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.

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Karandi James
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Run With The Wind Original Soundtrack
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The Change of Seasons Welcome a Changing Wind

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Review

Run With The Wind continues to be surprisingly compelling despite being a show about ten guys running around in circles. Okay, I’m not into watching marathons or track. What continues to sell this story are the characters and the way their progress is being handled. While not as overt emotional development as we are seeing in Tsurune, Run With The Wind excels at small moments and small triumphs. While Kakeru and Haiji continue to get the lion’s share of the focus each team member is given enough smaller moments scattered throughout episodes that we don’t forget them and they all feel like they are going on this journey.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Kakeru

After the gap between episode 11 and 12 we have a new OP and ED. I’m not sold on the OP at all but the ED is pretty great. The rest of the sound remains on point and this is one anime where the sound direction continues to need to be applauded.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Celebration

Takashi and Yuki get a moment to shine and celebrate early in this episode and it was nice to see this small moment. They didn’t win the race but they both managed a qualifying time and it feels like a very natural development given how close both of these characters have been to this previously. I also loved that the team dynamic is still very much in tact with the twins stealing a lot of dialogue but each character having their moment. The one disappointment from this episode was the decided absence of Prince quips and his only real contribution was getting travel sick on the way to the camp.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Twins

However, by the end of the episode all the earlier moments may fade from memory as the episode veers very much into another round of Kakeru has issues and the red-haired guy from the other school whose name I won’t ever remember is still being a jerk. It kind of leaves a sour taste as it feels like this whole plot line has lingered far too long without either being addressed or resolving and at this point I’d really like it to as almost everything else in the anime is more interesting.

Run With The Wind Episode 12

Still, Run With The Wind remains a compelling viewing experience and one that I’m still pleasantly surprised by. Looking forward to where it goes during its second cour.

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Karandi James
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Why Run With the Wind is An Outstanding Example of How To Use Sound

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

So it turns out Run With The Wind is going to have a gap between this episode and the next so this is likely my last episode review for the year. Therefore it is kind of fitting that this episode so clearly demonstrated one element of this anime that has been amazing from episode 1, because I really haven’t talked much about it: the sound.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 Sakaki

Before I get into that though, I want to address the character focus this week Takahashi. Now he has been in all the team scenes and working away in the background since the beginning, but like many of his team mates, I’d kind of overlooked him as a character despite his contribution.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 The Team

However, this episode really brings his contribution and his strengths to the forefront and I absolutely loved it. As Kakeru points out, Takahashi was the first of the reluctant housemates to embrace running, he’s been to every training without skipping and a tireless worker at recruiting supporters. This is a character who well and truly deserves more time and attention, and yet I’m going to leave him here and get back to the sound design of this episode and why it is the real star (sorry Takshashi).

Throughout this whole episode the external scenes are filled with rain. It is a persistent down pour and visually this makes the episode quite dark but it also means that each of these scenes is filled with the background sound of rain. Unlike so many other shows, Run With The Wind finds the perfect balance of sound levels that the rain is pervasive but it doesn’t drown out the dialogue or other sounds. It is all beautifully executed.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 Rain

What also works is the fantastic contrasts. The episode cuts back and forth between running or training in the rain and that heavy downpour, and interior scenes where the rain is muted or absent and the audience and the characters find relief. In these scenes other incidental noises (the bathhouse sounds or the sound of the treadmill, the clicking of keys on the computer) take centre stage and manage to fill the void while not being over-whelming.

All of this leads to the final scene of the episode where the rain has ended and we see the dog playing in the yard with the bird chirping in the background. It is a relief from the sound and carries the audience to the perfect emotion for the ending.

However, this episode wasn’t the first where the sound was masterfully done. This is a consistent positive in a series that is just getting better as it goes. Still, I’m glad that I had the chance to focus on this aspect this week as I really do believe it is a reason to watch the anime.

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How Run With The Wind Shows Us To Celebrate Effort Rather Than Victory

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 10 Review

I kind of thought it last week, with my episode review focusing on Kakeru having to take a step back to see things. This week we see the full fruit of his observations as with Haiji out of the picture it falls on Kakeru to keep the team together. Only not really. After a brief moment of panic and some breakfast making hi-jinks (cause of course none of the guys can cook – breathing the cliche right there) the only one Kakeru ends up really working with is Prince.

Run With The Wind Episode 10 King

Of course, given the friction between Kakeru and Prince, this is kind of a completely necessary step so you can almost forgive Run With The Wind for the cheesy and overused ‘Haiji collapses from exhaustion’ story-line in order to orchestrate this moment. I’ve said it before, but being trite or generic isn’t a problem provided you do it well and Run With The Wind fully committed to this plot line and made it work.

