki, that’s the kind of stunt Sarashina would pull…”
Nitori decides to dress towards her gender identity as well -for a second time in her school career; the first being in primary school. She’s been bullied before, yet she doesn’t want to give up, she wants to be taken seriously, to be herself. The negative feedback begins already just from asking opinions of her friends. Sarashina talks to her about how people will see her and that it’s not going to be a pleasant experience- quite the opposite. In spite of finding Nitori cute, she isn’t sure if she herself doesn’t find her weird. She also washes her hands off the problem in spite of being the first ‘perpertrator’ (she crossdressed at her first day of school). She’s no FtM though. She did it for the fun, for opposing the rules, for seeking freedom of expression perhaps.
Sarashina: ” …Because people will treat you like a pervert. I mean you can do it, if you want to, but a lot of people will think you’re weird… I don’t think you should do it at school. But it’s not up to me.”
What is sadder is Takatsuki’s reaction. They blame Nitori’s decision on Doi’s influence and is very negative about what the former wants to do. And they are supposed to be their closest friend, one who is not content with their gender either. Takatsuki should be there to support Nitori, and if not, at least not involve Doi in such an important discussion, because they knew each other since forever and such desires weren’t new. It’s only after the students, among them Momo, talk badly of Nitori that Takatsuki understands how brave the former was and stood up for them.
Then their sister, Maho, is not exactly the most accepting person. One could only give her an excuse due to her age. She must be jealous of her pretty ‘brother’, who got her boyfriend’s interest, and like most siblings she doesn’t want to share her clothes. She’s freaked out with how different Nitori is to the point of harassing her verbally in a few cases and forcing her out of a dress she had put on.
To her defense though, when Nitori is the most in need of support, she looks out for her. She lies that she told Anna to stay away to cover up Anna denying coming to solace her ‘boyfriend’ because she had freaked out with Nitori wearing a sailor uniform at school. She stays home with the excuse that she can’t face her classmates out of shame, but probably it’s because she doesn’t want to leave Nitori alone at home and act like nothing happened.
Their parents act quite different the one from the other: their mother has a kneejerk reaction, asking if that was bullying, and when she gets a negative reaction, she’s quick to blame this ‘weird hobby’ on Maho. Her father, on the other hand, breaks the ice and suggests a walk to the supermarket and tells Nitori of how when they were born their grandparents bet that she was a girl. He supports Nitori in their own way, showing that he listened and didn’t find the situation that absurd.
The teachers try their best with their prejudice and a situation they’ve never faced before. It’s not half bad of them that when the students suggested another genderplay for the upcoming cultural festival, they didn’t react forbidingly, but actually found this chance to smooth Nitori’s reintroduction into the class and have them be a dependable figure (director) while having the classmates empathy cultvated.
What is very interesting is how Hourou Musuko includes Yuki in its story. She wears a suit to go to the school festival in which Nitori and Takatsuki participate and we’re shown a flashback to Yuki’s past. Yuki’s mother calls attention to how good the suit looked and made Yuki a ‘man’. Anyone can guess that’s something that leaves a bittersweet taste at your mouth if you don’t want to be a man. How people perceive gender and in particular how people understand manliness and womanliness is what we got acquainted with from the very first episode. The difference here is that we see an adult that has trans-passed and has stopped ‘wandering’. It’s valuable as a tidbit. Moreover, Yuki has managed to accept the past and doesn’t hold any grudge.
There’s also a parallel between Yuki’s school years and Nitori’s, which is used to underline how some small steps from back then till today have been done. Yuki was forced to ‘crossdress’ and confess to someone she didn’t like, whereas Nitori clothed and presented herself willingly.
The end that is given to Nitori’s adventure is the best though. It might not be definite in the eyes of many viewers but it’s extremely well done and optimistic. Nitori has become again a part of the class, her classmates don’t bully her as much, and they see her under a generally good light. She has voiced her hatred towards Doi but that didn’t stop her from asking his help for the script because she recognizes his abilities. She knows how to not remain stuck in what hurt her and she realizes little by little her dreams. The last scene where she’s shown confident on the stage wearing girl clothes and acting on her play is full of feels! That step she takes is towards a future filled with hope.