“Metamorphosis of the Soul!”
Races are always some of the most exciting aspects of Free!. Sports by its nature is competitive and after a season or two of following characters, you can’t help but feel invested in some of them. Long-time speculations can be put to rest as we can properly ascertain the true proficiency of participants. While the payoff felt absolutely great, with Hidaka U winning the freestyle relay, racing came out as a means to an end. What mattered most were friendships between the boys, and how these races helped in healing hurts and resolving drama.
The Importance of Genuine Things
I’m like an Asahi in temperament – extroverted, brash and obnoxious. Yet I find myself relating to Ikuya the most. And not his desire to be the best, but rather his powerful desire for true friendship. Fortunately, I’ve been lucky to have formed many true friendships throughout my life, ones where both myself and the person in question can be 99% genuine with one another. That 1% in question being matters that any sane person would take to their graves. On the other hand, Ikuya hasn’t had much luck. It is undeniable he was able to form true friendships with Haru, Makoto and Asahi. However, a string of unfortunate circumstances have had long-lasting consequences that greatly impacted him in a negative way. Broken promises and emotional scars have robbed him of happiness, resulting in a sullen and troubled youngster. This has also weighed heavily on Hiyori, who struggles to balance his own wants with what Ikuya needs.
You know what, Haru is here to save the day. I can’t say I’m too fond of how this plot device has been repeatedly implemented, where he becomes underwater therapy Jesus. However, there’s no denying that he went the extra distance in trying to fix wrongs. It mattered to him so much that he gave up his philosophy of only swimming freestyle, just so that he could have a shot at getting through to Ikuya. And even though he lost the race, his effort was worthwhile. His feelings ultimately got through to Ikuya and helped him overcome his slump – tell me with a straight face that you didn’t squeal at that poolside hug! And it was nice to see how Ikuya was able to use the resolution as a platform for sorting out his tensions with Hiyori. They acquire a taste for swimming relays together, and even though they do not win, it’s remarkable progress that holds a lot of promise for the future. In the context of his wish, Hiyori was able to remember that he was already a hero to that young boy in kindergarten, the very same person who is ardently committed to him till this very day.
Though it seems beyond belief that such heavy issues could be resolved in a single race, I’ll take it for now. There’s time lost that these four will never get back, but at least they can enjoy each other’s company in the present, much like the old times. We can move on from this drama and look forward to seeing what new things the remaining episodes are looking to introduce. Judging by the new swimmer being teased in the preview, there’s going to be some new competition on the horizon. I can’t wait to see what kind of speeds they can put up, and whether their skills will catalyse the evolution of Haru’s swimming, something that has been overdue since the inception of this series. As always thanks for reading my post and see you next week!