Kaze no Stigma
The Kanagi family have been masters of flame magic for generations. At a young age Kazuma was defeated by a younger distant relative Ayano at a ceremony to inherit the lead of the family line. It became apparent that Kazuma had no aptitude for fire magic, and would thus never fit in with a family lineage built around it. Kazuma is then abandoned by his family and cast out of the clan. He leaves the country and hasn't been heard from in quite some time.
Now years later he returns, but this time as a wind magic user. Not only that but he's stronger than anyone in his family has ever been. Kazuma holds a big grudge against the family and things get off on the wrong foot right away, but after settling old disputes Kazuma establishes himself as having chosen his own path. The Kanagi family can often use a good wind magic user, and so they end up with an truce in often hiring Kazuma. The bigger problem is that the headstrong Ayano, now in her teens; is often put in the middle of many dangerous situations so Kazuma ends up being her bodyguard. Sometimes it almost seems like the head of the clan is trying to play matchmaker though...
I have a confession. On occasion I like anime series that really aren't all that great. Such seems to be the case with Kaze no Stigma, so take my review with a grain of salt. The main draw for me was that I just really liked Kazuma. The black sheep of a fire using family that comes back as a wind magic user really resonated with me. Cast out, looked down upon for using an "inferior magic", by episode 4 he's kicked the ass of nearly everyone in his clan and single handily saved them from destruction. Now that's a badass.
Instead of the whole start from some humble beginnings spiel, Kazuma strait out owns nearly everyone and everything from the get-go. Some find that anti climatic, but you see that's how Kazuma was intended. He's as much a force of nature as a character, and the character that struggles (fight wise) is Ayano who has to fend off evil spirits but then contend with Kazuma as well. The anime lost a bit of an edge when compared to the source material where he was nearly as villainous some of the demons. In the anime he's merely aloof with a brief relapse into his more sadistic side. It makes the final theme of Ayano having "changed" Kazuma for the better a bit mysterious since he was always collected in the anime when we see him. This was an acceptable trade off though, because if Kazuma had been as intended, you'd hate his guts and probably everything about this anime.
The drawback to that is this waters down his character considerably, and most of this title with it, since the key feature of Kaze no Stigma is the chemistry between these two. Neither of them stands well alone, and while the results of mixing these two together is fun, it lacks the edge it should have. Where this anime almost does start to come together is where it deals with Kazuma's lost love Tsui Ling. Her love, her despair, her fate... could have made this title far better, but ended up muddled in the climax plot of people obtaining demon powers through an RPG: a plot that was only ok at best.
Overall Kaze no Stigma isn't a bad title, just a bit mediocre. The animation was alright, the designs were good character wise, and the background music was terrible. I found the stories to be forgettable, and mainly kept watching it to see what Ayano and Kazuma do next. To give credit where credit is due, I think they're enjoyable characters that made it worth it. For an action title Kaze no Stigma isn't bad, but there is a long list of titles in this genre I'd consider watching first. To be honest I enjoyed it a lot more than I probably should have.
Screen Caps: >