Run With the Wind – Episode 1

By: Caitlin Moore October 3, 20180 Comments
A group of young men sit around two low tables full of food and drinks. Subtitles read "Let's aim for the top together!"

What’s it about? Haiji Kiyose finds Kakeru Kurahara fleeing from a shopkeeper with a loaf of bread in his hand. He recruits the college first-year to move into his dorm, making him the much-anticipated tenth resident. Why is he so desperate for that tenth resident? And why Kakeru, of all people?

Run with the Wind does not have any female characters in its first episode. It does not have any raunchy jokes or sexual content, and its only apparent problem with women is one of sheer omission.

This concludes the feminist portion of this review.

Run with the Wind didn’t seem to ping a lot of people’s radar in the lead-up to the fall season, but it certainly was on mine. It’s based on a literary novel by Shion Miura, author of the criminally overlooked The Great Passage, with appealing character designs by Haikyuu ’s Takahiro Chiba.

I love a lot of tropey otaku media – one of my favorite video games series is Danganronpa and I adore Free! – but Run with the Wind ’s source being a novel makes it refreshingly grounded. By the end of the first episode, each member of the large cast already feels distinct without relying on stereotypes. Well, I guess the twins making Kakeru guess who is who is a cliche, but not one exclusive to otaku media.

(For what it’s worth, I’ve never known a twin who was anything but annoyed at people struggling to distinguish between them and their sibling, myself included.)

Each character so far mostly just has one or two distinguishing traits – Nico-chan-senpai smokes constantly, Akane collects manga obsessively, Musa is an exchange student from Tanzania – but their interactions feel like real conversations between people. Run With the Wind perfectly replicates the disorienting feeling of walking into a dorm full of close-knit friends and trying to get a sense of who each person is and their personalities. Judging from these first impressions, I want to spend time with them and get to know them better.

Haiji and Kakeru make up the obvious center of the show. Haiji sports a long surgical scar on his leg marking the site of a knee surgery; Kakeru went from a serious high school athlete to heaving to steal bread from a convenience store after gambling away his apartment deposit at Mahjong. Haiji particularly endeared himself to me as the obvious mom friend, introducing Kakeru around and wiping spilled food off his friend’s shirt. However, he can also be scheming and self-serving – after all, he recruited Kakeru to the dorm in order to fill out the roster for the track team nobody knew they were on so they could participate in the relay marathon to Hakone.

Kakeru, meanwhile, has revealed less of himself so far but shows promising as a complex character as his own right. He appears to be more or less alone in the world, and doesn’t really know what to do with Haiji’s attention. He’s relieved to have a place to live, but is overwhelmed by the lively personalities of his new neighbors. He still runs regularly, but doesn’t want to run the marathon. Without a doubt, he and Haiji will help each other move on from their pasts and learn the true meaning of teamwork – it’s a sports anime, after all.

Body language conveys much of the characters’ personalities. Each one has a distinctive design and face, and fluid animation brings out their individual quirks and flaws. The building is crowded and dingy, but possesses a homelike warmth that really makes it feel like a place worth spending time with.

I can hear some people in the audience clamoring, “Enough of this! Does he have the booty?” And the answer is a resounding, “He do, and the booty is of an age where no one can take issue with fans ogling it!” Not that there’s really any prominent fan service – just some light nudity that a good portion of the audience will no doubt appreciate.

I’ve been trying to get into running for quite a while, but something always stops me from getting more than a few weeks in – I get injured or sick somehow, or some other distraction or reason not to go comes up. Maybe Run with the Wind will be the inspiration I need to stick with my plan this time, because I’m certainly sticking to the show.

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