Ueshima Nao loves taking photos of the sky, all in an attempt to catch the elusive wind on camera. Imagine her delight, then, when she discovers the existence of Wind Manipulators, people who can call up the wind and control it themselves. And when Nao and her friends learn to manipulate the wind themselves, they realise how everything from the gentlest breeze to the strongest gale can affect people’s lives.
My love of gentle and charming slice-of-life series has taken me through the likes of Aria, YKK, Kokoro Library and Someday’s Dreamers, but until recently, Windy Tales had passed entirely under the radar. Other than the fact that I had barely heard anything about it and there were always plenty of other things to watch, there was no real reason for this, but when I finally learned some actual details about the series, I came to realise what a terrible oversight it had been to neglect it for so long.
Much like the aforementioned Someday’s Dreamers, Windy Tales is a series that blends simple yet captivating everyday events with just a touch of magic, transforming the trivial into the absorbing. From the exhilarating rush of wind felt from the back of a motorcycle to an attempt to capture an athlete in training in a single photograph, Windy Tales takes a simple moment and displays the emotions that surround it for all to see and share in. All but the most hardened of hearts must surely be swept along on the tides of this beautiful tale, and if all that isn’t enough to bring a smile to your face, then it also has a trump card in the form of flying cats- hundreds of them.
As with most thirteen episode series, there isn’t really time for extensive character development, with each episode acting as a snapshot into the middle school days of the characters rather than continuously building story. Even so, the leading personalities are well defined, with snatches of dialogue here and there building up their characters as much as is possible within the constraints of the series. They may never become terribly complex, but the cast of this series will always be both likable and memorable.
When it comes to visuals, Windy Tales has a highly unique look- character designs are simplistic and angular to the degree of looking like paper cut-outs, whilst the sky is like a brush painting with gaps for the clouds, and the all-important wind is a set of coloured squiggly lines. It may look and sound unattractive at first glance, and indeed, there are some angles that make the protagonists rather ugly, but give yourself a chance to get used to it, and you’ll start to appreciate an art style which is refreshingly different from the norm and a good reinforcement for the tone of the series. Similarly, the background music retains the gentle and charming aesthetic of the series, frame by a thoughtful OP and an energetic ED.
Windy Tales is a series that has received far too little in the way of attention, and it is surely time to right that wrong, because while it may not be flashy and filled to the brim with action, it is a delightful series that will put a smile on the faces of anyone who ever professed to like Aria and its brethren. Fans of slice-of-life should do themselves a favour and watch this sooner rather than later.