For all of you out there clamoring for more screen time for Free! veterans Rei and Nagisa, this is the episode for you! After spending a whopping four episodes with Haru and Makoto, we finally get a chance to check in with the Iwatobi High swim team as they gear up for a super special training camp.
The Iwatobi High Swim Club is invited to participate in a special training camp with the Samezuka and Soufukan High Swim Teams. But not everything is smooth sailing, when one of their newbies, Romio, chokes during practice. It’s up to the rest of the team to give him the support he needs to face his past.
Back to High School: Fangirls rejoice, Rei and Nagisa are back!! This week’s episode was all about the Iwatobi High Swim Club! After the drama fest that is the Ikuya/Haru conflict, this week’s episode was noticeably more chill, since the focus was on the new Iwatobi Swim Club and their attempts to bond as a team.
There is no ‘I’ in Team: The central conflict of this week’s episode came from one of the Iwatobi newbies, Romio. Rather than being an external conflict like the Ikuya/Haru angst fest, Romio’s issues are wholly due to his own insecurities. Of course, since this is Free! his team is there to give him just the push he needs to face his fears!
Themes & Trivia
False Start: In his last relay of middle school, Romio performed a false start. In competitive sports, a false start occurs when a participant moves (or starts) before being signaled. In this case, Romio entered the pool before the official start signal was sounded, disqualifying him from the race.
Skin Diving: Shizuru’s family practices skin diving, a form of underwater swimming in which the participants don’t make use of a diving suit or any other underwater breathing apparatuses.
I’m not gonna lie, I, like many of you, wanted more Rei and Nagisa… However, I will fully admit that when we finally did get to spend time with them, the episode did not live up to my expectations. Of course, that had nothing to do with Rei or Nagisa. They were great and I quite enjoy seeing them stepping into their roles as senpais to the next generation of Iwatobi swimmers. In fact, my biggest gripe with the episode came from the lack of character development from the newbies, not because there is anything inherently wrong with them, but because we haven’t spent enough time getting to know them to warrant a whole episode focused solely on them. Up until this point the focus was on Haru, Makoto, and Ikuya’s reconciliation (or lack thereof), with absolutely nothing from the Iwatobi crew… and then BAM, we get a whole episode dedicated to a conflict surrounding a character who up until this point, we’ve only seen on screen for maybe 5 minutes tops. Nice try, but, you’re going to have to do a lot more than that to get me invested in a character, especially a character you’ve spent almost no time developing…
Barely Treading Water
This was by far the weakest episode yet. Rather than beating us over the head with the copy and paste drama of the Haru/Ikuya conflict, perhaps season 3 should take some more time out to flesh out the newer characters BEFORE trying to give them their own standalone episode!
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: The Mermaid of the Abyss
Free! – Dive to the Future-
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Season 1 Review