Song of Wind and Trees

Alt titles: Kaze to Ki no Uta: Seinaru ka na

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sothis's avatar By sothis on Oct 26, 2004

Story
The story of this hour-long OVA is fairly simple to say the least. It was made for fans of the manga, and thus, you'll be fairly confused unless you get a primer. Luckily the version I watched came with just that, so I was able to get some back story before plowing into "I don't understandville". The basic premise is that Serge joins a boys academy, and is unknowingly placed with the school slut of sorts, Gilbert. This young man uses his body for good test scores and such, since he dislikes school. His sadistic guardian funds the school, so Gilbert's behavior is overlooked, to say the least. Meanwhile, prim and proper Serge does not approve of his roommate's behavior, and thus the story begins.

The story itself is very slow and quiet, but it fits the content well. The whole point is to see the growth between Gilbert and Serge, but given the length, we aren't shown a great deal. There are giant gaps in between certain events that happen with the two, leaving you to wonder what happened in the meantime. In addition, the ending (or lack of one, really) leaves much to be desired. I can easily say that this would appeal to fans of the manga, since I haven't read it, and was left with many unanswered questions.

In general, as a light romance of sorts, this wasn't half bad, but might be boring to some (comparable to Maria-sama ga Miteru as far as pacing). I do need to make a big note that this is, in fact, yaoi. Granted, it isn't full boy-on-boy action all the time, but there are a few sexual scenes and some kissing (as well as nakedness). Would I classify this as blatant hentai? No, because the majority of the story isn't like this. But if you are squeamish about these things, don't watch this, period. Unlike such shows as Earthian which are branded yaoi and really are nothing of the sort (or are shounen-ai at best), this has definite yaoi parts, and a very sexual theme.
Animation
The animation, for this time period, isn't half bad. Backgrounds such as ivy-covered walls and streets were detailed and seemed made out of watercolors. The character designs will remind you of something in the vein of Brother, Dear Brother or something else from that time period. Very round heads, round eyes, limited facial features. Many of the male characters look very feminine, which is appropriate considering the show's base in homosexuality. The colors used weren't very inspirational and tended to look dull and washed out. Browns and yellows dominated the scenes, with the occasional purple or vibrant color which didn't seem to fit. All in all, decent visuals.
Sound
I'd say the audio to silence ratio was about 50/50, but it seemed to work. The musical selections were mixed with harpsichords, pianos, and other orchestral instruments. Given the time period this took place (1880s) and the mood and feel (a prestigious boys academy), the choice of instruments and tones fit very well. Silence accompanied tense or dull parts, which fit well also.

The voice acting was decent for everyone, and seemed especially fitting for Gilbert and a few of the other boys. They tended to be especially feminine, which obviously fits with the storyline.
Characters
Gilbert and Serge are the two most important characters in the OVA, and consequently, are the only two we really learn about. As with the story, there is a great deal of information that we aren't privy to throughout the OVA, making this information a necessity to know about before watching. These two boys grow in various ways, mostly in a romantic way. Unfortunately, I felt like this wasn't shown very convincingly, perhaps due to the length. As I mentioned for the story, there are gaps between situations, making their growing closeness seem unrealistic in a way. I kept wondering WHY they had suddenly bonded more than they had, or why Serge was suddenly caring about Gilbert more than he had. It just seemed to come out of nowhere, but again, this surely was because this was made for fans of the manga who already knew the in between bits.

Other characters were plentiful, but not really developed in any way, nor did you remember their names after you saw them once. Purely in the background, with nothing much to add to the main storyline.
6.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
6/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
gekoladie's avatar By gekoladie on Apr 19, 2011

In my opinion, Kaze To Ki No Uta (Song of the Wind and Trees) is an anime (adapted from a manga) that every shounen-ai fan should watch. Although it has relatively little sexual content, and was made as an accompaniment to the manga, the artwork and the story are timeless and beautiful.

