“Interval in the Evening Calm!”
After resolving 8 episodes worth of drama, this transition onto newer plot lines felt perfect to me. Well-balanced, well-paced and genuinely filled with compelling content. Who knew that the Mikoshiba family had a middle sister who is equally hyperactive like her older and younger brother? Gamer girl too? Aw yis. The non-yaoi fan in me enjoyed her warm fangirl interactions with Haru – I might be the only person who sees a ship here! Think about it though. With the appearance of Albert, there’s a possibility that Haru might win nothing on the international stage. But a combination of freestyle talent and the Mikoshiba genes in Free! Season 20 might just yield us a next generation Olympic medal winner. You heard it here first!
We don’t get a lot of Iwatobi Generation 2.0 but the snippet we received tickled my fancy. The shrine prayer was on point, with Nagisa and Gou acknowledging Rei’s extraordinary evolution. But they shouldn’t rest on their laurels yet if they want to reach the same stage as Haru & Co, with Samezuka looking equally hungry for victory. Rin is also back to invigorate them, receiving the warmest of welcomes from both his Samezuka kouhais as well as his family. And in line with my expectations, he also displayed the greatest understanding and belief in Sousuke’s choice. Mikhail being Nittori’s uncle was pretty damn shocking, but a fantastic way to indirectly connect him with Rin. Just like how Ryuji turned out to be an Iwatobi alumnus, connecting him with Haru. Rin did qualify for 100m freestyle, so I look forwards to seeing him face-off against Haru in what could be described as a present day extended proxy rivalry between Mikhail and Ryuuji. But it seems that there are actually bigger fish than even Ikuya to fry.
I’m really loving the way that KyoAni are trying to spice up things here. They decide to introduce Albert – the swimming wonderkid from Sweden – who may as well be the anime equivalent of Michael Phelps. His music theme gives out sinister vibes, although I think it’s extremely interesting and cool! And for someone who looked suspicious and evil, my preconceptions flew straight out of the window once Al started talking. I mean come on, he sounds and can look like a dorky goofball! His playful interactions with Haru pretty much cemented that impression. We get a whiff of his swimming prodigy by how damn fast he learns things. Arcade games, how to hold a chopstick… I’ve been going at chopsticks for many years and I still can’t get it right!!! If he can so easily master arcade games and eating with chopsticks, then it stands to reason that his swimming abilities must have been nothing to scoff at. But who could have guessed that he was actually the world record holder for the 100m and 200m freestyle events? Very quickly, Free! has raised the competition bar as high as possible by introducing the current record holder – excluding the scenario where super swimming aliens turn up to the party.
Aloof, a love of mackerel and a single-minded commitment to freestyle. Albert is clearly being set up as someone who is so similar to Haru, yet definitely superior in every aspect relating to freestyle. Is this the pinnacle? For now, that looks to be the case. I’m quite certain that Haru will come nowhere close to competing against Albert with the three episodes we have left. However, whether this can still be said by the end of a hypothetical S4 remains to be seen. In my opinion, the introduction of Albert is a masterstroke. New husbando for some folks AND an individual who raises the competitive bar to an unprecedented height, thus creating a goal for our protagonists to swim towards come Season 4. What’s more, I’m extremely curious to see if there’s anything more to Albert’s comments about the water favouring Haru. That he has untapped potential waiting to be explored? Anyway, that’s pretty much everything that came to my mind. As always, see you next week and thanks for reading this post!