Kaze no Stigma

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As much as I REALLY liked the concept and story of this anime, and even some of thecharacters(Particularly Ren who was just adorable) there were certain things that I just couldn't get past.

1) I'm not much for foolish love stuff messing with an actiony anime

2) I'm pretty sure the main love interests are COUSINS and therefore I was really disapproving

3) Ayano, despite her improving slowly, was obnoxious and Kazuma never really changed. Each had good points, but this issue was that other than Ren, who matures during some of his screentime, there wasn't a lot of change. Ayano is still a ridiculously overpowered, over emotional, jealous, and annoying teenage girl. Kazuma is a jerk for messing with her and doing so CONSTANTLY, REALLY ridiculously overpowered, and kind of flat emotionally which, as refreshign as it is from Ayano's over the top-ness, was boring.

 If it had just been about a family of magic users and their battles in the magical world, I probably would have really liked it, it was still GOOD, but, the romantic aspects and lack of change in character I saw really put me off, and I don't really know if I want to continue it.

9/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall
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Kaze no Stigma is a 26 episode magic action anime set in modern day Japan and is based upon the light novels written by Takahiro Yamato. I will definitely compare this to the novels. I’ve read both novels fairly recently and found them entertaining. The plot goes beyond the novels and has an episodic feel to it, though it does add some unnecessary and infuriating BS that I’d never expect. I had certain (low) expectations of this adaptation however, expecting typical anime added ecchi and bad characters. This anime starts of similar to the book and then tapers off and turns out to be something completely different. Initial impressions were disappointing, since they compacted the entire novels into just eight episodes. If the trend followed, then the entire series would finish by episode 8, since there was just one more book of plot left. The author unfortunately died and was therefore unable to continue the story, though the books concluded well with no sequel-baiting or BS. So then… what is this anime exactly and should you watch it?

Animation

Animation quality was pretty decent for a 2007 anime, I watched in 720p. The original novels actually had occasional illustrations, in addition to the cover drawn by Hanamaru Nanto. Thus the animation style had something to go on, so I won’t judge the originality here. Which by the way, the character designs are rather generic. I will say, that some character designs are retained, such as Ayano and Ren. I didn’t actually recognise Juugo or Genma Kannagi, so I’ll assume the character designs changed. Those character designs were decent. And finally, the thing about the anime that impressed me, they changed the design of Kazuma from what was in the novel. He actually looks mature and appropriate for his age, whereas the illustrations in the book made his face look too childish. But for every positive there is a negative, they changed the design of Misao, but here it’s worse than the age appropriate depiction in the book. Misao looks much younger with shorter hair.

One other slight disappointment was the lack of gore, in the book there were heavily mutatilated bodies and an absurd amount of decapitations. None of that were present here. The corpses are kept out of shot in the first episode.

On the other hand I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of ecchi/fan-service. Ayano looks like a teenager, no oversized breasts or body of a model, similarly Misao looks like a child at times, before looking like some hot chick, but she isn’t exactly flaunting her stuff. There is random shredding of a skirt in the first episode, but surprisingly no attention is drawn to it. Similarly the one ecchi moment in the early anime is just only ‘ecchi’ moment in the first book. And done a bit better, there’s less teasing about flat-chestedness, likely due to the fact that Ayano has breasts appropriate for a girl of her age. Yes, there are more busty additional characters later on, but they don’t draw attention to it (no jealousy of bigger boobs… phew). Well there is jiggling of breasts and the occasional panty shot. And shredded clothes and towards the end the trope hypnotised chick in kinky revealing dominatrix attire. Okay it gets worse as the anime goes on, but it isn’t the worst part about this anime, not by a long shot.

Sound

The sound was okay. The music didn’t blow me away nor did it stand out, with the exception of the outro which was decent. The music in the actual anime itself, I didn’t notice. Perhaps because I lost concentration and my mind wandered off the anime, a fault of the anime for not being very interesting at that point. Occasionally the music seems cheesy and terrible and other times it plays appropriate instrumentals but the background music in general wasn’t outstanding.

