Free! Eternal Summer: Episode 3 – “The Butterfly of Farewell!”

Free! Eternal Summer is the second season of the Free! Iwatobi Swim Club television anime series. This season begins in spring, when the new school year is getting underway. The focus of the series is still on the Iwatobi High swimmers (Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei), their manager Gou, and Rin from Samezuka Academy.

In Episode Three, we see that Iwatobi High School is having its annual school festival, and as part of the festivities, there’s a Club-Versus-Club relay race. The Iwatobi Swim Club competes against several other of the school’s teams. For most of the race, it appears that the swim team has no chance of winning; however, Rei is the final member of the relay, and he’s able to use the skills he acquired back when he was on the track team to bring victory to the swim team. Unfortunately, this showing still doesn’t help them to recruit any new members.

When the swim club has their first practice in their own pool, Rei tries to do strokes other than the butterfly, but has no luck. When Rei goes to the school library he tries to find more books about swimming that he can study, and he runs into the captain of the track team. Rei is given an invitation to rejoin the track team, but Rei doesn’t give him any kind of answer.

Suddenly, Rei starts ducking out right after swim team practice is over, saying he has errands to run. Nagisa becomes concerned, and shares his concerns with the others. At first, it’s thought that Rei must have a girlfriend and is lovesick, but Gou learns from talking to Rei that that’s not the issue. Later, Gou sees Rei talking with the track team captain, and she and the others assume that Rei is thinking about leaving the swim team and going back to the track team.

Rei is forced to go to an emergency meeting of the swim team, and by the end of the episode, a couple of surprising things are revealed…

With the way this episode was written, the audience was led to believe that Rei was seriously thinking about leaving the swim team. I honestly hadn’t anticipated the surprise that appeared near the end of the episode that was connected to Rei. However, this surprise was a nice one.

There was also some focus put on Rin, and we see him moving out of the dorm room he shared with Nitori and moving into Sousuke’s dorm room. Mikoshiba becomes Nitori’s new roommate, and he starts pestering Rin about Gou much more than his older brother ever did. When it comes to lovesickness, the younger Mikoshiba is definitely more persistent about it; I suspect this will be a bigger element of the series than his older brother’s interest in Gou had ever been.

Overall, I thought this episode did a great job at giving Rei a bit more character development, and it effectively used Rei’s feelings of wanting to be able to be more useful to the team than simply being the one who does the butterfly stroke.

I’ve been enjoying Free! Eternal Summer, and so far, it’s a strong continuation for Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club. I’m looking forward to watching Episode Four in order to find out what’s going to happen next.

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