「消えない影」 (Kienai Kage)
“A Shadow That Does Not Disappear”

The notion of consequence has been on my mind a lot lately. I don’t know how anyone could watch unfolding events in the United States and not feel that way – what we’re seeing in public life right now is a new reality, where actions and words seem to have no consequences whatsoever. What would once shock and outrage is now met with shrugs, and the most transparent of lies and misstatements are dismissed by the free press as par for the course. When the truth has been devalued to the point where it loses all meaning, the path ahead is a dark one indeed.

All of that is obviously way, way more important that anything happening in any anime. But anime is the main premise of this site, and watching Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru brings all this to the fore for me. My gold standard for outrage where anime consequence is concerned is Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, the series where in the words of my fellow RC blogger Samu at the time, “Everyone except the MC is a total shit and I hate them”. That could be a problem in itself, but the main problem was that the author was squarely in the camp of the total shits. Then we have Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul, where the laughable redemption of a genocidal sociopath was treated as a natural development. The fact that SSSS.Gridman also has a character who reeks of future redemption they don’t deserve is a sobering cautionary note when getting too excited about that show’s strong start.

All that is a roundabout way of saying that for all it’s doing right, the fact that Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru seems to have no idea that its co-lead has been a total shit for the first four episodes is pissing me off. Call it scar tissue or whatever you like, but we don’t watch anime in a vacuum – our perception is a composite of our prior experiences. I don’t mind that Haiji has been a total shit – there are plenty of other characters here I like. What I mind is that Kaze ga Tsuyoku (and this is surprising, given that this is the author of the very smart Fune wo Amu) doesn’t think Haiji has been a total shit.

After this episode, I’ve pretty much given up on there being any consequences for Haiji, because Miura-sensei has laid her cards on the table. Haiji is the good guy, selflessly dragging his slacker and self-hating housemates out of the darkness and into the light, and the real bad guys are stiffs like Kakeru’s old track teammate Sakaki Kousuke (Kawanishi Kengo). All the kumbaya stuff this week pretty much put the nail in the coffin on this situation changing (one can’t even call it a redemption, since in Miura’s eyes Haiji’s done nothing he needs to be redeemed for), so at this point my choices are to like it or lump it – accept it and move on or call it a deal-breaker and move out.

The truth is, I really don’t want to do the latter, for any number of reasons. The most obvious is that this is a good series apart from this glaring problem, and it’s also a two-cour one with plenty of time to make me forget about all this. I think with the rest of the reluctant runners pretty much falling in line, Haiji in jerk mode is probably going into hibernation (it already started this week, in fact) and the series proper is going to more focused on the actual effort to qualify for the Ekiden. And in truth, Haiji hasn’t done anything nearly on the level of Charioce or even the total shits of Shigatsu – he’s just an asshole. And we all know plenty of those, if we’re honest.

Still, for all that, the more this series focuses on the likes of Kakeru and the other housemates the happier I’ll be, because I like them a lot more than Haiji. Kakaeru and Sakaki’s backstory filled in a lot of blanks in the past, and Kakeru remains the character (so far) with the closest thing to a real arc. And I quite like most of the supporting cast, especially Ouji and Hirata-sempai. It would also be nice to see Musa get some development as more than comic relief, because there’s a ton of potential in his storyline – he’s going to face a lot of bias about his supposed “unfair advantages” if he decides to compete seriously in collegiate athletics.

The other factor that’s probably going to be most critical in determining whether Kaze ga Tsuyoku succeeds as a story is going to be the depiction of the Kansei miracle – how is this ragtag bunch of misfits going to achieve the seemingly impossible? I’m less worried about this one given Miura’s work in her follow-up Fune wo Amu – she doesn’t seem to be an author who glosses over the dirty work or portrays monumentally difficult tasks as remotely easy. As that theme continues to be on the ascendancy (presumably) in coming episodes, this series should start to really take off along with it.




  1. I haven’t given up yet on the author playing the long game and Haiji’s behaviour having actual consequences before this arc is over but it’s on thin ice.

    Haiji’s utilitarian mindset is a worse problem than his actions and if not addressed is going to smear his interactions with the others until the very end. It’s already doing it in fact, him standing up for Kurahara or encouraging Prince this episode feel like the carrot after the stick instead of genuine moments of friendship.

  2. Yup, yup, Haiji would definitely fit in among genocidal sociopaths of anime and real-world megadouches like Donald J. Trump.

    ARE YOU FRICKIN’ KIDDING ME? I can harldy believe this is coming from the guy who wept for Meruem. I guess you always have to be on the lookout for damaged people ready to give you the death penalty for reminding them of some douche who ate their lunch at school.