This anime is available in both English and Japanese. I watched the dub, wasn’t that bad but then again I’m no expert on the whole dub thing. I must say, they left out some key nomenclature like Enjuutsu (fire magic) and Enjuutsushi (fire mage) which were used in the novel. The most obvious and recognisable voice is that of Cherami Leigh as Ayano, who has also voiced July from Darker than Black, Elicia Hughes from FMA: Brotherhood, Patricia Thompson from Soul Eater, Asuna from SAO, Naomi from Witchblade and Himawari from XXXHOLiC. Robert McCollum does the voice of Kazuma, Goten from Dragonball GT, Curio from RomeoXJuliet (last anime I watched I think), Yukito from Tsubasa Chronicle and Tozawa from Witchblade. Other recognisable voices include Luci Christian as Ayumi and Mayumi Tsuwabuki, Colleen Clinkenbeard as Kirika Tachibana, Leah Clark as Lapis, Monica Rial as Misao Ogami, Brina Palencia as Nanase. Very minor roles from Vic Mignogna as Takeya Ogami and Carrie Savage as the pixie Tiana.

Overall the sound is meh, despite the good voice cast, the overall plot and characters aren’t affected by this.

Characters

The man, Kazuma Yagami, formerly known as Kazuma Kannagi is a wind magic user who was exiled by his family after he failed to inherit his place as the heir to the family. Born with no ability in fire magic, down upon by the Kannagis, a family of proud fire magic users. A lot of difference between this character in the anime and in the book. He returns in his 20s. Descrepancies with the age and I’m a bit annoyed how they made him younger, yet the character actually looks older than in the novel. There are more discrepancies when his backstory is concerned, but I’ll leave it at that. Kazuma is a powerful user of wind magic, easily defeating opponents when outnumbered without breaking a sweat and he knows it as is shown by his arrogance. He is also the contractor of wind, the most powerful user of wind who has made a contract with the king of wind spirits himself and marked by the stigma in his eyes. He hates the Kannagis for disowning him and cares not for them, refusing to take orders from them and treating his own father with disrespect. He has a weak spot for his younger brother Ren though and treats him well, since Ren is unique in his respect and adoration for Kazuma. He seems to have some troubling memories from the past involving the loss of a loved one. Another change from the book is that he seems nicer. He was treating his client like shit and smoking, as well as being ruthless and not having issues with killing people getting in his way with indiscrimination. None of that here. Kazuma is a tamed housepet in this anime in comparison. One good thing is that they go into a lot more detail on his backstory.

Ayano Kannagi has thankfully not changed much from the novel (making this section easier to write). She is a very rash, hot-headed and egotistic highschool girl and is officially the heir to the head of the Kannagi family, as she wields the Enraiha flaming sword passed down through generations of the Kannagis. It seems she only ever wears her school uniform, in one scene she’s choosing what clothes to wear and she has to choose from 3 sets of the same uniform. Her childish and incorrect behaviour often leads to her being grounded by her father, Juugo Kannagi who is the current head of the family. A very annoying character and she is outward with her dislike of Kazuma. She develops a tsundere trait as she realises her feelings of affection towards him and tries to deny it. She likes to act first and think later and is meant to be fairly powerful, especially as she has inherited the Enraiha and the position of the next head of the family. The trope bitchy/tsundere character then, one I really dislike. But it remains the same as the book and thankfully Kazuma seems to not give a rat’s arse about her. Keyword there is seems…

