A very good ending to a very good show, to say the least. What started out as an awful lot of fanservice has evolved into a thoughtful storyline very worthy of its place in the slice-of-life and sports category.
The episode of course picks up at the regionals where we last left out. Rin has been swapped out of the Samezuka swim team while the Iwatobi swim club is preparing for their competition. After Rin swims in the 100m free race, placing last, he storms off and announces to Nitori that he’s going to quit swimming. Haru and the boys, who were checking up on him to make sure he was alright, hear this and it completely brings down Haru’s world. Rei then confesses the conversation that he had with Rin in the previous night about Rin’s desire to swim with his old friends. The solution they reach is one that swaps Rei out for Rin in the relay and the childhood foursome get to swim together in a relay once again for the final race. Though they place first, they’re disqualified for swapping in a member from another team (LOL) making it a win and a loss for them.
Highlights of the Episode
– When Haru quotes Rin and tells him, “I’ll show you a sight you’ve never seen.”
– When Rin notices Haru’s etching in the ground under the big tree, and finally comes clean with his feelings
– The last scenes that bring all the characters back together
This series was really great. Within a short span of twelve episodes, the Kyoto Animation and Animation Do created a story that wasn’t too much or too little, but gave us just the right amount of plot elements and character development. It’s always difficult to mature characters in just one season, but seeing as there was so much back story, spreading out the scenes throughout the series, in the end, gave us a rather rounded summary of the characters’ pasts. Using the relay race as a plot device to bring things full circle back to the start of the series was really clever and well executed. I have to say, I didn’t expect Rei to give up his chance to swim in the regionals for Rin nor did I think that we would see Rin’s character so well wrapped up by the end of the twenty-three minutes.
There has been some speculation of a next season, as the endcard says “See you next summer!” instead of the usual “See you next water time!” However, I’m curious as to what they could do with more of the story. Certainly, if Rin is on a different team and both of the teams get along well then new seasons wouldn’t be very exciting. However, if you built off the Rei X Rin dynamic where Rei is uneasy with how close Rin is to the other members of the club, then you have for a potential second season. Personally, if I was in Rei’s shoes, I’d feel really left out because the other four are so close… and on another personal note, I wouldn’t mind seeing some romance between the captain of the Samezuka swim team and Gou, though it would definitely be sidelined due to the focus of sports in the series.
Highlights of the Series
– When Haru and Rin try to have a race without noticing that the pool’s dry
– Fangirling with Gou
– When the gang goes for training at the islands
On first glance, and from the release of the swimming commercial earlier in the year, you would think that this episode is just shameless fanservice with guys stripping off their clothes every ten seconds to show off their abs to girls. However, if I was asked to recommend this anime to someone, I’d say that this is one of those animes that both girls and guys, of any age really, can thoroughly enjoy. The plot isn’t difficult to understand and the drama isn’t dark at all. It is really a story about swimming, friendship and teamwork, all this embodied in the metaphor and use of the relay race that unite the characters. The story also subtly asks the question, “What does it mean to be truly free?” which leaves for very open interpretation amongst the cast of characters. What makes you free? What makes you not free? This question is addressed multiple times throughout the series and serves as an overarching theme to the plot and is answered likewise in multiple ways.
With all that being said, I found the overall enjoyment of free very high and the story itself generally stimulating for an anime categorized within the slice-of-life genre. Let me know what you guys think in the comments below and who you’re still fangirling over even though the series is done. Thank you so much for reading and we will talk soon!
What are you pondering today?