Posted by Lenlo on 20 February 2019 with categories: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

Welcome to the big one, the start, the opening moments of Kaze Fui’s Hakone Ekiden! This week Fujioka drops some wisdom, the team learns their sections and Yuki gets some time with Kurahara. Lets jump in!

This week was Kaze Fui’s big setup, along with some drops on Haiji’s background. Before we get to either of those though, how did Kaze Fui do on the production department? Like always, the backgrounds were beautiful. The shot near the end of Mt.Fuji was simply stunning, similarly with Haiji and Fujioka’s walking rice fields. We didn’t get to see much animation this week sadly, but with the Ekiden starting next week, hopefully it will show up in full force. That isn’t to say it was non-existent though. During Fujioka’s flashback there was some great running/shoe animation near the end, and I quite enjoyed the character acting we got during the sections explanation. However, unlike Mob Psycho, animation isn’t one of Kaze Fui’s focal point’s. That dubious honor goes to the story and characters, and my goodness, is what good as always.

Story wise, let’s start with Fujioka. I love this man, and in my opinion, he is criminally underused. He kickstarted Kurahara’s self-reflection and now he is acting as his goal line. Yet the man has barely appeared in the series at all. He is effective in spite of his short air time though, not because of it. The man has a presence when on screen, no doubt helped by his VA Satoshi Hino. I’m not qualified to really explain it, but suffice to say, I can’t not be attentive when he is on screen. As far as his actual role this episode, his speech was probably just what Musa and Kurahara needed to hear. I am sure for some it doesn’t resonate, the need to win is strong in a lot of people. But for me, and my fencing career? Sometimes just a single point was a personal victory.

Content wise, Fujioka also gave us a hint into Haiji’s backstory. We already knew some of it, that something had happened to his leg, but Fujioka gives us a look into his mental state. In a very similar manner to Kurahara, Haiji had given up on running after highschool. He defeated himself, gave up on his athletic career even though everyone around him was saying to be patient. Leave it to Fujioka to stand behind him, tell him to be strong. It makes me think that the two might get to run together. That Fujioka and Haiji will end up in the same section of the race, running side by side, getting to finally fulfill that joint desire of theirs. It could make for a really powerful moment. And seeing how the sections are setup, and the hints dropped, this is looking very likely to me.

Now let’s get onto the sections, and Haiji’s speech. This whole thing was incredibly hype, I loved it all the way through. Hearing Haiji’s reasons for each person getting their section, and their reactions to the whole thing. For instance, placing Prince first because he is good at dealing with pressure and simply doesn’t care about the public makes sense. As does Musa taking the 2nd section because he is, as was previously established, good on flat straightaways. I like that each of these are built on aspects of their personality or running ability that was established in previous episodes. It was a really effective build up for Kaze Fui’s upcoming finale, though it does leave me concerned in that we have 5 episodes left.

You see, what concerns me about the 5 episodes is, just how far can we stretch a single race? Way I see it, the next 2 episodes will probably handle the first 4 sections. Episode 20 will do another 4, and then 21 can focus entirely on Kurahara and Haiji’s backstory. Episode 23 can be a sort of epilogue, for “what happens to the club after, does King get his job”. But that leaves episode 22 up in the air. Short of Kaze Fui stretching this out unnecessarily, I really don’t know what it’s going to fill all of this content in. It’s rather weird, because I didn’t expect to get to the Ekiden for another week. However, as I have maintained through some of Kaze Fui’s rougher episodes, I have faith in Shiwon Miura. I am sure it will work out.

For specifics, there were 2 characters especially I wanted to look at. Those being Yuki and Shindo. Shindo is the cliffhanger for this week, so let’s start with Yuki and his relationship with Kurahara. I was hoping he would get some development, his own little arc. And while we didn’t get it just yet, we do get him and Kurahara connecting over a shared experience. That of hating their parents. Looking back, it makes sense for Kurahara’s relationship with his parents to be rocky. He brought a lot of negative attention to them, and now it is coming back because of his renewed interest in running. So Kurahara’s is very clear cut. What I hope Kaze Fui tells us soon though is what is up with Yuki’s parents. Maybe have them show up at the race. Regardless, it’s another connection the team has to Kurahara, and I like it.

The big one though is Shindo, and oh boy, Kaze Fui can’t go a week without a cliffhanger. On one hand, it made for some interesting cutaways during Haiji’s speech. It adds some tension to the whole ending. On the other hand, its unnecessary for the story as a whole. The tension of the race already exists, having Shindo get sick the night before and barely make the race, barely be able to run it? Depending on how that is handled, it could invalidate a lot of the work he has put in up to this point. Yes, Kaze Fui has alluded to Shindo overworking himself with handling the fan club and all the paperwork multiple times until now. But there really hasn’t been any hint of deteriorating health, aside from maybe his getting drunk one night. I suppose I will have to just continue to have faith in Miura.

So all in all, did Kaze Fui work this week? In my opinion, yes. It set up the Ekiden very well and has just enough spinning plates in the air to maybe fill 5 episodes. Hopefully with minimal stretching of content. The characters continue to be engaging, dragging the viewer in and making me care about this lovable bunch of knuckleheads. Kaze Fui also skipped right over the possible romance arc, which I was very thankful for, opting instead to use it to bring the team back together. Overall, Kaze Fui did a great job and I can’t wait to binge it when I get back from Japan.

But what did you think? Kaze Fui do its job well, or am I in to deep to properly evaluate this? Let me know below! And as I said, I will be leaving for Japan on Friday and be gone for a week. That means no posts next week, and a double up the week after! See you in two weeks. Now I need to go and rewatch that speech a few more times.

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