Ren is Kazuma’s 12-year old younger brother and really looks up to his older brother. I find it a bit strange how well they both get along, Ren is the only Kannagi Kazuma seems to care about. Of course being a Kannagi, this short and adorable blonde kid (Kazuma often mentions his cuteness) is capable of using fire magic. But since fire is fuelled by anger, Ren doesn’t use it so often. You see, Ren is a very nice and kind kid, who very rarely gets upset at anything, unlike his family members. He wants Kazuma to come back to the Kannagi family and wants his father and brother to forgive each other and get along. Being slightly weak-willed, he’s often dragged around by the other characters and doesn’t fight back. Like Ayano using him to help her with her nefarious deeds against Kazuma or his two friends, Kanon Suzuhara and Tatsuya Serizawa, who fight over him. Both are hot-headed and hate each other, but agree on protecting their man Ren. Kano clearly has a crush on Ren and even makes a joke about going back to her’s to make love (which was actually pretty funny and not terrible). Unlike his family members, this kid is true with his feelings. So expect to see the only bit of proper romance with this character… maybe.

Another regular character is Kirika Tachibana, a young and attractive blonde woman who works in the special department of the police force. Her section tackles issues to do with magic and demons and often she’s working with the Kannagis to keep the peace. She doesn’t appear to have much in the way of magical power, but as rules go magic shouldn’t be shown to non-magic users. Thus her knowledge of such truths begs the question how she got into such a position in the first place. She behaves with professionalism and maturity as any adult should. One change they made since the book, which is one I agree with is changing Kirika’s family. In the book, Kirika is a member of the Kannagi family and thus a relative. Here, she is her own person and that’s just all round better for a lot of things. My only complaint is her questionable fidelity. I.e. she seems a bit flirtatious. When she is first introduced, the context suggests a relationship between her and Kazuma. In the hot springs episode later on, she is seen hanging around a lot and flirting with Genma (Kazuma’s dad). Ayano is rightly shocked by this and Kazuma doesn’t seem to care. I find it a bit traumatic how a young woman could have relations with both a man and the same man’s father.

Speaking of which… the dads. Juugo Kannagi is the current head of the Kannagi family and a powerful magic user. He is often apprehending his hot-headed and disobedient daughter Ayano and unlike the rest of the Kannagis, he is surprisingly tolerant towards Kazuma, often agreeing to pay him extortionate fees for helping them out. He recognises how powerful Kazuma is and I bet he even likes him. He’s often found meditating, relaxing or in the case of one episode, getting a backrub from Ren. He does surprisingly little actual work for the head of the family and instead tends to lead and rely on others for the nitty-gritty stuff. But like most characters, he has a flaw. In this case, he has a creepy obsession of trying to set Kazuma up with his own daughter Ayano, in order to try and get Kazuma back into the family. Via marriage or a relationship if you can’t figure it out. Not only is this weird that he’s pimping his daughter out to his brother’s son, but there is the intrusion of their lives too. Especially as the two don’t seem to get along. On the other hand, his brother Genma Kannagi has no such desire to have Kazuma return to the family. Genma absolutely hates his son and later on they are shown to always be fighting with each other, where Ayano thinks the brawling is their way of communicating with each other. As Kazuma rightly says, that’s a load of crap. But this is a further discrepancy with the book. Kazuma visits his father in the hospital after the Misao saga and his father has forgiven him and even asks for him to return to the family! So of course it makes no sense when Genma continues to hate Kazuma in the anime. He is completely tolerant of Ren on the other hand and his wife is nowhere to be seen, especially when he’s flirting with officer Tachibana.

So many damn, characters. Next up is an addition to the anime of the busty blonde foreigner Catherine McDonald. This character fills the ojou-sama (big ego, hot-headed, rich girl) trope, complete with the cliché ojou-sama laugh with the hand in front of her mouth and drills for hair. And while I hate (most) anime tropes, this character actually wasn’t too bad. They rarely draw attention to her big breasts, which is rather surprising. Catherine is a fire magic user from America’s most powerful family of fire mages who specialises in familiars. Her familiar is metatron, a buff male angel statue with a sword, which she relies on almost exclusively in combat. She loves to wind up Ayano who is her number one rival, often fighting with her and hoping to one day beat her. She also has a crush on Kazuma, but unlike Ayano, she isn’t a tsundere bitch about it and instead is often found berating Ayano for being so negative towards Kazuma. She is of course, shocked by some aspects of the Japanese culture, like the communal bathing. Honestly, I just wish Kazuma would just get on with it, bang this chick and be her man already, would be just the thing to complete crush Ayano’s desires.

