First Look: Run with the Wind

Alternative title(s): Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
Novel Adaptation by Production I.G
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Chased by an old woman for stealing food, Kakeru is rescued by a university student and elite runner named Haiji, who persuades Kakeru to live with him in an old apartment alongside eight other fellow residents. Unbeknownst to them, Haiji has been planning to form a team and enter the Hakone Ekiden Marathon – one of Japan’s most prominent university relay races – and Kakeru is the tenth and final member.

Artemis’ verdict: On The Right Track

I didn’t have any real assumptions about this show going into it – it just seemed like the kind of thing that’d be fairly average, even if you happen to be more into sports anime than I am – but based on the opening episode, I’d say we’re off to a pretty decent start.

Right off the bat, there’s a certain sense of realism to Run with the Wind that most sports anime titles simply don’t have, despite the somewhat unlikely premise. The show exudes a quiet, understated atmosphere, even in a rundown dorm room occupied by ten male university students. It didn’t surprise me in the slightest to discover that this adaptation is based on a novel by the same person who wrote The Great Passage, whose anime aired a couple years back. There’s a striking similarity to Run with the Wind in terms of ambience – restrained, contemplative, and frankly quite unlike most other sports anime out there, no matter what the demographic.

Partly this ambience is thanks to the characters, who are at university rather than high school and certainly look and sound it. The incredibly true-to-life setting likewise does plenty for the overall feel though, right down to the light fixtures and texture of the walls. Seriously, I haven’t seen an anime with such on-point background art for a long time, if ever, and it strikes a major chord with me. You’d think the character designs would look totally out of place in comparison, but even they come across a bit less ‘anime-like’ in which features and movements are exaggerated and which are purposefully downplayed.

If I have any particular misgiving about Run with the Wind, it’s that there might be too many cast members to keep track of and to give decent character development. While Kakeru and Haiji will likely remain the main focus, that still leaves eight boys to account for, plus any other recurring characters who may play a role. Luckily, the series is slated for 23 episodes, so hopefully that means there’ll be enough room to give everyone a proper amount of screentime without having to rush things.

If you’re mostly into loud, action-packed sports titles with plenty of burning tension and excitement, and with characters that have near superhuman abilities or talents, you may want to look elsewhere. If however you’re after something more understated, I highly recommend giving Run with the Wind the chance it clearly deserves.

Jel’s verdict: Does Anyone Remember Cheer Boys

…because I thought of that show while watching this. I’m sure there are other, better examples of this type of low key, down to Earth sports shows but for some reason that was the first thing that came to mind. While I didn’t stick with that show personally, I do mean that as a compliment. Practically every other sports anime is so formulaic that it writes itself, whereas here there seems to be an interesting variety of characters and personalities that go outside the usual stereotypes. Overall it might be a little too subdued for my tastes, but this feels like a really solid series in the making.

2 thoughts on “First Look: Run with the Wind

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