Windy Tales

February 10, 2007

One reason why I watched Windy Tales was because I read it was quite a different and unique anime from the current run-of-the-mill animes. Well yes, it’s kinda different for 2 reasons. Firstly, no doubt that supernatural is one of the genre that this anime fall in, surprisingly this anime is quite calming and soothing. Just like Aria The Animation and even Someday’s Dreamers, partially boring and slow too. Also known as Fuujin Monogatari, just like the other 2 animes mentioned, there isn’t any excessive violence or outrageous out of this world slapstick humour.
 
The second reason why this anime is different is obviously the drawing and art. Yup, it’s not your usual big eyes bishie characters. Instead, the art seems like as though they used water colour to draw and paint the series. And because of that, at first it seems quite unappealing. Many other reviewers have said that the drawing is good. Maybe to me it’s just different, that’s all. Yeah, I’m still used to that typical Japanese anime drawing. Heck, I even noticed that some of the body parts of the characters are ‘crooked’. You should see it if you want to know what I mean.
 
In this 13 episode series, besides the usual drama, slice of life and a little comedy element, the main theme of this anime is of course, the wind. So I can safely say that each episode has got something to do with the wind. Although some aren’t that obvious which made me go "How is this episode related to the wind?".
 
The main protagonist of the series as introduced in episode 1 is Nao Ueshima. Before I proceed, let me just note that at times, from my perception Nao sometimes looked like an alien! Yes, those little grey men from outer space. That’s why because of the drawing and art of the series, in my opinion Nao looked like that. Plus, because her skin colour tone is quite pale and those round black eyes, don’t you think she looked like one?
 
Okay, nevermind that. Nao is the president of her junior high school’s photography club. This shutterbug loves taking pictures of the sky rather than attending class. It’s not like she’s skipping classes. But that’s how passionate she is about her hobby. So much so that when people asks her why is she taking photos of the clouds, she’ll reply by saying that it’s not just the clouds that’ve been captured, but the wind as well. Ah, I see. No doubt you can’t see the wind, but you could see it’s effects on the other visible subjects. Ah, enligthened…
 
However, her photography club isn’t such a popular club. And currently, the club has only 2 members. Yes, 2 members only. How pitiful. Besides Nao, the other club member is her classmate and best friend, Miki. At least Miki’s facial features looked better than Nao’s. Not to say that they’re that pretty, but at least Miki doesn’t look like an alien. Err… Miki does look like pac-man at some point.
 
So Nao’s fascination with the wind began one day while she was taking her usual snapshots on the school’s rooftop. Then she saw a cat that she was gonna take a shot at suddenly jumps down from the roof. Of course, Nao tried to stop it but too late, the cat’s already half way falling down. Oh no! A free fall! Just when she thought that the cat’s going splat (mind the rhyme), the cat then floats. What the? So now you know why cats can survive when they fall off from a high storey building. Yup, they didn’t land on their feet, they float instead. Hehehe. Just made that up.
 
Nao, who’s very intrigued by it, then accidentally fell down the rooftop herself when she took a peek. Oh no! Is Nao falling to her doom? Well, surprisingly, she found herself floating before she crashed to the ground. To cut things short, it’s her maths teacher Taiki-sensei which gave her the ‘soft landing’ which of course saved her life. Later, Nao who’s still fascinated by the whole event decides to enlist the help of Miki and Jun (Miki’s boyfriend) to look for that floating cat.
 
However, they end up on the school rooftop once again but they saw another classmate of theirs, Ryoko Yoshino, controlling the wind too. The trio seek an explanation from her. It seems that in this world, there are a breed of special people who can control the wind. Such people are called Kaze Tsukai (wind manipulators/users). And that cat and Taiki-sensei are Kaze Tsukais. Ryoko also tells them that she learned a bit of controlling the wind from Taiki-sensei himself as she’s still a beginner and not really good yet.
 
