Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 16 of
Run with the Wind ?
One of the most refreshing aspects of Run With The Wind is that it doesn't sugarcoat how difficult running can be. From poor conditions to injury and illness, it's all part of the race day drama. It's these lowest moments that make the high points feel all the more justified in one of the show's tensest and most rewarding episodes yet. “Dreams and Reality” compares and contrasts the best and worst aspects of the sport in a way that makes the impossible feel possible. Though Run With The Wind's underdog story can sometimes be difficult to believe, its dedication to realism makes even an unlikely outcome feel earned.
“Sports are not necessarily beautiful,” Prince intones seconds after losing his lunch on the racetrack. While it's true that long-distance running can wreak havoc on your gut, this isn't usually something sports shows opt to depict. I've always loved the realistically pained running faces on Run With The Wind (Nico-chan-senpai and King have particularly anguished expressions this week), but that's just the tip of the distance running misery iceberg. Nobody cancels a qualifier due to rain, so I'm sure the boys are finally thankful for all that rainy season training they did back in episode eleven. When Prince sees a sobbing runner forced to drop out of the race, it's particularly gut-wrenching because bad luck is the only difference between them. This is what makes Haiji's stumble and Hana's subsequent inability to find him so intense; in a race, misfortune can be the great equalizer.
Run With The Wind nails the worst moments of running, but it's also spot-on with its portrayals of the things that make running worth the effort. We've seen Kakeru go into Super Saiyan mode before, but not how it affects his teammates, inspiring each runner down the line as they relay their hopes through hand gestures. The same thing happens when Prince hears the shopping center's cheers and finds a tiny bit more energy in his dehydrated body. When your strength is depleted and every muscle in your body is screaming to stop, this race shows the way runners can surpass their limits simply through how much they want it. This episode is mostly a twenty-minute depiction of characters running, but manages to be dramatic by showing how, in the face of pain and even physical peril, they find reasons to keep going.
Of course, the outcome is highly unrealistic. One self-sacrificing soul in the r/anime discussion did the math just in case you were wondering how plausible Kansei University's finishing time might be, even with Kakeru's record finish. If we think about it, the team has been training for less time than the anime has been airing (since the anime took a one-month break over New Year's). So why doesn't that seem to matter? It's the characters' emotional reactions that sell this result. Over the course of this show, they've endured so much, and this race has been their most difficult trial yet. So thankfully, all that character development makes this unbelievable outcome believable. Even though I knew on some level it had to turn out this way, (or else what would we do for the rest of the season's six or seven episodes?) the reveal and subsequent celebration rang true through everyone's reactions. Haiji's tearful blurry vision was a nice touch, as was the way that even the cameraman started crying. Better yet, we're not done focusing on the characters first even now. It looks like the twins, now starting to doubt Haiji's goals, are going to finally get the growth episode they need to be seen as two separate individuals. After last week's more traditional sports event buildup, this week's focus on the characters is all the more welcome.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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