“The Grab Start of Hope!”
All’s well that ends well for Sousuke and I doubt that KyoAni could have had it any other way. Nevertheless, with that problem done and dusted, there are more pressing matters at hand.
Albert Wahlander has been quite the revelation, shaking up Free! in an unprecedented way. How would Haru respond to being categorically outclassed in every respect? Initially, it seemed like he would seclude himself and mope. But thankfully, Rin drags along Makoto to check up on him, and it turns out that Haru is burning with motivation of the likes we’ve never seen before. I’m so used to watching Haru facing some kind of massive internal struggle upon encountering defeat, as seen in the two previous seasons. However, defeat seems to have cleared him up this time, opening up certainty and know-how in terms of single-mindedly pursuing his pathway. Swimming against Albert clearly provided Haru with the epiphany he needed to finally achieve his own evolution, and I’m excited to see how that turns out. Of course, let’s not forget his friends who didn’t hesitate to come and cheer him up, because it wouldn’t have been possible without them.
We’ve seen that Makoto has matured into a natural support, and it’s easy to point out that this episode was mostly about his progress. When Haru started butting heads with his coach, it was Makoto who appeased him and spoke sense, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by Ryuuji. But I suppose this makes the most sense. Despite Makoto’s gift for the backstroke, enabling him to keep up with the likes of Hiyori without regular training, competition never seemed ingrained inside of Makoto’s spirit. Even though Haru is aloof, you still see that drive in him, as well as every other competitive swimmer from this series. Anyhow, those who became the best were never alone and Makoto’s empathetic and patient nature looks suited for guiding swimmers in reaching their nirvana. Though he should probably become familiar with the top techniques with regards to training, it isn’t necessarily something he needs to reach the pinnacle of coaching. A real life anecdote would be Carlo Ancelotti, a legendary Italian coach who was never famous for his tactics, as opposed to his ability to manage egos and inspire top athletes to reach their true potential. But my question would be this. Can Makoto’s pursuit as a trainer allow him to keep up with his friends? Practically speaking, it will take far too long for him to become a proficient enough trainer to preside over them, and Makoto will likely be left in the dust.
Perhaps he can inspire the next generation of swimmers such as Misaki and Natsume. That much is evident by how he spurred on Misaki to best his own personal time and reach some sort of conciliation with Natsume. However, I’m doubtful whether these gains can be applied to the current generation of swimmers – that is to say his dearest friends. I’m sure there’s a part that he could play as some sort of intermediary sports psychologist, if we’re talking about the near future. He understands his friends quite well and seems to understand how to get past their egos and through to their hearts. He has a future in the professional field of coaching. But I don’t think there’s much he could do as a raw and unrefined product, in terms of bringing their abilities to the absolute pinnacle of competitive swimming. That stuff should be left to the current experts – Mikhail and Ryuuji.
With so few episodes left, I’m certain that the series will wrap up at the All-Japan Invitational. But first, I’m sure the series will be addressing whether Rei and Nagisa can also qualify for the event, considering how they made the qualifiers. It would be fantastic to see them participate as competitors in such an extraordinary event! Possibly even facilitate their moves to Tokyo, and which university in particular they might go to. While it would be sad to see the Iwatobi boys go up against each other, it would also be extremely exciting it is own way. As we saw with Asahi celebrating for Ikuya, there is no reason not to cheer for your friends, even if they’re not a part of the same team! So that’s everything I wanted to discuss about this time round. As always, thanks for reading my post and see you next week!