Run with the Wind – Mid Series Anime Review
Synopsis: One chilly March day, Kansei University fourth-year Kiyose Haiji (Haiji) encounters Kurahara Kakeru (Kakeru) running uncommonly fast through the streets at night and forces him into living at the Chikusei-so (AKA Aotake). Haiji has a dream and ambition. He became discouraged after suffering an injury in high school, but he wants to run again. He wants to participate in the Hakone Ekiden and show off the running ability he’s been pursuing. He has only one year left to turn that dream and ambition into reality. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Series (11 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Run with the Wind is one of those rare anime aimed at an older and mentally mature audience rather than the teen demographic most people associate the medium with. It features college aged characters and approaches shonen/sports tropes from a more adult perspective and attitude, meaning that instead of screaming/sobbing drama, or the entire world being doomed, we get a group of people dealing with personal life issues and hang ups. There’s no big journey to be the very best or to save the world. Just a guy trying to get a group of peers together to participate with him as a team in a marathon.
Tom: Run with the Wind has a lot to love, from its more grounded focus, solid animation, to its wealth of characters. The story focuses on one Kurahara Kakeru, a former high school track member who becomes roped up in Haiji’s scheme to ‘entice’ their dorm into participating in the Hakone Ekiden, a grueling running competition. Run with the Wind boasts a fairly large cast, not all of whom have gotten great focus in these first 11 episodes, but are written so well in what roles they each play that banter between them remains a joy to watch. Despite the synopsis above, Run with the Wind isn’t really Haiji’s story. In fact, Haiji’s ambition is more the catalyst to exploring each of the other teammates practicing for the upcoming competition. What characters do get focus however, end up feeling wonderfully fleshed out, with gripping, grounded, narratives and personal issues that make each episode something to look forward to every week. The drama is more subtle than other sports based anime, less bombastic and seems perfectly suited to older audiences as Linny described above. The main through line for the series is focused on Kakeru, a former high school runner who’s turned on the sport and gradually comes to find a new passion for it, or perhaps more precisely, how to view running and competition without it souring him.
Linny: Thanks to its grounded approach, Run with the Wind also uses comedy sparingly. While there are a few humourous moments peppered here and there, the gags rarely out stay their welcome and seem clearly intended to make the viewer break into a smirk rather than creating tone jarring laughter. The show uses one of its characters, Prince and his complete lack of aptitude for running as its running joke (pun intended) while also employing some popular/predictable gags such as a female character who cannot cook. But Run with the Wind makes these worn gags work never lingering on them for too long or finding ways to frame overused gags in a new light, letting them feel fresh and interesting again.
Tom: Honestly, Run with the Wind is one of the greatest and most under appreciated titles this fall. From its quality animation, to its fun characters, and gripping, understated narrative, there’s tons to love. The one complaint I might put forward is that Run with the Wind lacks a coherent theme. What message it has concerning pacing yourself, pushing forward, etc. is somewhat undermined by the origins of the team, since Haiji does force everyone into competing in the first place. But even so, what’s here has been immensely enjoyable, and much like 2017’s Sakura Quest, remains a thoroughly underappreciated title. If it wasn’t only half-done I would’ve said it deserved recognition as Fall 2018’s best anime.
Linny: As anime fans grow older, it can be a struggle to find shows that feel relatable or don’t involve an entire cast consisting solely of ‘kids.’ For those viewers, Run with the Wind is sure to be a hit. The story is muted yet manages to capture a lot of the issues that one has to confront at a certain age, especially on the cusp of early adulthood. It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s also not your run of the mill sports anime, managing to blend a slice of life like atmosphere with its main sports focus. Watching the various members of the group slowly deal with their personal hang ups, ranging from stress about finding employment to accepting their fragile pasts, helps the audience sympathize with them and ultimately makes for a story that will have older anime audiences engaged throughout.
Run with the Wind is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.