My thoughts on ‘Run with the Wind’. Warning for spoilers.
Sports anime can be notorious for having too many characters and too many long-winded competitions to keep track of. As such, I was hesitant when I bumped into ‘Run with the Wind’ while speeding through suggestions on Netflix. Luckily, this one turned out to be a shorter and less complicated addition to the genre.
Before I begin my actual review, I just need to state this one obvious thing that’s been prickling me since I started watching this show: Kakeru, our protagonist, bears an uncanny resemblance to Kageyama (from Haikyu). Is it too much to ask for a more distinctive hairstyle, facial features or at least a different expression? I know it’s quite normal to have characters across different anime share some similarities but maybe because both these characters are from a sports anime and they both exude that angsty, anti-social vibe, I found it harder to get over the similarities than I usually would.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can get on with the actual review. Within the first few seconds of the show, we meet Kakeru, a broke college freshman fleeing with his loot from a desperate shopkeeper. While he may not have money, he certainly has speed and stamina, which is fortunate because he catches the attention of our other very important character – Haiji…something. Haiji, who functions as the coach, friend and father of a nearby dormitory quickly recruits him as the final member of a track team that he’s been plotting to create for some time. They must be destined to meet I suppose, seeing as they’re both from the same institution, share the same passion for running and soon will share a home as well (no, not like that).
Long story short, Haiji’s got his eyes on Kakeru’s legs and lungs and wants to use him to complete his dream of participating in a very important marathon – the Hakone Ekiden. I googled it, and it turns out that this is a real marathon. Why this impresses me, I don’t know. It’s not like it being real affects the story in any way.
The story, then takes us through the rigorous training that Kakeru, Haiji and the rest of the team put themselves through to prepare for the marathon. Apart from Kakeru and Haiji, everyone is laughably unfit for running and it’s unbelievable that anyone could improve that much in such a short period of time, but somehow, the boys manage it due to the initial threat of eviction and then sheer determination.
The show tries several strategies to keep the audience interested. There’s the usual dosage of homoerotic undertones, no doubt strategically employed to lure Fujoshis into watching the show. There’s no actual romantic development of any sort though, but this sort of baiting is almost synonymous with the sports anime genre by now. God forbid there be any real romantic relationship in a sports anime! What if it steals some of the attention away from the sport?
To make the story matter, the show also slips in some drama as we are introduced to the menial problems and unexciting backstories of some of the characters. I suppose it’s intended to add some depth to the characters and help endear them to the audience but it didn’t really matter because it soon becomes patent that running solves everything. Feeling angsty because you can’t get a job? Run! Experiencing self-doubt or guilt over poor decisions you made in the past? Run! Running a fever so high that you can barely stand? Run! Like most sports anime, this one too seems to posit the sport as the thing that truly matters. Then there is the usual situation where the athletes deliver an extended monologue in their minds, reaching some sort of epiphany in the process. I expected it, given that this is a sports anime, but it still felt silly.
While it was silly, Run with the Wind was also relatively entertaining. There was some comedy, character development and moments that focussed on friendship and teamwork. It also helps that it ends well, with the underdog team surpassing the expectations of their rivals and Kakeru leaving his opponents in the dust as he sets a new record. It felt like a valid reward for watching the show.
Overall, this one was a quick marathon. It didn’t leave any strong or lasting impressions and I’ve already forgotten the names of most of the characters even though I only finished it a few days ago. It’s a run-of-the-mill sports anime that pretty much summarises the entire genre.
You can find more of my reviews at: ennadune.wordpress.com