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Wind Breaker
Episode 6

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 6 of
Wind Breaker ?
Community score: 4.1


I spent a lot of last week talking about the narrative mechanics of the fights since they didn't lend themselves to anything else. While Suo's match gave us a glimpse into his personality, Bofurin's on-stage opponents were grunts who existed to get dog-walked by our heroes to prove a point or show off their abilities, the same as the early opponents in most anime tournament arcs. With Hiragi taking on somebody he has a history with, Wind Breaker finally has a chance to do involved character work, bringing a rival with relevance and connection to our main team.

Unfortunately, this first outing doesn't quite land with the punch it wants to. It's not that Hiragi and Sako's story is bad, but it's too thin and simple to hold up the heft of its presentation. Back in elementary school, Sako was picked on. Hiragi defended and taught him how to fight, and then they had a falling out when Hiragi chose to work under Umemiya rather than pursue the throne of Furin High for himself. While at first, it seems like Sako's anger is over Hiragi "giving up" rather than seeking the pinnacle of ass-kicking, it turns out he just felt betrayed because he couldn't continue to follow Hiragi on that path and lashed out over that pain. It's a simple, straightforward story that works within the heightened drama of a delinquent anime, and it's told perfectly fine.

It's just that "perfectly fine" isn't what the show is going for. This production wants to swing for the fences with every fight, dramatic moment, or emotional highlight, and that's served it well before. When the action animation kicks in, and the cheesy rock music starts, that's usually when you know you will see cool drawings of a dude getting his nose broken, and that's still true here. The problem is when we reach the emotional climax, and instead of a small or intimate conclusion befitting this simple story, the delivery would have you believe this was a tragic yet beautiful finale to a lifelong struggle that we'd followed for seasons on end. Their story is sad, but it doesn't have the pathos to back that up, and the disconnect between presentation and substance makes the whole thing feel awkward.

Most of all, the fight isn't varied or complex enough to carry a whole episode. Hiragi and Sako's blows look nice, and land with visceral impact, but neither has strategy nor secret weapons that could build narrative momentum. Hiragi starts on the back foot, gets some encouragement from Sakura, and Fights Harder until he wins. Sako pulls clever tricks to spice things up, but not enough to feel like he's a particularly analytical or intellectual fighter. There's no sense that Hiragi has to figure out his tricks to win, so there's no "story" to the match outside of how it resolves their conflict outside of fighting. With such straightforward mechanics, Wind Breaker has to lean on the pair's character drama to fill out its run time, and it ends up feeling a tad hollow when the credits roll.

It makes for any solid viewing episode but almost begs you to want more. If Hiragi's story had a little more to it or if he were just a more interesting personality, it might work better. If the present-day fight had just a little more going on in terms of immediate drama, that could also do the trick. Failing that, if we just got through it all faster, rather than devoting an entire episode when we're already halfway through the season, would be easier to swallow. Without any of that, I'm just left hoping that Sakura's fight against the Shishitoren's conniving second-in-command can give us a little more in either direction.


Wind Breaker is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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