Koi Kaze Vol. #3 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Koi Kaze

Koi Kaze Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     July 22, 2005
Release Date: July 26, 2005

Koi Kaze Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
Koshiro realizes he can no longer hold back his feelings for Nanoka and decides to move out of the house and tells Nanoka they can never see each other again. Instead of squelching their feelings, the distance only serves to intensify them.

The Review!
One of the more complicated relationships shown in recent anime comes to a close and in a way that once more shows the kind of edge that anime used to have.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix provided for the show is solid throughout but it isn't exactly a mix that's going to knock anyone's socks off to begin with. Koi Kaze is very dialogue driven show for the most part and there aren't really things like action scenes. There are a few areas where some good directionality comes into play with things like the trains and doors but for the most part it's a center channel based series. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of this volume.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series is an interesting one to look at since it's doing a slice of life kind of tale and trying to utilize things such as the seasons and the mood of the sky to influence the characters so it has a very real world feel to its color palette that's shaken up every now and then by some really vibrant pieces that just pop into view. The consistency of the color scheme works really well here and it adds to the atmosphere perfectly. The transfer itself is a real pleasure to watch with it maintaining a very solid feel for the large sections of colors without any blocking or gradient issues. Cross coloration is non-existent and I'm hard pressed to find any serious instances of aliasing during the four episodes here. This just a transfer that's easy to lose yourself in as you take it all in.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release, the final cover for the series is rather different from the previous ones as it goes back to a traditional old photograph style of the family as it was before it broke up. It's a good looking cover for what it is but it does feel out of place after the first two covers. The back cover keeps the same kind of feel with a few blocked sections and similar colors that provide space for a good number of shots from the show and a summary of the premise as well as episode numbers and titles. The discs technical and production information is all fairly easy to find along the bottom though a touch difficult to read with the color choices used. No insert is included but there is a small sticker sheet included with some amusing quotes.

The main menu is a nicely done piece that uses the same kind of artwork and feel as the cover with Nanoka and the cherry blossoms but livens it up a bit more with some of them floating around the menu while a small selection of purple filtered images floats next to her and just above the menu selections. A brief bit of soft instrumental music plays along as well, though it ends in an abrupt way before starting up again instead of fading out to something a bit more seamless. The layout is easy to navigate and problem free when it comes to accessing everything. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and used them accordingly.

Rounding out the last set of extras, we get the second and third textless endings as well as the original ending. Also included, strangely enough, is the Bears Mini Theater which is just… beyond words.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Koi Kaze comes to a close with the final four episodes of the series and it's the kind of material that has taken what's come before and continues it in the same style, not breaking into something different just because it's the end, but at the same time going in a route that could probably only be handled like this in something not made in North America. With a show like this, the "will they or won't they" aspect really takes on a new meaning.

After what happened in Koshiro's bedroom previously, things are particularly strained between him and Nanoka. Each of them is feeling all sorts of emotions over it and trying to figure it out but neither of them are actually talking to each other since they're leaving the house at different times and just not coming across each other. Koshiro, being true to himself, has decided that things have gone far too far already and he has to stop that. He agonizes internally about how he can't help but to look at her, to masturbate to her in the middle of the night and to long for her. His only recourse at this point knowing that he'd be unable to control himself is to move out of the house. He's helped by Chidori for this as she catches him at the right time and the two end up doing some apartment hunting, landing him something he can move into the very next day.

Watching the way Koshiro's trying to change things and ends up spending more time with Chidori, his internalizations about all of it shows how little he's really thinking about Chidori but rather trying to stop thinking about Nanoka and the entire situation. Chidori's not sure exactly what's going on but chalks it up to family problems while at the same time figuring that it's got to be good for Koshiro to get out on his own at long last, regardless of how things have worked out before then. In fact, since his new place is much closer to the office than her own place and by the train station, she finds herself hanging out there a lot over the six weeks or so since he's moved out and often sleeps over since she gets a bit drunk or overtired and just crashes there.

From the beginning, it's been easy to root for Chidori and Koshiro getting together especially when you can view her as an older version of Nanoka based on looks. The time they spend together now plays out with them more as friends than anything else and it's hard to tell if she's trying to really get him to think of her in that way but from the observer they just look good together. For Koshiro, he doesn't think of her that way at all and is still agonizing over Nanoka, which is even more problematic since she's started to show up in the area looking for him. When Chidori's with him one time he comes across her, it ends up becoming a situation where the revelation of what happened that got him to leave comes about and her reactions are brutally honest with him.

So when Nanoka does end up back in his life, Koshiro's felt like he's lost everything in his life but there she is, cleaning his apartment, making him dinner, being interested in everything about him. He's felt that he's fallen as low as he can (a dangerous sentiment to express) so that any time with her just seems to lift his spirits. What happens then is the thing that will for some make the series stand out or become obscene. The two of them actually talk about what's happened and what they're truly feeling about each other. And then they act on it. It's not done graphically, it's done rather tastefully all told, but the emotions the viewer will feel will definitely be different depending on how they feel about everything about this. I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about it itself, but the fact that there was no cheap last minute things going on here, such as a discovery about them not being related or some other foolishness only made the entire thing all the stronger in a way. This is one of those series that took risks from the start and carried through to the end with them.

With still more than an entire episode left after this, it's interesting to see how they play things out from there and you wonder just how much from the original manga it's either deviated or followed and how much more manga story there is after this since you want to see where things really go. The return to their mother's house, the casual discussion of suicide and the talk of change in general, or just fleeing to where nobody knows them, they avoid some of the usual conversations that you'd expect and instead just focus on how they feel about each other through looks and touches now. The internalizing has fallen off and something different is now taking place.

In Summary:
Koi Kaze is the kind of series that took chances right from the start and didn't back down from them at all. With it being such a heavily dialogue driven piece, it required a lot from the actors and they pulled it off beautifully in both languages with plenty of nuance. So much is spoken in the silences as well, in the looks and just the atmosphere. Right from the announcement of this show being licensed it generated plenty of discussion about how people felt about such a subject being tackled. With its origins in manga, I think they did a great job presenting something that could hit the airwaves and likely still be true to its source. At the end of things, I still want more, but that would shift it out of the fantasy that the two have built and I'm not sure it would be right to do that.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original Ending,Textless Ending Version 2,Bears Theatre

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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