Free! Eternal Summer: Episode 9 – “Forming of a Slump!”

Free! Eternal Summer is the second season of the Free! Iwatobi Swim Club 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.

A major focus of Episode Nine is on Haruka and the pressure he’s starting to feel in regards to his future and his swimming. It starts off with the principal and the guidance counselor telling Haruka about all the calls he’s been getting from scouts and that he’s the pride of their school.

But all of the pressure and the stress doesn’t really affect Haruka until they reach regionals, especially after Momo’s brother runs into the Iwatobi team with the scout from his school. The scout recognizes Haruka and says the scouts are expecting great things out of him in the regionals.

The stress finally takes its toll on Haruka when he swims in the freestyle race, and this is depicted by showing water-like tendrils grabbing him during the race and slowing him down. I thought this a very effective way of visually showing Haruka’s fears, doubts, and uncertainties about his future as he swims in the competition. Haruka ends up doing something that surprises everyone; I know I hadn’t expected what he did. Unfortunately, by doing what he did, it makes it so two members from Iwatobi cannot progress on to the finals in their respective races.

But the most surprising thing happens near the end of the episode when Rin confronts Haruka about what he did. Haruka is so stressed out that he just snaps and shows anger. And not just anger, but a lot of anger. For the guy who had shown little to no emotion at all in both the first season and the first eight episodes of this season, this outburst was completely unexpected. But it was refreshing to see that Haruka does actually express emotions.

Another plot point in this episode has to do with Sousuke. It was revealed in Episode Eight that Sousuke had been having problems with one of his shoulders but hadn’t said anything to Rin. Unfortunately, Sousuke’s shoulder starts acting up when they arrive for regionals, but he doesn’t say anything to Rin. I don’t see this ending well. Personally, I expect to see that Sousuke won’t be able to going on to the finals in his competition, and that his injured shoulder is going to hurt Samezuka’s chances for go on to the finals for the relay. I’m almost expecting to see another major argument between Rin and Sousuke after Rin learns about Sousuke’s shoulder.

Of all the episodes I’ve seen up to this point, I have to say that this one would win the award for being the most intense one that I’ve seen. I thought the episode in the first season that had the major blow up between Rin and Haruka was rather intense, but I think this one ends up beating that. Will this intense feeling continue for the remaining episodes of Free! Eternal Summer?

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