It’s lows and highs this week as we jump from the saddest anime scene on Day 11 to the best ending today. Today’s pick is another recent anime that started airing during the Fall 2018 season and ended during Winter 2019 called Run With the Wind. Of all the anime I’ve seen over the last year, this one was easily one of the most (if not the most) satisfying endings I’ve ever seen.
Often times in anime it’s easy to predict the ultimate end of a plot or an arc, but for me it’s more rare to be surprised by it, even knowing how it will end. Run With the Wind fits this perfectly; the ending isn’t surprising, but just how satisfying it is to watch is the surprise.
There is a big New Years collegiate marathon every year in Japan called the Hakone Ekiden that is a two-day race from Tokyo to Hakone (and then back). It’s a ten man relay that spans a total of 135.4 miles (217.9 km) where a sash is passed from person to person until the end. To participate, your team must first qualify as only 20 teams are allowed to participate, with 10 of those slots going to the top 10 teams from the previous year. This anime follows the dreams of one college team and their journey to qualify and race in the Hakone Ekiden.
There are 23 total episodes in Run With the Wind, and five of them are dedicated to the running of the Hakone Ekiden; that’s more than a fifth of the episodes. Maybe that seems like a lot, but by the time you reach those final five episodes, it is one of the most satisfying experiences in an anime.
The series spends a really long time building the team up to worthy competitors. Among the ten of them, only two of them are serious runners, with the rest just being other members who happen to live in the same college house. So not only is the Hakone Ekiden one of the toughest races to qualify for, but they also have to do it with a team full of amateurs. As the team painfully fights it’s way up towards qualifying running times, there is a lot of conflict (bound to happen in a small house with ten dudes), a lot of turmoil and, by the end of it, a team that is almost closer than family. But we aren’t here to talk about that. We want to discuss that race.
Those last five episodes take all the growth and hard work from each individual racer and put them in the spotlight. There isn’t a single man on the team who is passed off as an extra and left to run in the background. You watch them all run their very hardest to the end in front of all of Japan.
By the end of each episode my adrenaline was pumping out of both excitement and sheer joy. It’s probably a good thing that I had to wait week to week to watch each episode or I might not have been able to handle it. It felt like the perfect ending watching 10 individual mini arcs all wrapped up in one giant arc concluding all at the same time.
Today we have a double bonus ED since both of them are really good (I’m not sure what that bus business is at the end of the second video, but it’s the only one I could find that actually had the anime visuals in it):
If I thought I could even come close to doing this series justice, I would have written a full review on it by now, but anything I could write would fall short. All I can say is, please watch this series.
What would you consider the perfect ending to an anime?