Posted by Lenlo on 7 March 2019 with categories: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

Another day, another double feature catch up from my vacation, this time on Kaze Fui. This week we watch 5 of our 10 boys run the Ekiden, in one of the most emotional jogs I have ever witnessed. Lets jump in!

Right off the bat, I have to say, Kaze Fui made me tear up. I can’t say I outright cried, because I am emotionally dead. But Kaze Fui made a fantastic try and busting through that, in both episodes. Prince, Musa, Jota, Joji and Shindo all hit me in different ways, and really showed my earlier concerns were misplaced. I made mention in earlier posts that I had concerns about pacing, about how a single race could take up 4-5 episodes. I now see how. Each section has become a deeply personal exploration of a character who has been built up over 2 cours. This legwork, this built up story, is a rock solid foundation for this finale I find. I only have a single complaint of both episodes, which we will get to later. For now though, let’s dive into the episodes themselves.

First up episode 19, The Moment of Release, and Prince. There is so much to talk about here, and so little space. I love how everything about Prince is tied to his manga, to the point where he wants to be his own protagonist. Trying to live up to the role, in his own personal story. He’s probably the only character for whom the “power of friendship” stereotype would work for in this series, because of that. Hating running, but refusing to stop. Putting himself in the shoes of all of his sports manga heroes, going so far as to list off existing ones. It helps explain why he has kept doing this, when it was clear he didn’t enjoy it weeks ago. For him, this is his chance to be one of his stories, to stand up and achieve something. And regardless of placement, achieve he does.

Musa was another interesting one, as Kaze Fui only started to give him attention recently. Playing up some of the racial tensions of being a black runner in Japan. It was nice to see him get not only some recognition from fellow runners, but the national media as well. His section did seem to get split, in a general sense, between him and Iwanki though. Bit sad on that, as it felt like a passing of a torch for two characters that had met only once. Still though, putting Musa on the straightaway was a good choice and logically let the team catch up. Narratively, it made for a tense race. Pulling them out of the back and into contention, not for the win of course, but for a decent placement. Something to help them build the club up in future years.

Finally, partially jumping into episode 20 Even If I Break, lets go to Jota and Joji. These two are competing with Musa in terms of how little content they have, just barely winning out. However getting this look inside their heads, how they view running, Hana and each other, was welldone. That Jota wants to split from the club, thinking his brother is the better runner, is nice to see. How he acknowledges the differences between them, even if most people can’t. As much as some of this was alluded to with Musa’s mystery, I do wish we had gotten shown some of Joji’s determination though. Perhaps it was well hidden and I missed it, but I don’t remember Joji obsessing over Kurahara so much. Still, it was a nice peek to go along with the comedy provided by Hana’s perpetual love triangle.

If it feels like I am speeding through these boys though, its for good reason, because it’s time for Shindo. Ah my poor baby Shindo. I knew watching him run would be hard, but Kaze Fui really knocked it out of the park on this one. Starting off, the buildup was terrific. Seeing all these people tell him its ok to stop, showing his family preparing to watch his race, his call with Musa. Kaze Fui spent a lot of time preparing for the reveal. Then, when it’s time, we instead cut to Joji’s reaction to Shindo. Priming us for whatever state he is about to be in. And boy what a state it was. Poor Shindo has worked his butt off for this, making so many sacrifices, to be laid low by a sickness outside his control. Yet still he ran.

What really hit me hard with Shindo though was the coach and team. Kaze Fui starts the episode with the coach yelling at Joji, reminding us he is here. This way, when it’s time for his GO talk with Shindo, he doesn’t come from nowhere. For the talk itself, this hurt. The coach isn’t wrong, no one can say Shindo didn’t work hard to get where he is. No one would blame him for resigning in the state he is currently in. And while I knew for the story that Shindo wouldn’t quit, the drama was so good that it still worked. That it was being aired across the nation, with his family and whole team watching, definitely helped in this regard. Showing his strength of will to literally everyone. Shindo, in this moment, showed us what Fujioka meant by strength.

And as if Shindo wasn’t enough emotions for an episode, we also learn a bit more about Haiji’s history. Namely, that he and Kurahara are more alike than we previously thought. Unexpectedly, Haiji’s high school coach also overworked him, though in his case it was his own father. It makes sense in a way, why he connects with Kurahara so and why he is so determined to run in the Ekiden. Not just for his own satisfaction but to prove something to his father to. However, the big thing I liked from Haiji this week was his show of remorse. We saw it with Prince, and we see it again with Kurahara. How he feels guilty about the manipulation, going out of his way to apologize for it, even if it’s too late to mean much. At the least, it shows Haiji was aware of how shitty he was being.

Last but not least, we have Yuki and Kurahara. Both have been playing supporting roles during the Ekiden so far, supporting the team. From Kurahara’s inspiring words or existence for the twins, to Yuki’s silent companionship for Shindo. It’s nice to see them, both loners early on, really come to care for their teammates. Both seems to be gearing up to put on a clinic in their upcoming sections, to make sure Shindo’s hard work isn’t for waste. For Yuki, the preview sets up a determined run through the snow. With his aforementioned low center of gravity, it should make for a good show as the other runners probably slip or fall. Leading to more good chances for sportsmanship. Meanwhile Kurahara’s is just going to be 10 minutes of running through space as he glows like a prophet. I joke, but I would be surprised if it didn’t show once.

So all in all, these two episodes, what did I think? Well I lovedem. It’s a rare anime that can elicit an emotional response for me. And for a running series to do so to such a strong degree? Unheard of. Kaze Fui has established these characters so well, so consistently, that I can’t help but care about them. Miura’s writing is so strong that somehow running 20km is more riveting than a finale fight scene of some Shounen or the romantic climax of most rom-coms. I am hyped for the last 3 episodes, for Yuki’s run through the snow and Kurahara’s tour de force. For Haiji’s knee to inevitably give out and for him to soldier on to the finish line just like Shindo. I hope you will be there with me for it. See you next week!

2 Responses

  1. All too often when an anime series pulls the sickness card, it can feel very cheap and saccharine but given how this series generally executes its drama, Shindo getting randomly ill felt like earned drama and whereas I don’t really get the feels, nonetheless it registers as strong dramatic tension for me.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      For me, what made the sickness work, is we have seen Shindo work himself to the bone to this point. Its not like he’s the picture of health. Dude has, multiple times, fallen asleep at the keyboard working on their club and site.

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