Day 2 of ’12 Days of Anime’ – [See other posts in this series]
Have you heard of Windy Tales before? The likelihood is that you haven’t. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as the show released back in the mid 2000s to a lukewarm reception and stunted post airing distribution. I think it’s a shame that more people haven’t heard of this show though. It may have had some unconventional elements (thinking of the art style here) however I would have expected that to work in the shows favour, rather than confine it to a class of experimental anime that ‘only the crazy ones watch’.
Well never mind, because luckily your resident crazy person is here to tell you what Windy Tales is all about.
The opening scene to the first episode presents us with our two main characters taking photos from the rooftop of their school building. Together they are a part of the digital photography club, which principally tasks them with creating competitive contest photos outside of whatever else may catch their interest. However Nao, our main character, spends the majority of her time taking pictures of the clouds as opposed to the wide variety of interesting subjects around her. This would seem unorthodox at first, but she goes on to explain that it’s not really the clouds that she is capturing with these photos, but rather the wind instead.
And I think this perspective is incredibly interesting. Many photographs taken are fixated with showing us imagery that is confined to a box with tight proportions. When asked to view it, we are typically invited to see the subject within those particular confines, engendered by the framing, lighting and distortion, or with whatever skills the artist decides to utilize. However Nao’s commentary talks about a very different style of viewing. By using visible objects to capture the invisible forces that underlay it, the viewer is being guided towards the margins of the photo. To see what Nao chases, we must look beyond the margins, to what’s behind the photo and in front of it. A cloud is just a cloud, but the wind, that is something we need to conceptualize in our minds. To be able to see what we cannot, you need to shift the way you perceive things beyond convention.
The way the wind serves as an artistic endeavor in Windy Tales is quite humbling. This seems to extend beyond myself as a viewer though, as characters frequently take on paths that have them come to terms with their own purpose in the world. They get swept along, much in the same way that the clouds do, which can be encapsulated in what one character remarked “Let the complex things stay as they are. Aren’t we weak and powerless?”. That is to say that much of what happens in the story of Windy Tales rides on this notion of unseen but subconsciously perceptible pressures.
It’s a listless theme and certainly not one unfamiliar to the now dominant high school coming of age genre. In normal circumstances I would be condemning that tiring and safe narrative comfort, but I liked Windy Tales specific twist on it. I think that there are plenty of shows at this point that invite us to appreciate the passage of time and the experiences to be found along the way, however it does still achieve something beyond that soft notion.
There is a poem that a teacher reads out loud near the end of the show. The first line being “Should we only appreciate the followers at their peak, and the moon when it is full?”. Much like the show as a whole, it teaches us to revel in the process towards actualization. That while the end result may indeed be a spectacular one, is it equally important to find value wherever it may hide, be that the wind beneath the clouds or the memories from the journey.
Now as an aside, it was the aim of this post to tie the conversation to the themes of the show, which obviously didn’t give me too much of an opportunity to talk about how amazing the art style is. So as a special Christmas gift, I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive album of screenshots for you to gorge on. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be able to see the wind…
Thanks for reading.