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

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

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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Running With The Wind and With Your Team

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 22 Review

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 22 - King

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 22 King hands the sash 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.

Haiji - To me you are the greatest runner.
Run With The Wind Episode 22

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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 Episode 22  - Kakeru

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.

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Finding Your Own Wind

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 21 Review

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 21 Yuki

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 21

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 21

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 21 Yuki

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.

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Blowing Past Your Limits

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 20 Review

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 20

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 20
Given the opportunity to quit – no one would blame him – but he isn’t going to stop.

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.

Run With The Wind Episode 20
Remember this face. He is perfect.

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.

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Tsurune Series Review

Tsurune Episode 8 Minato

Overcoming challenges together; Tsurune takes on the emotional scars of its cast and shines.

There’s something just a little bit special about this latest sports anime from Kyoto Animation. The studio is known for being good at handling solid emotionally driven stories with the likes of Clannad on its line up and its also dipped its toes into boys doing sports before with the fan-service laden Free. That perhaps set the bar very high for Tsurune in some viewers’ minds and I do recall seeing a lot of first impressions that went along the lines of ‘as expected from Kyo-Ani’ or ‘nothing special compared to…’.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who

However, that seemed a little harsh given is something is done well it is done well even if another anime made by the same studio perhaps surpassed it or the studio has done something comparable before. While I’m not going to make the case that Tsurune is some sort of hidden master piece, I will put forward strongly that Tsurune is well worth the watch for those who like getting invested in emotionally driven stories with the back-drop of a sports tournament to keep the plot on track and to ensure that we have an ongoing sense of direction.

Tsurune Episode 1

Tsurune is beautiful. There’s no denying that fact and while I’m certain we could screen cap some less favourable moments, almost every scene is beautifully composed and the use of colour, light and movement are purposeful and interesting. The choice for the majority of Masaki’s scenes early on to be bathed in blue tones (a colour scheme we return to at the end) was very well done and played nicely into a narrative twist in the early episodes. The portrayal of wind and movement as the arrows flew was gorgeous and was taken to its extreme during the final where each shot set a flurry of sparkling leaves flying (okay, they may have taken some liberties with reality but it looks great). And each of the characters, yes the heavily male dominated cast, look fantastic.

The music and sound design also deserve a special mention as these are truly used to enhance each and every scene. While it might seem to some too calculated or artificial, I found it absolutely complemented the visuals and the narrative and particularly during competitions I found myself waiting for the sound of the arrow being released, the wind, and then the impact as the arrow either hit or missed its target. It was very affective and adding greatly to the overall enjoyment while watching.

On the surface we have a basic story of a character who used to be good at archery who quit after developing target panic (essentially couldn’t hold his draw and released the arrow too soon throwing off his aim). His friend who followed him to high school wants him to get back into the sport as does a childhood friend who has reunited with them. After some resistance, Minato does decide to get back into archery and works to overcome his target panic.

Tsurune Episode 8 - Minato

That story alone could have worked beautifully and yet while that is the frame for the story, Tsurune explores so much more. With five boys coming together (the group of three friends and another two characters), there are plenty of personal conflicts and emotions to deal with as they try to form a team and overcome their own short comings. Where Tsurune surprised me was how well in dealt with Seiya’s story as I had thought he was more of a support character but ultimately he had an incredible arc. The coach, Masaki, also had plenty of solid development and was portrayed as a real character rather than a token adult figure. Even the characters at the rival school began to be expanded upon toward the end and while their arcs seem cut off in the middle it created the feeling that this story and these characters were more real.

Tsurune Episode 11 Masaki

However, at only thirteen episodes and with so many characters not everyone can have their story told. Nanao, despite having some excellent supporting moments, is still largely a mystery as was Ryouhei, despite his childhood friend status. The three girls who were also in the club had a couple of excellent scenes but were largely ignored by the narrative getting to stand on the sides of scenes and really just got used by the plot when needed rather than being fleshed out in their own right. These are small complaints and without more episodes it would be difficult to address these issues, but given the excellent progress so many other characters made it just feels like a shame that others were almost benched.

Tsurune Episode 7

From a plot point of view this is about as standard as it comes as the team overcomes personal conflicts, struggles to qualify and then slowly comes together toward the end of the series. That doesn’t make it less satisfying to watch but if you are after something unpredictable or something that throws in a few unexpected twists and turns Tsurune probably won’t do it for you.

Tsurune focuses instead on maintaining its pace and tone. The focus remains on the characters and their growth. The competitions are the setting which allows that growth to happen and provides complications and set backs, but the story never forgets what its core is.

Tsurune Episode 2

While this isn’t the single most spectacular anime I’ve ever seen, it was an absolute delight to watch each week bringing a bit of calm bliss as I watched the next episode. I grew to care deeply for these characters and loved seeing them rise up and overcoming challenges. All and all, I would recommend giving it a go. While it may not work for you, and if slow pace isn’t your thing it probably won’t, there are certainly worse anime you could try than Tsurune.

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May The Wind Be At Their Backs

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

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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