I’ve never been a fan of running. I have terrible form and end up wheezing at the slightest idea of speeding up. But I checked out one episode of Run with the Wind and immediately fell in love with Haiji, and his motley crew of reluctant runners. By far, its one of the best anime adaptations I have ever watched.
Synopsis: After a scandal, talented track star Kurahara Kakeru finds himself kicked off the curb. A chance meeting with Kiyose Haiji, an injured runner who dreams of taking on the Hakone Marathon, gives him a chance to rediscover his love for running and introduces him to the true meaning of friendship and camaraderie.
I loved everything about Run with the Wind. I loved the art style, the contrasting personalities of the characters, and I loved how their journey as a team was laid out.
Run with the Wind is an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Shion Miura. It chronicles the journey of Kansei University’s newly formed track team to reach the summit of Hakone by joining the Hakone Eikiden.
It seemed short of impossible for a team of amateurs to qualify for such a high endurance race. But I loved how Haiji won over his teammates with a combination of passion, blackmail and the occasional guilt trip.
He was my favorite character in the series. Haiji was tenacious, to say the least. It was funny but no one was really a match for Haiji when he set his mind into doing something. He knew everyone like the back of his hand and never let anyone off easy.
As someone who went through hardships, he understood failure, but his single minded desire to achieve his goal made him a character that really looked at people. This was why he always knew what to say to his teammates to motivate them. I loved how his words guided his teammates through the race.
Haiji was a great leader, and while he did not always know the answer, he never gave up looking for it. Haiji was the Master Yoda of Kansei’s track team.
Another main character Kakeru, also had an inspiring journey. He really evolved throughout the series from being someone who was always ahead of the pack, unmindful of his teammates, to someone who sets his pace to see his teammates’ perspective.
He gradually began to understand what it meant to watch people’s backs, which was something he never experienced because of his fast pace. Ironically, he learned this lesson well from someone whom he dismissed as a weakling. Eventually, I loved how he tried to find ways to motivate Prince and finally helped him qualify for a time. I also loved his rapport with Haiji as they led the team together. I also appreciated how the series built his rivalry with Rikudo’s Fujioka Kazuma.
While the training part gave a lot of insight into the characters, the Hakone Eikiden arc was marvelously written. Each character was given a chance to look deep into themselves to discover their different motivations to keep running.
Prince, who began to think like a team player even though he was weak, Musa who found purpose and friendship with running, Joji and Jota who looked deep into what made them the same and different, Shindo’s sheer determination to run 20.7 kilometers through his illness.
The wisecracking Yuki who eventually committed himself to running with his friends, Nico who found a second chance to do what he loved. King , who embraced his true self as he ran with his team.
Everyone had a story to tell, and it was told masterfully though each character’s perspective. Their stories culminated as they passed on the sash to the next person and ran one step closer to their common goal.
The sash was the symbol of their connection. And the way the series emphasized it to signal the start of a new story was nothing short of perfect.
I could not help but shed tears for each moving discovery that the team members made about themselves and what role they played in the lives of others.
I don’t think anyone can finish this series without being affected and inspired by this heartwarming story and these amazing characters.
When everything comes beautifully together, by chance or by design, just as these 10 characters have, you have yourself a wonderful masterpiece.