Kakeru, a former elite runner at high school, is chased for stealing food. He is saved by a Kansei University student Haiji, who is also a runner. Haiji persuades Kakeru to live in the old apartment "Chikuseisou" where he plans to team up with fellow residents to enter Hakone Ekiden Marathon, one of the most prominent university races in Japan. Kakeru soon finds out that all of the residents except for Haiji and himself are complete novices.
Watching Welcome to the Ballroom throughout it’s six month long two cour run was one of the most disheartening experiences I’ve yet to endure in all of my years. I watched as the industry titan Production I.G. themselves, those who’ve defined high-quality TV animation with the sports shows Kuroko no Basket and especially Haikyuu!, as they aired a similarly structured sports anime that panned over still frames and used basically constructed CG character models for background athletes like you’d expect from any other garbage studio. No matter how attractive and sharp the male designs were and no matter how shapely and sexy the female designs
were, no matter how lively the color palette popped and setting design shined, no matter how elegant the soundtrack nor how powerful the dialogue, the show simply could not inspire, grip, or elate it’s audience in the same fashion it’s predecessors could for the stain that was it’s poor quality of animation. Call me a wishful thinker, but they’re back. Production I.G. is back in a big way with Run with the Wind.
Run with the Wind boasts such a splendidly lavish animation production which reminds you just how impressive this studio is at it’s best of times. The character designs are as clean, sharp, and attractive as those of Haikyuu and Welcome to the Ballroom, and they’re animated with a level of ornate detail which was incessantly impressive. The character designs of the main cast, as well as the voice actors chosen to play them, clearly had a lot of thinking behind them for you can see exactly why they dress the way they dress, why they walk the way they walk, why they accessorize they way they accessorize, and any other aspects of personality appearance you’d expect to notice on human beings in real life, and as you learn more about them as the show progresses you’ll slowly start noticing more and more of those little details that had been there the entire time. It’s amazing, and with the animation production and art design put aside, I’m just going to say it, Run with the Wind has hand-drawn backgrounds with Kyoto Animation’s level of detail, color design, researched setting references, perfect balance of finesse and flair, naturalistic beauty yet realistic subtlety, and general quality. I would go back through the episodes and take screenshots of the gorgeous backgrounds to add to my desktop’s background reel, because I felt it would be legitimately wasteful to let such beautiful pieces of artwork go unappreciated. On top of the impeccable visuals, the sound design and music stand just as tall and proud. The sound design is so detailed, nuanced, and ever-present, that when I notice it I become so absorbed and distracted as to miss entire lines of dialogue and have to rewind. The soundtrack is an easy nine out of ten, and I can say that without hesitation. The composer did the monumentally epic and blood pumping OST for Haikyuu, the emotionally gripping and stylized Studio Trigger OST for Kiznaiver, and the OST for Death Parade which reached the heights of both contemplative character pieces and exciting psychological thriller pieces. I simply cannot praise the production of Run with the Wind any more without it coming across as hyperbole. It’s truly amazing.
As for the narrative and writing itself, while not being as breathtakingly perfect as the production, is still pretty damn good in it’s own right. The main cast of characters is one of the most realistic ensembles in all of anime, easily competing with shows like Durarara, Hajjime no Ippo, and Assassination Classroom who’re known for their enormous yet somehow well developed ensemble casts. Not to put them down, for those examples are all quite good shows, but unlike those shows Run with the Wind manages to mete out character development in a realistic, grounded, subtle, and emotionally resonant manner. At no point in the show is there anything that could be described as an “arc.” Never does the narrative take a break for drama, nor does it ever feel like one character in particular is being too overbearing or stealing the spotlight. The story sets itself up and goes, with any necessary character development or exploration sneaking it’s way into the narrative naturally and in a very down to earth fashion. This sensible pacing also works wonders for the dramatic conflict in the story because you can really see the build up to all the happenings. Nothing ever comes out of nowhere and is usually spawned from within the main character, Kakeru, who you know well enough to both sympathize and empathize with. One thing I could very well see people having a problem with is the straight-man who brings all the character conflict to the table…is Kakeru himself. I certainly didn’t have a problem with it because, again, his motivations are so well written and deep-seated within his character that I totally get where he’s coming from, but for someone who doesn’t get it, I can see how the main character being the vehicle for ALL the conflict in the show could annoy some people, so fair warning. I mean, it’s not just Kakeru, really. All the characters have insecurities and hangups which are so real and feel truly genuine. Most anime will have characters ranting and raving about a bunch of out-of-this-world garbage the viewer has no reason to care about, but Run with the Wind does nothing of the sort. The character Nico-chan (a play on the word “nicotine”) has difficulty running for his addiction to smoking and his unhealthy BMI. The character King has trouble being committed to the team because he has to find work to pay for college. The character Shindo has doubts about his involvement with the team because his girlfriend dumped him after feeling he had neglected her. All the characters are real, with real scripts, with real problems. It’s a seriously wonderful cast that brings the relatively straightforward story to life, and there were a number of times I had tears in my eyes watching them cross the finish line.
