「The Ogre’s Arrival」
“The Ogre’s Arrival”
I think it would be fair to say that Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru took a couple of somewhat unexpected turns in its second episode, at least for me. Put another way, it’s not developing exactly as I expected – not better or worse, just a bit differently. A lot of that comes from how different it is tonally from Fune wo Amu of course, but the shared bloodlines are plenty apparent if you watch with care. I expected to be intrigued by this show, and I certainly am (if not yet quite entranced) – but it’s kind of nice to be surprised, too.
It hadn’t occurred to me to check before, but after this episode I looked up Miura Shion’s C.V. just because I was following a hunch that Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru had been written earlier than The Great Passage. And so it had – only five years or so, but when you’re talking about 27 vs. 32 years old, that’s an eternity where perspective is concerned. Run with the Wind has something cheeky and a bit self-congratulatory to it, like it knows it’s quite funny, whereas Fune wo Amu had a slightly weary sanguinity about it. But both are concerned with the same basic theme – whatever it is that drives people to complete seemingly impossible tasks, when it would be so much easier just to give up.
With The Great Passage it was pretty clear early on what that was, and as a lover of language that was an easy sell for me. It’s more of a mystery so far with this show, which is one reason why I haven’t embraced it emotionally yet. I don’t have the soul of a runner, for starters – I know people who do and have that imperative, but it’s lost on me. And we don’t really know the specifics on why the Ekiden is so important to Haiji – only that it’s so important that it turns him into quite an asshole when he sees a chance to compete in it after four years of frustration.
I promised last week to roll our the vitals on the housemates as they rose to prominence, and I assure you I will – but two of them stood out for me this week. The first was the manga maniac, Kashisaki Sei, who’s played by the finest seiyuu (almost) under 30, Miyu Irino. He’s the only one Haiji doesn’t single out as an athletic sleeper, and he seems to be the strangest fit for Haiji’s dream – unathletic (proudly) with no interest in being otherwise. He’s also on the receiving end of the cruelest of a menagerie of nasty tricks by Haiji to try and get his way, namely being threatened with eviction (along with his huge manga collection) if he doesn’t join the Ekiden team.
The other breakout this week was Hirata Akihiro (Hoshino Takanori, pitch perfect), the chain-smoking sempai whose seen Haiji’s entire four-year odyssey play out. Hiro-semapi’s weary nonchalance stands out like a sore thumb in this group, and one can tell just by looking at him that he’s got more stories to tell than anybody in the room. There’s definitely a running background with him, but something certainly happened – we haven’t had the clues yet that we have with Haiji or Kakeru, but it’s a certainty. Akihiro seems to respect Haiji’s animal tenacity in a way that makes him almost admire the younger man, and one can easily seeing him becoming the good cop to Haiji’s bad and assuming a vital aniki role within the group.
As for the key player her, Haiji, it would certainly be an exaggeration to say he’s likeable, but he’s persistent to be sure. I don’t really approve of the types of chicanery he applies here to try and get his way, and “oni” seems to be a fitting nickname for him. He is going to get his way, you can bank on that, but Kakeru is going to hold out for as long as he can. I found the way Haiji mocked Kakeru for what were clearly very painful experiences (and probably failures) in his past especially distasteful – I hope he gets put in his place for that before this is all said and done, because he deserves to.
I’d also add that I found the sento sequence to be pretty hilarious (the guys are forced to go when Haiji apparently sabotages Chikusei-sou’s bath – all towards his master plan). I’ve been to a few of those neighborhood sento in my time, and my experience matches this pretty closely. The bath is usually preposterously, ludicrously hot – like, lobster pot hot. And there’s a couple of old dudes who sit in there for what seems like hours and appear to be in a state of bliss (while I stick my pinkie toe in and squeal like a schoolgirl). And I never dare turn on the cold tap when those guys are around, so my sento experience usually ends up being 20 minutes of working my way up to submerging my feet.