There are so many other side characters like Misao and Ayano’s highschool friends, but I can’t be bothered to talk about minor characters. Towards the end, some interesting characters with ties to Kazuma’s past appear and help unveil what went on during Kazuma’s exile from Japan.

Story

Kazuma has returned to Japan after 4 years of leaving the Kannagi household. He hates the Kannagi’s and at the start he wouldn’t care about what happens to them, except for his little brother. Kazuma is then recruited as Ayano’s bodyguard, big excuse to have the two hang out together. Generally the stories are episodic, taking 3 or 4 episodes for a plot arc and then single episodes for minor things like the day out at the theme park or the token hot-spring episode. Like with most of these types of anime, everything starts to come together for a big plot arc towards the end, one involving Kazuma’s past. This itself was merely mentioned in the books (if I remember correctly), but I like how they expand on that story that was never explained. There are some strange discrepancies, like how everything happens four years ago and the error in referring to Kazuma’s age which would make him 16. Yet also 4 years ago, he didn’t have his powers yet and was living a quiet adult life, where other characters mention him being an immature boozing, womanising youth. At the very least, they could have stretched that backstory timeline out a bit since it would otherwise make him much older. Some aspects of the plot seem a bit contrived, convenient and cringey. As with a lot of anime, the conclusion is open-ended and they really fuck things up towards the end. I hate it when anime sequel baits, thankfully no sequel.

I’ve seen a lot of anime before where folks have complained how it deviates from manga and how unfaithful they are to the original storyline. Since I don’t read manga, I never understood what they meant, until now. There's the change in character from the book, which is actually referred to, as Kazuma’s demeanour reverts in the latter episodes. They treat the ‘normal’ Kazuma behaviour of being remorseless and not caring who gets in his way as abnormal and even go so far as to say that Ayano changed him. Which makes no sense. This is combined with the removal of gore and killing. The books had an interesting plot development towards the end of the second book where Kazuma realises how much he’s killed and questions these actions of his, which I loved and found interesting. Since Kazuma doesn’t kill here, there’s none of that plot development. They also miss out on Genma forgiving his son and coming to an understanding, Kazuma’s missing mother is never mentioned (as it was in the book, though I remember it was said Kazuma hated his mother more), Misao is never returned to. And then there’s the shipwreck attempt of romance.

As far as serious romance goes… a relationship exists in the backstory (past) and it seems heartwarming. Except it never lasted… since all the plot of this anime (the books) occurs. (well Kazuma is single at the start now isn’t he) They use this to power the later plot, which seems a bit cheap and contrived when you find out exactly what is happening. A lot doesn’t make sense in those latter episodes. There’s also legitimate romance with Ren and a character… let’s just say it works out just like the depressing end of Gurren Lagann. And then there’s the various potential romances, which almost made this feel like a harem. Of course, one of these concerns Ren, who of course has his heart elsewhere. But enough about Ren… this anime is all about Kazuma.

Unfortunately, the main romance option for Kazuma is the character I possibly hate the most in this anime, Ayano. So of course, I’d be upset at the anime choosing to go down a route to strengthen this option. Unfortunately, Kazuma seems to comply and enjoys messing with Ayano, doing things like kissing her neck or sniffing her hair. But before I go on, I’ll just list the possible romance options. First off, Misao, even though she’s still related, she’s age appropriate and most definitely a better choice than Ayano. Too bad she doesn’t appear outside of the Misao arc. Then there’s Kirika Tachibana, who has been implied to have had relations with him (think back to when she was first introduced). When asked about it, she maintains professionalism and refuses to disclose information regarding her private life. Would have been great, except later on it’s obvious she doesn’t feel Jack for Kazuma and even flirts with his dad (eww) and even telling Ayano, she’s the one. The next option is Catherine McDonald, the trope ojou-sama, who initially doesn’t feel a thing for Kazuma and grows to like him. Despite how much I hate the trope, IMO she was the best option here, one would expect her to be tsundere bitch, but instead she’s nice to Kazuma. Unfortunately, similarly to Tachibana, she sorta gives up her feelings later and wishes luck to Ayano.

