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.
Episode 10 opens with a flashback sequence that shows how the relay team of Rin, Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa came together when they were kids. This flashback ends before the relay, and the last shot is of the already seen flashback of Rin telling Haruka and Makoto that he’ll be moving to Australia. At the end of the sequence, we see that it’s Rin having the flashback.
Goro, the boys’ coach when they were kids, is working with the Iwatobi team to get them ready for regionals. During their time together, it’s obvious Rei is feeling left out since everyone else has a history together. Haruka seems to pick up on this, but doesn’t say or do anything. Later, Rei shares some of his frustration with Nagisa, saying he doesn’t understand why it’s so important that Rin is also swimming in the relay, and that he thought their goal was to make it to the nationals as the Iwatobi Swim Club.
Later, Goro invites the team, Gou, and the advisor to his place for a hot pot. While they are there, both the audience and Goro learn what the advisor’s previous job regarding swimsuits was. I have to say that I saw this one coming from a mile away, so it didn’t surprise me. Gou also produces a photo album that shows Haruka, Nagisa, Makoto, and Rin as kids. Rei watches them from the sidelines as they relive memories.
When they head home from Goro’s place, Rei asks to know what happened between the other three and Rin. Haruka shares the story of what happened up until the relay. Rei is still confused; if they swam together in the relay and won, why is their relationship different now? Haruka shares the story of what happened between him and Rin in middle school when Rin came home from Australia on a break; Haruka beat Rin in a race, and Rin declared that he was done swimming. This is why Haruka also quit swimming competitively in middle school.
Unfortunately, Rei is still confused, because he thinks that since Rin beat Haruka at the last competition that this should be over now; he also says he’s confused as to why Rin is now in the relay. Haruka says he doesn’t know, either, but for some reason he’s looking forward to racing Rin again.
Right at the end of the episode, Rei goes to Rin’s school to talk to him. I’m very interested to see what comes out of this confrontation.
Admittedly, there’s quite a bit of time devoted to flashbacks, but this finally gives the viewers a fuller picture of what happened when the boys were younger. While we’d seen bits and pieces of some of these flashbacks, it was nice to see them as part of a bigger story and a more complete story.
I also found Rei’s actions in this episode to be believable. He’s been the one on the outside and has been going through the series up to this point without truly understanding what happened between Rin and the others. It can be hard being the newcomer among a group of people who already have a history together, and I think it was inevitable that Rei would reach the point of getting frustrated and wanting answers.
Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club continues to be a series I look forward to watching every week, and now I’m curious as to how this will end since there’s only two episodes left.
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