Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Run with the Wind ?
I can't believe the penultimate episode of Run With The Wind is already here. Even though there was that four-week pause in December, this series has zoomed by faster than Kakeru on the ninth stage. This week's episode, “Embrace Your Loneliness,” may have a deceptively emo title on par with last week's, but it reveals a deeply inspiring message. Kakeru and King's narratives compare and contrast beautifully to make both stories stronger.
“I try not to show any weakness. I'm the king, stay away.” King's backstory is surprisingly relatable for a character who shares a name with royalty. Continuing the narrative thread that's followed the Kansai team throughout the Ekiden, this time it's King's turn to show us that there's even more to his character than the considerable development he's enjoyed so far. We already knew about his struggles on the job search, but what we learned this week was that it's only the latest way his college career has failed to meet his expectations. What's most painful about King's retelling is the way he always said something different than what he really felt; though he wanted to be close to people, he couldn't make himself vulnerable enough to do it. Only while he's running can he embrace his vulnerability and become his true self. Just like Haiji urged him near the beginning of the season, King has learned to “run with reality” as opposed to running away from it, and this episode was the perfect crystallization of his climactic comprehension of what Haiji's support meant.
King's story was even stronger back-to-back with Kakeru's, since both of their narratives were about becoming one's true self through running. Kakeru seemingly transcends to a higher plane, where the context of his run does not matter, only the act itself. In one telling visual metaphor, we see Kakeru with all the layers peeled off, the sash and the number tag and everything except the blood coursing luminously through his veins. He has gone far beyond the race now; he doesn't care about his relative position, he doesn't think about anything but his own speed. From the upbeat background track to the fluid animation of Kakeru's feet lightly hitting the ground, Run With The Wind is at its best as it portrays Kakeru at his best. This is a vivid visual portrayal of what a runner's high feels like.
Then there's the question that this episode doesn't answer: who is Kakeru in love with? I'm sure it's something like “the concept of running,” but he leaves Joji and the rest of us hanging at the starting line. I like the idea that this is Kakeru's final answer to Haiji's first question at the beginning of the series: “Do you like running?” The way this show has conveyed the journey of running is enough to make any viewer want to give it a try.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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