What They Say:
Kakeru Kurahara was a track star in high school, but after losing his money gambling, the only running he’s doing is fleeing after shoplifting food. Then Kakeru’s escape route crosses paths with Haiji Kiyose, and he gets a chance to change his life’s direction.
A fourth-year college student, Haiji has dreamed of entering the famous Hakone Ekiden relay marathon, but he’s been one runner short of a potential team… until he sees Kakeru blow past him like the wind and knows he’s found his critical tenth man. Of course, it won’t be easy convincing Kakeru to join, and the rest of the team includes such questionable choices as a chronic smoker and an underweight otaku, but they’ve all got legs and Haiji will make sure they learn how to use them to Run with the Wind!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language end the English dub in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec to bring the show to life. The show works the full-forward soundstage well here to bring an engaging mix to the table where the sound of the shoes, the impact of the pavement, and sometimes just the quiet moments of running through the late-night hours are brought to life wonderfully. It’s the kind of series where the sound design is strong but understated in what it’s trying to achieve. The dialogue works in a similar manner where needed when there are multiple characters on the screen and across the net as well, giving it some good depth and placement at times. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set brings the complete twenty-three episode run of the series. Animated by Production I.G., the series has a very strong look and design here that blends in the CG side in a great and smooth way that really elevates the content. Production I.G. is definitely the right studio for this since they went all out as the colors pop vibrantly and there’s a great smoothness when they run that really clicks well, as well as the blending of the animation itself. It’s one of those shows that just reveals its quality the more it goes on and the end result is striking in a way that doesn’t feel like it should be for a school sports show. The transfer captures it beautifully and it’s a great looking release all around.
The packaging for this release is presented in a standard sized Blu-ray case with a hinge inside to hold two of the three discs. The front cover has a big group shot of everyone in their uniform while on the track field where they’re looking up at the camera. It’s not usually one of my favorite shots but it’s the ideal kind of piece for this group of characters as they come together for the big event after everything they’ve been through. The back cover goes for more of the shades of blue like we have on the front as we get a few shots and taglines along the top while the left has a visual for Kakeru as he runs. The middle is given over to a pretty good summary of the premise with a couple more shots while also highlighting the episode/disc count and the extras as well. The production credits along the bottom are done in black against the light blue but still legible, while the technical grid covers everything very well in a clean and easy to read format. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences and some of the Japanese promos.
Originally a novel by Shion Miura that came out in 2006, Run with the Wind has had a solid series of adaptations over the years. It spawned a six-volume manga in 2007 and a live-action film in 2009. In 2018, we got the two-cour anime series here that ran for twenty-three episodes. It was a solid one in that Production I.G. got behind it with the animation and it had Kazuya Nomura directing it. The series reminded me a lot of Haikyu in a way when it came to the design elements but with its focus on the competition that everyone is training for. The designs are similar with the characters as well in the kind of angularity for some of them but since it focuses on the college-age we get something far more interesting with it overall.
The premise is definitely a fun one as it gets underway as we’re introduced to Kakeru, a first-year in college at Kansei University where he ended up blowing his money on gambling that would have gone to finding a place to stay. Kakeru’s a serious type of person that often doesn’t say a whole lot until it becomes necessary, which means we glean more from those around him and their observations of him than from him directly. The show opens with him having swiped a meal from a convenience store and has Haiji chasing after him on his bike trying to keep up because Kakeru is just that fast. Haiji sees a pure talent within and wants him desperately for his own secret master plan. It’s an awkward introduction but you can see Haiji, a fourth-year at Kansei, knowing how to work a freshman and bringing him back to the Chikuseisou where he and eight other guys currently live.
And lo, Kakeru becomes the tenth man.
This is important as Haiji had been talking to the rest over a period of time about how they just needed one more member in the dorm. It turns out that the really old nameplate for the dorm revealed it to be one for a marathon club and Haiji’s goal was to get the ten members total he needed so they could participate in the Hakone Ekiden relay marathon. This is nothing to sneeze at as you do get people training for years to really participate in it, though there are always upstarts looking to make waves without any serious training or a shortened schedule. Haiji wants everyone here, almost all novices at such things, to spend the next ten months training in order to participate in it. Haiji is damn persuasive when he wants to be and watching him over the first few episodes whittle away at the reasons to not do this plays out, all while ensuring that he gets Kakeru on board because of his natural talent – and being an elite runner from high school that left it because of problems there.
The show works through a lot of training aspects of this, which is a lot of running, and everyone goes at it with different speed and paces early on as Haiji looks to get a handle on what he’s working with. It’s not what dominates the show completely but rather something that provides good balance to the character material. That balance is critical as it doesn’t make this strictly a sports show or a show that just has tangents to the sport itself. It’s incredibly well-balanced and we get a lot of really good character episodes before we end up at the qualifying event after several months and then onto the actual marathon itself where all the hard work is truly put to the test.I’ll admit, as much fun as those events are, it’s the earlier material that really worked the best for me because it was the period where it felt the most inspirational for viewers.
Since nobody has signed up for this race and club itself when they became residents, at least knowingly, they find themselves having to participate otherwise they’ll be thrown out of the dorm. And that’s not an easy thing after settling in as long as some of them have. Watching these guys struggle as hard as they do early on is just delightful. You feel for Nico the most as he’s also forced to give up his cigarettes but there’s definitely a harder health struggle there as he gets underway. The twins, Taro and Jiro, at least played soccer and other sports previously and know how to run but without the conditioning necessary here. The “Prince” character with his love of manga is delightful because he’s the ultimate bookish character that now finds himself thrown into all of this and really has a hard time that requires a lot of support. And I really appreciated the inclusion of Musa, a Tanzanian transfer student who pushes back against some of the background racism and stereotyping that comes into play while also struggling at times himself just with the physicality of it all here.
With a sizable cast, there’s always that element of some characters not getting as much attention, and others like Kakeru getting too much, but with it being a two-cour show and handling the balance well when it comes to the training side it’s able to work this really well. The other big advantage for me with this was that, outside of a couple of secondary characters coming in, everyone is largely college-age or much older and just interacting with our core cast. And the core cast are all at different places in their college careers, with some starting up, some finishing and looking to just coast through the final part after doing all the hard work, and some deep in the middle trying to figure it all out (again and again and again). These stories aren’t necessarily more interesting than high school characters’ lives but we get so few of them and the high school bracket rarely have any serious challenges given to them. So watching that unfold here amid all the hard work in preparing for the race helps to flesh them out even more.
Run with the Wind getting a complete collection is the ideal way to do things because this is a really solid character drama piece that’s explored over the course of it. Kakeru’s story is the one that will likely resonate the most in some ways but there are things about all of them that are engaging to watch unfold, even if it is just them adjusting to being a part of this marathon and going through the training for it. It’s got some really good waypoints it hits along the way and seeing the growth and bonds grow between them all is very well done, making it easy to see why it’s had several adaptations in different mediums. This release may be a touch light on the extras but the core show itself looks fantastic, the dub is a good bit of fun from what I sampled over it, and it’s a tight packaging overall that doesn’t take up a ton of space if you’ve got a big collection already. It’s a very easy series to recommend if you’re looking for good stories of young men after the high school period trying to figure out their way.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos, Commercials
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 26th, 2020
Running Time: 575 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.