Kaze no Stigma


Kaze no Stigma comprises one light novel and manga adaptation, both of which I hadn’t read prior to seeing this anime, nor knew much of. Its author, Takahiro Yamato, and its artist, Hanamaru Nanto, are both relatively unknown, whilst its studio, Gonzo, despite producing many notable series in the past, such as Last Exile, Peacemaker Kurogane and Full Metal Panic!, have been known for stumbling with their animation at times as well, Speed Grapher and Dragonaut – The Resonance, to name but a few. Nevertheless, Kaze no Stigma intrigued me, if only for its mildly interesting premise and for the alluring promotional trailer that featured a fiery red head (that seemed a lot more pink during the series) that yielded an equally fiery katana/sword (the inevitable resemblance to Shakugan no Shana didn’t go amiss either).

I decided to reserve this series for what I refer to as ‘marathoning’, where I will endeavor to watch an entire series in one day. Kaze no Stigma served particularly well with this approach, neither being boring or repetitive in its 24 episodes. Contrary, it was rather enjoyable and easy to digest. There was something distinctly satisfying in watching our male lead, Kazuma, originally shunned from his family/clan only to return many years later in such majestic style. The romance that developed thereafter with our female lead, Ayano, was endearing and fairly refreshing. For once the stubborn Ice Queen was outwitted and embarrassed by our male lead. This is a contrast from the usual romances that occur in most anime series, where the male would almost always stumble beneath the whims of the female.

The characters were likable insofar as they were conventional, but that didn’t particularly matter. The arrogant charm of our lead, Kazuma, was delightful and full of charisma, while Ayano was endearing in all her tsundere glory. Ren, the younger brother of Kazuma, typically follows the archetype of being polite and delicate, whilst looking up to his brother with admiration. It also helps that his appearance is that of a bishōnen (pretty boy), to reel in extra points. The rest of the characters follow various other archetypes and are nothing of note. They helped to string the story along, nothing more. Even the enemies seemed ‘monster of the week’, as I can’t actually remember any of them. The focus was clearly on the trio, or more precisely, the romance of the two main characters, while the action supplemented this alongside. It worked well either way.

The animation was thankfully steady and solid throughout the entire series. It wasn’t remotely on par with some of Gonzo’s earlier work (if Last Exile was a solid 8 or 9 out of 10, this is probably a 6). Still, I didn’t see any decline in the artwork. In fact, the character design was attractive and the fight scenes were animated well. Nothing to write home about, though, it’s acceptable for a series released in 2007. Needless to say, the light novel (of which I decided to view after seeing the series) was expectantly far more stylish and better presented. The OP was performed by Saori Kiuji. What can I say? I can’t really complain, I guess, it was appropriate and well performed. I can’t remember the soundtrack exactly but I seem to recollect it being fairly cinematic, so that’s probably a good thing. When the characters were fighting, I felt the intensity so I’m supposing the soundtrack contributed to that in some way. The voice acting was commendable and well performed. They captured the archetype of each character very well, no complaints.

It’s safe to say that Kaze no Stigma won’t be standing among the highly acclaimed, far from it, nor is it one of Gonzo’s finer productions. Still, Kaze no Stigma was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining throughout its 24 episode length. Maybe if I had seen this series weekly, one episode at a time, my opinion may be slightly different. Nevertheless, I can easily see myself re-watching this series when I’m bored, so that’s saying something.