Run With The Wind Episode 10 Kakeru

From the mirroring between Kakeru and Prince in the kitchen to Haiji working with Prince and his manga obsession to improve his form, this episode was full of happy surprise moments that just nailed exactly what they needed to. By the time we see Prince and Kakeru back on the track for real, the audience will feel like they’ve been on this journey with the characters and it is absolutely rewarding. You’ll also want to be apart of the team cheer at the end.

Run With The Wind Episode 10 Prince toss
So want to be a part of that celebration.

Still, while it might be seen as Prince getting better at running, which he is, something else has fundamentally changed that is going to impact the entire dynamic of the anime. And that is, Kakeru is no longer only obsessed with winning or being fast. His slowing down to run alongside Prince and encourage him briefly is an incredible character shift and if it hadn’t had the focus it got it would have felt really unearned. Instead though, it feels like the audience has had plenty of time hoping Kakeru would get his head together and finally we’re seeing some payoff in the form of the most adorable scenes in the anime so far.

Hopefully this series continues to grow its characters and take full advantage of moments like these because if it can do that it will end up being a very solid anime and one that I’d happily recommend despite being a sports anime.

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Visually Interesting Anime from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Continuing my lists of anime from 2018, I am now looking at the most visually interesting anime. Notice it does not claim the best visuals or animation. To be honest, as long as something is watchable I generally don’t pay a huge amount of attention other than to decide something looks pretty or not. For instance, Angolmois managed to have me complaining about how ugly it looked almost every episode so I knew it had to be pretty bad for me to pay that much attention to it (that and Devils’ Line – what was it with weird filters this year). 

Still, there are some requirements for an anime to be on my radar for visuals. I need to like the look it is going for. It needs to feel slightly different from the other shows I’ve been watching. Some good choices in direction usually help. And, let’s be honest, the animation needs to be pretty smooth. Now, some of my choices on the list won’t have all of those things, but that’s kind of what I’m going for. And that term ‘interesting’ is in the title for a reason. I need to have found the visuals interesting, as in I thought they were worth mentioning and discussing on more than one occasion because they grabbed my interest.

Which is kind of how 18if made it onto the top of the list for 2017 and March Comes in Like a Lion took out second place in 2017 and top place in 2016. These anime demanded that I pay attention to their visuals and gave me imagery that stayed with me well after the episodes had ended. So what made my list in 2018? 

Honourable Mentions:

This year I’m giving an honourable mention to Run With The Wind and Darling in the Franxx. Franxx’s animation was gorgeous and the character designs were really cute. Even if I’m not a big fan of Trigger in general, it is hard to argue with those visuals. Run With The Wind has moments of spectacular direction and aesthetics and then large stretches where it feels pretty ordinary. If it could harness those moments where visually it just nails the scene, it would definitely have made it on the official list.

Number 5: Cardcaptor Sakura – Clear Card

While there were many parts of this reboot/sequel that didn’t quite work out as well as I would have liked, visually this was everything I could have ever wanted. Cardcaptor had always been beautiful but the update to the look of the show was spectacular. The magical moments sparkled and did everything they needed to, but it was the attention to detail on the everyday aspects, trees, leaves, flowers, cooking, background characters, that really sold me on the visuals of this one. While the story ended up being kind of meh, there is no denying how pretty this anime turned out.

Number 4: Tsurune

I will admit, this one has some wavering quality with some sequences being outstandingly pretty and others being more ordinary, but it never looks bad. The archery has so far been beautifully animated, the characters are lovely to look at and differentiated enough that you don’t get confused, and there’s just a general care and attention to detail here that is truly pleasurable to watch. I accept that some of what makes this work is how the visuals and sounds are paired together, but ultimately this is one very pretty sports anime.

Number 3: My Hero Academia Season 3

Right, it would have been just plain wrong to leave this one off of the list. For all that I didn’t find season three as enticing as seasons one and two, this season really did bring some spectacular animation to the mix of the already fairly amazing character designs and general distinct look of the show. For all that My Hero Academia is pretty classic shounen, everything about the look of the show has managed to make itself feel unique and the ongoing impressive quality of the action sequences where it never feels like lazy or reused imagery means this anime remains one that should be praised for just how good it manages to look.

Number 2: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2

So, yeah, this one is on the list for the third year in a row (because it is awesome). I’m kind of sad that once again it has lost out on first place given it is still a truly amazingly beautiful anime to watch. Even in its most mundane moments, March Comes in Like a Lion manages to use an impressive combination of visual symbolism and interesting direction to draw the viewer’s eye to whatever they wish us to focus on. They are crafting an amazing character journey and the reason it works so well is very much because of how they present each stage. However, what really impressed in 2018 was the scene where Rei returned to his foster parents’ house. The awkwardness of that scene and the emotions both characters were feeling came through beautifully. It was something really simple and yet it worked spectacularly well. Wait, why didn’t I put this at number one again?

