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 11 picks up exactly where the last episode ended, with Rei getting into a confrontation with Rin. During this scene, Rei wants the answers to two questions. First, why did Rin suddenly decide to swim the relay? The second is, how do you feel about Haruka? Rin asks why he needs to justify himself to Rei, and Rei’s response is that he’s a victim and explains how he became involved with the Iwatobi team and how all the others seem to talk about is Rin. This actually ends up escalating into a very dramatic and intense scene, and I thought the intensity worked well.
Coach Sasabe asks the other team members to go check on Rei, since he’s been missing practice. They go to Rei’s place, and Rei finds out that everyone was worried about him and that Nagisa told the others about Rei going to see Rin. Rei admits that he did, and that it was through his own reasons why he went. Rei then adds that everything is OK now, that he’s done worrying about Rin, and that it’s not his problem. Haruka declares that the four of them are now a team, and Nagisa adds that every member is irreplaceable.
Meanwhile Rin is practicing, but he’s distracted by flashbacks. When Nitori, the underclassman who tries to hang out with Rin, comments on his performance, the team captain asks if Rin has said anything to him. Nitori replies Rin never tells him anything.
This episode also sees both the Iwatobi team and Rin’s team heading to the location where the regionals will be held. That night, after Rin gets Rei’s number from Gou, Rin messages Rei and asks for the two of them to meet. Rin decides that he needs to answer Rei’s questions, and both Rei and the audience get some insight into some of Rin’s motivations at the beginning of the series. The episode ends with Rin receiving a nasty surprise from his team captain.
Episode 11 ends up serving three purposes. The first is that it allows Rei’s subplot to finally be resolved. Secondly, it provides some more insight into Rin. Third, it’s getting everything set up for regionals. Since the competition didn’t begin in episode 11, I feel pretty safe in saying that episode 12 will focus exclusively on regionals. With only one episode left in this season, it will be interesting to see how the two teams fare. Will our characters be able to make it to nationals, which would then open up the potential for a second season? Or will our characters not make it past regionals, which could also potentially open the door for a second season to see these characters try to get better the following year and aiming to get to nationals?
Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club has been a very enjoyable anime series to watch during the Summer 2013 season. I really hope someone in North America will acquire the license for this series and release it on home video at some point in the future.
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