    1. It seems that the first paragraph made such an impression on you and it distorted your understanding of the rest of the post.

      The blogger started the post with Trump due to the issue’s relation to the trend of people being douches and it’s somehow being accepted/normalized. Haiji definitely fits in with that trend, but nowhere did he say that Haiji fits in with Trump and genocidal sociopaths of anime.

      1. It’s possible to paraphrase main point of this episode review like that:
        “Even though Haiji isn’t a genocidal monster, he still belongs to a total shit category with Charioce and Trump”.

        G.E. is still comparing him to them, but wants to have a right to make a non-denial denial (which is pretty trumpesque, if you ask me). You just can’t blame people for reading between the lines.

        For me Haiji is a pretty entertaining asshole (like Doug from Double Decker). Of course he inconvenience other people, but I don’t see other tenants as victims. They could save a lot of money thanks to unusually cheap lodging and food (some of them have lived there for few years), and to stop Haiji’s plans, they would just need to help Prince with moving out (which would mean a return to previous 9 man status quo).

      2. karma: I’m glad I’m not alone in seeing through how this review tries to manipulate through false association and other invented reasons.

        Tendo: Nah, man, what’s being normalized is bringing personal baggage into a situation and stirring up emotion about it and then everyone has to pretend that a great injustice has happened when it actually hasn’t. If Haiji doesn’t fit in with Trump and genocidal sociopaths of anime, there’s no frickin’ reason to associate him with them. He’s not threatening the world, he’s not threatening to kill or maim anyone, he’s not threatening to ruin anyone’s life. The guys could leave the dorm if they wanted to, it’s just an inconvenience, Haiji has no power to keep them there and make them train. It’s like in his past Guardian Enzo failed to assert himself and now he’s taking his personal problems out on Haiji. This is based on what he said in a previous review about having dealt with people like Haiji.

  3. “What I mind is that Kaze ga Tsuyoku (and this is surprising, given that this is the author of the very smart Fune wo Amu) doesn’t think Haiji has been a total shit.”

    I don’t know, the show hasn’t been super about acknowledging that Haiji’s pushy actions are not okay, but I wouldn’t be so sure the author doesn’t think Haiji’s actions are wrong.

    There’s Shigatsu where all the questionable actions are glorified and sparkly, then there are those like boku no hero academia’s Kacchan in which the character has obviously been doing a lot of wrong stuff, but at the same time just by being himself he’s an inspiration to a lot of the cast (having both good and bad traits at the same time). Kacchan hasn’t really gotten redemption in any sense nor is the author seeming to push him on the path of redemption exactly, yet he’s a nice and likable character to many, sometimes he does shitty stuff but he’s also amazing at the same time.

    For this show it falls somewhere in the middle, since in boku no hero Kacchan is obviously a bully and not glorified for it, but in Kaze ga tsuoku fuiteiru it’s glossed over or played for humour. But that said, I don’t feel that at any point the author tries to say that Haiji’s actions are good and amazing. If anything, the show tells us he’s obviously selfish and doing what he wants, as he even says to Kakeru this episode.

    To me so far at least, the show seems to treat Haiji as the one terrible friend who’s dragging you unwillingly into lots of trouble yet you go WTF and do it anyway all while complaining about it. That’s all there is to it, and everyone constantly goes, dude, you suck, I’m not listening to you (to Haiji). It sounds like a very normal occurrence, and is (so far to me) in no way endorsing his actions.

    “I’ve pretty much given up on there being any consequences for Haiji”
    I don’t think every character in anime that ever does something wrong needs to have it addressed in a redemption arc. There are characters like Tsukishima my favourite salty Haikyuu boy that has done some not so nice things (to a lesser extent than here but still) and yet – he can still have good traits on top of that. You can be both shitty and likable – you don’t always have to “redeem” the bad traits in order to start having your good traits recognized. Usually how these characters play out is that the story brings us through an arc where we see more of the characters and learn to like them. It often doesn’t “redeem” them and make them apologize, but it adds more layers to the characters.

    If you dislike Haiji because you don’t like the terrible things he does, that makes sense. If you think you’ll only like him if he gets redemption that’s also fine. It’s your personal like/dislike for certain types of characters. But I don’t think the author has been endorsing his actions at all, just because there hasn’t been that outright disapproval (there is some, from the other characters at least) for his actions so far. That’s my main gripe with your main gripe. Obviously this stands to change depending on how the later episodes go, but definitely this is what I think so far.

