Posted by Lenlo on 14 March 2019 with categories: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru

Another week, another set of Kaze Fui boys run the Ekiden. Today we have Yuki and Nico, from the older half of our group, running their hearts out. There’s family drama, crushed dreams and more emotions than I can handle. Lets jump in!

Sticking with my stereotypes, let’s start with production. There was some reused footage this week when Yuki was running down the hill. Taking some bends, as he swayed right and left, with only the backgrounds being different. I actually didn’t notice this at first, because of how engrossing the narrative is, and so I can’t dock it to much for it, but it is there. We also saw the return of the CGI that, when placed up against Yuki’s leg muscles flexing as he runs, only become more worthy of criticism. All that said though, direction continues to be Kaze Fui’s strong point. With multiple wide shots of the landscape, our characters small against the mountains of Hakone, drawing the eye. There was also some fantastic, expressive, facial animation on Jota with Kurahara. So all things considered, it wasn’t a bad week for Kaze Fui. Now, onto spoiler territory.

I have to say, I though Kaze Fui would have a difficult time matching Shindo’s performance last week. But boy did Yuki somehow manage it. Once again, we see our boys say this is their last day, once again referencing Kurahara. As if their ability to never reach him simultaneously motivated and demoralized them. Yet here Yuki is, down hill running at the same speed as Kurahara… and hurting for him. Seeing how alone it must be at the top. Yuki, more than anyone else so far, has caught a glimpse of Kurahara’s world. He saw how, had he thrown himself into it, he might have been able to do it to. Yuki has the guts, the courage, to run downhill in the snow at top speed. To run his feet raw, popping blisters along the way… and still he fell short. And it was beautiful.

On top of that, we see Yuki’s family, and learn the problem is almost entirely of his own making. I figured it would be some kind of abusive household, connecting him with Haiji and Kurahara. Yet he apparently has one of the most loving families. Distancing himself because of his step-father. It’s a feeling I can understand, as remarriage/divorce is very hard for older children who already have an established life. Seeing that he pushed them away, and they still came out to support him? How he realizes what he has done, through his experiences with the running club? It hit home for me, as my own parents divorced and remarried when I was around 14. I had my own rocky relationship with my stepparents, eventually reconciling. That Yuki’s face also had some of the most expressive emotions of the series so far? I was speechless.

Another good one, whom we had the groundwork of before now, was Nico. We saw hints as to his past earlier in the series. He had the dedication and skills to run before anyone else. He owned specific running shoes, which Yuki I believe pointed out early on as well. It was obvious that he had some degree of experience running before. It seems though that he, similar to Kurahara and Haiji, had bad experience with his coach. Nico’s being that his body simply wasn’t suited for long distance running. Kaze Fui does a good job showing this, as Nico’s body type is much thicker than the rest of the cast. He stood out, and his weight problems were alluded to from the start. What I liked most about Nico’s though was that, more than anyone else so far, he just loves to run.

Nico isn’t in this to compete or get first place. He doesn’t care about making a name for himself or winning hearts. All Nico wants is to run. In that sense, his dream and motivation most closely aligns with Haiji’s goal for this race. I like how this contrasts with Yuki, who was somber his whole run with a weight on his shoulders, and King who is struggling. Speaking of King, I am a little torn on how his intro went down. On one hand, it makes sense. King has been shown to be competitive and is the most likely to fall into someone else’s pace. On the other hand, I wish Sakaki had any kind of growth. He started as a combative dick, and that appears to be how he is going to end. No lessons learned, having run in the Ekiden. I hope Kaze Fui has more planned.

Lastly, let’s talk about Fujioka and Haiji. I really want to like Fujioka, and all of his scenes are good ones. However he only has 3 scenes across the entire series so far. He simply isn’t around enough for me to get invested in him. Not like the rest of our lead cast. Take Haiji for example, who through his relationship with Fujioka gives us the strongest reason to care about him. His knee and this race has been built up throughout the entire season. It is this weight, through their friendship, that gives Fujioka most of his narrative weight. On the knee by the way, I can’t wait for Haiji’s episode, as I believe I know why he wanted to go last. I don’t believe Haiji expects to finish the race. He thinks his knee will fail, and he wanted everyone to have a chance to run. Its beautiful.

So all in all, how do I feel about Kaze Fui this week? Well, if it wasn’t obvious by now, I love it. I think Kaze Fui has been knocking it out of the park these last 3 episodes. All the buildup, all the drama of the entire season is climaxing in these episodes and it just works. Normally I find last minute flashbacks during some big event to be lazy last minute character building. But here, so much groundwork was already laid and these are so personal and passionate that I can’t help but love them. Sure, there are some problems. The CGI and some of the side-characters don’t measure up. But the central themes, the core cast? Easily one of the best I have seen in anime. I find myself waiting for Kaze Fui more than anything else each week, and I think many others do to.

But what do you think? Running still boring, is Yuki a privileged prick who ignored his family? Let me know down below, and I will see you next week for the penultimate episode of Kaze Fui!

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