Though Taiki-sensei isn’t the kind of guy which brags his super powers, he’s the kind where it’s better to project a low profile of his wind controlling powers. Even though he didn’t want Nao and her pals to further pursue this, but I guess due to Nao’s enthusiasm, Taiki-sensei just let her be, as long as she doesn’t make a mountain out of a molehill or anything attention grabbing or serious.
 
Nao thinks that Ryoko may be in love with Taiki-sensei as Ryoko explained that the reason why the cat jumped off the rooftop was to see him off as Taiki-sensei would be returning to his hometown, the Wind Village for the upcoming summer holidays. Nao and her pals, after hearing all this stuff, became even more interested and decided that they would follow Taiki-sensei back to his hometown to learn even more about this phenomena.
 
Thus in episode 2, the trio arrived at the Wind Village, which is secretly located in the suburbs of the city. However, even though Nao, Miki and Jun have travelled long and far to this place, Taiki-sensei seems reluctant and refuses to teach them any of the wind manipulating stuffs, much to their disappointment. Well, maybe he thought that this kind of stuffs shouldn’t be just for anybody. I mean, it’s a great responsibility if one were to be able to control the wind. Why, there’s even that explanation (which I couldn’t really remember) which says that the Kaze Tsukais are responsible for the flow of the wind all over the world! So now we know where the wind comes from, right? Maybe not.
 
Anyway, because Taiki-sensei refused to teach them, instead he says that he can learn from an old geezer, Jiji, who runs a petrol station and claims that he is the best Kaze Tsukai in the village. Well, that guy seems keen on teaching those young ones because he saw their enthusiast. But it seems controlling the wind isn’t easy (joke: and controlling the wind from your stomach also isn’t. Hahaha). Nao gets quite frustrated everytime she tries her best but to no avail. Hey, looks like Miki can do it, albeit it’s just a little. Yeah, something about the power to control the wind comes from your heart (joke: and the power to control your other wind comes from the stomach. Hahaha).
 
Also at the Wind Village, the trio met the wife of Taiki-sensei’s deceased brother, Yukio. She seems kind of a nice lady. And the way she says things to Nao, seems that Yukio also likes Taiki-sensei too. Anyway, she tells them that there’s some sort of Wind Festival, the reason why Taiki-sensei returned. Though I don’t really recall the reason for the annual Wind Festival, but as far as I can remember, it has something to do with regulating the wind of the world (I think). And because it’s quite a dangerous process, Nao and her buddies are being told by Taiki-sensei to stay put in their rooms while the ceremony is in process. Like he said "Don’t underestimate the wind. It can take lives". True.
 
Of course, Nao is that curious little girl and sneaks out just to take a peek. Unfortunately, it’s very windy during the ceremony. And a very violent one too. Luckily Yukio managed to catch hold of Nao before she’s being carried off by the wind (gone with the wind, I’d say. Hahaha). Nao manage to get a glimpse of the ceremony. Several Kaze Tsukais in white robes surrounding some tall bunch of trees grouped together with those chants. Dunno what’s going on either. But it’s a real battle out there. Unfortunately, by the end of the ceremony claimed the life of one of the Kaze Tsukai, Jiji, that is. So sad. Soon, the trio head back with Nao a little changed after witnessing that event. Uh-huh, back at the school rooftop, Ryoko caught a glimpse of Nao jumping down from the roof. And this time, Nao manage to control the wind and made a soft landing. Impressive. Looks like she’s got the hang of it too.
 
After that, I felt that the rest of the other episodes really didn’t have anything to do with that Wind Festival nor Nao learning more about the Kaze Tsukais. Instead, we will see Nao and her pals in their wind themed adventures in the city. So I guess this is the part which starts to get boring, if you look at that way. But for me, I guess they’re pretty much okay, though I admit, it does feel a little boring and dull.
 
