Season aired: Fall 2019
Number of episodes: 23
Genres: Sports and Drama
Thoughts: I’m actually not a huge fan of sports anime, namely because I don’t like any sort of competition where I can see my opponent. Therefore, I never actually competed in any sports as a kid, and overall, it led me to avoid sports as a whole. So right off the bat, I tend to be pickier with sports anime compared to others. Amongst the many, many sports anime in the anime universe, I have never found one that I fell head over heels in love with after Haikyuu. Run with the Wind didn’t quite reach the status Haikyuu managed to reach, but it sure got close.
Run with the Wind is focused on Kansai University’s track team – a complete ragtag team of runners who didn’t even realize they were part of the track team at all. Things begin to start rolling when freshman Kakeru runs past senior Haiji who is instantly inspired by Kakeru’s talent and drive to run. Haiji chases him down to begin one of the quirkiest yet most inspirational journeys to heal and improving oneself.
The anime exhibits a subtly and unique beauty that is hard to fully describe. More than anything, the series proves that when an entire production team pays attention to all the small details, it really can become a masterful painting. From the music choice, to the fluid animation, to even something as simple as the characters becoming tanned after running outside during the summer, Run with the Wind manages to make the audience relate to the characters. Rather than watching the protagonists on a computer screen, the small careful realism in every drop of color and interaction made me feel as if I were one of the characters, watching from the sidelines and cheering them on. It’s an invisible emotional trap that completely enraptures the viewer’s attention and demands their emotional commitment to the characters and their journeys. This simply couldn’t have been done if all the small details weren’t fleshed out.
Another thing that appealed to me is that all the characters are college students. Having gone through high school and graduated college, I can safely say the “high school experience” is overrated and romanticized in stories. High school is easily some of the worst years because our bodies are changing, our minds are completely unbalanced, and we make a slew of dumb mistakes.
College, however, is the setting where things really change and grow in a romantic sense. We are forced to do daily activities on our own, such as planning our schedules, classes, and even when and where to eat. I can confidently say that college is a period where people go through a “journey of self-discovery” that so many stories portray. And yes, we still make dumb decisions, but we’re also mature enough to admit and even laugh about them. High school is a beta testing of our development. College is where the development actually happens.
The older characters in Run with the Wind demonstrate this growth in maturity. Whether it’s Yuki, Haiji, Prince, or Nico-senpai, they’ve gone through the maturing stage. They’re comfortable with who they are on the inside. It dials down the unnecessary drama that often plagues high school anime series as a whole, leaving time for genuine development and growth rather than stupid decisions and dumb conflicts that could have been easily avoided if the characters were simply a little more mature.
And that’s where the real strength of this series lies. Running by itself isn’t a super interesting sport. It’s a lot more straightforward than other team sports for sure. The training isn’t beautiful to watch compared to more artistic sports like ice skating, and the general mechanics behind winning is also a lot easier to understand. When the sport itself is unable to lend excitement to the story, the character development must be spot on to compensate. And boy did the series compensate with character development.
Kakeru is the most obvious choice to look at. Aside from exploring his background as a runner, he was given the chance to go through a change many college students go through – discovering oneself and finding true friends. Being able to witness that was one of the most beautiful things to see, and it was realistic, too, having gone through his journey only a few years back myself. But what makes Run with the Wind so great isn’t just Kakeru’s development but everyone’s development. Prince learns to push himself beyond his boundaries, the twins learn to recognize their own individuality, and King faces his anxiety of his uncertain future as a working adult through exercise and hard work. None of the characters are forgotten in the end, and it makes the journey all the more satisfying to watch.
I also want to make a special note that Production IG’s cinematography for Run with the Wind was beyond extraordinary. Scenes of running transformed into literal art with its use of animation, color, and camera angles even though no real cameras were being used. It was a quality I never expected to see out of an anime centered on running, and I now know not to underestimate Production IG’s commitment to making quality anime anymore.
However, the anime does have a very slow start. Kakeru had an extremely punchable face and despicable personality in the beginning, and the overall team seemed to consist of shallow stereotypes we often see in series. I also didn’t quite understand the inclusion of an antagonist who served no purpose other than to be incredibly rude towards the team. At most, he was a prop to drive Kakeru’s development. However, when you have a group of nuanced protagonists who you fall in love with as you watch them grow, flatly written antagonists only stand out terribly. In fact, I think if the antagonist was written out completely, the story would’ve still been just as strong.
Critiques aside, Run with the Wind accomplished something pretty huge for me. It made an anime watcher who isn’t into sports anime at all fall in love with the characters and the series itself. For that, I think it is an anime worth watching because if it’s capable of trapping me into the journey, I think it can trap you, too.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 77