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Koi Kaze, Vol. 1: The Reunion (2004) – DVD Review


Written by Noboru Takagi, based upon the manga by Motoi Yoshida
Directed by Takahiro Omori
Music by Makoto Yoshimori


  • Clean opening
  • Original Japanese opening

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Taboo love
  • Piles of angst
  • Buckets of tormeted feelings
  • Oases of painful choices
  • Possible psychological imbalances

Released by: Geneon
Region: 1
Rating: 16+ for mature themes
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Check it out, but be aware of the theme

Koi Kaze is a unique kind of romance/drama, with a potentially disturbing central idea. Koshiro is in his late-20s, working a mediocre job at a “marriage consulting” (aka match-making) company; his depression is showing in his personal appearance, and his boss thinks he’s too stubbly and smelly to deal directly with the clients. His perverted coworker only cares about meeting high school girls for nefarious purposes. Koshiro’s just broken up with his girlfriend and took it rather apathetically.

One day, he sees a cute, young girl and helps her recover her wallet that she’s dropped on the subway. When he returns home to the house he shares with his divorced father, he learns that his much-younger sister will be coming to live with them, as their home is much closer to her high school and would cut her two-hour commute in half. Meanwhile, Koshiro goes on a “date” with the kind, young girl…who of course turns out to be his long-lost sister, about twelve to fifteen years his junior. Koshiro’s stress and inner turmoil cause him to treat her with a little less than compassion at times, but anger might be his only defense against her love.

The central idea of an incestuous love story seems fairly popular in anime, given the success of such stories as Angel Sanctuary, Ayako No Ceres, and the manga Hot Gimmick. The “forbidden” aspect of the show is not, however, the intended focus; it’s simply a drama about how difficult love can be, and the choices we must make to be happy, or to make ourselves miserable when there are things we cannot help about our feelings. Koshiro’s lady boss provides some moments of comic relief, as do Nanoka’s friends, but they are only moments; the focus is always squarely upon Koshiro’s difficulties.

The visual quality is lovely; the art is watercolor soft with nice details and character designs. The backgrounds are kept simple, almost abstracted, to keep the focus upon the emotions of the characters. Nanoka’s facial expressions, while usually a bit too mild and wimpy, have several instances of anger and frustration of her own. Nanoka’s friends do a good job of reflecting the innocence and happiness of childhood that Koshiro has left far behind. The audio quality is also quite strong; the Japanese and English voices for Koshiro are quite similar, as are the voices for his boss. The Japanese voice for Nanoka has a little bit of that annoying shrieky, high-pitched quality that female anime voices have sometimes, leaving me to prefer the English vocals. The musical score, however, is simply lovely: understated, yet pregnant with feeling and not too overdone or maudlin.

The extras are simple: a clean opening, along with the original Japanese opening, and a small set of previews for other Geneon releases. While these are nice touches, it would of course have been splendid to have an art gallery, interviews with cast and/or crew, or a look at the creative process. Of course, comparisons with the original manga are always treasured. There are only four episodes on the disc, which is a shame.

Regardless of your feelings about the central taboo, Koi Kaze is beautifully-written, with a gentleness about the benighted Koshiro that defies your expectations about the situation in which he finds himself. He is not the pervert you may expect, nor is Nanoka some kind of precocious Lolita. The series can be compared to Saikano, another show that challenged the characters (and the viewers) to make the most of seriously tragic circumstances. The series does not deal with the central taboo in a facile way, leaving viewers to make up their own minds about the ethics of the situation and what Koshiro and Nanoka should do about their illicit feelings. It truly is different than you think, and much higher quality, assuming you can handle the buckets of angst and convenient falls of cherry blossoms. Bully for Geneon for taking the risk.

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