Stigma of the Wind (Kaze no Stigma) (2007) is an anime with a pretty interesting synopsis. When I started watching it and didn’t like the older styled art, I told myself not to judge it, so I kept watching it. When I recoiled from the stereotypical characters, I kept watching it. When they started (not-subtly) hinting at the cousin x cousin romance, I kept watching it. I’ve finished it now, and I’ve learnt I should really pay more attention to those early misgivings.
What’s it about?
The Kannagi family is an old family of “Enjutsu” (fire-users), whose duties include protecting the world from evil spirits and demons. Ayano Kannagi is the successor to the family; a short-tempered and arrogant, but genuine, teenager. She’s able to wield the deadly fire-sword Enraiha and is proven to be quite powerful. After a four-year banishment due to his defeat at Ayano’s hand, Kazuma Yagami, Ayano’s cousin, has returned to the city. Very much the black sheep of the family due to his inability to control fire, Kazuma is now a skilled “Fujutsushi” (wind-user). Despite the grudge between the Kannagi family and Kazuma, Ayano finds herself working with him again and again to solve supernatural mysteries and keep the city safe.
I’ll always like it when a series has some kind of magic use in it, especially if that magic happens to be elements based. In Stigma of the Wind we see fire, wind, and earth magic, and I assume that water magic also exists. We also have a number of different spirits and demons featuring, so there’s all kinds of interesting things going on. I liked that there was a type of hierarchy in the magic users (i.e. wind users were seen as lower class or servants by the fire users), and I also like that there were different types of users for each element. For example, we have Ren (Kazuma’s younger brother) who seems to just do straight fire manipulation, Ayano who summons a sword, and another Enjutsu who is introduced later to have familiar summoning abilities. I only wished all of these elements were explored more.
This series has some fun moments in it. I really liked the way that Ayano and Kazuma bickered the whole way through, and I also really liked Ayano’s best friends Yukari and Nanase because they were a fun addition to the series. Sadly, I didn’t like Ayano as much (see below), but I do recognise that the writers set out to develop her character right from the start, and did a good job of it. By the end, we see an Ayano who is much more confident in herself and less cocky and stubborn. Simple character development, but always appreciated when it’s done well.
The major problem that I had with this series was simply that it’s pretty typical of this type of shounen. The characters, particularly Ayano and Kazuma, are stereotypes, and the plot is very predictable. I also found the story-line pretty slow. Sadly, this didn’t make for a very enjoyable watch. I feel like the last arc could have been expanded out further to serve as the whole series, which would have improved this anime so much.
Now, before I explain about this, I’m going to point out that I know Japan’s culture is different to mine, and I know that this pretty common and acceptable in Japanese culture. Hell, it was even acceptable in my culture until not that long ago. However, I was personally put off by the love story between Ayano and Kazuma because they are cousins. And not “distant relatives of the same family” cousins but “our fathers are brothers” cousins. I know not everyone will have a problem with this, but I found it hard to enjoy the romance aspect of the show because of it. Also Ayano’s father is one of the most hard-core shippers I’ve ever seen in an anime series.
The final things I’m going to touch on is the art and music of the series. This is quite an old series, almost ten years old, and it really shows in the art style. It’s very blocky and basic, which is very typical of the time period, although I did like the bright colour palette. It might appeal to some people, but it’s really not my style. The music is also not very catchy, and I detested the opening theme something shocking.
Art: 5/10: The art is pretty basic and typical of an old anime.
Story: 5.5/10: Predictable and slow, making the series not very enjoyable to watch. There were some pretty interesting ideas going into the plot, but sadly they weren’t utilised enough.
Characters: 5/10: Sadly, the characters are pretty boring and typical. There is some nice, simple character development with Ayano, but nothing else beyond that.
Stigma of the Wind is not a terrible series. It has some nice elements to it, and really could have been so much more if there had been better writing in it, expanding on interesting ideas of magic and the final arc, which, in my opinion, could have been the whole series. It’s predictable plot and stereotypical characters ultimately let it down. Not a terrible series, but very mediocre. Overall, I give it a 5/10. Watch it if it sounds like your thing, but don’t expect anything amazing.