This week’s episode is split between Sydney and Japan as we follow Haru, Ikuya, Rin, and now Natsuya as they navigate their own swimming journeys. This is definitely one of the slower episodes of the season so far, delving into the complex relationships between the Free! boys, while also laying the foundation for some new rivalries… There’s a lot to cover this week, so let’s dive into Episode 3, ‘First Swim in Another Country’!
Japanese Title: 異国のフィストスイム!
Haru and crew brainstorm ideas on how to reconnect with Ikuya after running into him briefly in the previous episode. Ikuya is equally shaken by the meeting, which has brought up old memories and feelings he’d long since buried. Meanwhile, in Sydney, Rin meets an unlikely rival, none other than Ikuya’s older brother, Natsuya!!
Wet Dreams: After running into Haru at the Newcomer Meet, Ikuya has a vivid water-themed dream… a ‘wet dream’, if you will, that dredges up his feelings of loneliness. Something similar happened with Rin in the earlier seasons, so I’m assuming this is how the series susses out which of the characters are going to be the source of all the angsty drama in each season.
Rin’s Morning Montage: This episode takes us through Rin’s morning routine in Australia, and usually I wouldn’t mention it, but, the whole montage is set to a really cool remix of one of my favorite Free tracks! Also, there’s something oddly captivating about watching Rin go through his morning regimen… almost like the show is allowing all the fangirls to unlock their inner voyeur…
Rin’s Engrish/Natsuya’s Engrish: I’m crying… it’s a whole five minutes of Rin speaking English, which if you’ll remember from my previous reviews, is downright terrible to listen to when every other character speaking in the language is a NATIVE SPEAKER! It’s only made worse by the fact that they add Natsuya and his equally grating English speaking to the mix… thankfully, when Natsuya realizes Rin is Japanese they switch back to their mother tongue!
Swimming: It’s Free!, so it makes sense that there is a lot of swimming going on in this week’s episode, but, about midway through the episode, they focus on the individual training regimens of the swim team and it’s set to this melancholy piano track. It’s definitely nothing like the high energy of the races, rather, there’s this monotonous rhythmic feel to it, that mimics the repetition of swimming and training….
Themes & Trivia
Girls’ Names: I mentioned this in my season one review, but, it’s worth mentioning again: the main boys of Free all have feminine names. Natsuya even brings it up this week when Rin introduces himself to him.
Lightweight: Natsuya despite drinking an awful lot of alcohol, can’t seem to hold his liquor well, falling asleep after drinking.
Little Tokyo: Rin and Natsuya go to an area that is full of Japanese style architecture and signage for dinner, kind of like a Japanese equivalent of Chinatown or New York’s Little Italy. It seems to be an area with a high concentration of ‘authentic’ Japanese food and products.
Muscle Fetish: Rin’s new coach, Mikhail, shares Gou’s appreciation for tight, well-defined muscles… and when Rin mentions the similarities between the two, Gou has a physical reaction all the way in Japan. It should be noted that she is also holding the same artbook, Natsuya was trying to use to bribe Mikhail into coaching him.
YES!!! FINALLY, SOMEONE SAID WHAT I HAVE BEEN THINKING!! In Free! swimming with someone is like the ultimate bonding experience, kind of like sex or a first kiss. It’s a deeply intimate moment, not to be taken lightly. So when a character says they ‘want to swim with character X’ it’s a big freaking deal. Rin has been saying he wants to swim with Haru on the Global stage while talking with Natsuya, only to later say that he also wants to swim with Sousuke again too, prompting Natsuya to accused Rin of being the ‘adulterous type’ for wanting to swim with so many people. And, you know what, I WAS THINKING THE SAME THING!! Rin has no qualms about jumping from one swim rival to another and I am glad someone in series brought it up!
Also, Rin’s English is back and it is just as grating as it was the first time I heard it thank goodness they switch back to Japanese when Natsuya shows up! I’m not gonna lie, I really liked the chemistry between Natsuya and Rin, their whole dynamic was cute, like siblings, despite their relatively short time being acquainted. Natsuya is just an all around fun character and seeing him play the funny man to Rin’s straight man as if the two were a part of a comedy duo. I will admit that I’m a little sad to see him leave Sydney at the end of the episode.
Once again, Rei and Nagisa have been put on the back burner… Will they appear again? Are they forever relegated to the dreaded off-screen cameo, or worse, are they now side characters?! *GASP* I kid, honestly I don’t care since they aren’t all that relevant to the plot right now…
This week’s episode divided its time between Sydney and Japan, giving us a bit of a reprieve from the Ikuya drama in Japan (but, only slightly). I enjoyed the Rin/Natsuya moments much more than I did the Haru/Ikuya drama and I really wish we could spend more time in Australia, but alas, the plot must go on… All in all, I’m really liking season three, it just keeps getting better with time and this is coming from a non-Free! fan so that’s gotta count for something!
I’ll be back next week with another Free! Dive to the Future review, but in the meantime, be sure to check out MANGA.TOKYO’s other amazing Summer 2018 reviews!!
NEXT TIME: Interference of Loss
Free! – Dive to the Future-
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Season 1 Review