Kaze No Stigma: Of Wind And Fire

Kaze No Stigma coverI finished watching this show a few weeks ago, and I’ve been struggling with how to write this post for that entire time. You see, I enjoyed Kaze No Stigma. Quite a bit, in fact. Yet I can’t really think of much to say about it that is positive. So I’ve written several drafts of this review that have all either come across completely wrong, been inaccurate, or just plain poorly written. So I am sorry for the delay on this one, but it was necessary to ensure I was honest and did this show justice.

First… the basics. Kaze No Stigma takes place in a world where magic is real and spirits exist. Elemental spirits can bestow their power upon people by making contracts, and the gifts become hereditary. The main character of our story, Kazuma Kannagi, was disowned by his family – a famous Japanese family of fire magic users – because he showed no talents for fire magic. The story begins with him returning to Tokyo after becoming a wind magic user, and immediately after he arrives… strange murders begin happening – obviously performed by a wind user, and suspiciously aimed at Kazuma’s estranged family…

To begin with, I wanted to give you an idea of who all of the characters are. The Kannagi family is made up of a core family and several branch families. Ayano is the current heir to the family, and is the daughter of the current head of the family. She’s very close to her cousin Ren, who happens to be Kazuma’s brother. Ren, despite being young at the time, still deeply cares for his brother and hopes someday he’ll come back. The majority of the rest of the family doesn’t share that view. Now that we know who these characters are… lets get a bit into their personalities, shall we?

Ayano has to be one of the most incredibly dense female characters I’ve seen in a long time. Not just about her feelings – that’s a pretty common theme in anime – but about everything. And while there is some ‘character development’ to be seen within, it all feels very forced and doesn’t really help build her as a character in general, just during the relevent scenes. And then you have those ‘friends’ of hers… with friends like that, who needs enemies. No, really… I don’t know that any anime has ever had a character forced to put up with friends that care so little about her and so much about their own entertainment at her expense.

And let’s not forget Ren, who knew his brother for only a few short years of his childhood – yet somehow has enough fond memories to completely and totally idolize him. Okay, idolize is too shallow a term – worship. Ya, worship. It is almost his only personality trait in the early episodes, and much like Ayano – while they do focus some time into his development, it doesn’t really alter his character for more than the relevent moments. Also like Ayano, his friends are disfunctional – but in their case they both seem to be utterly and completely obsessed with him, and both of his friends are constantly fighting over him in the least realistic or believable ways.

Then we get onto the father figures of the show… Ayano’s father is trying to matchmake her to Kazuma – her cousin – rather shamelessly and, although he’s supposedly incredibly powerful… he doesn’t do anything the entire series. And then we have Kazuma’s father, who seems to be the epitome of poor parenting (disinheritance and exile seem a bit harsh for a lack of talent).

The only main character with any real redeeming qualities is the hero himself. Kazuma makes a surprisingly satisfying unwilling hero, and it’s one of the few aspects of this show that really helped to keep me interested. Due to his mastery of Wind magic, he is constantly aware of what is going on – but it never makes him look superhuman, just like he’s a bit of a self-assured jerk. Yet that is a front for a character who has just the right amount of responsibility and caring in him to make him intriguing.

This may sound like I’m spending an inordinate amount of time just talking about the characters… but there isn’t much else that is noteworthy to talk about. The soundtrack is okay, the animations are exactly what you expect nowadays, the story is neither particularly good nor particularly bad, the sound effects are suitable but not outstanding, the voice acting is all very well done… essentially aside from some very bad characters – I don’t have all that much to say. Except to reiterate that no matter how much negative I say about this show… I really thoroughly did enjoy it… and I have no idea why. But I enjoyed it enough that I want to go back and watch it again. So take all of the above with a grain of salt… because as much as I can find fault with the mediocrity of most of the show’s components and the poor character decisions…. the end result is what matters and Kaze No Stigma is truly a show that surpasses its downfalls and becomes something special.

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