The nationals are in reach, but there’s one more struggle 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 growth that everyone is experiencing has been fun to watch this season, though it’s been incremental for some compared to others. The larger focus on the competing team that Rin is leading has definitely changed the dynamic of the show since it’s given us a lot of time with other characters and our favorite swimming boys haven’t been the main focus of several episodes. When we do get the Iwatobi boys, we do get some very good moments though, from what Haruka was suffering through recently and what we’ve seen Makoto grappling with in total. But we get just as good when it comes to Rin and his team, especially now that Sousuke seems to be coming into focus more with his injuries and pain during the competition.
The swimming side of the show continues to be strong no matter the team we’re watching and there’s a lot to like there, even with a flashback to Rin and his friends when they were younger. That gives us more time with Souske at this age and shows his style and attitude about things and that’s definitely instructive to see how he’s grown and changed but also how he’s still the same in so many ways. It’s also welcome because it humanizes Rin even more. They’ve done well overall in giving us a more fleshed out character this season on top of what we got last season, but through Sousuke we get a more realized character, one that had such great fun and innocence that makes it all the more engaging to watch him recapture parts of it in the present through his swim club. And we get to see how he’s trying to reach through to Sousuke once again, to try and help him through this difficult period in his life, and hopefully have more success with it this time around. All of this does work for Sousuke as well, though he has such a gruff exterior that it’s admittedly harder to connect with him even as we get the montage and back story with what he’s been doing, particularly in covering up his injury.
This sprawls across the episode and there’s some very good material in this in seeing how Rin’s team comes together because they’re looking for and hoping for that miracle that will let Sousuke and Rin bring the team to a great showing. The younger members and the others of the same age are all properly supportive and it’s something that for Sousuke is unexpected since he’s been gone so long and has largely been a loner outside of Rin, though he’s had his moments with the team. So getting all of them to the tournament to compete and for Sousuke to wear his injury with pride is a very good thing as they all go all in without holding back. And that means some beautiful swimming sequences. The competitive nature of the relay works really well for this situation and watching them all compete hard against each other but also knowing that they’re really loving every minute of it is fantastic.
I’m still not completely sold on either Rin or Sousuke as they’re not why I watch the series, but I’ve been enjoying the way they’ve added more character and story material to the series so that it’s not completely reliant on the core four characters. This episode provides a lot more material for both of them when they were younger but also more of what’s been going on recently when it comes to Sousuke, which has been having an impact on the others in their team. Watching that team come together this season has definitely been a treat since it underwent a real change after the previous captain and leaders left with Rin now in charge. Watching the fruits of it come to life here as they compete to go to the nationals and find out what kind of team they are is one of the best moments of the season so far.
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.