Run With The Wind Series Review

They’ll take your emotions for a run.

For those who followed my episodic reviews you will already know it took me awhile to get into this series. The opening episodes, while there were some really pretty animations, didn’t really grab me as we set up a fairly standard team sport anime. We had Haiji, the pushy driver of the group getting the team together with his vision of them running some marathon, and then we had the assortment of motley characters who would ultimately come together as a team. It was all very ordinary and I didn’t really like Haiji as a character, but something kept me watching.

Run With The Wind Episode 1

I’m really glad for whatever that something was. Run With The Wind ended up being an extraordinary emotional experience and by the end I was smiling and crying and just wanting to cheer with these boys. It isn’t that this anime broke any new ground or did anything a whole pile of sports anime haven’t done before, it was more the execution of its elements. Giving this anime its two cours to develop these characters and the team and leading us to the race that they had been training for and giving that race the episodes it needed to play out so that we could see how each character had really grown throughout the series really paid off and while it might be just another sports anime, this one really hit me where it needed to.

It is unusual for me but I want to start reviewing this anime by discussing the sound design. I specifically discussed this in my episode 11 review, but really Run With the Wind was a standout anime for how it used sound. Whether it was music or ambient sound the choices were always extremely fitting for the scene and highly effective at conveying the tone or emotion of the moment. It is very rare for me to pay that much attention to the sound but Run With The Wind is one anime where it pays off and while it might be a little heavy handed it is a major contributing factor in explaining why I was so swept away by events in each episode.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 Rain

Equally, Run With The Wind new when to put its effort into the visuals. While it wasn’t used in every single race, there were several moments throughout the series, particularly when Kakeru was running, that the anime went all out to visually represent the beauty of his running or his connection with the wind. They are scenes that just draw you in and leave you breathless but they aren’t overused or intrusive. It would have been tempting to put such visual effects over each runner or to use it every time Kakeru ran but the restraint shown meant that each instance really stood out and had impact.

For the rest of the visuals, these are adequate with each of the ten boys having an interesting enough character design and the animation being on point. I was impressed by the races where most of the characters still seemed suitably animated even if a little too regular in their movement but there weren’t a huge number of still shots and panning which a lot of anime would have done rather than animating the crowd of runners.

Run With The Wind Episode 16

All and all, the production is pretty solid for Run With The Wind and that complements a narrative that is basic but well paced and delivered and characters who each have an arc that works and ties in nicely with the story.

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I’m not going to argue that this story or the characters are revolutionary or something we haven’t seen before. If you watch a lot of sport or club anime you’ve seen everything here before. However it is delivered competently and ultimately the experience is fairly rewarding.

Run With The Wind Episode 4

Haiji was perhaps my greatest surprise. Starting as a character archetype I find quite grating, by the end of the series, while I’m still not thrilled at how he enlisted the others, I found him a fairly charming character. His leg of the race was one that really made me smile and I celebrated with him, which is something I wouldn’t have believed early on in the story. It wasn’t that Haiji changed all that much throughout. It was more that the anime took the time to flesh him out and make him feel like a real person. Sure he was pushy at the beginning and they never try to pretend that didn’t happen, but they give him a motive that makes sense and allow even him to second guess his own actions and to consider where he’s really going. It helps to really begin to appreciate what he was trying to do and why by the end.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Haiji

Equally, Kakeru begins as your fairly standard character archetype. The highly talented runner who has quit due to some trauma from his previous club. He initially clashes with everyone. Haiji because he doesn’t really want to run with the club and with everyone else because of their inexperience with running and their attitude toward it. His character journey is also pretty standard and honestly drawn out too long. While I like where he ended up, I feel they could have resolved some of his arc a bit sooner than they did and that’s probably my main complaint from this series.

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Kakeru being pulled up by his team.

However, each character needs to be looked at individually. Where they all start as just background noise and additional numbers for the club, by the end they have each become a character in their own right and one that for whatever reason the audience has become attached to. It is an extraordinary effort that Run With The Wind has taken to give each character sufficient moments that there is a connection formed before the final race and then each character concludes their character arc as they run their leg.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Prince

Honestly, if you didn’t give Run With The Wind a go when it was airing, this is an anime that is well worth the time. While it is slow to really get going it is a journey that is rewarding and with great sound and visual design it is an anime that is truly worth watching.

