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Wind Breaker
Episode 8

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Wind Breaker ?
Community score: 4.3

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"What's better than this, guys bein' dudes?" - Modern Scholar Steve Addazio.

Some of you may look at that quote and think it's stupid, or repetitive, or the rambling thought of a football coach who's been out in the sun too long. You'd be correct but also terribly wrong. "Guys bein' dudes" is at once an incredibly goofy sentence fragment and a profound philosophical observation the likes of which Socrates wishes he could have coined. It's the perfect encapsulation of a very particular brand of meatheaded masculinity that is all about feeling rather than thinking, and along with its sibling expression "Dudes Rock" it was running through my brain across this whole episode.

That really is the core appeal of all delinquent stories. They can dress it up in fancy rhetoric or obfuscate it through dramatic storylines. Still, the raw essence of shows like Wind Breaker is the thrill of seeing characters with more muscle than sense beat their feelings into each other's faces until they become friends. It's the kind of sweeping, illogical, beautifully dramatic storytelling you see in musical theater, but instead of singing, we get highly choreographed acts of violence. Just as a strong singing voice and evocative songwriting can make a musical timeless, so too can a well-done fight become the crowning moment of an anime like this one.

Also, like a musical, these episodes excel by projecting simple emotions as loudly and proudly as possible. Realistically, Sakura and Togame turning each other's brains into pudding wouldn't solve either of their issues. Yet, in the magical unreality of anime, I can believe in the catharsis they both experience here. I can buy that Togame realizes his mistake in going along with Choji's misguided search for freedom rather than confronting him head-on, all because of the unbridled sincerity in Sakura's knuckles as they slammed into his chin. I can't logically articulate why Sakura has his world blown wide open by having his first fight with somebody who isn't trying to ostracize him, but I can experience that emotional high alongside him. In the same way, I can genuinely believe Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman are madly in love after two minutes of singing love song lyrics at one another, I can bypass any issue of realism through the sheer adrenaline rush this wonderfully animated fight delivers.

Funny enough, that somehow isn't the showstopping action sequence of this episode. Sure, it's the dramatic crescendo to the characters' mini-story, and it looks pretty darn nice to boot, but it's our preview of Choji and Umemiya's bout that steals the show. Choji's movement is animated with dizzying perspective changes as if even the people drawing him are having trouble keeping up with him. His slight frame makes for believably acrobatic attacks, practically using Umemiya as a weapon against himself as Choji swings over his arms or somersaults off his shoulders. Lots of anime compare characters to beasts or monsters to emphasize their strength, but here, it feels like Umemiya is up against somebody who fights on raw, animal instinct. That makes the raw power behind his first real hit all the more intense. It's a pitch-perfect place setting for their full bout.

In all, it's Wind Breaker doing what it does best, at its best: simple, sincere, delightful violence.

Rating:

Wind Breaker is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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