Anime Meta-Review


Like the Clouds, Like the Wind


By Date



This Page


Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: worthy
  • source: digital
  • form: sub
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Mon Sep 24 17:11:46 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Oh, I feel so guilty. I so wanted this title, and then when Arsen Azizyan actually offered me the opportunity I took soo long to review it. Arsen, I apologize and thank you, because this is actually a pretty cool title.


The story is set in historical China, and sufficient care is paid to names and details that it has the feel of a historical drama. And, like many good dramas of this type, it begins with the death of the emperor. Such an event being sure to bring out any and all weaknesses in a kingdom. And, almost incidentally, it means the emperor's 550 strong harem is sent home, save for the mother of the next emperor. Although the question of who will be the next emperor is always open to the possibility of some violent re-negotiation.

In order to solidify his position the current front runner for the position must gather his own harem and select a wife to cement his reign. Although when the eunuch's begin to scour the land for potential wives they probably didn't picture someone like Ginga. Energetic, Honest and of plain birth the potential to see the capital (not to mention a nap and three meals a day) is enough to make her sign on. We get to see her explore the terrain of court life, as well as deal with the potential for the empire itself to end around her.


If I had to give a really simple description I'd probably describe it as a Miyazaki heroine (he's the script-writer) injected into a historical drama. I was going to say `serious' historical drama, and certainly some serious events occur leading up to the conclusion, but for the most part Ginga is living as a trainee consort. And such people, heroine of the show or not, don't tend to shape or even know about the intricacies of imperial politics. As such it is as much a character piece as it is about a historical period.

In this context the first part of the show details her induction as a consort trainee. Apparently the only position that required, and offered, a woman of the time access to education. Ginga is cute, too honest to really buy into the affectations of status, and surprised to find the opportunities she is offered very appealing. The chance to meet, and interact, with a rather large variety of characters being as much fun for us as it is for her. It's really rather charming.

And, interestingly enough, when her training ends and events in the kingdom draw nearer, she retains the same viewpoint. At heart a young and honest young woman she reacts, and interacts, with the various players in a very human fashion. She does not develop magic powers, single handedly save the kingdom or fight demons. She's just a normal person who bravely faces the challenges the situation presents her with. And, even in this, she is thinking first of the people around her. In many ways we get to see her grow very fast in this period.

Some will note a strange irony here. As a character study it is a strong and skilled experience. However as a historical drama it is a bit less successful. While we get to meet various characters in an opposed faction (one of whom is a wonderfully complex character) we don't really get much of a feel for what is going on. Through Ginga we hear some things, see some events, and have a part to play but much is missing. It might be intended to give us a feel for her own restricted knowledge, but it also ends up making some of the foundations of the story feel a bit unreal. Likewise violent events, of which there are some, are surprisingly abstracted in all but one case. On the good side this makes the show easier to watch than I feared, but it does remove some of the power.

Still, don't mistake my intent here. I half feared this would be a gloomy and tragic historical drama. Full of lots of death, chaos and broken people crying over their dead. And it's not like that at all, being much more human and warm-hearted. It is this `normality' I am trying to express. I don't want this to be taken as a lack of skill in the content. There's a great depth and quality to this production, in the depth and interaction of the characters, in the setting of mood, and immersing us in the world presented. While the action and angst crowd may find it too slow anyone who likes character based drama should find this one a safe bet.

The production is a part of this. There are touches of Miyazaki around, especially in Ginga, which is always a good start. However the rest of the characters, and the way they move and express themselves is good. The world feels well researched and believable with lots of nice detail. The production value isn't quite as sumptuous and big budget as Ghibli but it is coming quite close. It's a clean and attractive style with a very coherent appearance. There's also some interesting usage of Chinese `art' styles to add flavor to the scenery. Voices are great and the music was subtle enough I didn't really notice it.

Other Reviews

  • THEM review What!? It's by another Miyazaki? According to them, who did their research and checked it's by Akira Miyzaki...although even they admit that it does feel like him. Oh well. They like the title a lot, but the review makes it sound as though Ginga is centrally involved in complex games of court politics which I don't think is entirely justified. They do make a great point about the character interaction and characters actually looking Asian though. They also like Ginga a lot (5/5).
  • Lord Carnage review A short but well written, and strongly positive, review from Lord Carnage who's main complaint is that it is too short. It also adds the information that it is from an award winning children's book. Herself the Elf also corrects the Miyazaki error and mentions that the visual similarity is due to some Ghibli animators being involved in the production (4/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:21 WST 2009