Number 1: Bloom Into You

Oh right, March Comes in Like a Lion couldn’t quite beat this one for direction in its second half of season two (which is all that aired in 2018). Now, if you want to see something that feels like it has been carefully constructed with love and attention to detail in every single frame, Bloom Into You is the anime for you. I love the direction, the use of colour and contrasts, the character designs, quite literally everything about this anime is beautiful and it works to construct a story that emotionally takes the audience on a ride. It is a truly amazing thing to see in action and there isn’t a single sequence that isn’t worth rewatching just to think about how it has been put together and why it is so amazing.


And that brings us to the end of my list of visually interesting anime for 2018. However, as always, I am dying to know what the rest of you thought this year. Please share your favourites in the comments below.

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Autumn 2018 Week 8

Another week in paradise… well not really but we can all hope and dream. And even if I’m not then at least I am nearing the end of an anime season that has been thoroughly enjoyable. The quality entertainment available this season has been amazing and I am genuinely enjoying the ride. Though, we are now perhaps only four weeks off the end of some of these ending so next week I will be launching the poll for best and worst of the season and letting that run through until the majority of the shows finish airing. Of course, immediately after that we need to get into best of the year and that is going to be a tough choice in 2018.

As always, I would love know your thoughts on the anime this season and even what you think might be in the running for anime of the year. Be sure to leave a comment below.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8

Episode 8

This one is apparently 26 episodes, like the previous seasons, but right now I’m seriously thinking of bailing at the mid-season if enough new shows start that I’m interested in. It seems the magic has left A Certain Magical Index, or I’ve moved on from it. Either way, I’m just going through the motions watching it at this point. It doesn’t help that the anime itself gives me so little reason to care.

Banana Fish

Banana Fish Episode 21 Ash and Eiji

Episode 20 – Not Reviewed


Seems we now have an entire mercenary troop hunting Ash and the others down. In the streets of the city… Okay, plausibility was never a big part of this show and I love how they balance real character drama with ridiculously overblown plot points, but this one was perhaps a stretch too far.

Bloom Into You

Bloom Into You Episode 8 Yuu

Episode 8

While I was a little less enamoured with episode 8 than I have been of previous episodes, it was more that this episode seemed to be setting up future events. And if past experience with this anime is anything to go by, the payoff will be worth it if I can just be patient. In the meantime we had some excellent writing and character work to pay attention to in this week’s episode. Patrons can access the post using the link, password on Patreon.

Conception

Conception Episode 8 Sue

Episode 8

Yep, the cringe factor continued in episode 8. Actually it got worse as the show mimicked an episode from The Bachelor and literally set my teeth on edge. This was borderline unwatchable for me, though I am told through fairly trusted sources on Twitter that it was actually amusing. Clearly I missed that because I found this episode to be the most painful yet.

Dakaichi

Episode 8 – Will be reviewed with Arthifis

Alright, episode 8 was pretty much filler, and not good filler. Hopefully episode 9 picks this one back up because I’ve quite enjoyed the season up until now. If you missed it, Arthifis and I had quite the conversation about the progress Dakaichi has made so remember to go and check out the post if you haven’t seen it yet.

Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer Episode 8 Goblin Slayer and Priestess

Episode 8- Will be reviewed with Arthifis

As Goblin Slayer and Priestess recover from their injuries and have equipment repaired, the rest of the team search the sewers so they are ready for their next encounter with goblins. While we do end the episode with a bang, this one is more about seeing the characters and how they deal with a defeat before prepping for a second round. Good fun and we’re getting more insight into Goblin Slayer as a character.

Jingai-San No Yome

Jingai San No Yomu Episode 9 Flu Scene

Episode 9- Not Reviewed

I may have finally solved part of the question of why this exists this week. Honestly, three minutes is the longest a flu sequence should last. By using the short run time, this anime is actually able to get away with these cliche vignettes because they don’t out stay their welcome. Now the story as a whole is going nowhere, but at least this was kind of cute.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 9 Sakuta

Episode 9

Futaba’s mystery is solved relatively simply, but perhaps simple is good. Certainly the episode is and we continue to get some excellent character performances from a cast that just keeps getting stronger. Also, the preview for the next episode looks fantastic so I’m looking forward to it.

Release the Spyce

Release the Spyce Episode 8

Episode 8

Well, at least this felt like a spy adventure this week. It wasn’t a particularly good one because it felt overly rushed and nothing really had time to have any emotional impact, but at least we had the girls infiltrating somewhere and getting into fights. There were also some cool gadgets. This one remains better sounding than it is and while it remains watchable it is very much average.

