Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Koi Kaze Complete Box Set|
Director: Takahiro Omori
Genres: Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
Questions and answers and all the things unsaid between
sanoe.net | 10/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd seen this series on store shelves before but I'd never been tempted to pick it up. But recently, I picked up the manga and found the story unusually haunting.
It was with this in mind that I decided to purchase Koi Kaze: Complete Box Set and I am pleased that I did so.
====Warning: Some spoilers contained below=====
Both the manga and the anime flattened me because both versions are simply great storytelling in a way that great storytelling can take the reader/viewer out of their comfort zone and make the reader/viewer face the events of the story on the story's terms, not their own.
And so it is with Koi Kaze. Another person wrote that it is a disturbing masterpiece and to me, that's a pretty accurate description.
At the start of the first episode, Koshiro Saeki is 27. He's unhappy, unkempt, and unfeeling. If this were an American drama, he'd be diagnosed as clinically depressed.
He works as a marriage counselor in the sense that he helps with arranged marriages. He's just been dumped by his lovely girlfriend, not because she doesn't care for him, but because she wonders if Koshiro has ever truly liked anyone and he wonders if she might be right.
When the series opens, Nanoka Kohinata is 15 and about to start her first year of high school. Because her high school is two hours away from where she lives, she goes to live with her father... and the brother she has not met since their parents divorce when she was about 2-3 years old.
Koshiro and Nanoka "meet" before they actually meet. By some weird circumstance, they end up on a pseudo-date and they go to an amusement park. Koshiro loosens up to the point that he breaks down in front of the girl and tells her that no matter what she does, she shouldn't give up on love if she finds it. She comforts him by the simple act of caressing his head and something, for just a moment in time, begins to loosen up in the tightly wound Koshiro.
It isn't until later that Koshiro and Nanoka learn that they are brother and sister.
There are many details and moods in this story that make it compelling that it is difficult to quantify or describe why it is as good as it is or why as good as it is, it can be uncomfortable.
I suppose that a lot of it rests in part on the pivotal character of Koshiro. Koshiro is not a dashing, handsome figure. He can be plain, detached emotionally, growly when he is showing emotion, and downright scary when he doesn't know what to do with his emotions. Yet, he is not a bad person. He never lets himself (or the audience) believe that his interest is healthy. Yet, he does try to do the right thing and combat his feelings. Interestingly, it is when he is fighting those feelings that he exhibits his darkest and creepiest moments.
Nanoka is slower to figure out for the character and for the audience. At fifteen, she is in that bridge age of being neither child nor woman. As she grows over the story's timeline, she is, at first, oblivious to what is causing her brother to be so mean and yet instinctively she knows that he can be different and that he has a tenderness inside him. So instead of drawing away from him, she wants to be closer to him.
There are moments when the viewer can wonder about the "If only's" that would keep Koshiro and Nanoka from going down the path they are on. If only Koshiro had taken the opportunity to get back with his ex if only for that one night. If only Nanoka had decided to take a chance on a boy from school. If only the parents had allowed them to see each other more in the intervening years instead of keeping them apart.
Again, that is remarkable storytelling to be able to wonder about those "if onlys" while the story is being told.
One thing that I can appreciate from Koi Kaze is that the center of its story is a serious taboo and yet, it is not presented with a sense of indulging in the scandalous or to titillate or for shock value. The daring in Koi Kaze is that it attempts to present, as simply and straightforward as it can, of a possibility of "What if this happened to two ordinary people?" and also makes one wonder, "Is it better to accept one's feelings? Or deny them?"
It is this daring directness that uncomfortably disarms the viewer because in this story (neither in the manga or the anime) is the punch pulled back. Situations are not miraculously resolved from the age gap between Koshiro and Nanoka to the incest issue to the childhood scars (in the manga, it is more heavily inferred that Koshiro was adversely affected by his parents divorce, but the anime hints at it as well). No "bullet" is dodged and the creators make no attempt to make things more palatable. They merely present what is happening and leave it to the viewer to accept what happens whether they agree with it or not.
And whether one agrees or not, it is a story that lingers in a hauntingly melancholy way right up to the last scene because there is a rightful sense of unease at what their future might hold for them. Is this the beginning? And if it is, what does it begin?
The animation is very simple as it is clear that the story is the real key. The musical score is kept just as simple with a single piano marking the seasonal time and emotions.
I haven't listened to the original Japanese track but I can say that the English cast does a fine job especially Patrick Seitz who voices Koshiro. Seitz captured Koshiro's opening ambivalence, his later confusion, lingering self-loathing, and finally, his happiness. A truly wonderful performance.
Like others who have reviewed this series have noted, this is NOT a series for everyone so I recommend it with caution.
Yet, for those who are willing to give it a chance, it is a rare gem. There are questions and answers but a lot of things that are left unsaid becuase like many great stories before it, the series ends with a conclusion but no clear vision of the future."