The regionals are here, but there’s problems ahead.
What They Say:
Nanase Haruka loved to be in the water – loved swimming. In elementary school, Nanase Haruka, Tachibana Makoto, Matsuoka Rin, and Hazuki Nagisa attended the same swimming class together. Time passed, and as Haruka was living an uneventful high school life, he suddenly encountered Rin again. Rin challenged Haruka to a race and showed him how much stronger he had become. Soon enough, Makoto and Nagisa also rejoined the group, and along with a new classmate, Ryugazaki Rei, they established the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The mix of character and swimming action is pretty much what allows the series to work so well and the last episode gave us a good mix of both. What helped towards the end was seeing Sousuke providing some useful instruction to Nitori in words of advice and that’s borne some fruit in the race that he’s in that kicks off this episode in the prologue. The balance between the Iwatobi boys and Rin’s team hasn’t been something that I’ve enjoyed this season for the most part, but I do like seeing the different dynamics both of them employ and the similarities as well. With the regionals coming up, you know they’ll get a chance to compete again and seeing how those two styles work, especially with Rin changing the nature of how his swim club works, is definitely engaging stuff.
With the Iwatobi boys having established themselves well previously, they’re now able to get a better place to stay when training for the regionals and it kind of even shocks them a bit as they halfway expected the usual thing of hanging out in a shack and just doing their best. Admittedly, I liked their beachside adventure last season that helped to bond them closer, but there’s fun in having a bit of a budget for food, sightseeing and more while out in the big city as a club. There’s some good fun there but also some good character moments as we see Haruka and Sousuke together and the tension that exists there, but also the pain in Sousuke’s shoulder. Makoto and Rin have some good time together as well as they have a history and just are fun to watch, as are the interactions between Rin and Nagisa when we see that play out.
The fun side of tournaments like this is in full display with what goes on before them and also during it as we get the team cheering each other on and just taking it all in, while also being interested in what Rin does since they’ve known him for so long. There is some tension that still exists between him and Haruka after all this time and that gets touched on as well, but watching these guys swim is just beautiful to watch. Rin’s race, as brief as it is, is so wonderfully animated and detailed that you get just as caught up in it as the audience there. And watching Sousuke watch from the side and admiring what he sees is also fun to see. Haruka’s time gets interestingly personal with what we see from him, but it’s no less beautifully animated and choreographed as he struggles, falters and feels weighed down by it, which turns into a horrible experience. The differences are fascinating to watch.
There’s some really serious issue stuff that’s coming up at the end of this episode with Haruka that makes for some great character material to be explored. He’s been pushing himself and struggling with things for awhile, but the addition of Sousuke to the series makes it feel like some buttons are being pushed more. Before that, we get a lot of very fun material with the boys in a great place to get ready for the tournament, enjoying the time out as friends and as a club and then getting into some great swimming action. There’s a lot to like here and it looks like the next few episodes should delve into some great stuff, while still giving me hope for a third season to come.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.