Like the Clouds, Like the Wind is basically what you’d get when you cross Saiunkoku Monogatari with Shoujo Jang Geum no Yume and put the result into movie-format. It’s the umpth attempt to place a child at the centre of adult struggles, in this case an empire which just lost its emperor, but thankfully it’s also one of the better ones. I think we can thank the shoujo-roots of the story for that.
Basically, most similar premises forget to give their main characters a reason to become involved. They just become important because the story demands them to. Ginga, the main character in this particular movie, thankfully avoids this common pitfall: the emperor’s dead, his son needs a new wife, so all over the country girls are scouted to become his concubine. Ginga is one of them. There, it’s not that difficult, and it makes the movie so much better.
That’s not to say that this movie is flawless, though. It may have avoided all of the pitfalls that plague shounen-series; it does have the most common flaw of shoujo-anime: she basically coincidentally meets up with the characters who are important to the story. Ginga’s personality does explain a bit why she ends up standing out, but this remains an annoyance. Still, I’ve seen movies go far and far worse.
To continue, the setting also receives enough development as well. Through the course of the movie, it gets a fair bit of explanation of how the country ended up, what the main threats are, and the role of all of the different characters in this. Speaking of the characters, most of them aren’t much individually, but the chemistry between them is excellent. Keep an eye out for the old lady, she’s really hilarious.
And then comes the climax, which for once isn’t the highlight of a movie. This is basically because at that point, the creators decided to favour feminism over realism. The result is enjoyable to watch, but quite impossible when you start thinking about it. It also seems that at that point, the creators nearly forgot that this is supposed to be a children’s movie, and the attempts to hide blood from the screen become a bit too grating.
Luckily, the climax is redeemed by the ending. I totally expected this to boil down in a totally happy Disney-ending… and it doesn’t. Quite refreshing, if you ask me. Anyway, even though this movie is aimed at children, it’s also a nice watch for adults who like shoujo. It’s not the best, but definitely not the worst movie out there.