The final point I wanted to discuss before concluding is the villains. Sports anime, simply put, NEVER have committed villains. Seriously, just take a second and think about it. It’s ALL mutually understood competition wherein the opponents are never genuinely malicious and are only causing conflict for the sake of sportsmanship. The only time truly antagonist villains appear in sports anime is like Jabberwock from Kuroko no Basket, or Bryan Hawk from Hajime no Ippo, or the Blue Mars from One Outs, or any other two dimensional evil-for-the-sake-of-evil villains out there. Out of all the three thousand plus anime I’ve seen, I’ve yet to see a wholesale ill natured antagonists who truly wants to beat the protagonists solely out of hatred. Sakaki, the main villain in Run with the Wind, is the first character I’ve seen in a sports anime who truly earned the title of “villain.” His history with Kakeru makes for a heavy motivation for conflict, and his vindictive attitude comes across as being deserved. Again, Kakeru is a realistic flawed character, so the idea he has some skeletons in his closet isn’t all that far fetched. As you learn more about their pasts, and you get both sides of the story, you’re naturally emotionally invested. It’s just another really, really good aspect of the show which I wanted to make a point wasn’t under appreciated at all in my review.
Run with the Wind is a great show I highly recommend for everything I’ve mentioned and more I’ve probably overlooked, but it also has a really resonant psychological core to it, at least for me, and I thought it nice to see such a moving and powerful message portrayed from an otherwise unassuming sports anime. As I’ve said no shortage of times, the main character Kakeru is a really flawed person. He’s impulsive, irritable, and outright violent, and it’s not even anyone’s fault. It’s just who he is, thus he runs. He literally and metaphorically runs away from his problems and is constantly accused of doing so by many characters in the show. As said problems continue to pile up despite his speed, he realizes the problems are within and running simply won’t escape them. When he finally stops and turns around to see all the people he’s hurt along the way, all the mistakes he’s made and regrets he has, and all the people still trying to support him in spite of all this, he really sits down and confronts reality in a poignantly human fashion, and it’s this emotional courage that frees his spirt, so to speak, so he can truly move forward and run with the wind.
Production I.G is back with another excellent drama series that centers around the sport of running. It is highly character-driven and features one of the best group of characters for a sports shonen. Run with the Wind’s main duo each ran away from the sport in the past when their own passion for running was broken by the cruelty of their strict coaches. Running became a burden to them, and a signal of their own inadequacy—Haiji Kiyose through disappointing his father, and Kakeru Kurahara through lashing out at his coach, and thus ensuring his whole team suffered.
When your choices are victory or shame, it
can be hard to take pride in your running. For Haiji, learning to find motivation outside of personal glory was forced upon him when he was crippled through injury, ensuring he’d never triumph alone. Instead, he embraced running as a group effort and made his great strength into his ability to connect with and inspire all of his teammates. Though the concept of running a grueling ten-part relay seemed crazy to his reluctant dorm, he took the time to reach out to all of them, and help them find something worth running for while helping them with their personal issues in life. He was selfish and stubborn in the way he went about doing so, but he wouldn’t have done any of it if he didn’t genuinely believe in his team. One thing you can’t take away from Haiji is he is a great motivator, the type you need, and a caring person. He’s helped changed his friend's lives for the better.
