Kaze no Stigma

Genre: Action, Magic, Romance (bordering on harem, but not quite)
Rating: 15 for fanservice
Length: 24 episodes
Score: Watchable

Ayano is the heir to the house of Kannagi, a house with ties to the fire spirits, thus giving its members the ability to control fire. That is, all except for her cousin, Kazuma. At a duel to determine the successor to the house of Kannagi and Kazuma’s defeat at Ayano’s hands, his father banishes him from the house in disgrace.

The story starts as Kazuma returns to the city he left 4 years ago. Coincidentally, around the same time as his return, someone is assassinating members of the Kannagi house one by one. The Kannagi elders are convinced it’s Kazuma, and off Ayano goes to fight him. In the 4 years since he’s been away, he’s found his own strength and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Kazuma’s brother, the only one in the family he still cares for, is kidnapped by the assassin, and having had their most experienced mages defeated by Kazuma, they’re forced to ask him for help. And so begins the Kazuma/Ayano partnership. It’s an awkward relationship – neither of them trusts the other in the slightest, but they do seem to get the job done when they have a common goal (usually Ren – Kazuma’s younger brother – being kidnapped).

This series is something of a disappointment. The plot has *so* much potential, but so much of it isn’t fully developed. The romance element of the series feels unreal and awkward – the simple fact is the two protagonists just aren’t ever going to get it on, and any attempt to lead them in that direction just feels tacky. In fact, I’d say about 60% of the series is really nothing more than filler.

If the series had been 13 episodes – the first 6 and the last 6, it would have been a damned fine series. As it is, it’s worth a watch if you can tolerate the filler, but it’s not going to win any prizes from me.