Last week, I mentioned that I was hoping for some focus on Rei and Nagisa, and Free! Eternal Summer delivered just that. “The Butterfly of Farewell” wasn’t as angsty as it first seemed, but it delivered some sweet moments while putting the spotlight on Rei and his insecurities.
The Iwatobi gang dealt with the possibility of Rei rejoining the track club this week. After yet another unsuccessful attempt to win over new recruits, the swim club decide to focus on their tournaments. While Haruka, Nagisa, and Makoto contemplate switching up their strokes just for fun, Rei displays some insecurities about his lack of swimming ability. After being scouted by the track team, Rei begins to avoid Nagisa.
Nagisa isn’t really the type to act too serious even when worried or upset, but his anxiety at the idea of Rei leaving hinted at how much he’s come to need Rei and the swim team. I get the feeling that Nagisa hides a lot of emotion beneath his sunny exterior, and I’d love to see a true outpouring of that emotion at some point. Everything turned out okay in the end of this episode, but Nagisa will have to deal with the loss of Haruka, Makoto, and Rin in the future.
This episode primarily focused on the qualities that make Rei such a great character. Other people might accept the fact that they just aren’t very good at something and move on to more successful pursuits. But Rei, despite how it seems at first, doesn’t want to stop swimming just because he’s still a novice. Instead, he asks Rin for help, and vigorously practices the other strokes until he can manage them. Rei’s candor and determination are admirable traits, and they make him an effective audience surrogate.
Rin once again shows his true colors by graciously helping Rei with his swimming techniques. It’s been great to see Rin’s personality shine this season. He’s turned into a really nice kid without giving up his comically prickly personality. His relationships with Nitori and Momotarou are really cute too. Seeing Nitori tearfully say goodbye when Rin switches to Sousuke’s dorm was both hilarious and heartwarming. Rin has clearly become the kind of person that others like to be around.
Sousuke comes off as sketchy to me now that I’ve seen him threaten Haruka. Traits of his that originally came off as cool or kind feel manufactured now. Still, no one on Free! is really “evil”, and I’m sure Sousuke will make his peace with Haruka eventually.
Meanwhile, Nitori is sharing a room with Momo, who seems to have taken up Nitori’s former role of fanboy underclassman, much to the latter’s chagrin. I see a lot of parellels between Iwatobi’s and Samezuka’s team members. In this case, Nitori and Momo are like the Rei and Nagisa of their team.
I feel like Rin’s renewed relationship with Haruka hasn’t been properly explored yet, and since their dynamic is the one the series is built around, I’d like to see more interaction between them. I’d also like to see more of Makoto’s career dilemma. He mentioned this episode that this year is his last year to swim. Does this mean he’s not planning on going pro?
Next week looks like it’s going to deal more with Sousuke and Rin’s relationship. Will Sousuke’s rivalry with Haruka will come to light?
See you next water time!
Images are copyright of Kyoto Animation.