The inspiration to run takes a variety of forms for the characters. Though it’s thrilling as a sports narrative, the story’s main appeal is how well it illustrates the lives and feelings of its runners from the start, and how convincingly it draws them together into a group with both strong individual motivations and mutual trust. Prince finds the courage to run from his manga heroes, while Nico discovers that running brings him mental clarity. Musa and Takashi find friends and a source of pride, while King rediscovers the confidence that perpetual job interviews stole from him. Run with the Wind’s most central character conflict is Kakeru learning to rise above the trauma of the past, and see running not as a burden or source of shame, but an activity that actually brings people together. And as you’d expect, many of the show’s most rewarding moments come not when these characters simply win, but when they learn to better trust each other.
There are two things Run with the Wind does exceptionally well: its ability to convey the pace and tone of college dorm life, and having the incredible gift for sculpting sympathetic characters and rich, bitter relationships. Each character has their own stories to tell, much of this show’s characterization comes through in its brilliantly observed incidental moments, as Haiji and the rest bicker about classes, divvy up chores, and generally live their college lives. Though I wouldn’t call Run with the Wind a slice of life by no means, it’s able to capture a lived experience and sense of mutual friendship with a grace characteristic of the best of them. With a ten-person team, it’d be easy for half of the cast to get lost in the crowd, but each of them is given plentiful time to express themselves, find their own relationship with running, and ultimately contribute to a greater, loving team. Every member brings something unique and worthwhile to the team, making its insistence that running is a team effort feel utterly convincing.
There are fantastic character chemistry and dynamics along with great sly, subtle humor but doesn’t rely on them alone. It is also slowly developing its overarching conflict alongside its cast. From the start it is clear that the challenges that await the club are immense, the relay race they intend to participate is an exceedingly competitive affair. But far from the usual framing of these sorts of zero to hero stories, the narrative is much more concerned with the outcomes and beliefs of its cast than the prospect of merely winning. The end goal offers a reason for these people to improve rather than just harping on the importance of victory, and the narrative is much more concerned with presenting their setbacks and growth than anything else. Run with the Wind's portrayal of these characters comes across as naturalistic, humanizing, and occasionally hilarious, the strength of its source material combining with a great adaptation.
Production I.G did an amazing job all around the board. Run with the Wind’s character designs goes for the realistic body size/proportions but isn’t afraid to bend and flex from that for the sake of expression and interesting visuals. 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 color palette is well balanced that has a very wide range for the various type of moods. Backgrounds are well detailed, stellar scenery and good use of depicting the change of weather for each of the four seasons. The running scenes are animated superbly and mix well with the sound effects and exceptional and well-timed soundtrack. Without background music, the show emphasizes the rhythm of the characters breathing and measured footfalls. Facial expressions, movement of the body, arms, legs, correct body posture and hair swaying back and forth are all down with attention to detail, even the perspiration of the runners. A setback was definitely its usage of CG, which was mainly used for some of the background runners or crowds of people.
Voice actors are perfect matches to their character and lots of credit to them, they absolutely nailed their roles, made conversations feel like the type that any normal person would have with their friends, having the ability to go through a wide range of tones and emotion. They treated the characters with care and brought them to life. Being able to pass off the banter as genuine as these voice actors did only go to show their expertise. The soundtrack is gorgeous, a matter of fact, it’s a masterpiece and definitely a one to own. Once again, the music is all timed-well hitting all the emotional moments on cue, it just invokes a lot of feelings on its own and when you add it alongside the story being told visually, you’re getting poetry in motion on your screen. A mesmerizing mix of synth-pop and orchestra goes to show just how Yuki Hayashi is one of the most promising composers in the industry right now, he’s already amongst the best. The OP’s and ED’s are all excellent with "Reset" by Taichi Mukai being a favorite.
In this show, what is valued is human interaction; connecting with those around you in a deeper, richer level without wanting anything from them. It's about falling in love and re-connecting with something that materialism can't give you. And strangely enough, is about selflessness and community through introspection. Run with the Wind masterfully weaves all these concepts into a beautiful story that touches your heart from the start. Life, like running, is not all about time but about our experiences along the way. Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are brief moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can't. But then you find your inner strength and realize you're capable of so much more than you thought. What Run with the Wind has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there's no reason to fear starting lines or other new beginnings.
