I was actually pretty close to including Run with the Wind in my Fall 2018 Season Preview since it did look somewhat interesting with its track and field theme and Production I.G.’s involvement. I ended up deciding against it as, at the time, it didn’t seem to gain much anticipation and sports stories have such recyclable premises that speculating over them is sometimes moot. But that’s water under the bridge. How was the episode now that I have seen it? Pretty good, actually.
Kansei University student Kakeru Kurahara (Takeo Ootsuka) runs off with some stolen food and an upperclassman, Haiji Kiyose (Toshiyuki Toyonaga), chases after him. Rather than rat him out to the authorities however, Haiji is actually very impressed with Kakeru’s ability to run and offers him a room at an apartment. From there, Kakeru meets the other eight residents and Haiji reveals that he wants all ten of them to enter the Hakone Ekiden, a very prominent marathon held by universities in Japan.
There’s a couple of things that I question regarding the execution. For one, I don’t really get the need to split the chronology a bit. After the cold opening, Run with the Wind immediately cuts to Kakeru meeting everyone at the apartment before then cutting back to more of his chance encounter with Haiji. With not a whole lot to really withhold and surprise the viewer with, you really could’ve just had the episode play linearly with no issue. And second, is there really any reason for Haiji to keep his plan a secret? I guess he refrained to better lure people with the promise of living space but you also have to wonder how much he looked into these men’s ability to run to begin with. Frankly, it seems more like an excuse for Hakone Ekiden to be revealed and explained for the viewer’s sake. And I guess that’s good for us but come on, it still seems odd logistically speaking.
That said, I thought this premiere was pretty good for the most part. Kakeru and Haiji’s chance encounter is pretty amusing, especially with how persistent the latter gets, even sneaking up on the former from behind to prevent him from leaving. You’re not really given much information about where either character stands on running but there’s some interesting hints thrown around. Haiji is actually still recovering from an injury to his knees but is still keeping his track career alive while Kakeru seems to have retired from the sport altogether based on what the dialogue suggests. I’ll admit that I don’t really know any of the side characters by name but there’s definitely variety provided. A manga otaku, an avid smoker, a studious law student, a foreigner just to name a few. This many characters does leave a balancing act for Run with the Wind to tackle but at two cours, it shouldn’t have too much of an issue.
So while I do think Run with the Wind could iron out a few things, I did leave the premiere feeling pretty optimistic about it. I don’t know about sitting through all 23 episodes but I’ll at least stick around during the tryouts phase of this season.
OP: “Catch up, latency” by Unison Square Garden
ED: “Reset” by Taichi Mukai
Thanks for reading!