Judge Joel Pearce says this ain't a good anime to watch with your sister-wife.
"Let's make a promise. This is the last time, and we will never see each other again."—Koshiro
Well, here I am. This is the last volume of Koi Kaze, the series that has sucked me in from its first frame, toyed with my emotions, and somehow created a completely human portrait of a disturbingly taboo relationship. This volume is a fitting end, a conclusion to the series that is thoughtful, touching, compelling, and horribly uncomfortable.
When we last left Koshiro and Nanoka, they had become dangerously close to making a very bad decision. It has become increasingly clear that their feelings for each other aren't about to magically vanish, and Koshiro jumps in to make an executive decision. He will move out, and the two siblings must promise to never see each other again. At first, this arrangement is hard for both of them, but he hopes that they will be able to move on and get rid of the horrible feelings.
But they can't. Has the damage already been done at this point? It soon becomes clear that neither of them will ever be happy unless they do the unthinkable.
Directors of horror and suspense films would be wise to check out Koi Kaze. It has a brilliant structure, and the suspense is pretty much unbearable during moments of this final volume. After seeing this last volume, I feel a bit like a fish. The first few episodes got the hook in with a premise so compelling and unique that I had to watch more. Then, for the rest of the time, the series slowly reeled me in, releasing just enough tension to keep me engaged, but giving me a good yank whenever I let my guard down. This series goes to places I would never have imagined, and it does so in such a straightforward, clearheaded way.
Its very keen look at human relationships is what makes the series so riveting. In this volume, we often get to see the fragmented memories of the characters as they look back over the decisions they have already made. These fragments come in flashes, brief moments of sound, image, and touch. I was amazed at how accurately these flashes match my own thoughts when I return to moments of my own life that have consumed me. They are both unclear and horribly vivid, never losing their power over time. There is also an incredible attention to the way people talk. Koshiro and Nanoka don't have the long, flowery conversations that characters so often do in films. They aren't able to express their feelings clearly, and they constantly have to second guess what the other is thinking. Their dialogue is reminiscent of real family conversations and those between lovers, which helps to further humanize both characters.
And I see a lot of myself in Koshiro—not in his specific struggle, but in the ways he sabotages his relationships with people. Nanoka reminds me of people I have known as well, especially as her own feelings become clearer and her character develops. The situation becomes more dangerous once she starts to take a more active role in the decision-making process. And so, we are both repulsed by and drawn to their relationship. What they are doing is horrifying, and they realize that. At the same time, most of us have probably also made relationship decisions that we have known, deep down inside, could only end in pain.
I will not spoil the ending of the series here. I will say, though, that anyone who has stuck with Koi Kaze so far will find this an fitting and thoughtful finale. It's not simply a question of watching a horrible train wreck happening in slow motion: The pleasure of this series is deeper and more interesting. It looks closely at love and relationships, at the way we allow ourselves to get trapped by our own feelings. In each of my reviews of the series, I have mentioned how well constructed Koi Kaze is. That continues to be true in this final entry—even more so now that I can look back over the whole series. It shouldn't have worked for so many reasons, but it does.
The transfer on this disc is excellent, on par with the first two volumes. Although the Japanese language track is much stronger, the dub is also well designed, offering a solid alternative. Once again, there are few extras aside from the textless credit sequences, but there is a bizarre "teddy bear theatre," which recreates the series with bears over the course of a few minutes.
Stories about the loss of innocence have always been a huge draw, perhaps because they give us a chance to look back at our own innocence and feel better that we aren't the only ones who have botched things. Koi Kaze is a deeply moving and powerful entry in the genre, which many viewers will be able to appreciate. Ultimately, this series is highly recommended for people who like to think and are engrossed by a well-told story. It isn't always an easy tale to swallow, but it's horribly easy to relate to at the same time.
While Koshiro and Nanoka have lost their innocence, this series is free to go. Not guilty.
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