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.
The high school team acquires four members after Ryugazaki, a non-swimmer, joins the team; they have worked with him enough so he is now a beginning swimmer. Gou, the younger sister of the friend who went to Australia, serves as the team’s manager.
This episode sees the team needing to train before the prefectural meet, and they decide they need to work on their stamina. Gou finds a booklet from several decades ago, when the school still had a swim club. It’s a booklet for the Iwatobi High School Swim Club Summer Training Camp From Hell on a Deserted Island. After some convincing, Makoto decides it’s a good idea; however, when they go to see the club’s advisor, they’re told the club doesn’t have the money for it.
Makoto finds ways to make it work and cost very little: he finds his family’s camping gear, and the coach from their younger days has a squid fishing boat and a boating license. After getting their advisor’s approval, they make a trek to an island in order to practice swimming in the ocean by swimming between islands. Before they begin, they find that Gou’s brother’s school is using the sports facility on the island; it turns out Gou had no idea her brother’s team would be there.
When they finally start their training, Ryugazaki insists on doing the same regimen as the others, so he’s told he has to use a kickboard or an inflatable; he ends up choosing the kickboard. Ryugazaki becomes frustrated that he’s so far behind the others, so he sneaks out that night to practice on his own. Right at the end of the episode, something happens that causes problems for Ryugazaki.
It’s also hinted at a couple of times in the episode that Makoto has issues with the ocean, but it’s not revealed exactly what that is. I suspect this will come up during episode six, especially since Makoto becomes involved with what happens at the end of episode five.
I have to admit that when I saw the preview for episode five a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t entirely sure how an episode on an island would fit in with the series; however, now that I’ve actually seen the episode, it makes sense and it works. I liked how the writers managed to get Rin in the story without it feeling forced, and it was kind of neat to see the old coach again. The first time their former coach showed up, I just assumed that would be the only time we’d see him; this episode now marks his third appearance that I can think of, so I think he’s going to be more of a recurring character than I had originally thought he would be.
And wow, episode five ended on such a cliffhanger! And to top it off, the preview for episode six is rather dramatic. There’s no question I’ll need to watch the next episode to see what happens to Ryugazaki and Makoto!
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