Like how in episode 3, Nao and Miki are supposed to take a photo of the school’s only marathon runner, Atsuko. Another club which has no other members. What happened to kids these days. At the same time, there’s a photo competition. And of course, which photography club wouldn’t want to participate in it. It was quite funny to see how Nao and Miki was trying to catch up with Atsuko to get a good pic of her while the latter’s running, but end up having a hard time catching their own breath. Looks like those girls aren’t fit, that’s for sure.
 
In the end, the 2 girls ended up getting 2nd place in the photo competition. And the ironic thing was, an old lady who took a photo on Nao and Miki who’re struggling to snap Atsuko, won first place. What a contrast. And in acknowledgement of their effort, that lady even printed out extra negatives of that winning photo and gave it to them. Well, it isn’t a matter of winning or not. It’s the effort that counts.
 
It’s Jun’s turn in episode 4. What did he do? Well, Jun found and rescued a flying squirrel and decided to name it Donguri, which means acorn in Japanese. Well yeah, flying squirrels do eat acorns as their staple diet. But I guess it’s better than naming them John, Paul, George or Ringo, right? Thus, Jun decides to teach Donguri how to fly. There’s one funny part which made Jun looked like a flasher! Uh-huh. While he’s standing with the wind blowing through him, his top shirt was unbuttoned as he’s using it like his artificial wings. Can you picture it? That was my first impression. Hehehe. In the end, Jun had to give up Donguri to an old lady who supposedly lost her pet flying squirrel. But she thanked Jun for his efforts in taking care of it and allowed him to come and visit Donguri anytime he wants, much to Jun’s joy.
 
It wouldn’t be complete if you don’t have that fever or sick episode. Yup, Nao gets a fever in episode 5. Uh-huh, if you realized that kaze pun, in Japanese that same word could also mean fever. During class, she fainted and was sent to the infirmary. While recuperating there, she listened to some holiday stories from another teacher, the friendly Makino-sensei, who seems to like to spend most of his time there too, even though he isn’t that ill. Yeah, he even likes to tell scary stories to his students during class instead of teaching. But I guess those students are more interested in that rather than the old boring syllabus.
 
But this episode took me by surprise a little. Why? Because Makino-sensei was telling Nao about his holiday trip in Malaysia! Yes, Malaysia. It’s so rare to see this country mentioned in other international movies and series, what more an anime like this. Hmmm… Looks like all the names of several places are depicted correctly, from Penang to Taiping to Kuala Lumpur. Impressive. There’s even that KL Tower and Petronas Twin Tower in the background. Hey! How come all those silhouettes of the citizens have those traditional triangular farmer Vietnamese hat?! And people there still riding bicycles?! Oh well, close enough. Probably, the only thing that got me interested was this Malaysian part. Anyway, in the end, Nao’s still coping with her fever and lying in the infirmary’s bed. Is she gonna be okay?
 
Well, don’t worry. It seems that Nao’s back to her normal health in episode 6. In this particular episode, Nao and Miki stumbled upon 3 youngsters playing a children’s game called ‘kick the can’. I’m not pretty sure how it really works, but it goes something like this. One person becomes ‘it’ by counting to 10 and giving the other players a head start to run and hide. Then he/she will try to catch all the other players and bring him/her back to the can, which is his/her base. So if the person who is ‘it’ managed to catch all the other players, he/she wins. The other time the ‘it’ player loses is if the other ‘surviving’ players manage to kick away the can. The game is then over and the player who kicks away the can becomes the next ‘it’. Something like that.
 
But the thing is, that those 3 youngsters are wind manipulators too. That’s what Nao find out everytime she passes a building under construction on her way back. Of course, Nao wanted to join in the fun too. You may call her a busybody but hey, there’s a kid in all of us. Plus, I’m sure she’s a little interested to know about those young Kaze Tsukais. Eventually, the boys allowed them to. I happen to notice that while they’re playing the game, the silhouette on the walls resembled like pac-man! Must be the drawing.
 
