The main focus of this episode is on the high school nationals competition, so the high school students from Iwatobi are a big focus here. We start with Iwatobi’s team meeting up with Makoto and having a meal together. It was nice getting to see Nagisa, Rei, and Gou reunite with Makoto.
We also got to see a phone interaction between Ryuuji and Mikhail, and it was quite amusing. It’s obvious that Ryuuji finds Mikhail to be really annoying, so this provided for some nice humor. Hopefully, we’ll see these two come face-to-face at the All-Japan Invitational.
This episode also gave Haru and Rin a chance to reunite, and their interactions were wonderful. I loved how they both changed their All-Japan Invitational training schedules so they could go and cheer on their former teammates at the high school nationals.
We also learn that Asahi and Rei knew each other when they were younger. Perhaps this was something already known to viewers who had seen the prequel movie, but since I haven’t, this kind of felt like it came out of nowhere. This was probably one of the rare instances where seeing the prequel film would have tipped me off to the significance of a reaction Asahi has at one point in the episode before he and Rei meet face-to-face.
Sosuke also shows up at the high school nationals, and while talking with Rin, viewers get an update on how he’s doing post-surgery.
The races themselves were quick, and it was hard during the breaststroke to decide between rooting for Nagisa or for Nitori. Obviously, I knew only one could win, but I just couldn’t decide who to root for. In the end, though, it was an exciting race, and I have no complaints over the winner.
In this episode, we almost had all of the gang together. The missing characters included Nao, Natsuya, Ikuya, and Hiyori. From the preview, it appears that the final episode will be the All-Japan Invitational, so we should be seeing these four characters. Whether we’ll get to see the high school students at the venue cheering for their senpai is unknown at this point. If we don’t get to see them in the next episode, then this will be their final appearance in this series. But I really hope to see them there, because it would be nice to have one episode where ALL of the important characters appear in it at the same time at the same venue.