    1. Well, my question for you is this – what indication has the author given us that she considers Haiji’s actions to be wrong in any way? I would argue none whatsoever. And if there’s never any acknowledgement on-screen that Haiji has done things the narrative considers bad, to me that’s a declaration that it considers them to be just fine (or indeed better, as I think he’s being pumped up as sort of a hero).

      I don’t care two whits about Haiji having a redemption arc. I just want to see some indication of an understanding that it’s not OK to treat people the way he has (preferably including agreement by Haiji himself). Absent that I think this series has a serious credibility problem. I don’t especially like Kacchan as a person – though I think he’s a good character – but I would absolutely contend that Horikoshi has made it clear that Bakugo’s behavior is not to be considered admirable or even acceptable.

      1. What kind of indication are you looking for when you say the author needs to address his wrong actions? I think I am unable to understand your point of view because I do not yet know what you want and expect in this case.

        Tsukki from Haikyuu definitely has his personality faults. It’s usually simply snarky and mostly harmless, and even played as something to be enjoyed/interesting about his character. But sometimes he goes into terrible zone and starts poking fun at Kageyama’s sore spot/past trauma. Totally not okay. But the show doesn’t linger on it or blame him, and the main form of disapproval that happens is someone tells them to stop fighting or more rarely, comments on his bad personality/wonders if he actually has friends. That’s the kind of small acknowledgement that many shows spare to bad character behaviours without outright condemning it or saying it’s terrible. I think that’s fine and enough to say such shows don’t endorse said bad behaviour.

        In Kaze ga tsuyoku fuiteiru it’s sort of similar. Everyone constantly thinks and says that Haiji has absolutely no right to force them into things, they constantly express disapproval, saying they’ll sue him or whatever, and compare his methods to that of a demon.

        Things may be working in part due to him being a manipulative little shit, but the characters are aware of/hate his manipulativeness and often call him out on it. I don’t see anything in the narrative being a ” declaration that it considers them to be just fine “, since they constantly call him out on it. The narrative makes humour out of his methods, and the results may happen to be positive, but his success has not been attributed to his methods being correct. If anything the story approves of his single-minded determination (while admitting his selfishness) and indicates that THAT is what is inspiring, not that his methods are good (even if they are effective).

        Shigatsu can seem to make people think (to some extent) that forcing people to face their traumas is a good thing. But I don’t see how this show makes anyone think that the show is teaching us that being this manipulative about forcing people is good. I don’t think it is on or even near the same level at all.

        Also just because he seems to be pumped up as a hero doesn’t mean the author thinks he’s a perfect character and his behaviours were not bad. Maybe she does think so – I do not know – but saying that everything so far is a declaration she is indeed thinking his ways are acceptable is an assumption too early to be made. Regardless, you can be hero-like and likable(depends?) in many ways – like Zapp from Kekkai sensen who literally saves the world while spouting cool lines and strutting his moves – and still be an absolutely shitty person (Zapp is undoubtedly so). Being portrayed as inspiring by the narrative isn’t indicative that the narrative excuses your bad behaviours or tries to pass it off as a good thing.

      2. I have the same question. There’s been plenty of indication through the guys grumbling about what he’s doing, what the heck else are you looking for??? All you’re doing is blaming the author for something you don’t even know they’re guily of.

      3. ZJZJ: Any number of things might fit the bill. An admission from Haiji himself that he’s crossing the line and knows it, but is too invested to care? One of his schemes blowing up in such a way as to have actual negative consequences? Also, I disagree that he’s constantly being called out for being a manipulative douche – most of the time the others are just meekly going along.

        Absent any indication from the narrative that Haiji’s actions are wrong, and given the fact that they constantly get him exactly he result he wants and are treated as humorous, and the focus on the weakness of the other characters paints a very clear picture of where the story seems to be coming down on Haiji. It’s not just me – if you look at the overall reaction to this show it’s very divisive, and Haiji is the reason. If you’re fine with him that’s fine, but I’m not – he’s a real obstacle for me fully being in board with what the show is doing, at least for now.

    2. I would agree with the original comment totally. As a writer, it’s hard not to redeem every character, but stories aren’t interesting without something or someone to push the rest of the cast to action – and that reason or method doesn’t, perhaps shouldn’t, always be an idealized good one.

      The only way I learned to deal with difficult/extremely flawed people (maybe that includes characters like Haiji’s) was by reading about them before I got confidence to actually interact with them. If I hadn’t learned to recognize flawed people in literature, and value them there, I would have become the kind of person I now see while working with the public: people who refuse to value anyone who doesn’t perfectly agree with their values and opinions. Not saying that anyone here is doing that, just saying I appreciate when fiction makes you work to understand your own world better.


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