Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 288 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
The Stigma of the Wind is blowing in a better direction.
I really wanted to like the first volume of Kaze no Stigma but there were a lot of things that simply didn’t work to set this series apart from other shows similar to this. That said, there were things about the series I did like including many of the battles and Ayano Kannagi who managed to outshine the supposedly cool male Contractor named Kazuma Yagami. Kaze no Stigma, Volume 2, is a slightly better volume that is actually quite entertaining despite the fact that this series doesn’t do anything new.
After coming to terms with his anger towards the Kannagi clan, Kazuma finds himself working under the payroll of the Kannagi. Yes, he still hates his own father with a passion that is felt in this volume as well but he has come to actually enjoy playfully annoying his (distant?) cousin, Ayano. In the opening episode of Volume 2, it even becomes clear that Ayano’s own father is interesting in seeing his own daughter and Kazuma hooking up. He even sends them on an “assignment” to the amusement park in search of Youma only for the assignment to turn out to be something of a date.
Ayano actually does have a major crush on Kazuma but never really reveals her feeling to him. In fact, she even denies it to all her friends despite the fact that it is so obvious. Still, while the Ayano/Kazuma romance was slightly annoying in Volume 1 it’s actually a lot more bearable thanks to a new rival that is introduced when Ayano and Kazuma go on an unofficial date in an expensive restaurant. The rival, an American girl named Catherine McDonald, is attractive and – surprise – busty. She also happens to be a fire magic user with the power to summon a spirit beast she called Metatron.
Catherine’s arrival is not coincidental. She has come to prove that the McDonald clan is better than the Kannagi clan and the only way she can prove it is by defeating Ayano in battle. They fight it out in the restaurant but when they withdraw, Catherine is trained in combat by Kazuma himself … to Ayano’s surprise. Meanwhile, Catherine becomes smitten by Kazuma and thus creating a fun rivalry between the two girls for Kazuma’s affections.
Also unlike the first volume we learn more about Kazuma so he’s not as one-dimensional as the first 12 episodes of the series. Here, he does let his guard down a little and relishes in pissing off Ayano every chance he gets. Unfortunately, he doesn’t evolve enough to set him apart from other characters like him and his fight with his father has become something of a joke. In a hot springs episode (cliché number 10 for this series), Kazuma discovers his father is also at the hot springs and the two end up brawling like kids.
The series even adds fan service to the series as if the producers thought that the first part of the series lacked something to keep the boys from tuning out. From the very first episode in Volume 2 to battles where Ayano’s cute outfit or dress is torn the tatters, the fan service feels tacked on rather than add any real sexiness to it. It doesn’t get too outrageous, mind you, but the panty flashes start becoming less appealing and more unintentionally comical .
Volume 2 really takes off somewhere around Episode 17 as a perverted student in Ayano’s school is humiliated and turns to a website that offers powers to anyone who wants it. Before they know it, people with special abilities begin to pop up all over the city starting battles in hopes of “leveling up” as if all of this was some kind of role-playing game. Ayano and Kazuma look into the matter and really begin to worry when Ayano’s friend, Nanase, is targeted by the perverted geek who now how special powers.
With Detective Tachibana leading the investigation, she asks Kazuma, Ayano and even Catherine to help her crack the case. Instead, what they find is a sick game being played a mysterious figure with an assistant named Lapis who reminds Kazuma of somebody special that he lost named Tsui Ling. Can this girl really be the girl he lost before he became a Contractor? The answer transforms the cool and collected Kazuma into a madman who is willing to threaten his own little brother to get to the man behind this threat and the place called Pandemonium where all the super powered players are looking to go for more power.
There’s a final battle but it is hardly a massive one with a disappointing outcome. What does work, is Ayano’s confrontation with an out of control Kazuma. The two fought before but this time around Ayano and Kazuma are serious as fire and wind collide. This is definitely one of the better moments of this series and it definitely will make you like Ayano even more considering the fact that she entered the fight without having come up with a plan … a fact that frightens Ren, Kazuma’s little brother.
While still something of an average anime series that shows us nothing new, Volume 2 of Kaze no Stigma is a tad more exciting and certainly a little more appealing than the first volume. With the exception of Ayano, many of the characters that seemed so stale are getting more interesting but with a story that just doesn’t try to be different this one still has a long way to go.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Feeling more comfortable working for the Kannagi clan, Kazuma finds himself working side-by-side with Ayano stopping Youma until they come across an American girl looking to settle which clan is better. Later, a dangerous game is played that threatens those closest to Ayano and turns Kazuma into a dark force that will stop at nothing to get revenge.
VIDEO QUALITY: B-
The animation, much like the episodes, are the seen-that-before-hundreds-of-times kind but it does the job nicely enough. There’s a large dose of fan service in this Volume but it feels out of place.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
Unlike the first volume, the dialogue in these twelve episodes are a tad better and the English dub makes it work better than the original Japanese voice work. The score is excellent and you just have to love Saori Kiuji opening theme song.
Part 4 through 6 of Ayano’s House Call: All-You-Can-Eat Cakes is back with Ayumi, Shizuka and Yuka in Osaka but this time they spend the promotional special sitting at a table eating cake and talking about their voice acting experiences. There’s the inclusion of trailers and the clean opening and closing songs and nothing else.
Volume 2 of Kaze no Stigma shows us just how average this series is but this one is a slight improvement over the first volume. The characters feel a tad more fleshed out this time around and the dialogue is better but the story still feels like we’ve seen this kind of anime one too many times. Still, there are some fun moments in this series if you give it a chance.