Some of you guys might know this, some of you might not, but Free! is only 12 episodes long and the story is going to be ending in two more weeks. At this point, I’m really wondering how they’re going to wrap up the slice-of-life.
This week’s episode was definitely episode that put Free! officially in the slice-of-life and perhaps drama category of the genres. The first third of the episode showcases the boys’ childhood stories, and by the boys, I mean our originally foursome with Rin, Haru, Mako and later Nagisa. I’ve realized that whenever an anime is sports focused it REALLY gets sports focused, as in, that sport and only that sport is the only thing of importance in the world which makes me question as to the slice-of-life-ness of this show. There are definitely slice-of-life elements but more than ever, it’s about swimming, the dynamics of swimming, the teamwork, the hardships, dreams and later successes.
I feel like this episode delved a lot into the character development of both Rin and Haru. Of course, we generally know the back story of the characters because of the flashbacks and the little snippets of present events that hint at the character’s pasts. However, seeing t unfold with the main cast as children is different from hearing it told subtly behind the main plot. Also, present day teenage Rin and Haru are much more introverted than the innocent elementary school Rin and Haru therefore we get a much more open book expressions and intentions that are clearly expressed rather than good-looking silent brooding. It’s revealed that Rin’s persistence in relay medleys and teamwork was inspired by his father’s legacy in the Iwatobi swim club and his dreams to enter the Olympics. As a result, it inspires something in the other boys and leaves them with an emotional attachment to Rin and swimming, the sport they all share together.
As soon as Rei entered the team in the starter episodes, I knew that there would come to a point where he’d feel left out of the original group of friends because of their past with Rin. Haru claims that he swims “free” but he really does swim for his friends, to be with his friends, for the sake of swimming together. Rei is curious of Rin’s motives behind entering the relay. Is it to crush the Iwatobi swim club? Or is it because he’s obsessed with beating Haru? Though Rin is mentioned quite often and acts as a pseudo – perhaps misunderstood – antagonist to the rest of the characters, I want to hear more of his side of the story (if only he wasn’t such a difficult and angst-filled adolescent!)
I’ve noticed that Haru speaks a lot more now and even offers to tell Rei about their past with Haru. In retrospect, we can see how Haru was really torn between his love of swimming and his guilt for beating Rin as kids. Now that he seems to have resolved his inner demons with the tournament and has decided to continue swimming, it seems like he’s more at ease and emerges a bit more as the series’ main protagonist in dialogue and action. In Haru’s story when Rin challenges Haru to race, “to see who’s faster,” it seems like the swim school abroad has changed Rin in some way. Perhaps it was the competition, maybe it was the arrogance of a prestigious swim school over untrained swimmers, whatever it was, Rin wanted to beat Haru upon his return to Iwatobi…
A sidenote also revealed in this episode, probably unrelated to the main story, it turns out that Ama-sensei was actually Water Fairy Marin, a really famous and popular bikini model; the fact is subtly revealed on the side when Nagisa knocks over a bunch of Coach Sasabe’s magazines by accident (LOL)… still, she refuses to talk about it (wonder if there’s any point to it). At the end of the episode, Rei confronts Rin (which in my opinion really isn’t smart), and the two butterfly swimmers are about to hash it out, leaving the viewers seriously left on edge for the next episode.
I think I turned an analytical eye to the events of this episode and I hope you guys liked my new approach. If you did, please thumbs up for more in depth analyses like this. I’ll try to keep a balance between the fangirling, the story recapping and the analytical reviews. Thanks for reading!
What are you pondering today?