Not only is Ayano a cousin to Kazuma (I don’t have to tell you how disgusted I am by the suggestion of this inbreeding), but she is vastly younger than him in age. In another anime I found a similar relationship rather pleasant, but the context was different and the characters weren’t annoying. Despite it beign fine (age of consent) I didn't like they way this was depicted, never went this far in the book. Overall, the romance was a load of BS and they even mess up the only legitimate romance towards the end, during the BS ending.

Conclusion

I have ranted and raved about how annoying some things are in this anime. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it had potential, but all that went to waste with the extrapolation of the plot and the changes in character, most of which were terrible. It missed out on the opportunity to be super violent and gory like the books too, would have made for an interesting and unique anime. Unfortunately, the more I watched this anime, the more painful it got to watch. Even though it didn’t have the usual obvious harem-ecchi BS until later on. Diluted to the point, where I almost didn’t notice it, a good thing IMO. The romance was driven down the drain along with the plot by the end. Despite all this, this anime isn’t the worst and could have been a lot worse. It has a little going for it, I wouldn’t mind recommending it to those who are tolerant of these flaws and even some who aren’t. So in the end it wasn’t so bad, but it felt worse since it could have been so much better.

Family-friendliness Rating: Mature themes implied and some ecchi 4/5 (lower is better)

Overall Rating: 5.5/10 (higher is better)

6/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
4/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
on

The first few episodes start out strong with a story that got me hooked right away. I thought the series was going to be pretty good, but after about 6 or so episodes it starts to go in random directions with mini-arcs that don't seem to follow a general path. It felt like a few mini-stories compacted in together (with the first one being great and then the next ones not being as good). I also felt the ending didn't give the story justice.

So far as the characters go I felt that they didn't dive into kazuma's past enough. They did some, but there is one thing that really should have been explained more. 8O.

Overall I'd give it about 6.5/10.

6.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
6/10 overall
on

Overall score of less than 4. Thats usually not a good sign here.

So it took me some time to sit down and watch this.

Story: Basic stuff, no need for further explanation, its a simple action anime with mediocre length (4-5-6) episodes long plotlines and a few fillers. The humor in the fillers is pretty good, the main plot is acceptable. We have a few plotholes, but you have to accept the anime for what it is. The story is secondary, the action is important. 6/10

Animation: Low buget, simple. The action scenes are not bad, so it works pretty well, but its not a great spectacle. 6/10

Music: better than average 7.5/10

Characters: probably the forte of the series. We get some pretty well built characaters aqnd even some decent characetr developement. The male lead is a very good character, the female, well, pretty annoying. Most of  the secondary characters are likeable, some are annoying or unnecessary.  7/10

Overall: This is not a masterpiece, but its a homogeneous mix of action, comedy and even some tragedy. Plotholes exist, but to be honest, this anime is fun. One of the best choices if you just want something pretty much mindless. 7/10

6/10 story
6/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
on

This anime was really good, and it wasn't like what I expected. (And being a big fan of shakugan no Shana... for a while every time I heard the main girl speak all I could say or think was "is that you Shana”) 

The storyline was unique and different to other storylines that I have come across which made this really good and so close to perfect. 

The animations in this were amazing and right for the anime. 

The characters are very... unique as well and very interesting to say the least. I love the main guy (Kazuma) the best as he has a very strange but funny personality. 

My overall opinion on this anime is that I loved it and it was so close to perfect (I wished it was longer or a second season :( ) 

9/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall