This episode starts with Rin meeting up with Sousuke, and this scene was incredibly touching, yet amusing at the same time. Rin’s Australia souvenir for Sousuke was funny, and Rin’s reaction to Sousuke’s surgery was adorable. It’s nice to see this softer side of Rin, especially after how angry and angsty he had been portrayed during the first season of the series.
There’s actually a strong focus on Makoto in this episode. He sees his friends aiming to go higher in the world of competitive swimming, and he wonders what he can do. Over the course of the episode, we see him working with Misaki, one of the young swimmers that he’s coaching, by giving him advice and being there for him as a confidant. Makoto also plays an important role when Haruka is being stubborn for his coach after losing to Albert during the friendly race at training camp. Haruka’s coach tells Makoto he has what it takes to get into swimmers’ heads and support them. He also hears the a similar thing from Nao-senpai, and these comments and interactions he has during the episodes help to Makoto to realize what he wants to do.
We also learn through a phone call to Makoto that both Rei and Nagisa have qualified to compete in the All-Japan Invitational. So everything is finally set for these characters to converge together and meet up again. In fact, the final scene of the episode is the Iwatobi High School team at a terminal, getting ready to head to Tokyo for the All-Japan Invitational.
So, it looks like we’ll only have two episodes focusing on the All-Japan Invitational. While we’re getting some of the loose ends tied up, it kind of feels like the writers are starting to either rush things up a bit, or they’re only telling the audience some important plot points instead of showing them (such as Rei and Nagisa qualifying for the big race, but not getting to actually see them compete in their races).
Unfortunately, I knew this was a risk when I saw just how many characters there are in this season and how they’re spread out into several different locations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the series as it is now, but it’s a little disappointing knowing that some of the characters (such as the Iwatobi High School team) just aren’t getting as much screen time as the older characters. Especially with that group, we’ve only gotten brief character development for the three new members of their team. Hopefully the focus on the All-Japan Invitational and having many of our characters coming together in one location for these remaining episodes will help make up for some of these flaws.