Later on, Ryoko even joined them in the game. Of course the girls realized that they’ve already grown up and wonder if they could continue to do so, even though they had the greatest time of their life playing that game. I also happen to notice that the rate they kick the can, they can enter the NFL or rugby league. Yup, the can flew as high as though it reached the moon. Maybe it’s all just exagerration or using their wind manipulation powers.
 
In episode 7, an impending typhoon is going to hit the city and that Kaze Tsukai cat is nowhere to be found. Thus, Nao and Ryoko (later Nao again enlisting the help of Miki and Jun) decided to go look for it by staying back at school. I knew it was all just a dream when the 3 girls decided to combine their wind powers and flew through the school corridors using an umbrella (Mary Poppins? Not really). Then there’s that exagerrated part in the end where the 4 of them with Taiki-sensei saw a huge furball of cats floating in the sky. What the?! I guess that’s how the term came about. Soon, the huge furball started to break up and it’s raining cats and… cats?! I guess this is also how that term came about. Okay, close enough. But I still wonder what it all means.
 
While Nao along with Miki and Jun are cleaning up their photography club room in episode 8, they discovered an old photo album, supposedly from a previous member of the photography club. Thus, the trio embarked on a mission to find that lady and return the photo album to her. In short, that lady, Yoriko, was once Jun’s babysitter. Ah ha. You can see how jealous Miki is. Hehehe. But Yoriko’s already married and have a toddler son of her own. Looks like Jun’s pretty attached to him too. So some catching up between Yoriko and Jun, some flashback during Yoriko’s schooling days and the boy she loved, things like that. In the end, Miki and Jun ‘settled things’ when they both had a little moment of intimacy of their own and kissed! And Nao’s pretty surprised to hear from Miki that "the kiss problem has been solved with a kiss".
 
In episode 9, Nao’s dad secretly bought a 400cc motorbike, much to Nao’s mom’s chagrin because she doesn’t like one as she sees them as dangerous. Which middle aged guy doesn’t have any interest in big boys’ toys like cars and bikes. Okay, maybe some. So in this episode, Nao gets to ride on her dad’s new bike and ‘feel the wind’ as she rides through one. Of course, a minor accident later on left the family worried about him, but there isn’t anything serious, just very minor bruises (unless if you’re talking about ego, then it’s a different story). In the end, though Nao’s dad managed to persuade her mom for a spin, her mom said that she’ll never ride a motorbike with him again. Not only because he’s an awful motorcyclist, but she’s intending of getting a motorbike license herself so that she could ride one alone. Haih, I guess she’s got a little taste of thrill and excitement there.
 
I don’t really understand episode 10. With the title going ‘The Earth’s Last Day’, I was guessing that the weather is gonna wreck havoc on the world due to global warming and such. Well, it didn’t turn out to be such a bad disaster in the end. Well here, Nao and Ryoko had some sort of weird dream which they believe is a message from the wind. But since they didn’t really know what it means, Nao and Miki were speculating on it like how the world would probably end. I see. Yeah, some vision of a stream of cats floating from outer space and Nao looking down at Earth from the moon. Huh?
 
I like the funny part where the 3 girls were watching a horror movie in the cinema. You should see Ryoko’s scary expression when she’s scared. So funnily scary. Haha. But in the end, nothing much happened. The Earth is still around but the town is under heavy snowing. And there’re those cats floating in the sky again. I don’t really get it. Poor Jun, trekking in the middle of those thick snow just to go to Miki’s place.
 
In episode 11, Nao applied for an audition to be on some television show. To her surprise and other of her classmates, she got accepted! And there’s one of Nao’s classmate, Karin who seems to be doing this line for quite some time and is quite familiar with it. So Nao and Karin had their usual chat of things as Nao finds out Karin’s way of life. By the way, I happened to recognize that Karin’s voice actress is Mamiko Noto. Yeah, I’m surprised that she even voiced minor roles in such animes too. Nothing bad or wrong, actually. In the end, Nao didn’t pass her second audition. Yeah, maybe the judges decided to think twice after hearing her singing. Oh well, I guess Nao’s better off taking photos. And she managed to snap one of Karin from the school rooftop with the wind blowing through Karin as she turned and looked back up as though as if Nao called her (which she did). Picturesque.
 