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Karandi James
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The Final Wind

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Run With The Wind Episode 23

There are very few anime that know exactly how many episodes they need to tell a story. That makes for dry middle stretches, rushed openings, dragged out sequences, non-endings, rushed endings, or series that just kind of limp along until they fall over in the final episode. Run With The Wind has happily ignored that trend and managed to tell a story about a team of ten characters and only in minor parts felt like it was belabouring a point rather than moving along at the needed pace to keep things from getting too dry.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Kakeru

While I’ll look more at the overall pacing and tone of the series in my full series review, a review I am very excited to write, I will just note here that 23 episodes is exactly what this story needed and it used its time wisely. While there were the occasional segments or sub-plots that were either a little stretched out or characters that didn’t quite get the focus they needed, considering the vat cast, this anime managed to accomplish a lot and maintained excellent quality of presentation while it did it.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Prince

But none of that reviews this specific episode which gives us everything we’ve come to love from Run With The Wind as well as absolute closure on the boys journey to run in Hakone and what happens next for the team. The final leg of the journey is run by Haiji and it is right that he brings the race to a close for the team given he’s the driving force behind it.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Haiji

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However, that doesn’t take anything away from Kakeru’s amazing achievement in this episode. As the second last runner of the team he caught up an enormous amount of time and even broke the section record that had literally only just been broken. For Kakeru’s personal journey to find a reason to run and to enjoy running again it was such a great moment.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Kakeru's record breaking time

And great moments were to be found in abundance as we had the team cheering as Haiji finished. Finding out the outcome of the race and were they ended up overall. Seeing the team coming back together and a montage of what they went on with after the race. Seriously, the episode does everything it needs to do before quietly, and beautifully, coming to an end.

Run With The Wind Episode 23

There isn’t much more I could have asked for in this final episode and I’m very please to say that I’m glad I gave Run With The Wind a go. I’m not huge on sports anime, a team of ten seemed a little excessive in terms of trying to characterise, and watching characters run seemed less than thrilling as a prospect when this first started. How wrong I was and I am very happily proven wrong.

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Karandi James
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May The Wind Be At Their Backs

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Run With The Wind Episode 18 Review

We caught a little of Haiji’s backstory at the start of this episode of Run With The Wind. They kept it short but gave us enough detail. Part of me wished they had taken a similar approach with Kakeru but that shipped sailed already. It is interesting to note how much I disliked Haiji early on. While I can’t say I approve of him coercing his teammates into joining him to achieve his vision, I must admit Run With The Wind has done an excellent job of giving him motive for acting that way so while I still dislike the action I just can’t bring myself to still dislike Haiji.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Haiji

We also get a small newspaper scandal this episode dealing with Kakeru’s past. This leads to a fairly angry phone conversation as well as the actual running coach having to do some coach like work to smooth things over. It isn’t a big focus but is rather one of a number of events peppering this episode in the lead up to the race.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Kakeru - Scandal

There was also a marathon practice in there where we established that the twins and Haiji were kind of making up.

We also celebrate Christamas and New Years with the team through a montage before we finally move to the morning of the race. However, even then, we flash back to Haiji telling the runners where they will be and what leg of the race they are taking.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Yuki

It almost seems like this episode was frantically packing everything in before beginning the race (though given we’re at episode 18 and there are meant to be 23 episodes I wonder how many episodes of running we’re about to watch). Yet this episode never felt rushed and none of these events felt undervalued. It was the natural culmination of what had come before and the feeling of things moving faster as we got closer to the race itself was really well portrayed by this episode and how they chose to convey these events.

Of course, they can’t just let us enjoy the triumph of finally getting to Hakone. No, Shindo seems to have woken up with the dreaded cold but it looks like he’s determined to get to the race. I can’t imagine the team not finishing the race. At this point I’d suggest that they either finish it despite Shindo’s cold and Haiji’s leg, or it will be Haiji who doesn’t make it to the end rather than the race stopping midway along because one of them doesn’t turn up. Still, they might surprise us.

All and all, this has been a nice dramatic build up and now I’m ready to see this team in action.

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Should They Follow The Course Before Them?

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Review

We knew last week that the twins, Joji and Jota, were starting to wonder what their goal was and fortunately Run With The Wind isn’t interesting in dragging out any other drama unnecessarily (Kakeru’s story went on long enough). This week we see that come to a head and while the answers aren’t clear what is clear is that each member of this team is looking within to find their own reason to run and be a part of the team.

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Twins

That doesn’t mean it is all smooth sailing with the twins acting particularly childishly leading to some discord within the group. Kakeru is particularly affected feeling guilty for not answering the twins after the qualifier about why they were running as he feels this is what has set them off. Still, that also leads to some fairly funny moments including Kakeru chasing down the twins when they ditch a road trip to view the course to go play soccer. The reaction of the other team members at the idea of outrunning Kakeru is pretty amusing.

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Twins

Really this is the audience’s first view of the course they are going to run and while we move from site to site fairly quickly it looks like a mammoth ask for the team to complete the track, let alone actually get any kind of position. I was honestly blown away by the scale of this undertaking and I really do get why Kakeru said the entire thing was impossible way back in the beginning after seeing that.

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Haiji

Of course, it isn’t all team mates and finding reasons. The episode ends on Haiji back at the doctors and I wonder just when we’ll be let in on what has happened to him in the past, what has driven him to run, and whether this race is going to do some serious harm to him. I don’t think that would make him back down but I’m curious as to his story in all of this. Despite having a lot of screen time, Haiji is very good at revealing information about others while playing his own cards incredibly close to his chest.

Run With The Wind Episode 17
I wonder this as well and I kind of hope we see it before the series ends.

