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

Hello all and welcome to the penultimate episode of Kaze Fui! This week we see King’s struggle, Kurahara takes off and Sakaki becomes a little less hate-able. Lets take off running, we have a lot to cover!

In terms of animation and production, Kaze Fui surprised me this week. I didn’t think that, after Yuki last week, that it would do anything new. I assumed we would get some more of Kurahara’s running through dimensions bit, which looks good, but isn’t new at this point. What was new though was King’s facial expressions and Kurahara’s stunning shedding of his earthly concerns. The first was just funny. It meshed well with King’s story and helped lighten the tone a bit, so the shift isn’t so sudden when we go to Kurahara. Meanwhile Kurahara’s bit was just beautiful to look at. Like an animated Buddhist enlightenment, it was like Kurahara was shedding his earthly concerns and just dedicating himself to the run. For someone who started such an angry boy, it really struck me then how far he had come. But we will get to him later, onto spoilers!

Starting off, we of course have to talk about King. Out of our central cast, King was the one I liked the least. He was just kinda grumpy, if justifiably so. And while this backstory for him didn’t completely change that, it does help me relate to him. It felt to me like an episode of Tatami Galaxy almost really, in his pursuit of that rose-colored college campus life. Before he knew it, he was graduating and searching for a job, never accomplishing anything or putting himself out there. So however much he was against this Hakone run at the start, on a personal level, it does give him that college life. Friends who accept him, a goal to work towards and an accomplishment all his own. It’s the sort of out-cast focus I would have expected from Prince, yet we clearly saw his friends, while King just plays trivia.

On top of that, Kaze Fui also returned again to King’s job search. I do very much wish this had been touched on more, as it feels kind of skimmed over/forgotten. But what we got this week was still good. What I like about it to is how his failure in finding one meshes into his personality/college life issues from before. If you see yourself as a no one, with no accomplishments, that will come across in the interview. So in a way, Haiji is helping King find a job. Because by the end of this race, King will have grown. He will have accomplished something, running in the Ekiden. He will most likely be more confident and accepting of who he is. This should, excluding any recognition from the competition, help him in interviews. Effectively helping him land a job, and give him a great final memory.

King isn’t the only one to grow this week either, as seen in the Kurahara/Sakaki interaction. See, Sakaki is an easy character to hate, he deserves it. He’s done nothing but antagonize Kurahara throughout this entire story. But here, it finally clicked for me. Sakaki could easily have been the protagonist of this story, we could very easily have watched the entire thing from his perspective. We haven’t seen any of his growth, which he has clearly had by making it to the race. And at the very end, here he is having accomplished his goal… and Kurahara is happy for him. Kurahara, who couldn’t handle being on a team, is seemingly, finally, at peace. And we can see, in that moment, Sakaki look on. Either confused, understanding or sad, it doesn’t matter. But this dickhead has grown like Kurahara, and that one moment with his team showed it.

Speaking of Kurahara, we have to talk about our lead boy. Kaze Fui, once again knocking it out of the park, did a great job here. his run was visually stunning, and narratively poignant. It wasn’t as explicit as the other characters of course, because Kurahara has had his history built up throughout the season. But it was much more spiritual, as if Kurahara was letting go of his worries and just enjoying running. He wasn’t there for his coach, nor for his parents or any scholarship. Kurahara was running for himself, for his team, because he wanted to. He was enjoying it, the crowds, the scenery. That was his big discovery, why he should run at all. I think Kaze Fui showed this incredibly, by taking away all of the music at the start of his segment. Just letting his feet and breathing draw us into the scene.

Compare this to Fujioka who is brought up multiple times this episode. Of course, the man is still barely a character, acting mostly as a wall for Kurahara, but he still contrasts well. With the weight of his entire team on his back, from the guy bringing him water, to his teammates depending on him to finish the race. He is the opposite of where Kurahara was at the start of the series, and is now all but guaranteed to be what Kurahara will become. It’s a weird kind of narrative cycle setup, like the passing of a generational torch. For what little screen time Fujioka got, I think Kaze Fui did a good job with him. I wish we had more time for his inner thoughts, to get his perspective on everything. But in a way, I think that would take away from our lead 10. From their story.

At this point, I am starting to ramble, so let me sum it all up. Kaze Fui is 4 for 4 with this Ekiden. I honestly cannot believe how well Kaze Fui is bring everything together here at the end. Yes, it has some hanging plot threads like King’s job search or the twin’s disillusionment that aren’t completely settled. But it’s all setup just well enough to really resonate with this ending. Giving all of the characters just enough to build and build and build on each other and what has come before. In this episode alone, so much happened that I couldn’t cover. From Haiji believing in Kurahara, not needing to give him any advice, to King seemingly wanting to run the race again with Haiji. From Kurahara’s teasing ‘love’ to Jota(Ji?) to how he still has a few Km to go. Kaze Fui has setup its finale beautifully.

Tell me what you think though. Are you ready for the finale next week? Whats your predictions with Haiji? Let me know down below and I will see you next week for Kaze Fui’s finale!

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