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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was surprised that nearly half of this episode of Run With The Wind ended up being devoted to King and flash backs of King entering the house. Other than his job hunt, King hasn’t had much characterisation within the story and is one of the characters that I didn’t think had a lot to offer.
To a point that is true with little being really revealed. On the other hand, this is kind of a good reflective moment for the audience seeing King accepting his failures and himself while he runs, doing something for the first time really since entering college and doing it with a team of people who are depending on him. it is also a nice calm moment before the sash gets handed over to Kakeru.
Sorry to say to King, but he was a character that was destined to be fairly forgettable out of the group of ten, and it would have been really cruel to have Shindo’s arc and moment directly followed by Kakeru because no matter how great the moment that came before it, Kakeru’s leg of the race was always going to overshadow the bit that came before it. So King played his role well, and that ten minutes didn’t feel dragged or wasted, but it did make the start of Kakeru’s leg even more exciting because of the build up to it. Haiji’s comment on the phone to Kakeru that he was already the best runner was just kind of perfect and to be honest set up some big expectations for the next leg.
And Run With The Wind delivered. Kakeru running has always been kind of compelling to watch, and I don’t even like running. This is always achieved through some visual gimmicks that have been used just enough that it isn’t bizarre when they start occurring in this race, but not often enough to overpower the fairly realistic tone the anime has gone for in most other elements. I really liked the visual effect where it was like Kakeru shed a layer of ice or snow from around his body.
However, more impressive than Kakeru just running is the improved mental state we find this character in. Finally he’s running for the sheer love of it and has found a team he wants to run with. He wants to push himself to go further and faster. While I’m not convinced there won’t be a hiccup at the start of the next episode, this start to Kakeru’s run was truly impressive and everything you could kind of have asked for given the journey so far.
Run With The Wind remains an incredibly impressive anime in how it has put itself together and how it seems to understand its pacing and characters so well and seems to make the best choices for putting them on display.
So hard to review this episode because the emotional punch of episode 20 obviously wasn’t beaten, nor did the anime try to do so. Run With The Wind hasn’t been big on continuous melodrama beats to keep us watching so after giving us that glorious moment in episode 20, sensibly toned it down but didn’t retreat from building toward the climax of the series.
This episode we had Yuki taking the downhill stretch of the track and I loved his character moment. As the most reluctant (other than Prince) to join the team and the one who fought Haiji hard, to see him tearing down that hill and giving it all he had was a truly amazing thing. What I liked as well was they built in a family moment for him, which tied in neatly with a previous comment he’d made about his relationship with family, but it wasn’t a bit deal or huge drama. It was just there and a moment for the character and something that helps to make all of this feel grounded in reality because all of these characters have other things going on, but they didn’t make a spectacle of it. Anyway, really loved it.
Yuki passes the sash to Hirata (or Nico) who then runs and realises how much he loves running. This is probably the most back story we’ve seen from this character but it ties in beautifully with all the quiet moments we’ve seen previously with him worrying about his size and his weight. Again, not over-dramatised, fit beautifully with what we knew about the character, and gave us just enough to flesh him out and round out his character story as he finally runs his leg.
The sash is passed to King though we don’t get much of this because we hop over to Kakeru who is pretty much declaring he’s going to beat a section record and yet for Kakeru he seems to actually be enjoying running again and friendly competition.
I find it amazing that this anime has managed to build up a team that feels like a team and the camaraderie and all the points that go with teamwork as a theme, but each character has gone on an interesting personal journey. Some of these journey’s have been happening quietly in the background but they’ve been there and as the final stretch shows each character finally running their leg we get closure on each of these personal stories.
It really is a remarkable story and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up in. I’m going to be very sad to see this one leave my watch list at the end of the season.
I seldom throw the word ‘perfect’ around when describing an anime. Or even a particular episode of an anime. Mostly because there’s usually something that could be improved. And that is true here as well with episode 20 of Run With The Wind. Jota’s opening part of this episode was quite weak, as is his character in general, and yet… when thinking back on the episode as a whole… Perfect.
Anime has given us the new face of determination. Of never giving up or surrendering. And it isn’t some shouty shounen protagonist or overpowered fighter who will win the day regardless of how many buckets of blood they just left all over the ground before they picked up their sword again.
No, the face of determination, the most inspiring character I’ve come across since Winter last year when Hina and Rei blew me away with their character arcs in March Comes in Like a Lion, is Shindo from Run With The Wind. A quiet achiever and support character who isn’t the best at the sport, but was one of the first to decide to give it a go and try. One of the hardest workers at collecting support for the team and keeping the website going. Someone who has quietly supported each and every member of the team at one point or another.
A character who despite having a fever ran twenty kilometres up a mountain range and never gave up. He lost ground and time, was over taken, nearly collapsed on more than one occasion (and I think he did collapse at one point) and yet he had made a commitment to his team mates so for him giving up was not an option.
Shindo, your moment was absolutely perfect in every way. This episode reduced me to tears. Not a single tear or just glassy eyed, but full on sobs. While the episode itself won’t do it, watching the series to this point and realising the character journey to get here and then seeing that strength come shining through, it just hit me so hard.
Yeah, Run With The Wind is definitely going to be my anime of the season.
Run With The Wind continues to be the impressive front runner for the season for me, which surprises me immensely and yet is incredibly satisfying. The race begins for real this week and we watch Prince, Musa, and then Taro as each completes their part of the journey. Each character has had wonderful growth, not just as a runner, and that is impressive given the cast of ten main characters with none of them left feeling neglected.
Still, Prince was the standout, at least for me. He remains the character who gets the best lines and moments, and his request that Haiji not apologised to him for dragging him into running but that Haiji encouraged him the way any of the characters from his manga might be encouraged was just adorable. Seeing Prince make the finish line at all, and to do so in relatively good time (okay he was last but he barely qualified in the first place) was one of those moments that nearly moved me to tears. Then we got the reaction from the rest of the team, cheering on Prince’s achievement and yeah, there were tears to the point I had to pause the episode.
Despite Prince’s excellent showing, Musa and Taro didn’t let themselves be outshone and I think I love that the most about this show. Each character plays their part and steps up to lead the episode when they need to and steps back when it is time for someone else. Both were reflecting on their journey and I must admit I really enjoyed Taro’s run and learning more about his relationship with his brother. And then of course there was Hana showing up in the final stretch.
But, I will warn you if you haven’t already watched the episode, don’t watch the preview. It just sets your heart hurting and there’s a whole week before we’ll find out what happens. Save yourself the pain and just enjoy the episode and then hope against hope that everyone in the team finishes their leg next week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.