a.k.a. Kumo no You Ni, Kaze no You Ni
In 17th century China, when an emperor dies, his son takes his place on the throne. However, because he does not have an empress, a competition is held to find one. A simple country girl named Ginga hears that the empress gets three meals and a nap every day and decides that the job is for her. One of the Emperor’s men thinks so, too, and brings her to the palace as a contestant. But little does she know the government is in threat of being invaded, and the girls have to get involved, whether they like it or not.
summary by Keitaro
Highs: Fun atmosphere; strong lead character
Lows: A wannabe Ghibli flick; not enough background information given
The first thing I noticed about this anime is how strikingly similar it looks to Kiki’s Delivery Service. Not only because the same man designed the characters, but also because Like the Clouds, Like the Wind has a style that could easily be mistaken for something made by Studio Ghibli… and that is not all the two have in common.
This anime has a lighthearted atmosphere and is just plain fun. There is the strong heroine, the stereotypical evil villain bent on world domination, the charming prince and everyone in between. The art style and music, while a bit bland, complement the mood very well, too, and give the movie a very fun feel. I loved Ginga’s innocent and naive, yet strong, personality. The way she always speaks her mind without thinking of consequences is hilarious. I just wish that the personality of the main villain had been fleshed out more. Who is he, where did he come from and why do I care? Like the Clouds, Like the Wind has a way of making you wonder if you missed something, as many things are thrown out with no explanation. Perhaps the story just wasn’t meant to fit in a seventy-minute movie, but whatever the case, this anime has pacing problems.
My biggest gripe is the problems with pacing. The first half is incredibly slow while the second half moves way too fast. I also would have appreciated more some background information regarding the setting and time period.
This movie is a poor man’s Ghibli picture. While the styles look almost identical, and this movie features all of the traits one would typically look for in something made by Studio Ghibli, the two just aren’t in the same league. Like the Clouds, Like the Wind is fun, but not particularly memorable.
Highs: Has some indirect historical value
Lows: Horribly schizophrenic; wrong music at the wrong times; often intolerably bad visuals; unbelievable relationships
It became painfully obvious early on that Like the Clouds, Like the Wind was trying desperately to ride the success of previous masterpieces from Studio Ghibli. From the character designs to the obstinate heroine, bits of Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao could be observed in every scene. However, imitation is the highest form of mockery when only done skin-deep.
There are many things wrong with this movie, but the most heinous offense is the old too-much-story-too-little-time debacle. Invariably, all the other problems with this movie stem from this one. There is hardly any time during the seventy-five minutes allowed for intense drama and comedic relief, so why not combine both? So many moments felt immensely awkward; was I supposed to laugh now or feel compassion for the characters? And how did Ginga and her betrothed go from stoic, terse dialogue to tearfully in love? I wasn’t even afforded the luxury of staring blankly at the pretty artwork… for there was none.
The endless parade of useless side characters doesn’t soften the blow any, either. Perpetuating a dreary feeling of frustration is a supporting cast that at first glance appears to be of importance, only to either die, run away or be relegated to backburner status. These side characters are so inconsequential to the plot that I cared not when any of them met an ignominious demise, the same fate given to this anime. Irony loves company, I always say.
This anime wants, nay, cries out to be epic in magnitude… but only ends up being epic in ineptitude. For all the amateurish filmmaking cues I spotted, I would have forgiven most of them had this anime showed just one thing: heart.
Like the Clouds, Like the Wind can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.