Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club: Episode 4 – “Captive Butterfly”

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime about a group of four boys who swam competitively when they were younger, but one of the friends went to Australia to go to school to become an Olympic swimmer. Now in high school, three of the boys have started a swim club at their school, and the fourth boy has returned from Australia but goes to a different school.

A major focus of this episode is on trying to teach the club’s newest member, Ryugazaki, how to swim. With the first tournament coming up so quickly, Gou says that Ryugazaki needs to learn how to swim within seven days.

Both Nagisa and Makoto work him, trying to teach him the breast stroke and the back stroke. Unfortunately, all Ryugazaki manages to do is to keep sinking when he tries to do these strokes. At one point, Ryugazaki declares that it’s the borrowed speedo that’s causing him problems, so the whole group goes to a sports shop and start trying on swimwear.

At first, this feels like it’s simply meant to be done so a montage of the boys modeling swimsuits could be done to provide “fanservice.” However, it’s quickly shown that Rin and the team from his school are also at the shop trying on swimsuits. Rin and Haruka run into each other, and Rin says he wants to talk.

Rin makes it clear that he doesn’t accept the victory he had over Haruka in the race that took place in the second episode, because Haruka is so out of shape. Rin says he wants to have another race or he’ll never be able to move on. There’s a dramatic confrontation here, which ultimately ends with Rin declaring that he’ll see Haruka at the end of the year tournament.

The remainder of the episode is spent on Ryugazaki trying to learn how to swim, and the end result of this ends up being a little on the surprising side.

Overall, I thought that this was a rather strong episode of Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club. To me, the main weakness was how much time was spent on the team members modeling the swimsuits they were trying on at the sports store. OK, I have to admit that Gou’s reactions when seeing the guys was kind of amusing, but I still think that portion ran for a little too long. Outside of that, though, I thought the telling of this piece of the overarching story was logical and well-done.

I’m still interested in watching more of Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, although the preview for the next episode made me wonder how it fits in with the overall story. I’ll just have to watch next week and find out, I guess.

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