Like the Clouds, Like the Wind: a breath of fresh air
It was about five years ago when I first read about Kumo no You ni, Kaze no You ni. As I recall, it was noted as a related anime to Ocean Waves, which remains to be one of my most favorite anime. Because of their relation, I sought to watch the film; however, I was unable to find a copy back then.
I found one more than a year ago, on November 2009. I simply forgot about it all this time, although I’ve attempted to watch it at least twice. Distractions kept me from enjoying the film, and it just passed me by. I’m sometimes glad that I have the tendency to obsess over certain passions of mine, because if it were not for that I would never have seen this wonderful film (as I’m decimating my backlog, I had to watch this eventually and I thought it was a most opportune time with the last summer break of my life).
This film, by the way, is related to Ocean Waves because Katsuya Kondo was behind the character design and also aided in the direction of animation. He simply had a bigger role in this film, being the main director.
I didn’t expect much from this film: aside from its unimpressive score over at AniDB, I really didn’t see how the film would be great. Its premise wasn’t very interesting to me. I’m very glad I was wrong, however: like the title suggests, the film was highly entertaining and a breeze to watch. The subject matter was obviously not lighthearted; what impressed me regarding the film was that despite the gravity of the issues in the film it was never bogged down by bathos. It’s impressive how Katsuya Kondo was able to keep things buoyant and breezy despite everything: I especially give him props for being able to balance lightness and drama.
The film begins innocently enough: because of the interregnum, the palace sought court ladies. Ginga was among those who thought she was up to the task. Behind the mask of peace, however, lay court intrigue worsened by the imbroglio brought about by a rebellion borne out of boredom: as the Empress Dowager of the deceased ruler was a Hinhi, her child was not next-in-line for the throne. Instead, a young Koryuun, son of the deceased Seihi, was the one who would be emperor. Ginga played a part by aiding in the protection of Koryuun as well as performing well under their instructor, Kakuuto. She became the Seihi in time, and served her part despite the snowballing rebellion and the issues within the court. Through her creative measures, and the aid of the more reserved and intelligent Konton (close friend of the rebel leader), she was able to protect what remained of her court ladies and her court officials, although Koryuun performed suicide, having seen no way out.
The entire scenario would probably be bathed in bathos for a lesser anime, but Kondo sought, from the very beginning, to tell a bildungsroman rather than a melodramatic tragedy, and he was able to do this very well. It was a double-edged sword, however, because this buoyancy also prevented the film from becoming a masterpiece. Nevertheless, I thought that it was the right choice. The film wouldn’t have been so watchable otherwise, and it certainly wouldn’t take only 80 minutes to tell a tale such as this. It certainly was a great way to end my day, having seen so many mediocre and bad anime before this film.
I highly recommend this film.