Is it just me or does it seem like we don’t get enough literature anime adaptations these days? Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (also known as Run With the Wind) is an actual book adaptation and features competitive running as part of its plot. Like most competitive sports, the show delivers storytelling to feature the journey of characters to accomplish their goals. Thankfully, this show delivers a promise that won’t leave you disappointed.
To check off the bucket list, you should probably ask yourself if you enjoy a story driven by drama with sports elements. Because make no mistake, this anime contains a great deal of realism
while selling drama at every chance it gets. It will try to evoke emotions out of the viewers and between the storytelling, you’ll experience a story with its insightful character cast.
Meet Kakeru Kurahara, the 1st year former elite runner at Kansei University. The first episode shows his daredevil actions as he is caught stealing. Thankfully, he is saved by 4th year student Haiji Kiyose who has an ambitious dream of competing in the Hakone Ekiden. The Hakone Ekiden is considered an important relay race taking place btween Tokyo and Hakone in Japan. Kakeru seems like a perfect candidate to be on the team. Upon being invited to the Kanse University Dorm, he quickly discovers it’s a place for the Track and Field team. The show sets up for huge amount of story and character development as we quickly realize how weak their team actually is.
Now I’ll say right off the bat that I am a sucker for an underdog story. It has potential to develop characters on many levels. The problem here is that Kakeru isn’t a noob compared to the rest of the team. He already has experience in running but lacks the enthusiasm. This is explained through some very complicated and dark background storytelling. Apparently, an incident from his former Track & Field team caused him to doubt himself. Nonetheless, I believe Kakeru’s personality to be one that people can understand after seeing what he’s been through. This is a sharp contrast to Haiji, who is always enthusiastic about the team and his dream. The main problem is that the team requires a lot of training and commitment to compete at the Hakone Ekiden level. Still, I appreciate the character bond of the team. As the show progresses, Kakeru begins to realize that he’s not running alone and that he has friends to run with. A main selling point about Kakeru’s own journey is how he conquers his personal demon and move beyond his past.
You better get used to seeing a lot of Kakeru and Haiji’s character bonding in this story. Interestingly, the rest of the cast get their spotlights too as they reinforce the show’s themes. Characters such as Takashi and Akane (aka Prince) are inspirational for their dedication and realization to succeed. Remember, most of the guys in Haiji’s team aren’t experienced or very athletic. It takes a strong will, determination, and attitude to become succesful. The show carries character development as its team members strives to be the best they can be. It’s a relatable concept that can be applied to real life with goals being accomplished through hard work. I personally find the show’s attitude to be very inspirational with many of its character cast conquering their fears and running toward their dreams.
As dramatic as the show can be, do also expect a decent amount of lighthearted moments and comedy. The Jo twins are a prime example of this with their playful personalities. The man service also adds in some cheek humor when the team have bonding moments while discussing about their goals. When the drama picks up though, definitely be prepare to experience the real deal. Teams such as the Rikudo University is no pushover for their reputation. Haiji’s push to get his team to succeed also comes at an immense amount of effort considering the requirements for this dream race. It’s revealed in the show that the team must rank into the top 10 teams and meet personal records. So by all means, it comes to no surprise the amount of pressure the team can feel while training. This is where the main amount of drama drops in with characters feeling how difficult is to reach their goals. Nonetheless, I confess to say that a show like this meets the satisfaction of “the journey is more important than the destination”. People may have hard this phrase many times before but as a driving force in the show, it suits for it perfectly. The amount of character development is expanded to most of the main character cast that you can easily recall their names and some of their memorable moments. No one is truly left out in favor of the main cast even as they seem featured more prominently at times.
As a Production I.G. show, this definitely reminds me a bit of their other sports projects. Haikyu especially comes to mind for its similar character designs and competitive atmosphere. More importantly, I felt the great deal of realism for its character designs. Throughout the show, the characters evolve physically and mentally. Their character expressions and reactions carries an emotional weight that can easily be felt throughout the show. It’s the type of feeling when you finally earn a sense of pride and accomplishment after all the hard work. And don’t forget, the team is consisted of cool guys so the man service can be a treat for the ladies.
With 23 episodes, I confess to say that it’s the perfect amount for this particular anime. Why? That’s because it managed to develop its character cast while staying consistent with the storytelling. The amount of realism made me realize how inspirational this show can be. With every episode, I felt compelled to see just how much the characters can succeed for their future. Honestly, we need more literature adaptations these days.