It feels like I’m watching and taking a Japanese literature class in episode 12. Uh-huh. A lot of those literature stuffs which made me go "Huh? I didn’t know that". Of course I don’t lah. Well, what I understand from this episode is that, Nao and her buddies decides to save an old sakura tree from being chopped down to make way for some construction, after hearing some romantic story from an old woman operating a stall nearby the tree, like how she met her loved one there and such. Though, It isn’t clear whether the tree will go or not, but the sakura tree manage to go into full bloom mode again which brings back many pleasant memories to the old lady, which made her happy.
 
In the final episode 13, Nao noticed some strong winds and thinks that it may be a sign that Yukio’s coming to the city. Uh-huh, there’s also that old story about some young girl who vanished without a trace and returned to her homeland after 30 years or so before disappearing once more. Another story which I didn’t get. A little funny part where Nao got a little jealous of Miki when the latter changed the topic to say how Jun said that Miki’s getting cuter. Hehehe.
 
As expected, Yukio did arrived at the city and met up with Taiki-sensei. She also met Nao and her pals, and Ryoko for the first time. Yukio arrived just to tell Taiki-sensei to come back to the Wind Village for some summer festival since it’s already been a year since Nao and her 2 friends visited them. Taiki-sensei said he’ll go and Yukio will be waiting for him there. There’re certain parts which I didn’t get either. One including where Ryoko was suddenly crying when Yukio left with Taiki-sensei to talk with him. And when Jun asked what’s wrong, he’s been scolded "Baka" and such from Nao and Miki. Huh? Could it mean that Ryoko’s crush has been crushed? What about the part where Makino-sensei’s still lingering in the infirmary? And that bunch of cats still floating and drifting in the sky? What the?!
 
Though Nao believed that the wind in Yukio’s heart caused all of the strange events that happened, Yukio then had already returned back to the Wind Village as fast as she had arrived. Eventually Taiki-sensei told them about it and how Yukio came to say goodbye (didn’t understand the meaning here too. Is she leaving forever or decides to get over her feelings with him or what?) much to the girl’s surprise. He also said that they are important wind users to him. I guess he finally acknowleged their wind using powers. And in the last part, as Jun rushes to the rooftop to see the 3 girls jumping down from the building. But they all managed to land softly on their feet. Looks like their wind controlling skills has much improved.
 
Overall, this is quite an okay anime if you want to view something different. Though, I wasn’t satisfied with how the series ended, especially of the events in the last episode. Like I’ve mentioned the drawing is quite sketchy and to me it isn’t eye candy. Thus, the characters here look quite odd and weird with those angular shaped features. Plus, they draw the wind with simple lines. I can also draw like that. Okay, maybe it’s better not to get ahead of myself.
 
But unlike in Aria The Animation or Someday’s Dreamers, this series doesn’t have any soundtrack which I particularly like. There are BGMs in the series but I didn’t find them appealing. The opening song, Kaze No Uta, which is sung by Yuu, is quite a slow song which fits the series well. Yeah, it makes you feel like as though you wanna lie down and feel the breeze blowing through your face. The ending theme, Yuuhi No Iro Dake, is a more livelier piece, with the animation mixing the 2-D characters with real background sceneries.
 
So what did I learn anything from the wind? Not really. To me, the wind is still movement of air particles, that’s all. Perhaps there are other animes related to the wind such as Wind – A Breath Of Heart, Nausicaa – The Valley Of The Wind, and Windaria. Okay, I admit I’m not sure if the last 2 has got anything to with the wind since I’ve never watched them before. But if you want to watch a weather themed anime where disaster isn’t the villain but a low key feature, then I suppose you may want to have a go at this one.