Free! -Dive to the Future: Episode 9 – “Interval in the Evening Calm!”

After such an emotional and drama-filled episode, this was definitely a calmer episode. We get to see the new dynamic of the college characters, which now includes Ikuya and Hiyori. While Hiyori tries to show superiority when it comes to Ikuya and his tastes, he’s doing it in much more of a teasing tone. But just as things seem to have smoothed out, Ikuya hears that Rin has qualified for the All-Japan invitational and how Rin and Haruka are rivals. While he doesn’t say anything, the viewer can tell by the expression on Ikuya’s face that he’s jealous of Rin. I’m sure that this will be a dynamic that will come into play once we get to the All-Japan invitational, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this.

This episode also sees a mysterious blond-haired foreigner entering the mix. We first encounter him at the beginning of the episode at an arcade. Here, we learn that the Mikoshiba brothers have a sister who is just as spirited as them. It turns out that not only is she a good swimmer and the captain of her school’s team, she also is a great player at a particular game at the arcade. Unfortunately for her, the foreigner beats her. She only gets a glimpse of him as he leaves, but she thinks he looks familiar.

The blond-haired foreigner shows up again when Haruka is at a special training camp for invited swimmers who have qualified for the invitational. The foreigner has no idea how to order any food, and Haruka helps him. The foreigner only speaks in English, so it was impressive to see that Haruka knew enough English to help him out. It turns out they both like mackerel, so that was a plus for Haruka as well.

Right near the end of the episode, it’s revealed that the foreigner is Albert, a swimmer from Sweden who has broken some impressive records. And in a race that includes Haruka and Albert, Haruka discovers that he’s met his match when the foreigner beats him. So not only will Haruka be racing against two old friends, he has someone else who is undeniably better than him that he has to try to beat at the invitational.

We see Rin return home, and he, along with the audience, get a surprise when he meets up with his old high school team. It turns out that Nitori is related to Rin’s coach, Mikhail! Rin makes a comment along the lines of, “I didn’t see that coming.” Neither did I, Rin. Neither did I.

We only get one scene with the Iwatobi Swim Club, and it’s there to let us know that they have an important tournament coming up that will determine whether or not they can proceed to the All-Japan invitational. It’s also revealed in another scene that Ikuya’s older brother has also qualified for the All-Japan invitational, so there will also be a brother vs. brother moment at the event.

With only three episodes left this season, it appears that we will either get a rushed version of the All-Japan invitational, or that this season is designed to lead up to the All-Japan invitational taking place in another season. With the way the story is building, it feels like there’s a little too much left to be able to resolve everything and have a satisfying All-Japan invitational. Time will only tell how this will go, though.

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