Run with the Wind is a really special show, it’s been a long time since any story has quite impacted me this strongly. The story is actually quite simple, a bunch of college students decide to run a marathon, and their journey to reaching it. The execution is where the anime shines, there is never a wasted moment at all, every episode either focuses on the growth of a character, the growth of the team, or a major cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more. The anime outside of some unrealistic dramatic scenes, felt very relatable and refreshing,
the college students felt mature, but not to mature, just the way people out of high school should feel. There weren’t to many stupid scenes involving walking into a bathroom that was unlocked or getting into a fight with some rival school or team like you would see in a show set in a middle school or high school. The setting was executed effectively, the jokes were solid, the pacing was consistent, and the story did not ignore anything that was very important.
The last part is important because it allows the viewer to actually believe a team largely comprised of people who have never run competitively before could somehow actually qualify for the hardest college marathon in their country and perform well in it. The story focused on their training, on the amount of suffering they went through, on the support they had from their community and family, and most importantly on how each character overcame their obstacles one at a time instead of suddenly being a top tier runner.
The story is a strong execution of a sports anime plot, it will keep you wanting more, it will make you feel excited for the team and their performance, and it will make you actually focus on all the subtle scenes that are thrown in and connected to the characters in the final race.
The animation is smooth and clean, there were no major problems with it, the running choreography was some of the best I seen in anime, especially during the final race. Character designs did feel a bit basic, like the characters were just remodels of other shows done by Production IG, specifically Haikyuu. There is not much else to say, it was a good production, but nothing super amazing, it gets an 8 just for the angle and animation quality for the running scenes.
The sound: 8
The second opening was a very fun song especially the last 30 seconds. Overall the music suited the series and was designed to get the viewer hyped up for major scenes, worried during dramatic scenes, and focused during training scenes. The sound could have been better yes, there wasn’t any part of the OST I would listen to outside of watching the show, but for a sports anime this is good enough.
At first, I thought the characters were just Haikyuu clones, with Kageyama as the main character, but I was totally wrong. The character development between the team started pretty slow however it was the right pace for a 24 episode show. The characters were funny, charming, interesting, well written, and extremely real, despite the very large cast by the end of the show you will know them all by name and know them as people. Although some of the characters did not get any real development until the very last episode outside of a few small scenes through the show, their final performance added up to so much more.
We had a character quit his addiction to smoking and got to watch it slowly build up in the background until he could run, we got an otaku who couldn’t even jog run a marathon over time, we even a pair of twins each with very distinct personalities coming to terms with each other’s talents and how they should chase separate goals. This was easily the best part of the series, the characters were absolutely amazing, they had good chemistry, great inside jokes, and they even managed to bring an African character in and not have him be 1 dimensional fast runner because he is from Africa.
The show also has a very strong MC who grew from a cold expressionless results-oriented person to someone who cared more about his team than his own performance. Overall the characters were simply the best part of the series and even if you don’t like sports anime, I would recommend watching this just for their growth in the series.
Being straight here, I never thought a show about running could be this exciting. I really enjoyed this series, it’s so far, the best sports anime I seen in the last year, and one of the strongest I ever seen. The characters, the drama, the growth, struggles, the successes, all of it resonates with me and anyone else who has ever attempted pursuing any competitive goal before. This is a much watch if you seen any other Production IG sports anime and wanted more.
I give this show an 8, it was really hard deciding whether or not to give this show an 8 or 9 since it was very close, however I will give it an 8 for 2 reasons. One because although the main characters were great, the ending did not tie up all the loose ends for their development, I really wanted to know what happened to some of them given that one had injuries, one had a thing for a girl in the cast, and one that was graduating soon.I also wanted to know more about the future of their running club however that was left unclear and open ended.
The second reason why I did not give this show a 9 was because the show required a bit much on unrealistic drama, for example a member is sick before the last race, another gets injured before the race, Kakeru’s argument with his rival also seemed really stupid and I can’t imagine anyone being angry for so long over something like that. But overall everything else was very good and this was one of my favorite recent shows, I still highly recommend it, and its definitely a high 8.