Song of the wind and trees, The
Warning! This piece is both strongly shoujo and of the sub-genre known as shounen-ai (boy love). As such those who can't cope with any of either should escape immediately. That said this is a fairly important historical piece, and not too bad in its own right.
Once again it is assumed that the audience is a fan of the manga and has some background information. This is annoying, but with the aid of some helpful notes from the fansubbers (the electric girls) it's not too hard to catch up with the story. It takes place in the mind of a young adult as he revisits the prestigious academy he boarded at. We get to see major sections of him arriving at the school, establishing his place and dealing with his complex room-mate, Gilbert.
Gilbert is certainly an infamous character at the academy. Beautiful, effeminate and more than a little strange. His father, a famous poet and a major benefactor of the school, having largely conspired to make him a `creation' that lives on raw emotion. Thus Gilbert seeks affection while cruelly playing with others, he casually gives his body away yet is angered when his new room-mate shows signs of care and affection. He's a pretty exotic, and potentially a touch over-dramatic, character.
His room-mate, the one whose eye's we are using, is a bit unusual himself. The son of a nobleman killed in battle and a gypsy woman he is everything that Gilbert isn't, strong, compassionate, talented in many ways and extremely earnest and loyal. He is drawn to Gilbert's unusual nature, while at the same time being at times infuriated by Gilberts unrestrained behaviour. But perhaps, while Gilbert let's too much of his emotions show, he has hidden desires he has never though to acknowledge.
That's the positive review, while attempting to be perceptive. If you don't feel that way then perhaps this mini-synopsis will be more to your taste. We get to follow one outrageously gay, self-absorbed little dramatist as he follows one desire or emotion after another. Meanwhile another effeminate, but innocent, boy realises that he cares for gilbert more than as simply an interested on-looker. The story ending with the first signs that there may be the basis for a relationship between them.
The thing is that this is pretty `high' shoujo, a string of powerful but somewhat artificial scenes strung one after another. The story being so compressed, and at the mercy of these scenes, as to be largely absent. Thus, unless you really like the full on shoujo ambience you might well find this a touch over the top. At the same time it is sort of worth considering, because some of the scenes are fairly strong and the character studies are interesting. And for those who wonder, while there are incidences of physical intimacy, and it's pretty obvious what is happening, there is little detail to get offended at. It's also worth noting that this was the first anime to explicitly deal with a shounen-ai plot (according to the fansub notes).
In essence, for the serious shoujo fan, this is probably worth a try. It's in a heavy style, which has dated somewhat, but this actually quite fits the subject matter. The whole `victorian' boarding house dramatics are well served by the ambience of the anime. And, needless to say, if you are a shounen-ai fan I would imagine this is a safe bet. In any case it is an interesting title.
As mentioned it is an older title and the production matches this. The characters have a lot of `style' in their depiction and a great deal of pose shots. The colors are sombre, subdued and indicative rather than too detailed. There is a good sense of ambience although the scenes, and motion, are not amazingly detailed. The voices and dialogue are pretty good, and get a workout, with sufficient depth to keep subtext hunters happy. The music is serious classical which works very well with the relatively solid mood of the piece.
There are no reviews of this title from my regular sources.