When Rei confronts Rin, the tension is beyond thick.
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, Reigazaki Rei, they established the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Free has spent some of its time in the previous episode with the revelation about Rin deciding to get into the relay race, which comes after the greater exploration of the struggles between him and Haruka back in the past. It helped to fill Rei in to some of what’s going on, which made it easy for Rei to confront Rin when he comes across him in town. When Rei asks questions, it’s easy to feel compelled to answer them and even Rin has little problem in stating what he believes. That he’s wanting to do all of this as part of his greater goals of making a splash on the world stage. But he’s less certain about how to answer questions about his feelings towards Haruka himself, which practically has Rei accosting him verbally with so many things to try and get Rin to understand what he’s done.
The emotions between the two of them definitely go up several notches and it’s interesting to see how both react, especially with Rin getting very emotional and Rei making it clear what it is he wants and why after doing his first competition with his friends. This also works well when it comes to Rei heading back to the team when they come across him and he fills them in about things and about his own desires. With the other three boys having been friends for quite awhile, Rei is obviously the new guy here overall. So his full on acceptance here is really nicely done and you can see how he’ll start to relax a bit, though not exactly in the same way some of the others are, such as Hazuki. But there’s a new kind of lightness that comes from the group which is really pleasant and fun to see.
The group spends some quality time together overall with some of their training and just hanging out together and we even get some smaller pairings on the side that helps to cements the relationships just a bit more as well. It’s all material that works nicely to help reaffirm each of them as individuals. But we also get some decidedly good time with Rin as his background is exposed more after he left the group years ago, as we see his time in Australia and the struggles he had there. It’s not that you think Rin was being an ass for the sake of being an ass, but now the details of his struggles are clearer and easy to understand. Teenage drama and angst is normal and in a competitive sports world, all the more so. With it all coming back to Rin and Rei, there’s a lot to like as they’re the ones able to communicate in the midst of all of this and hits all the right notes.
While the swimming time is pretty minimal here and some of it in mild flashback material, Free has once again hit a very good episode with lots of solid character time given. By bookending it with confrontations of different types between Rin and Rei, we get the kind of conversation that really can only happen between the two of them. Filling the middle with Rei spending time with the rest of his team and solidifying his friendships just makes him all the more a true member of the group. Not that he wasn’t, but now he’s really fit in with them in a way he hadn’t before. I really like what Rei brings to the table with this episode with his intensity, but it’s a real toss-up with what Rin does as well. Add in the rest of the boys and it’s just a very engaging work.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
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