I didn’t have any particular assumptions about this show going into it – mostly because it just seemed like the kind of thing that’d be fairly average, even if you happen to be more into sports anime than I am – but based on the opening episode, I’d say we’re off to a pretty decent start.
Right off the bat, there’s a certain sense of realism and solidity to Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru that most sports anime titles simply don’t have. I’m not saying that’s inherently either a good or a bad thing, but generally speaking, shows that go for the bright, optimistic, sweat of youth! type thing don’t really work for me. Kaze ga Tsuyoku, on the other hand, exudes a sense of quiet calmness, even amidst ten male university students lounging around in their old, rundown dorm building. It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to learn that this series is based on a novel by same person who wrote Fune wo Amu (whose anime adaptation viewers may remember from back in 2016), because there’s a very similar restrained, contemplative air about Kaze ga Tsuyoku – one which at once lends the series a lot of maturity without anything needing to be explicitly stated or explained.
Partly this is thanks to the characters. They’re university students for a start, and they certainly act and sound older than your average anime high schooler. They also don’t seem much given to loud emotional reactions or bouts of drama; even main character Kakeru, who clearly has some unresolved issues simmering beneath the surface, still comes across as a fairly pragmatic, self-possessed kind of guy. The incredibly true-to-life setting also does plenty for the overall atmosphere though, right down to the light fixtures and texture of the walls. Seriously, I haven’t seen an anime depicting such on-point background art for a long time, if ever, and it strikes a major chord with me. You’d think the character designs would look strangely cartoonish and out of place in comparison, but even they come across a bit less ‘anime-like’ in terms of which features and movements are exaggerated and which are downplayed.
If I have any single qualm about Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru, it’s that there might be too many cast members to keep track of and to give decent character development. While Kakeru and Haiji will likely remain the focus point, that still leaves eight boys to account for, plus any other recurring or side characters that may play a role in their story. Luckily, the show is slated for 23 episodes, so there’ll hopefully be room to give everyone the attention I’m sure they each deserve.
If you naturally gravitate towards boisterous, action-packed sports anime with a lot of tension and excitement, and with characters that have near superhuman abilities or talents, you may want to look elsewhere. If however you’re after something more understated, and which refreshingly appears to target no specific gender demographic, I highly recommend giving Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru a shot.
Question of the post: What did you think of this first episode? Do you prefer your sports anime with a bit more youthful passion, or does Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru’s quieter mood appeal more to you?