Run With The Wind

Run With The Wind Episode 9

Episode 9

Kakeru’s being a jerk to Prince, Haiji is playing mother hen, another character is not eating enough, and the next track meet is fast approaching. All and all, you could say things aren’t going well, or you might think this is just the mess before they all come together. That said, drama is the name of the game this week and there is a lot of it.

Skull Face Bookseller Honda-San

Skull face Book Seller Honda San Episode 8

Episode 8

Average remains a fairly good descriptor of Skull Face Bookseller Honda San. This week we return firmly to the goings on in the book shop and dealing with a range of customer types. Still, there’s little to remember once the episode is done so while these are fun enough short moments there’s nothing that really sticks out.

Sword Art Online Alicization

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 8 Kirito

Episode 8

Episode 8 of Sword Art Online Alicization did an excellent job of reminding me exactly why I love SAO. And I know that some people found the moment Kirito ‘believed’ in himself eye-roll worthy, however I felt it took the story right back to its roots and what it originally tried to capture in Aincrad. Really enjoyed the episode this week.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru in the cave

Episode 9

Another good enough and fun enough episode but still just keeping me on the edge of really enjoying it. I find this to be a fun casual watch but there just isn’t enough of really anything to draw me in. The emotional moments with Shizu were great but then they immediately diffuse them. Same with the threat we meet this week. Dangerous for about five minutes and then we’re going to dinner together.

Tsurune

Tsurune Episode 6 Masaki

Episode 6

Another great episode in building on these characters and slowly having the story naturally unfold. It isn’t quite languid enough to be slice of life, nor is it all that dramatic at this stage. Tsurune is finding its own place as a sports anime by telling the story it wants to tell its own way and the result is so far a relaxing and interesting affair. I suspect we may be in for some tension next week but even if we aren’t, I’m enjoying the pace and tone of this.

Voice of Fox

Voice of Fox Episode 7

Episode 7

Well, if we thought things had hit rock bottom last week, watching the fallout this week was pretty painful. If you can think of anyway to kick Hu Li emotionally this episode did it. What’s worse is that the damage is radiating outward from him hurting the few friends he has and his family (though clearly things were strained their from the beginning).

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 7 - The Rebels Meeting

Episode 7 – Not watched this week

I didn’t get around to this one this week, so I’ll either do a catch up or just be a bit behind for the rest of the season. I haven’t dropped it though.

Episode of the Week

Tsurune Episode 6 Opposition
It is hard not to enjoy Tsurune as it brings some quiet time to an otherwise hectic week. I really like the focus on character and there’s enough going on in preparations for the tournament to keep it from getting dull.

Character of the Week

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 8 Kirito
I don’t try to hide the fact that I really enjoy Kirito as a character and I felt this week he was very Kirito (if that makes any sense). I really enjoyed watching him in Sword Art Online Alicization this week and I hope to see more of him like this.

Dropped or On Hold

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Release the Spyce B2 Tapestry
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You Have To Step Back To See What’s Really There

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 9 Review

As much as I hate to admit it, Haiji has a point. Kakeru really can’t see what the point of running is anymore, other than getting a great time and winning, and while I kind of get where Kakeru is coming from, given they are in a competition, I really do get where Haiji is coming from. Besides, Kakeru targeting Prince was a low blow. It isn’t as though Prince didn’t know he wasn’t good at running.

Run With The Wind Episode 9

Kakeru being benched this week on Run With The Wind created a chance for the audience to observe the others from a distance as well. While at first most were reluctant to join Haiji in his dream, and many were coerced, the five who competed this week gave it all they had and those who were on the side were moved by their effort and a desire to cheer them on. All and all, the power of the ‘team’ coming together even if none of the runners were successful this time around at getting an official time.

Run With The Wind Episode 9 - Running

Of course, Run With The Wind wasn’t really content just to give us a ‘go team’ kind of message and working at bringing Kakeru back in with the others, despite him being a massive jerk last week and at the start of the episode. Instead we layer in signs that Haiji isn’t as ‘recovered’ as he’d like people to believe and that escalates as the episode continues. Given we still don’t know what actually happened, I’m curious as to what is going on, but the eventual collapse of the team leader was a suitably dramatic end point for the episode.

Run With The Wind Episode 9 Prince

Where this anime shines is that none of the characters feel neglected at this point. It is quite the feat given the sheer number of characters. And while I don’t necessarily like all of them, they are all feeling very authentic and the group as a whole is becoming more and more interesting to watch.

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Karandi James
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