「迷いのルーズンアップ!」 (Mayoi no Ruuzun Appu!)
“Hesitant Loosen Up!”
As much as I hate stale plot points that serve almost no purpose except to force the story in a certain direction, Free! must be doing something right. Because even if you’re as dull as me, it should have become apparent that beating Haru in a race isn’t really what Rin wanted. And even though it’s painfully obvious where things might be going, I can’t help but want more!
That said, it’s pretty hard to ignore how much of an ass Rin’s been to all of his old friends. Between being as hostile as a cucco that’s been hit one too many times and blowing off everyone who legitimately cares about him, it’s a mystery how Kyoani managed to make me actually feel bad for him. Then again, maybe this empathy is coming from watching Rin slowly succumb to his self-destructive personality. I mean, isn’t kind of depressing when you think about how he threw everything (and I mean everything) away to achieve a dream that wasn’t actually his to begin with? Throw in the fact that he seems to be fixated on doing things his way and most people might say you have the perfect recipe for a bad end.
And on the other hand you have Haru, someone who’s made a full 180 in almost every aspect you could think of. Transitioning from someone who was dead set on a certain ideology and would do almost anything to maintain the status quo, he’s slowly becoming an entirely different person. And it all happened because he’s finally figured out what truly creates happiness — the people around him. So be it smiling a little more or being a bit more open with how he feels inside, I honestly believe that he’s becoming worth of the title of this show’s “main protagonist”.
At least, that’s where I think Kyoani is trying to lead us! So after all of this, just where do we stand? With newly established friendships ready to be tested and the regional championship on the line, I can’t wait to see how Kyoani fills in the blanks. With the canvas ready to go, I don’t think there’s anyway for the rest of the series to let us down. Until then though, I’m still rooting that they may give us a Gou or Ama-sensei side story episode. Because as much as I love staring at Mako’s back muscles or listening to Nagisa’s jokes, I’d love to see more of our female cast. Be it why Ama-sensei left her fancy job in the city or just getting a deeper glimpse into Gou’s life — WE NEED TO SEE MORE GOU.