Koi Kaze: The Art of Making You Hate Yourself

How do I recommend this show? I can’t. It’s too difficult. If someone asked me what made it so great I’d probably respond with something along the lines of “never has something made me feel like such a piece of shit”.

This show will leave you wallowing in a pit of self loathing, it’s not an easy show to digest. It also doesn’t sell itself well, read it’s Mal description. Yeah.

If you’ve seen it before and hated it, allow me to explain that the (probable) reasons for your hatred are actually what makes Koi Kaze a masterpiece.

What is the purpose of art?

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I suppose this is a personal matter but by my standard (and one that seems to be pretty much accepted by those I know) is that art should convey emotion. It should use it’s medium to express human feelings which are not capable of being expressed as a statement.

Most people want art that makes them feel good, it’s why comedies and happy romances are so popular. People also want art that intrigues and challenges them, your thrillers, mysteries and the like. People want to be scared, people want to be sad, people want to hate. But they want to do all of these things vicariously, when some of these harder to deal with emotions become too real, people tend to recoil.

I believe that experiencing these emotions at their fullest extent is an important part of the human experience, and when a show manages to do that, make me fear for safety, make me feel sad for me, makes me hate……me, it’s managed to do something incredible in my eyes.

Koi Kaze does that and while it’s what makes it fantastic, also limits it’s appeal.

But a misrepresentation of what it is certainly doesn’t help.

The incest anime that hates incest

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This anime has an incestuous premise, and I (like many) was initially turned off by that but that Psychological tag eventually got me watching the show. And thank god it did, this show does not portray incest in a positive light. In fact it pretty much serves only to show how it can destroy the lives of those involved. The fact the girl is a minor only serves to amplify one’s disgust with the main character (and thus oneself (more on that later)).

When I see praise for this show it usually comes in one of two forms:

  1. People who are onboard with the incest/age gap which I would posit that if that’s the case you like something that basically shits on this viewpoint. OR
  2. People who praise the show for taking it’s taboo topics seriously, and while I wouldn’t entirely disagree with this, it’s representation of it’s themes isn’t just serious, it’s realistic. It shows how society would react if this were to really happen and all the problems that would cause.

If this shows premise makes you want to not watch it, then you absolutely should watch it.

I can also talk about why it’s great

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How about THAT for a curveball.

I’ll give a brief background for anyone who hasn’t watched the show before I get into the logistics of why I think it’s so fantastic but I implore you to watch the show instead of reading further (and then of course coming back to read but do watch the show).

The show centers around Koshiro Saeki , a 27 year old wedding planner coming off a breakup. He meets a highschool girl, 15 year old Nanoka Kohinata, they go to a theme park, share a moment together and as they go to head their separate ways they find out they are siblings who haven’t seen each other in years, and they’ll be living with each other from now on. That’s our set up. It’s what happens from here on out that makes the show memorable.

What makes it great is the way the two aforementioned characters are written, and how the audience projects itself onto Saeki, our main character.

Saeki and Nanoha

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Koi Kaze is a character driven story, it’s strengths and failures are intrinsically tied to how well written it’s characters are, the believability of their actions and having said actions be intriguing.

Explaining why this show is great is difficult but to do so I want to focus on Saeki’s character and how we interact with him, Nanoha will be analyzed from the perspective of her brother to an extent, because that’s how we as an audience see her.

(On this note, for any females who have watched this show: who did you attach yourself to? Was it Nanoka? Or perhaps Kaname? Was it still Saeki seeing as how he’s the main character? And how did that influence your interpretation of the show? Please let me know I’m thoroughly interested)

Saeki Koshiro

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Why Saeki makes this show great will be broken down into 3 main facets:

  • How we as an audience tend to project onto a character
  • Lust vs Love
  • How he is a truly awful person

Audience projection

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Audience projection is something that happens in almost every show. Whether or not a show is actively trying to use this to it’s advantage, you will always find the most relatable main character in a series you can and then you experience the shows events vicariously through them. To the degree that this is true varies by show to show. Take something like Sword Art Online, where Kirito is written devoid of much actual character so one can project heavily onto him and vicariously enjoy how great he is at literally everything.

Koi Kaze uses this idea to great effect. It has a very small cast of characters, which means that one has to latch onto one of perhaps three people. With Saeki being the only male character with a large amount of screen time, male audience members are made to experience the story from his point of view.

But not completely. You see Saeki has a significant personality and as such whilst we experience the story from his perspective, we vicariously feel the consequent feelings that come from doing things we would never do (E.G fucking your goddamn sister) we get to experience what it would feel like to do things that are against our moral codes (potentially, hopefully).

Keep this in mind throughout.

Lust vs Love

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The idea at play here is that of tormenting infatuation. It’s a fairly universal experience, you meet someone you’re attracted to and gradually they start occupying your thoughts on a regular basis. Should this lust be unrequited then those thoughts can become tormenting as you only wish for them to stop, despite that these feelings are almost impossible to consciously quell.

Saeki feels this type of lust for Nanoka having met her again without the knowledge of their relationship but instead of it being one sided, he ends up finding out that he could fulfill these desires if he wanted to. It is his love for Nanoka as a sister that prevents him from immediately acting on it.

The real kicker here is that, as an audience we can see Nanoka’s innate appeal easily. To us shes a pretty, young girl who only wants to make us happy. But shes also the sister of the character we experience all this through. It made me feel sick that , whilst personally liking Nanoha as a character, I was experiencing this vicariously as her brother.

The way we interact with the characters is crucial to making us feel something new from experiences we’ve had before, turning lust into disgust at one’s self.

Saeki is just an awful person

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Like really, putting everything else about him aside, he went on a date with a highschool girl at 27, that’s pretty weird no matter which way you slice it.

Saeki does things, says things that we would never do and say and we experience how we might feel if we were to do those things. Masturbating to the thought of your sister being one, it makes you feel disgusted with yourself (I hope).

Watching the show will of course give you a general idea of what makes him a (subjectively, although I would say he is) bad person but what really makes things hard to stomach is that he actually ends up going all the way with his sister. We want to think that he (and thus ourselves) has some shred of decency left.

The experiencing of all these things will obviously differ for different people. Where they draw the line with Saeki’s actions will affect the growing tension that the show seems to be engulfed by. After the first few episodes I could feel the weight of the shows seemingly inevitable conclusion bearing down on me with suffocating force. The finale was particularly difficult to watch because I just didn’t want to see what I knew was coming.

The feelings these things inspired in me were very tough to swallow, but I think that’s a good thing.

Nanoka

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The last part of this is about Nanoka.

Like I said before she’s written to be appealing, but she’s also written in a way that makes us want to disregard that innate appeal.

By this I mean she isn’t quite mature enough to make the decision she ends up making. She’s at that age where she’s not a kid but yet not an adult. She doesn’t understand that her feelings towards her brother are not that of love but lust. We know this, he knows this and it makes that last episode so much more painful. Not only are we doing something society deems morally reprehensible but we are taking this innocent girl down with us by doing so.

I think this is telling in the final scene, where the two go to a park, the one where they first reconnected, and start playing in the dirt. People start looking at them like they’re weird, not wanted to be there paralleling the effect of  what they’ve just done will have on them. The park is revealed to be closing soon, again paralleling what has become of their relationship and what will become of it in the future.

As the two part at the park entrance we see them smiling at each other as Nanoka walks away from Saeki in the final shot, smiling whilst heading down a path that will cause her so much pain.

If you enjoyed this piece, please subscribe to my blog below.

Thanks for reading,

Psychime

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