Run with the Wind
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Run with the Wind ?
I almost forgot how unconventional this charming running club can be, but Run With The Wind brought those differences into stark contrast at the club's first track meet. In “Bare Your Fangs at the Summit,” Kansai University's motley group faced off against the fastest college runners in the region. Fluid animation and clean character designs in motion made this episode particularly dynamic. More than our ten runners, however, it was the camera that got the most attention in episode 7, setting the pace with its kinetic movement.
The Kansai University club sticks out, even with their snazzy new uniforms. But when it turns out that Haiji is pals with the most formidable athlete at the meet, even Kakeru's old frenemy is forced to back off. This scene is designed to introduce us to a formidable new opponent, but what I find more effective is the way it peppers in so much character through everyone's reactions to the conflict—from King's delinquent glare to the twins' funny faces. From Haiji's nightmare driving skills to everyone's preparation for the race (Musa's anxiety that people will assume he's as fast as the all-foreigner team or Prince revving up with a good comic book), Run With The Wind is always rich with characterization. More than halfway through the season, I still maintain that this is one of the most effective portrayals of a large ensemble cast I've seen in anime because it shows so much of everyone in such small bites.
However, most of the episode is devoted to the 5k race. Kudos to the show for making 12.5 repetitive laps around a track seem interesting! This is where the camerawork paid off the most. As Kakeru picked up his pace, the camera bounced along with his jog, focusing on closer and closer zooms of the back of the runner's head in front of him. The camera's constant revolutions help us experience the motion occurring around the track, showing the crush of the initial pack (as Haiji winces from a bump to his knee injury) and the long stretch toward the finish. As always, Prince is a fan favorite as he brings up the rear with a zombie-like crawl and a look of agony that any distance runner will recognize. Combined with the rhythm of the soundtrack and the runners' labored breathing, the tension of the race is palpable.
We knew the bulk of the team wasn't going to break any land speed records, but I had high hopes for Kakeru. However, when Manas raced to the front and Kakeru quickly followed, it turned out that the onlookers' warning that, “guys get drawn in by his speed and screw up their pace” turned out to be true. This whole time, Kakeru had been warning Haiji that the track meet would be a reality check that the team couldn't handle. That wasn't the case—the team is fairly confident in their minimal progress. Instead, it turned out to be a wake-up call for Kakeru himself. By the end of the episode, he's shaking with so much rage that the camera finally goes still in another skillful use of movement—or this time, a lack thereof. It's episode 7, but we've never felt further from the Hakone Mountains. Kakeru needs to confront his own demons before he can finally work with the team, and I have faith that this show will depict his development masterfully.
Run with the Wind is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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