Jul 15, 2011
NeverKnowsBest26 (All reviews)
Amongst all the adrenaline-pumping action, zany comedy, melodrama, and over-the-top lunacy of anime, there are a rare few series that go out of their to seriously deal with sensitive issues. Koi Kaze is one such series. It is a gentle, honest, and ultimately heart-breaking story that deals with an issue most other shows would avoid (or in the case off anime, play of as a joke). Needless to say the exploration of taboo is not something everyone enjoys. However, Koi Kaze explores its issue with a maturity and truthfulness that makes it a true gem.

The issue in question is incest (with a large age difference on top of that), as the story follows the relationship between Koshiro Saeki and his younger sister, Nanoka. Now, incest is not exactly an issue anime shies away from, but it is rarely explored seriously. Usually, it is used in anime for shock factor, Hansel and Gretel from Black Lagoon for example, or to satisfy some strange otaku fetish. However, by dealing with the issue maturely, Koi Kaze depicts what people in this kind of relationship might actually be going through. The relationship between Koshiro and Nanoka is constantly in a delicate balance, as the two struggle with their feelings (especially Koshiro). However, it also packs more genuine warmth and feeling than most typical anime relationships, which makes the conflict with taboo all the more potent. While there are definitely some very discomforting moments that will doubtlessly be too much for some viewers (notably a scene that takes place in the laundry room in episode 4), they only strengthen the story and its themes.

The subject matter being as controversial as it is, puts tremendous importance on the characters, and luckily Koi Kaze is blessed with an incredible pair of leads. Koshiro is in his late 20s and is starting to feel the weight of his years, becoming somewhat apathetic and emotionally numb, but also having a deep rooted frustration, especially in light of a recent break-up. It is easy to feel his pain and sympathize with him even as he struggles with personal issues that are, in all honesty, pretty creepy. On the other side of the spectrum, there is Nanoka who is still in high school, and dealing with the insecurities of adolescence, particularly concerning boys. The anxieties these two characters face and the way they find comfort within each other feels so real, so plausable, that it is actually kind of scary. The rest of the cast falls strictly into supporting roles. They all have distinctive and believable personalities, but they just feel like background compared to the two leads. An exception is Koshiro's co-worker, Kaname Chidori (No, not from Full Metal Panic), who plays a pivotal role in the later episodes, and my personal favorite character from the show. There is also Koshiro's other co-worker, Odagiri, who is an intolerable pervert and failed comic relief; it would have been better if he had not existed.

On the technical-side, Koi Kaze is a mixed bag. The visuals, while not bad, are on the prettier side of unimpressive. The subdued color scheme is quite nice, and it is nice to see normal looking people in an anime, but nothing really pops out. The backgrounds are pretty standard and are what you would expect from any slice-of-life. The animation is passable, and at times quite good, especially in the sequences with petals or Nanoka's hair are being blown in the wind; but overall it certainly nothing to write home about. The music of Koi Kaze, however, is another story. The beautiful orchestral pieces, highlighted by piano, are just a joy to listen to. Even with the art being so-so, scenes are beautiful with this soundtrack supporting them. Add to that director Omori Tatahiro's cinematic sensibility, which makes the best of the visuals, and you have an impressive, if flawed, presentation.

Due to it's content, Koi Kaze is not an easy anime to recommend. Incest is an uncomfortable topic, added to that is the large age difference of the main couple, and may people will immediately (understandably) be turned off by it. For those who do get over the subject matter , you will be hard pressed to find a more mature, well-written tale of forbidden love.