|A Tasteful and Mature Take on a Controversial Subject||3 out of 3 users found this review helpful.|
Koi Kaze’s premise is not a conventional romance title. The series is an exploration on incest, one of the biggest societal taboos of humanity and it is sure to make many people uncomfortable upon first seeing it. I went through that feeling when I first heard of the series in 2005. And in an e-mail reply I got back from Koshiro’s English dub actor Patrick Seitz in that same year, it was surprising to him that the title was even licensed and distributed in America. Here’s a passage from said e-mail that I’ve kept for a while now:
“When Liam, the director, told me about the show's subject matter, I was pretty taken aback--not by the prospect of playing such a character, which I relished as the challenge it was, but at the fact that Geneon had slated it for a release in the first place. Like you said, who in their right mind is going to toss a serious anime serious about incest onto an unsuspecting (and largely unprepared) Western audience?”
The major strengths of Koi Kaze are the screenwriting and the lead characters. Both blend quite effectively at creating a believable focus on the awkward developments of Koshiro and Nanoka’s relationship. These two characters are at different stages of their lives and have different levels of understanding on the norms of society.
Throughout much of the series, Koshiro finds himself in an internal conflict over how to deal with the growing feelings he has for Nanoka. He knows such feelings are forbidden in society yet he is trying to be honest with himself. As a result, being around Nanoka makes him feel awkward as he quite often acts coldly towards her to hide how he truly feels.
Nanoka is just starting off high school and comes across as a naive girl at first glance. While not knowing of many of the societal norms expected of her, she is honest and direct with how she expresses herself towards others, especially in tense situations. The girl also has a playful side to her personality that she exhibits on occasion in Koi Kaze.
In regards to the development of this forbidden relationship, Koi Kaze carefully treads a delicate line with the handling of the relationship without giving in to the conventional clichés that are found in many romance anime titles of recent memory. The characters have their imperfections and all their decisions have repercussions that they grow to accept as the series presses on. In addition, Koi Kaze maintains a neutral position in how to make viewers judge Nanoka and Koshiro’s relationship. The series neither approves nor disapproves of the relationship and there is no clear ending to the series. Instead, we are just left to wonder what kind of future that the pairing will have and whether or not we could make the decisions they made if we were in their situation.
Beyond the two main characters, the secondary ones are a mixed bunch. Nanoka and Koshiro’s father, Zenzo, is constantly worried about Nanoka and is quite clueless over the problems between his two children. Koshiro’s co-worker, the lolicon Odagiri, often kills the mood of some of the tense situations that take place. Mother Makie appears quite level-headed with supporting her children, but doesn’t have much time onscreen. Koshiro’s girlfriend and Nanoka’s classmates do their parts at pushing each protagonist towards coming to grips with how they really feel. Koshiro’s supervisor Kaname Chidori is the best of the bunch with her role towards the later third of the series.
In terms of visuals, the artwork seems lacking as scenery is rather simplistic in detail and colors look rather faded. Character designs, while just as simplistic, show a good diversity of looks adding to the real life believability of Koi Kaze. Compare a rough and unshaven man like Koshiro to the innocent beauty of Nanoka to catch my drift. The soundtrack features soft, light tracks that do well to accompany the delicate mood of this series. The show knows when to play its music or to keep things silent during specific scenes.
Koi Kaze is a series that won’t be for all viewers. The themes of the series will keep some viewers from watching it and only those with an open mind would be able to take in what they see. If you are one with an open mind, then you can look forward to a mature, tasteful, and honest look at a controversial issue that has not been seriously explored in anime.