“Interference of Loss!”
Continuing on from last episode, we see that Haru, Makoto and Asahi are all determined to make amends with Ikuya. With the kind of character development this promised, you would think all was well and good with S3. However, an incredulous stumbling block lies in their path. Hiyori seems like a madman intent on running as much interference as humanly possible, disregarding any form of ethics or social conventions. I thought it was incredibly disrespectful for Hiyori to agree upon a set of conditions, before arbitrarily changing his mind. Refusing to shake Makoto’s hand then reneging on the agreement following their race was highly dishonourable, rubbing further salt into the wounds. We all know that Makoto is such a nice guy who clearly had honest feelings of warmth following that race. Taking a proverbial dump over all that goodwill was extremely unnecessary and in poor taste. For me, the final straw was when he lashed out at Haru in a severely underhanded manner. That kind of jerkass behaviour will never fly with me and it would take one heck of a redemption arc to undo the damage caused.
But although he had a heavy-handed way of going about his business, I can potentially understand things from Hiyori’s perspective. As far as I can tell, the reasons behind Hiyori’s seemingly one-dimensional nastiness are actually varied and complex. I have no idea as to exactly what they might be, but here’s what I’m inferring so far.
Firstly, he barely edged out Makoto even though Makoto hadn’t swum in ages. Rather than Makoto still having it in the tank, this tells me Hiyori isn’t a great swimmer. He’s already unable to keep up with Ikuya as it is, and then some random people show up who seem better suited to matching up with Ikuya. Subsequently, it’s conceivable that he feels that his position as best friend is extremely threatened, where monopolising Ikuya is relevant.
Secondly, he’s shown great insecurity and clinginess to Ikuya. He constantly reiterates that he is designated as the person to watch over Ikuya by his brother, making him the only qualified person to interact with him. Someone confident in the depth of their friendship would have no need to reiterate these things like absolute truths, which also suggests to me that Hiyori is possibly terrified that Ikuya is actually apathetic towards him. After all, Ikuya has shown much more of an emotional response to meeting Haruka again, compared to anything he’s ever shown towards Hiyori. And judging by what we’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ikuya is Hiyori’s only friend.
Health Reasons and More:
On a less negative note, perhaps he genuinely considers the actions of Haru and Co to have traumatised Ikuya, and has associated them with being the cause for these oxygen deprivation issues. This is a somewhat legitimate cause which would reasonably explain why he wants to keep Haru and Co away from Ikuya. After correlating Ikuya’s recent struggles with past trauma, it makes sense to keep Ikuya away from sources of said trauma. Or perhaps KyoAni will go the extra mile in pleasing certain fans by having Hiyori be gay for Ikuya. Who knows. But if there are no complex reasons, and it turns out to be shallow drama for the sake of well… shallow drama, I’ll be extremely disappointed in KyoAni. Nevertheless, I trust in the process and believe that there is some method in the madness, regarding this ham-fisted approach to Hiyori’s characterisation.
This is merely one male anime blogger’s musings on how things might unfold. Optimistic though I may be in my own way, I’m outside of KyoAni’s primary demographic where Free! is concerned, making it likely that I don’t understand what people truly want. Or maybe I’m giving KyoAni way too much credit for what they can achieve through story-writing, where their original content is concerned. Anyway, I’ve discussed most of my thoughts for now and would be interested to here back from other perspectives in the comment section below. As always, thank you for reading my post! And stay tuned next week, because some certified Iwatobi Swim Club goodness is coming our way and more Natsuya can never be a bad thing.