Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Run with the Wind ?
The biggest struggle for any ensemble show is developing the cast without leaving anyone behind. By episode five, “The Ones Not Chosen,” Run With The Wind has this down to a science. As the dorm begins to divide into factions of enthusiastic and reluctant runners, the show begins to delve into the specifics of students' motivations (or lack thereof). As forward momentum continues to push the team toward its ultimate race goal, brief but meaningful scenes offer up significant individual character development. Through glimpses, these moments define why runners want (or don't want) to be part of the team.
King already has a lot on his plate. As a senior in college, he's spending a big portion of his time on job hunting. He applies to the aptly named “Dream Top Co.”, but things don't work out in his favor. Most of us can relate to the tedious depression that is looking for a job, and King's relatable stew of emotions draws him out from the background of the show for the first time. What's finally going to bring him relief? Well, this is a show about running, so I have one guess.
It bothers me that King's arc is a cliffhanger because I don't think it has the weight to be a two-parter. But I'll save my judgment for the resolution next episode. There might be some additional reason for cutting his story in half while jumping around to other characters' perspectives in the same episode. This episode is particularly heavy on Nico-chan-senpai, the laid-back ex-smoker who spends this week trying to convey his motivation to Yuki. From his easy dialogue to the odd wire figures that litter his room, Nico's personality comes out through his quirks. Likewise, framing Yuki in contrast to Nico makes each character stand out more. It's all in the details this week, with Shindo's country accent coming out in his inebriated impromptu pep talk and the shots of each boy's sleeping habits. (I was particularly amused by Musa's sleeping cap and Prince's bed of manga.)
These focal scenes on Run With The Wind's B-team align directly with Kakeru's thoughts regarding who should be “allowed to participate” in a track meet. In real life, running is one of the most accepting sports around. Because it occurs on an individual level, it's easier to adjust racing for people of different paces and ability than it is for most other athletic events. It's typical for official races to divide runners into groups based on their predicted pace, or for people who use canes or other equipment to get an early start time. Haiji may be a demon coach, but he also divides his team into similar-speed groups, so even Prince, who runs like an Abnormal Titan, at least doesn't have to deal with the indignity of getting lapped.
More than their ability, the show differentiates the characters by their reasons for running. Joji and Jota want to be popular with the ladies. Nico wants to improve his health. And it's clear that Prince, who muses about how much this is like a “real track team,” wants to be a part of something too. They're not all track stars like Kakeru, but they each get something out of running. I hope that ends up being the message of the show, not that anybody can become super fast, but that everybody can at least feel better when they run or feel “clean,” as Nico puts it. I like the acceptance of different abilities and motives, and that Haiji is turning out to be much more welcoming than he initially seemed, but these are hardcore practice sessions with one-hour warm-up runs. My muscles ached sympathetically when the boys decided to go on yet another run after practice—they're going to get injured if they don't rest!
From the morning run to afternoon practice to a late-night drinking session, we get to spend all hours of the day with this eclectic running club. The lighting in each scene establishes the atmosphere for this beautiful show, and visual cues that carry from one episode to another show a story progression of their own—I'm thinking of Prince's butterflies, Nira the dog's excited sprint, and the multiple times a day that the team gathers around the table for meals. This show is slice-of-life in many ways, but its team perspective on running—which is frequently a solitary practice—elevates it to something multifaceted and new.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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