Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 21 of
Run with the Wind ?
By now, there is nothing plausible about the Kansei University track club's success on Run With The Wind. But despite their increasingly unfeasible triumphs, the story only continues to become more emotionally engaging. “Goodbye, Beautiful World” is a deceptively maudlin title for an episode that deepens Yuki and Nico's characterization in two different but equally uplifting ways. This week, the story digs deep into self-discovery and the boys' interpersonal relationships, showing us that as well-developed as these characters were already, there's still a lot more to explore. Somehow, we exit this week's story liking these characters even more.
Yuki's family drama came to a head after being hinted at repeatedly in previous episodes. Through conversations with Kakeru, we knew that he had a strained relationship with his mom, but we didn't know why until this week's flashback. Yuki's memories transformed a fairly ordinary gesture—a family cheering for their son at a race—into a momentous family reunion. The flashback gave us the full picture of Yuki's past trauma while showcasing his growth as he realized that perhaps it was childish to cut himself out of his mom's life just because of her decision to remarry. This all occurs at a breakneck pace while Yuki races a precarious downhill course in the snow. He had chided Shindo to be realistic with his encouragement, but this is Run With The Wind, not a documentary, and Shindo's prediction wasn't too far off. Nothing is more revealing than the elation on Yuki and Nico's faces as they exchange the sash, followed by the shot of Yuki's bloody sneakers. He may have experienced a euphoric revelation about his family life during the race, but he ran as hard as he ever has at the same time.
Meanwhile, Nico-chan-senpai continues to be the most relatable character for any Run With The Wind viewer over age 25. During this episode, his character journey is likewise a story about age. We revisit Nico's past as a track star and subsequent burnout. We also learn more about where his body issues came from. (Remember when Haiji had to chase him down to get him to eat his lunch? It was a funny moment in an otherwise somber reminder that eating disorders are no joke.) If only the track coach who discouraged Nico from running because of his larger frame could see him running in the Ekiden. Nico's flashback to an exchange with Haiji, in which neither boy seems to recognize the other as a fellow runner despite once mentioning they used to be on the same track team, feels like a slight script error. However, the sentiment remains: Nico credits Haiji with giving him a second chance. Though his backstory is coming so late in the show, it also feels all the more rewarding to get the big picture of his hidden trauma now after we've already gotten comfortable with the laid-back front that Nico usually presents to the world.
Next time we'll get King's story, giving us three of the team's least likely runners back to back to back. Going head to head against the team's most pervasive antagonist, Sakaki, King is already running into some issues. Beyond that, this episode also set up an extremely ambitious goal for Kakeru (to break the course record) and some red flags for Haiji, who claims his doctor only came to visit for precautionary reasons. Even with this episode's rewarding dose of character growth, I think we all can agree that one week is far too long to wait for the next one.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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