Wind Breaker Episode 2: The Hero of My Dreams



I think it’s incredibly easy for people to have gotten the wrong idea about the series with its first episode, but Wind Breaker episode 2 breezes by and tempers expectations a great deal. What was once a slug fest on a city street is now a comedy skit in a coffee shop, and sort of game of chicken in the classroom. It very quickly diffuses the tension that Sakura brought with them to the beginning of the series, and redirects it towards a few different areas. Almost effortlessly, the second episode pulls viewers away from the idea that the series is just going to be high school kids duking it out 24/7, and proves that there’s both a deeper story and lighter humor to be enjoyed as well.

Interestingly enough though, or perhaps I should say intelligently enough, Kotoha continues to be relegated to a catalyst for Sakura. I think it’s a really great decision, because she’s “external” to his journey at this point. With his focus on Bofurin, what Sakura needs is an in with the school, someone that knows it inside and out and will facilitate his rise to the top. Someone that forgets about the tags on their uniform and worries about Sakura going bald. In this case, that’d be fellow first year Akihiko Nirei. It’s a great friendship to start facilitating, as Nirei immediately is able to start poking Sakura’s buttons to draw out the more humorous and innocent side of him.

Similarly, Nirei works perfectly within the framework of duality and balance for Sakura. Where he was a young boy without anyone, he rose up on his own to defend himself, meanwhile Nirei’s past is a mirror image of that. Similarly centered on bullying, his dream for power comes in the form of helping others and being more like the person that saved him. Though, all this talk of Nirei surely isn’t to discount Kotoha. She very much still has her role in the series as an ever important catalyst. She may not change alongside Sakura and Nirei, but she certainly will be the one that allows them to change- and you can see that by the fact that both Nirei and Sakura are acquainted with her prior to starting at Furin.

She also gives us the first look at some of the really great layouts and scenes in the episode, funny enough. Humor reigns supreme in the opening minutes to help release tension and ease expectations from the first episode, but similarly the humor calms down rather quickly and is replaced with narrative progression in the form of poking more and more holes in Sakura’s rock-solid exterior. I’m personally a fan of abstraction, so I really did enjoy what they did with Kotoha here, even if it was rather straightforward. Having her freshly brew the coffee, then following it to Kotoha’s perspective looking down into the coffee as it’s being poured, before ultimately allowing Sakura to find a future within it was very sweet. It’s a great example of how community can make an impact with characters like Sakura, and that Kotoha remains invested in helping him in his new life.

Moving on from the building blocks for the future, let’s put a focus on the present. Action is Wind Breaker’s middle name, but despite its prevalence within the perception of the series, Wind Breaker episode 2 knows how to put it to use. That is to say, sparingly. It knows better than to pick half-assed fights and waste resources or potential on them. Because of that, the sequences we see in this episode are fun, but don’t go too much further past that. In particular, I thought it was very fun to play with the idea of “smoke clearing” after a fight in the literal sense.

Similarly, Sakura’s “big fight” with fellow Furin first year Sugishita being teased at the episode was really fun. In a sense, you could call it an “introduction” between the pair. Though, it’s very clearly in disparate nature to Sakura’s first contact with Suo. Anyways, Wind Breaker episode 2 knows how to use a fight, and in a literal sense introduces Sakura to Sugishita through fighting, all the while setting up for the beginning of the next episode.

It’s really fun work and is really well done… but it’s ultimately overshadowed by the incredible animation work on Suo- and I really mean incredible. It’s no wonder that fans have been going crazy over them on Twitter, even the staff are head over heels for this unflappable Chuuni-styled delinquent. It’s really something else though, the layouts for the scene essentially place Suo at the hardest angle to draw and animate, but it comes out looking amazing. Cloverworks, and subsequently Wind Breaker episode 2, have a really great grasp on production management and “resource” allocation here. Given the breadth of content available in this episode versus the previous, it’s really great to see such incredible attentiveness to things as simple as a character talking.

Because of that impressive use and allocation, let’s quickly eye over the staff behind this episode. Very surprisingly, we see series director Toshifumi Akai board Wind Breaker episode 2, in addition to the first episode. For reference, it’s rather rare to see it happen (which makes Yuta Murano’s feat of boarding all episodes on A Sign of Affection incredible), so it’s really great news to have the series director involved with the production. Better than that though is the staff list- in particular for animation direction. This episode was completely on four animation directors. As much as it’s not uncommon or rare, it’s a very commendable feat when you consider the number of key animators to 2nd key animators at 24 to 23 (plus 3 studios). It’s a shocking balance to find in a production, especially with Cloverworks having so many different projects on the go at the moment.

So overall, if you were to call Wind Breaker episode 2 anything, it would balanced. It has a great read on the room and the viewers within it, its production seems impressively solid, and it’s got a delightfully strong story to tell. For all intents and purposes, Wind Breaker has the makings of being the most popular new series this season- set to only be rivalled by Production I.G’s Kaiju No. 8. Though, that’s not out yet, so I think it’s perfectly fine for Wind Breaker and Cloverworks to revel in the spotlight for the moment.

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