Kaze to Ki No Uta or The Poem of the Wind and Trees is a ground-breaking boys’ love manga that was first released in the 1970s by Keiko Takemiya. It follows Serge Battour, a strong and caring boy and young viscount, who enters Laconblade Academy to follow in the footsteps of his father. There he meets Gilbert, a beautiful young boy with a scandalous reputation, who Serge is bewitched and enchanted by. Gilbert is known for regularly “selling himself” to older students, whilst this is often met with slut-shaming from other students or the school staff turning a blind eye, Serge is not so quick to judge Gilbert and tries to befriend him, but eventually the two boys realise that they want more than just friendship from each other…
This story centres around how the young characters deal with their burgeoning sexualities, especially in regards homosexual desire and love in a society where love and sex between two men is considered taboo. The story also has a second major theme: that of dealing with the past. The manga asks whether we can overcome our pasts, stay strong and resolute and refuse to let history repeat itself, or will be be overtaken and overwhelmed by our pasts?
Talking about the past, I shouldn’t forget to mention that Kaze to Ki No Uta contains 6 volumes of backstory, yes you heard that write… SIX VOLUMES OF BACKSTORY! The backstory is important because it explains to us why the characters are who they are today, and at the same time, casts a dark, foreboding shadows over the characters’ present. Takemiya is at least smart enough to have broken up the present story at a point where the story is exciting, and the reader wants to know more, so at least we have the motivation to read on! However, I could have really done with a bit less backstory, especially considering that Kaze to Ki No Uta is only fan translated up to volume 12, meaning half of the available material on Kaze to Ki No Uta is backstory!
Kaze to Ki No Uta is not for the light-hearted, nor is it a fun read for those looking for some positivity and cheerfulness. Exploring themes including sexuality, abuse, rape and racism, this manga is by no means an easy read, as it does not hesitate to delve into dark themes and taboo issues. It is a beautifully drawn and crafted piece of literature with a tragic air which will tug at your heart. It is something that deserves a much wider readership and recognition in the West than it has currently.
Where the fan translated manga stands now, is at the tantalising point where the relationship between Serge and Gilbert could finally bloom.
Thank you everyone who has translated and uploaded Kaze to Ki No Uta chapters: Obsession, Scarlet Carnival, Persepolis and the Artemis Project on tumblr (who are still uploading new chapters).
Outside of Japan, the manga is available in Italian (published by J-Pop Manga) and Spanish (soon, by Milky Way Ediciones). You can find out more here.
Also, if you can read Japanese (or just want to buy the manga), you can buy the series from CDJapan, and they even have the rare light novel sequel, Agnus Dei!
The anime OVA is available on Youtube with English subtitles and it covers the story of the first few volumes, however, it contains a spoiler for the ending of the series, so maybe don’t watch the last few minutes if you want to avoid spoilers. It’s only one hour long and it’s a good primer for the series!
If you read the manga or watch the OVA and enjoy it, please post about it online and talk about it (if you haven’t already)! This is a beautiful manga which deserves an English translation. And I really want to find out what happens after volume 11, so please boost Kaze to Ki No Uta if you can! The more people talk about it, the more likely Western manga publishers will pick it up and translate it! (And who doesn’t want to own copies of such a gorgeous manga?)
Content notices/trigger warnings below!
- Sexual assault, rape
- Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse
- Incidents of homophobia
- Incidents of racism
(Also, this manga definitely has some similarities to Oniisama e… not least because they both explore homosexuality and taboo topics! Also, French aesthetic! )