Koi Kaze Box Set - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 59.98
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Koi Kaze

Koi Kaze Box Set

By Luis Cruz     November 27, 2006
Release Date: July 18, 2006


Koi Kaze Box Set
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Koshiro and Nanoka are brother and sister separated since Nanoka was a baby. When the time comes for her to enter high school, it is decided that the two will live together.

Although off to a shaky start, they are getting used to living under the same roof. Koshiro begins to realize his feelings for Nanoka, even after trying to ignore them. This causes him a great deal of distress. Even though he treated her harshly, Nanoka can't stop thinking about how much she likes him. They know what they feel is wrong, but their feelings for each other are moving them closer together...

The Review!
An unconventional love story makes for a difficult and uncomfortable viewing but manages to be beautiful and thought provoking at the same time.

Audio:
My viewing session consisted of the original Japanese stereo track; it is a decent stereo track given that the series is mostly dialogue and music. Both elements are balanced well, and there are some directional effects when trains go by and such. No noticeable distortions or other problems were heard making for an enjoyable audio experience.

Video:
Koi Kaze is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This is an absolutely gorgeous transfer that suffers from no noticeable issues. Much of the story is told through the visual imagery, and the rich palette of colors provides the warmth and details necessary.

Packaging:
The packaging has not changed from the individual releases. The box is sturdy and features gorgeous pastel pencil art of Koshiro and Nanoka. A similar art style is used for the front covers of the DVD cases; the backs of the DVD cases contain the usual information in a clean, readable layout. Inside each case is a one page insert outlining the chapters for each episode, and a set of "No-No Big Brother " stickers containing words of wisdom from Nanoka to her big brother.

Menu:
The menus are consistent across all three volumes. While a fragment of the haunting theme music plays, Nanoka stands on the left of the screen while cherry blossoms float on the breeze. A small film strip of scenes floats to her right with the menu items underneath. Transitions between menus are accompanied by a brief gust of music and cherry blossoms.

Extras:
Scattered across the three volumes are textless versions of the opening and three ending sequences along with the original Japanese credit versions. A promotional trailer and commercials for the Japanese DVD releases (slight spoilers contained within) are also included. Polishing off the extras is the "Bear's Mini Theater" a cute, quick retelling of the story using the teddy bears the lead characters share.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Let's get this out of the way; Koi Kaze is the story of a twenty-seven year old man and his biological fifteen year old sister falling in love with each other. There are no twists, no magic plot devices to alter this fact. The story ends with brother and sister madly in love with each other and determined to live together. However, Koi Kaze is not out to shock you with salacious imagery; instead, it handles the subject with maturity and a detachment that allows the viewer to consider the nature of personal happiness.

Saeki Koshiro seems like a typical twenty-seven year old salaryman. He has a good job with a dating service and lives at home with his father. His life is fairly uneventful, and he shambles through it with little emotional investment to anyone, even himself. When his girlfriend breaks up with him, it is just another passing event, one that seemingly brings neither pain nor joy. The news that his estranged younger sister will be moving in with them registers as barely a nuisance.

His life is about to dramatically change and bring him more pain and happiness than he could imagine. It all begins when a student loses her pass on the train; he manages to catch up with her to give her the pass. As the cherry blossoms float by, he finds himself mesmerized by the girl's youthful beauty. Something inside of him begins to stir, but he reminds himself that the age difference makes the thoughts ridiculous to ponder.

Yet, fate conspires to bring the pair together again that afternoon. Leaving an appointment, Koshiro finds the girl waiting to meet someone; he invites her to use the free amusement park passes he received as gratuity from his client. They ride the ferris wheel, and the girl tells him about her recent heartbreak from unrequited love. Her open, honest feelings touch Koshiro and make him realize just how empty his life has become. He openly weeps in front of her about his recent lost love, and the girl is moved by Koshiro's tenderness.

Collecting himself, Koshiro escorts the girl to the entrance falling in love with her each step of the way. Both of them are stunned when Koshiro's father shows up and reveals that the girl is actually Koshiro's fifteen year old sister Nanoka. To say this makes the remainder of the series awkward for the pair would be a gross understatement.

Koshiro agonizes over his feelings because society deems them perverted and unnatural. His inner monologue of these struggles dominates the story, yet he cannot seem to escape the fact that he finds his younger sister desirable. This drives him to alternate between gruffly pushing Nanoka away emotionally and trying to be the caring big brother he is expected to be.

Conversely, Nanoka remains an enigma for the bulk of the series; she is seemingly oblivious to Koshiro's true feelings and does little to open up her thoughts and feelings to even her closest friends. We only learn that she thinks of herself as weird and knows that she puts on a "goody-goody" act to hide her laziness. Where Koshiro is tearing himself apart, Nanoka seems to be enjoying high school life despite her big brother's infuriating mood swings.

Eventually, the pair realizes they are hopelessly in love with each other and resolve to live as a couple. Koi Kaze ends with Koshiro realizing that he finally loves someone with his whole heart, and this fills him with a happiness he has never known. Where the tragic pair goes from there is left to the viewer's imagination. It is one of those rare titles that leaves the viewer with more questions than answers.

And what main question does it pose? If something makes two people happy and does not harm or affect others, should that something be squelched because the rest of society deems it unacceptable? Koshiro wrestles with this the entire series and concludes that being intimate with Nanoka is worth facing any obstacle. Nanoka comes to the same conclusion and announces her desire with a resolute passion.

Society's viewpoint is expressed through Koshiro's female boss Chidori and Nanoka's school friends. They suspect that the bond between the pair is more than the typical sibling love. Nanoka's closest friend knows the truth but is afraid to admit it to herself. Chidori takes a more meddlesome approach and tries to steer Koshiro off the path she sees him headed down. Her efforts are in vain as both Koshiro and Nanoka accept that which Chidori cannot. Who is in the right? Chidori and her belief that the relationship is doomed because of the social realities? Or are Koshiro and Nanoka right to pursue their heart's desire despite what others think?

Koi Kaze lays the burden of judgment squarely on the viewer. This is a beautiful but difficult series to watch with themes that resonate with similar issues we see today. The series does not shy away from the very uncomfortable events that would arise during the development of such a relationship, but it handles it briefly and tastefully off-screen. A man and a woman are falling in love, and they happen to be brother and sister. If they are happy, do we have any right to judge or interfere? Koi Kaze dares to ask that question and presents it in a skillfully constructed story.

In Summary:
Koi Kaze may boast beautiful visuals and an equally beautiful and haunting soundtrack, but it makes for a difficult and uncomfortable viewing. One must take an open mind into the series and simply experience it for what it is. It does not attempt to provide judgment on Koshiro and Nanoka. Instead, it raises the question if happiness that does not harm others should be squelched because the majority of society deems it unnatural.

Both sides of the argument are presented, and the viewer is left to determine their own answer. Koi Kaze will likely be hard pressed to find a large Western audience willing to watch, but I applaud the large brass pair it took for Geneon to release a title like this to a Western audience. I certainly would not recommend it to everyone, but those willing to keep an open mind will find this to be a unique and thought provoking experience.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original and Textless Opening, Original and Textless Ending, Promotional Trailer, Commercial Collections, Bears' Mini Theatre

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

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