Episode 12 – “Distant Free!”
Now I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting for the last episode, but I’m pretty pleased by the sudden twist of events and even more impressed with Rei’s selflessness. Prior to all of the action though, we get a sentimental flashback to elementary times again. This time, we see their aspirations and motives put into writing before Rin left for Australia. Unsurprisingly, Haru’s mantra is and always was, “free.” A little more interesting is Rin’s preferred words to live by, “for the team” (in English too!).
After that, all hell breaks loose, especially following the change to Samezuka’s swimming roster. Now that Rin’s been taken off the relay, he loses all motivation for swimming. I’m honestly not sure what the captain thinking when he made this decision. His reasoning is that Rin isn’t at his top performance, so he shouldn’t be allowed to compete in what he wants to do. But doesn’t demoralizing him add more problems?
Anyway, Rin completely blows his freestyle heat. This whole chain of events felt very rushed, but (whether it was intentional or not) it adds to the whirlwind of emotions, putting us within Rin’s perspective. This, along with Rin’s emotional breakdown, made things pretty hard to watch. I guess that’s evidence for good scene composition.
I must say though, while I don’t really have any sort of problem with the not so discrete homoerotic overtones, I feel that it can detract from some of the more serious scenes. Take the part where Rin and Haru roll around on the ground together. Sure, it’s common thing for boys in anime to do, but the homoeroticism is multiplied more than its usual amount here. The creators know why they want to do that ($$$), but do the characters know what the implications of their actions are? As ludicrous as that must sound, it’s something that I think about a lot. Fictional characters are stuck in this bubble and are completely at the mercy of their creators, as well as their fans.
As for the actual episode, I definitely did not foresee Rin to take Rei’s place in the relay event. When things started getting symbolic and we saw everyone’s spirit animals swim around, I was like “where’s the butterfly and why’s there a shark?” Well, it’s because the dream team got back together for a reunion swim, taking first place in the race. Of course, they were promptly disqualified for outrageously breaking a simple rule.
As I mentioned last week, it would be pretty easy to extend an anime like this, especially since there’s a lot of potential left with character development. Well, they’ve gone and done it because that “see you next summer” is basically a official announcement for a second season next year. If I had to guess, there might be more focus on Rei and his integration into the close group of friends. I really like how his role as an outsider actually helped bring the original four closer together. It was a wild ride (swim?) and I’m definitely looking for to more next year.