As usual, this was visually a feast, the characterisation was on point, and this show just continues to be a delight to watch. It doesn’t demand much from its audience with its straight forward plot, but it does manage consistent entertainment.

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The Moment Of Truth From All That Training

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 16 Review

This is it, the qualifier. The team will either make it to the next level or their dream will end right here. There’s plenty of drama to be had in an episode that shows off many of this anime’s excellent qualities. After last week of Run With The Wind made me realise just how much I cared whether they advanced or not, this episode made me realise that there’s been a lot of thought and craft put into this anime.

Run With The Wind Episode 16

I kind of knew that already having previously commented on the visuals and the use of sound in this anime as well as how well realised such a large cast became. However, this episode brought all of its best elements together and delivered a suspenseful and dramatic episode that was still incredibly fun to watch. Basically, it invited us into the role of the spectators and made us love every minute of it (which given I probably would hate watching a real foot race is kind of surprising just how much fun they made this). Yet underpinning all that enjoyment of seeing characters putting all their training into practice, there was this knot in my stomach hoping Haiji would make it to the end and hoping that Prince managed to make a reasonable time.

Run With The Wind Episode 16 Prince

While the outcome is certainly predictable, it doesn’t matter. They still manage to build up the drama beautifully in this episode and couple that with great use of sound and some great visuals throughout the race. The perspective switching from the different runners to the news crews to the fan club watching on the side lines keeps things from becoming stale and before you know it the episode is coming to an end.

Run With The Wind Episode 16 The Team

Of course, they couldn’t just let us end on a high note. The twins have to raise a fairly pointed question right before the credits and clearly that is travelling over into the next episode. It makes sense that having accomplished one of the major goals that it would be time to reflect on what you are doing and why but the anime could have let us enjoy the moment for just a little bit longer before dropping the tone like that. It works from a dramatic point of view but it was a little bit a of a buzz kill to my mood.

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EVANGELION: 3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO NXEDGE STYLE: EVA-13

Facing Forward Is Easier When You Know Someone Has Your Back

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Review

In typical fashion the training camp has come to an end but not without another gag as Haiji tries to inspire the team by showing them an edited video of the relay, seeing some more montages of the boys training in the summer, firework hijinx and finally a shot of the team standing side by side and staring off into the horizon.

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Fireworks

It’s all very functional and necessary though nothing particularly unexpected at this juncture and little risk taken visually or with the sound which is a bit of a shame given how some moments in this series have really taken off because of how they’ve been presented. There’s nothing wrong with this sequence but it also feels like we’ve seen all this before and so ultimately it serves its narrative purpose but is forgettable as we transition into the final races leading up to the qualifying one.

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Prince
And Prince still gets the absolute best lines.

We see the last team members getting their official times until only Prince is left. He marks off the calendar and we can see he has only one chance left before the qualifier and if he can’t get a time they can’t even try to qualify. It’s one of those forced tension moments that sports anime do so well, but here the thirteen episodes of build-up and Prince’s growth as a runner kind of warrant this sort of attention and so it is actually reasonably satisfying.

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Prince

By the same token, there’s little doubt what the outcome will be and while Run With The Wind takes another opportunity to drive home its teamwork and supporting each other mentality with sweet and charming results, there’s not a lot of suspense. The joy here is in knowing the outcome and feeling the characters have earned it.

Looking forward to next episode which I assume will be the qualifier. Unless the anime wants to throw another road block in the way first just to up the emotional stakes. I’m hoping not.

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Clearing the Air With The Help of Friends

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Review

The episode begins with a punch but not the one we expect after last week. Instead, we see Kakeru punching his high school coach. Then, after the OP, we return to the present where Kakeru’s punch is brought up short by his teammates.

It is a powerful start to what is a fairly well directed episode even if the overall subject matter ends up being less impressive. I’m going to be honest, Kakeru’s drama has dragged on so long and ends up being able to be boiled down to angry teenage boy acted impulsively after not doing anything about regulating his emotions over a long period and then had to deal with consequences that came down across the whole track team. For people who were directly involved I guess it would be a big issue but as an audience member at this stage I’m kind of indifferent to Kakeru’s issues and mostly just wanted him to get over them so we could get on with the rest of the characters who’ve proven to be delightful.

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Kakeru's old team.

That said, despite the story itself not being all that great, the cuts back and forth between Kakeru’s high school days and his present moments training with the team build up a sense of a climatic reveal regardless of how you feel about the reveal. The use of static over the flash backs, with more interference and noise the closer we get to the punch, is highly effective at conveying Kakeru’s mental state.

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Kakeru's catalyst.

Why we needed a sit down with the whole team to ‘confess’ everything is something I’ll never quite understand but the team’s reactions are predictable and suitably amusing. It does feel though like the end of this episode has brought a breath of fresh air with this whole Kakeru’s mysterious past finally being out there and so I’m very much looking forward to next week. Particularly when the preview at the end of this episode shows we are going to get some more time with Prince.