Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Run with the Wind ?
At long last, it's time for all the sordid details of Kakeru's past to come to light. This week on Run with the Wind, a unique cinematic approach to flashbacks lets the audience experience the background noise inside Kakeru's anxious brain. Increasingly static memories contrast with an enviable setting in the present to emulate the turmoil just below the surface for our troubled main character. While at times it's almost too obvious and literal, Kakeru's attempt to run away from his problems is delivered with empathetic storytelling and visual poise.
“And Then Start Running” begins with a punch to the face, but not the one we were expecting last episode. It reverberates from the past, from when Kakeru punched his terrible high school track coach. By all accounts the guy deserved it, and it even feels like Kakeru was doing what everyone else on Kakeru's team wanted to do. But there were consequences to that action, and Kakeru's entire team was punished. It's no wonder that the team was furious that Kakeru, who clearly got preferential treatment, was the one who snapped and ruined it for everyone. There's a bit of Stockholm Syndrome going on here, as the team would rather have their abusive coach than no team (and no meets and no chances for a college track scholarship) at all. The most fascinating detail of these flashback scenes is the way they increase in static—both for increasingly fuzzy visuals and increasingly tinny audio—as we approach Kakeru's most painful memory, at which point everything bursts into perfect color and clarity along with his punch. It's a masterful approach to depicting the way traumatic memories are stored because it shows the static in Kakeru's mind quite literally.
“I realized no matter how far I run, I'm still me,” Kakeru tells the team, in case you were still wondering if this running anime has a second painfully obvious beat about attempting to outrun your problems. It's an interesting echo to Haiji's own take on running with your problems in King's episode: "Instead of running from it, why not try running with reality?” This episode is so Kakeru-heavy that the role of the ensemble cast is just to act as his supporters and a contrast to his high school team rather than to showcase their personalities. “I almost wasn't able to stop myself,” Kakeru confesses, but it was actually his team that stopped him. When all of their hands work together to hold Kakeru back from making a violent mistake, it's a growth marker for how far Kakeru has come. Unlike in high school, he's opened himself up enough to have friends who help him do the right thing.
This week's Run with the Wind is a study in contrasts, laying out the worst moments of Kakeru's past side-by-side with an idyllic story circle in the forest. Kakeru has come such a long way from the desperate thief we met in the first episode. One of my favorite parts of this show is how it illustrates growth with clarity—I don't have the same impression of any of the characters as when I first met them (with the exception of the woefully neglected Hana). There's not much immediate drama or urgency, but the way characters grow and change and quietly work on themselves gives the show an irresistible emotional pull all the same.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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