Ok, so this is definitely my favorite series this season. That’s pretty hard to achieve with a show that is basically just about a bunch of weirdos trying competitive running but than … here we are. The show features beautiful animation that wouldn’t look off at a cinema theatre, well-developed characters that have great chemistry and a simple but emotionally engaging story that keeps You glued to the screen.
First - the story.
The show is more of a character study of the protagonist and other characters than a typical sports anime. Sure, running is a big part of the show and glues the story and the characters together but it’s not as central to the plot as, let's say, dancing is for Welcome to the Ballroom (also a great series with beautiful animation by the way – check it out if You haven’t). That is not to its decrement though – it’s just a different type of story.
The plot revolves around participating in Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race or "Hakone Ekiden" (basically a very difficult marathon). The main characters, most of whom are not and never have been interested in running are more or less forced to participate.
The main theme of the anime is - as one might have guessed - running. The series does a good job showing what it means to each individual character and why they are interested (or start to get interested) in it.
As with all good slice of life anime, the story takes a back seat and the main dish of the show are the characters, their relationships with each other and character development overall. What can be said in the story part of the review is that the series takes enough time for them to develop organically and not feel forced.
Second: the animation.
The animation is beautiful. It truly does look on par with a movie. Character movements are fluid and natural, character expressions immediately capture attention and convey their emotions clearly. If I were to nitpick anything it’s the quality of the crowds but that's a problem for any anime that doesn't have a budget of a movie (and for a few of them that actually do).
The character design is quite interesting – each character has a unique style that captures his or her nature. That’s a pretty difficult job when you create both them and their environments as realistically as possible but the show pulls it off.
Third: the sound.
The sound is decent but nothing truly great or innovative. I liked the OP quite a bit though.
Fourth: the characters.
I’ve mentioned in many of my reviews that the characters make or break a slice of life anime and I feel Run with the Wind should be judged as one.
All the characters are realistic, different from each other and very likable. Each of them has a clear goal in life (or a clear need of one) and a motivation for running or trying to turn away from it.
Despite quite a large crowd of characters relationships between them are very well developed. The chemistry between them is great and feels more natural than in most shows (anime or otherwise) that I’ve seen recently.
If I were to force myself to find a flaw in the characters of the show it would be the protagonist. With all his ‘I’m running away from my past’ and ‘you can't do it, your just amateurs!’ attitude he shows at the beginning of the show, which (unsurprisingly) ends with him opening again to the sport he always loved he feels a little bland and predictable – especially when compared to other people in his group.
Verdict: I have trouble imagining anyone not enjoying this show. Maybe if You’re really young or just into one or two specific types of anime? Anyway: go try it out already!