“An Ominous Workout!”
Though we don’t get any more juicy drama continuing from last week’s ending, other than seeing Haru’s internalised suffering for a few seconds, this episode laid ground in terms of establishing the new generation of Iwatobi’s Swim Club. For a while I wasn’t a huge fan of the new characters because it didn’t feel like they added anything to the series. However this episode completely changed my mind, and KyoAni went about it in a most fabulous way.
Iwatobi Swimming Club Generation 2.0:
The high school journey might have come to a close for Haruka and Makoto, but some familiar faces are still around and some new blood has come to course through Iwatobi Swimclub’s lifeline. Remnants of the old vanguard continue in the form of Gou, Nagisa and Rei. Gou and Nagisa are very much the same as always – muscle freak and bubbly boy. Rei? Not quite so much. He’s always had the penchant for being the butt of jokes. But going from the snarky frost king to this wholesome captain constantly brimming with positivity is irrefutable proof for Rei’s remarkable character development. Our newcomers are Romi-chan the hyperactive gaijin, Shizu-chan the stoic seaweed lover, and Ayumu-kun the chubby chaser. They all have unique quirks to their personalities, but this week, Romi-chan takes the spotlight.
False Start Trauma:
We learn that Romio had a traumatic false start in the past, which cost his middle school swimming team and damaged his mentality as a competitive swimmer. While Sousuke’s advice played a very pivotal role in helping Romio overcome his false start trauma, it was ultimately the Iwatobi team’s emotional support that helped Romio overcome his camel hump of a mental block. Even though they came dead last, the relay truly exemplifies the true spirit of the Free! franchise. It’s not all about winning your races, and there’s much more to be gained from the fact that Romio overcame his own trauma, as well as the fact that everybody bonded over doing the relay together. As a nice way to round the episode off, we were able to witness Sousuke overcoming apprehensions about forging his own path. I fully agree that surgery to his injured shoulder should not be decided through a coinflip, even if Natsuya had the best of intentions. But while Sousuke didn’t find out about the result, I think choosing the coin heavily suggests that he will proceed with the operation, and I truly hope to see him back in action sometime! Sousuke might be rough around the edges but there’s no denying that he has a heart of gold.
Meanwhile, I can’t seem to get enough of this Capybara vs Sea Otter rivalry. It amuses me to no end! But alas, with the focus switching back to Ikuya and Hiyori, it will be quite a while before we get more from this heated fixture. Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to talk about this week. I’m not particularly interested in seeing what kind of justification KyoAni will come up with to explain away Hiyori’s nasty behaviour, but I’m open to being swayed because you can never count out their potential to utterly exceed our expectations.