Title: Koi Kaze (TV)
Animation Company: Geneon Entertainment
Genres: Seinen, Romance, Drama
Aired: Spring 2004
Number of episodes: 13
Summary: Saeki Koshiro is a 27 year-old office worker, who has been dumped by his girlfriend but struggles to feel anything about this recent development in his life. His life is rather mundane, until one day he meets 15 year-old Kohinata Nanoka and the two hit it off incredibly well…until Koshiro finds out this very girl he seems to be strangely attracted to turns out to be his blood-related sister.
With the increasing amount of bad incest anime airing recently, I thought it’d be fitting to take a look at Koi Kaze, and see how this classic romance with a twist involving incest would hold up. And boy, THIS is how you do an incest anime.
The wonderful thing about Koi Kaze that sets it apart from other incest-themed anime is how it deals with the issue of incest. It doesn’t play the incest card for laughs or as some kind of fetish to pander to the audience, but instead it treats the controversial topic at hand very maturely, respecting the intelligence of the audience. It clearly shows just how complicated a romantic relationship between siblings can be, and it really is a painful depiction of a forbidden romance. It remains unbiased in its view of incest throughout, choosing to never judge its two leads and asks its audience to put aside their personal bias towards the issue and just observe Nanoka and Koshiro’s relationship.
With that, it manages to create an incredibly believable, heartfelt romance between Koshiro and Nanoka, depicting the wonderful chemistry the two have to the point where it seemed almost inevitable for the two to fall in love even with their circumstances. Right from the get go we see how the two are able to understand each other on a very personal level despite their 12 year age gap, and how they just hit it off, but later struggle with the romantic, impure feelings they have for each other. Koi Kaze perfectly nails the struggles of the two leads trying to comprehend and even suppress the feelings they have for each other in hopes of never crossing the line between siblings and lovers, while being perfectly paced such that this eventually builds up to that emotional climax.
For a romantic drama such as this to work, the characters have to be engaging to watch. Koshiro and Nanoka are splendid. Koshiro is the definition of a gentle giant, but also a seemingly unfeeling man (at the beginning) that later struggles and even despises himself for having feelings for his little sister. Nanoka on the other hand, is clearly a mature 15 year-old, a little different from the girls her age, but still retains a slightly childlike, playful air to her that reminds the audience just how young and fragile she is, especially when juxtaposed to the complicated situation she is put into. Other side characters are less well-developed, with the exception of one of Koshiro’s colleagues that play a big role in the overall plot, but honestly, they aren’t the focus of the series in the first place. Koi Kaze chose to leave most of its screen time for the two leads, and what a wise choice it was indeed.
There really isn’t much to the aesthetics of Koi Kaze, except that the animation and sound all do their job. The animation helps create a surreal, dreamy atmosphere to the series reminiscent of a first true love experienced by the two leads and does its job well albeit with some slight inconsistencies (which aren’t that big a deal considering the age of the series). The music is also nice and soothing, never intrusive or distracting, setting up the mood for any scene well although not being that memorable on its own. Japanese voiceovers were done pretty well too; I thought Koshiro’s voice actor really nailed the confusion and self-loathe Koshiro felt throughout the series exceptionally well.
Lastly, the ending is rather open-ended. It may be a bit of a problem for some viewers itching for a more conclusive ending, but personally I don’t see it as much of a problem. In fact, I don’t believe a more conclusive ending would match up to the seemingly more open-ended, ambiguous nature of the series.
At the end of the day, Koi Kaze doesn’t really answer any questions on whether incest is right, whether Koshiro and Nanoka deserve to be together or whether they really love each other. But that really shouldn’t matter by the time you’re finished with watching this. It’s still a refreshing look at a very controversial topic, while also being a touching, believable romance rarely that well done in anime recently. It’s really incredible.
In Short: 9.0/10 – Koi Kaze is a wonderfully touching romantic drama that maturely deals with its controversial topic of romance. Even if you happen to have a personal bias against the issue (I personally do) I urge you to try and put that aside and give this series a whirl. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Alternate Anime Recommendations: Hourou Musuko (or Wandering Son in english) – it’s yet another well executed romance series, but this time dealing with gender issues (particularly the topic of transsexuals) instead.