 

The anime opens with an adult Serge Battour visiting his old high school, and going into the room he used to live in with his roommate. Almost exclusively in flashback, the story goes that Serge Battour, a young half-Roma viscount in 1800's France, goes to a new school, where he encounters Gilbert Cocteau, a wild and promiscuous student. He and Gilbert are roommates, and he soon learns about Gilbert's activities in the school: trading sexual favours for term papers. As this is 1800's France, homosexuality is deeply frowned on, and the only reason Gilbert is still allowed to attend the school is because his uncle is a primary benefactor of the school. Serge makes it his personal duty to try and reform Gilbert and make him accepted by the rest of the school, but along the way he and Gilbert develop more than friendly feelings for each other. Upon realising their romance will never be recognised in school, they escape to Paris where they live in poverty for a time. At some point, it is revealed that Gilbert's mysterious uncle sexually abused Gilbert from a very young age to the point where he didn't know how to express his feelings except through sex. In desperation, Gilbert turns to drugs, then throws himself under the wheels of a moving carriage and dies. The anime ends with Serge leaving the school.

 

I absolutely love the artwork for both the manga and anime. Although it is from the 1980's and admittedly clunky, the characters are so beautiful they appear sexually androgynous throughout the entire anime. The music for the anime is stunning and sets the tone perfectly.

 

The characters are the best part of the anime. Serge is the typical boy who fights against the racial prejudice of being half-gypsy and tries to reform another human being out of the goodness of his heart. He is the only 'pure' character in the film, being completely without prejudice against anyone. His romance with Gilbert is equally pure - he resists Gilbert's advances until he feels willing to accept them romantically, not just as a declaration of thanks or as a trade-off for being nice. Gilbert is a very interesting character. He is troubled, has a dark past, has a gorgeous character design, and is possibly one of the best shounen-ai characters I've come across in a long time. His work as a prostitute only serves to make him a more convincing character, and all the harder to reform. Other than Serge and Gilbert, all the other characters are pretty inconsequential, although there are a few gems.

 

Overall, this is a must-watch and a must-read for all shounen-ai and yaoi fans. It is one of the oldest and most fantastic examples of shounen-ai ever produced.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
SadisticTendencies's avatar By SadisticTendencies on Jul 25, 2012

Let's just cut to the chase; the answer is yes, this anime does depict romantic relationships between people of the same sex. I'd choose to describe the more sensual scenes as highly palatable and sometimes even intensely beautiful, but if you're unable to handle a story of such nature, then read no further.

Basically, this anime uses a prestigious French school as its setting where our protagonist, the virtuous and talented Serge, meets his new room-mate and polar opposite in the manipulative Gilbert who uses his body to gain various favors from other men. Unlike some other anime of the same genre I know of, the story takes place in a world with enough regard for realism to avoid an ideal depiction of same-sex relationships and instead aims to depict some of the obvious cons; the most prominent one being the lack of consent the ones involved might face in their environments.  Make no mistake though, plenty of scenes are reserved for the sometimes unnerving worship of the male body and intense homoerotic events that I fear might ruin a lot of the appeal for viewers not looking for such things.

Furthermore, the characterization stands fairly well for an OVA of merely an hour with reasonable amounts of development and a good foundation for occasional melodrama. Unfortunately, the anime is based on a manga of 17 volumes and lacks the time to include proper explanations for some bizarre plot points revealed later on which causes some confusion. This is not the major issue though as the narrative as a whole eventually ends up in a pit of glorified masochism only to wrap things up in a beautiful, intense and somehow redeeming scene with enough sense to rely on sensuality rather than sexuality.

In the end this is a fairly decent watch, with fairly standardized technical merits. The soundtrack is the most impressive part of the OVA, but the animation remains somewhat mediocre despite certain moments of beauty and great character designs. It suffers from the same problems shared by a lot of shounen-ai (it would seem) such as glorifying certain themes like masochism which are made all the more disturbing by the youth of the characters but is undoubtedly very palatable in its depiction. Despite the mediocre score, I was somewhat impressed by this title and will consider giving more titles within the same genre a chance; romanticized adolescent melodrama has its perks as long as it doesn’t drag I guess.  

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