Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 19 of
Run with the Wind ?
This is the payoff period of Run With The Wind. After spending 3/4 of the series diligently building up its cast as a multidimensional group of people with warm, realistic relationships of mutual support, it can focus on their moment of triumph. “The Moment of Release” took its time matching pace with the steady constant of the Ekiden's long distance run to zero-in on three of the team's runners for a satisfying culmination of their character development arcs.
Prince is hands-down the most universally relatable character in the show. Like many viewers, he's a fan of Yowamushi Pedal, Haikyuu!, The Prince of Tennis and other iconic sports shows that paved the way for this one. Fellow fans will catch him directly quoting some of these! “I'll finish the race quickly, so I can get back to my comics sooner,” he says and wow if that isn't a Mood. Even when he's running a 3-minute per kilometer pace, Prince still identifies as an amateur and points out to Haiji that he loves the support characters in sports manga. The irony of Prince's character is that he's the one who has grown the furthest on his own at the same time that he's the one who most appreciates the support of his team. These two dueling truisms of his arc are at work as he finishes his leg of the race, smiling with renewed enthusiasm as he approaches Musa at the finish line after enduring so much on his own.
Since the show began, other characters have made assumptions about Musa because he's black. But unlike other exchange students we meet during the series, Musa is here on an engineering scholarship, not for sports. While Kakeru was previously annoyed by people's judgments of Musa, this episode he uses them to his advantage, calling Musa the team's ace to intimidate rivals like Iwanki. But as Musa keeps going, running at a pace that makes Haiji nervous for him, Kakeru's boast almost works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Someone's voice gives you strength,” Musa thinks as he passes other runners. Musa's segment is beautiful—as he runs, he visualizes the birds and scenery of his native Tanzania. His identity as a foreigner is never erased, but also never a hindrance to his role as an essential member of the team.
The biggest surprise of the episode is that my biggest beef with the show, that Jota and Joji are essentially the same person, is finally addressed. As Jota runs on his own, thinking about his brother and his future, we finally see what makes him unique. Hana has apparently known for a long time, because, as Jota concludes, she's come to watch him race and that might hold a deeper, potentially romantic, message for him. His realizations give some levity to an episode that hangs particularly heavy in places, especially with the specter of Shindo's illness still a major risk for the team's success.
Though three runners hold the spotlight this week, the other members waiting in the wings, watching on their phones and offering words of encouragement, are the real glue that holds the episode together. Over these past 19 episodes, Kansei Track Club has developed such a warm and supportive dynamic that makes caring about these runners who care so much about one another its own reward.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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