Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 17 of
Run with the Wind ?
Run with the Wind excels at portraying a lively dynamic between its sizable cast of ten main characters. However, even this show isn't above cutting some corners. In the midst of a balanced and upbeat episode, the two characters we were supposed to focus on got left out. Twins Jojiro and Jotaro (Joji and Jota) remain interchangeable, but the show's portrayal of the ensemble crew is still going strong. “Searching for the Answer” gave us a nuanced and thoughtful portrait of a team in transition.
Our runners still see themselves as a mismatched group of underdogs, but the world's perceptions have changed. Eager young freshmen want to join the track club. Fairweather fans glance at the color of Musa's skin and make assumptions. And now that it's time to really aim for the top, the twins are having second thoughts about what the team is capable of. Joji and Jota are jokesters, but they aren't stupid. They saw the wide ravine between the top-seeded teams' results and their own. Now that they've decided that Kansei University can't win the whole shebang, they don't see any reason to bother trying. As usual, they go to Haiji for answers, but in a major break from the norm, he doesn't have any yet. He only says, “I'm searching for that answer too.” The background dynamic of this scene, with so many characters interjecting their own thoughts, illustrates how well the show has designed a group of friends that feels real.
Even so, Joji and Jota, who reuse identical animations and tell the same jokes, still feel the least fleshed out. Even when they're feeling more reassured during their discussion with Hana, it's hard for me to tell what differentiates these two characters. Their interactions with the team do more to characterize whoever they're speaking to instead. Haiji's smiling demon face and Kakeru's frenzied grin as he chases them both make for great humor, even as I continue to wonder who these twins are under the surface. It would have been so much more interesting if only Joji had misgivings, for example.
Sometimes in the face of uncertainty, it can take an antagonist to bring the whole team together. That terrible guy Sakaki is the perfect person to reunite the team. His anger toward Kakeru is so outsized, he's able to take potshots at his teammates who he barely knows. He's a textbook irredeemable villain type. “Don't you wonder what you're running for?” Sakaki asks, hitting the nail on the head as the camera shifts to the twins' frustrated faces. Something is shifting in the team's motivation, but there's still no clear-cut answer from Haiji, who we later learn has a lot more on his mind than just this question.
This is the third time that Haiji's health has been played as a cliffhanger—after his kitchen collapse and his stumble on the racetrack. By the time each cliffhanger was resolved a few inconsequential minutes into the following episode, I felt dumb for even taking the bait. But could the third time be when things really change? This episode does a great job sharing thoughtful interactions between its ensemble cast, but it still struggles with going beyond that to really surprise the audience.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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