Like I predicted last week, the main focus of this episode was on the high school cast members. We specifically see our cast from Iwatobi High at a training camp with Samezuka Academy and Soufuukan. Sosuke is there as an alumnus of Samezuka, and we learn that Ikuya’s older brother, Natsuya, is there as an alumnus of Soufuukan.
This episode finally helps the audience get to know Iwatobi’s two new swimmers, Romio and Shizuru. We also learn a fact about Ayumu, the new manager working alongside Gou. A big focus of the character development falls on Romio, though, and his backstory plays a crucial role in the final event of the training camp. Hopefully Shizuru and Ayumu will get a little more in the way of character development. They must have more to their backstories than what we’ve seen at this point.
Momotaro from Samezuka develops a rivalry with a guy on Soufuukan’s team, and I’m expecting this to end up being a running gag whenever Soufukkan and Samezuka’s teams run into each other.
We get to see some strong interactions between Sosuke and Natsuya, and through them, we learn that Sosuke is at a crossroads as to what to do about his shoulder injury. If he continues rehab, he will be able to swim again, but not competitively. However, there’s a surgery that, if it works, would allow him to swim competitively. But, if the surgery doesn’t succeed, he’ll for sure never be able to swim competitively again. Natsuya tries to give Sosuke the encouragement to move forward to pursue his dreams, but it’s clear at the end of this episode that Sosuke hasn’t made up his mind yet. So now we have this conflict for Sosuke, and it’ll be interesting to see how he ends up resolving this conflict.
We also get a couple of brief scenes of Haruka and Makoto in this episode, but the main college characters were definitely on the backburner here. This episode allowed the audience to spend some quality time with the high school characters and with Sosuke, after they were relegated to minor characters in the first four episodes.
But with the preview for the next episode, it looks like Haruka and the others will return front and center. To be honest, we’re almost halfway through, and it feels like Haruka and the college characters are the main characters of this series and have the most important storyline. At this point, though, it does seem like the writers are doing the best they can to balance the various characters and their storylines, and doing it in a way where the main characters are storyline aren’t being diluted. Hopefully the writers continue to find this equilibrium and can succeed in properly developing all the characters and their storylines by the end of the series.