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Wind Breaker
Episode 7

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Wind Breaker ?
Community score: 4.1


The big issue that made last week's episode such a relative slog was that, no matter how much Hiragi and Sako were fired up about their shared past, it was hard for the audience to get invested. Like, hey, glad you guys are bros again, but neither the reason you became friends nor why you broke up is particularly compelling. Dedicating a whole episode to that drama doesn't work, especially when neither character has been built up.

Thankfully, that's not the case for this match. Sakura is the character we know the most about, so we understand why he opposes Shishitoren's ruthless and toxic definition of strength. He's struggled in isolation for so long that he fundamentally cannot abide by a group that so easily tosses their companions out. Togame was our introduction to that toxicity, so he makes the perfect foil for our hero to take on. Their brawl in this episode is the dramatic highlight of Wind Breaker's action thus far, delivering a fight that's as entertaining to follow in context as looking at in isolation.

Togame's fighting style is swift and decisive, focused on tackling and tripping up his opponent to turn it into a ground game and dominating with his superior size. Sakura is more straightforward but has a versatile offense and is quick to adapt when on the defensive, meaning he can quickly recover from a disadvantage. Both are tough enough to tank hits that would end most other combatants, so they're not confined to dodging. Combined with the show's polished action animation and choreography, you get a spectacle that keeps you guessing with every blow. Togame feels like a legitimate threat and puts serious damage on Sakura throughout. At the same time, our protagonist gets in solid blows and – more importantly – makes his point about the pathetic insecurity at the core of Shishitoren's philosophy. To borrow Umemiya's analogy, if fighting is a conversation, then this is a debate where both sides came prepared, rather than the one-sided shout-downs that came before.

It helps that this episode delivers a pretty solid twist to go along with all that. On paper, Togame and Choji's backstory isn't that much more complex than Sako's last week, but the delivery is what makes it work. We were introduced to Togame as the sinister, ruthless leader of Shishitoren's dark devotion to strength, so learning that he was never all that interested in power for its own sake is surprising. The show is fully aware of how myopic and immature the current Shishitoren is, as it's ultimately the result of Choji not understanding the broader implications of what he was pursuing. He thought the "freedom" earned by amassing power meant being free of responsibility or obligation, but being the leader of any collective means taking on the burdens of those around you. Ironically, by taking on the role of Choji's enforcer and spawning the backbiting hierarchy that's consumed their gang, Togame became a more responsible – if deeply misguided – leader. It sharply contrasts Umemiya's highly compassionate crew while mirroring Sakura's early outlook.

Granted, it's all a little silly. These guys are approaching the ideas of "strength" and "freedom" like they're Fist of the North Star characters trying to survive in a mad apocalypse, but all that's happening is some gassed-up teenagers getting rowdy in a rundown movie theater. You can find that in any city big enough to have an abandoned mall. The biggest consequences are whether or not they'll still be bros when the fighting's over, and maybe somebody will have hefty dental bills to fix their teeth. Yet that, too, is part of the charm of this genre, and I appreciate how seriously Wind Breaker takes its ideas. It's a delicate tightrope to walk, and we did stumble a bit last week, but the show seems to have found its balance once more.


Wind Breaker is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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