失速のフォーミング – The Forming of a Slump!
The title might be ‘the forming of a slump’, but this episode of Free! was anything but! You know it’s going to be a good episode when they play one of your favourite OST tracks in the opening scene. And golly, I could not have asked for a better episode of Free! ~
This episode, our teams moved on to regionals. In spite of the fierce competition at play, Haru’s internal turmoil definitely took center stage. Although I can’t even begin to imagine to what Haru must be going through (him being all quiet all the time), I reckon that there is nothing heavier than carrying the weight of everyone’s expectations. With the expectations of the school, his teammates, his teachers, his friends, his rivals and the scouts, that really is a whole lot to live up to. And in this episode, we saw Haru falter under that weight. In fact, he was so bogged down by it, that he simply stopped swimming in the middle of his 100m freestyle heat.
Certainly, he had been acting odd since the talk of scouts cropped up, but in this episode he finally snapped. Wow was that shocking. It is always the quiet ones who are the scariest when they finally snap, isn’t it? I guess, when something you love with all your heart becomes laden with the weight of responsibilities and what not, that takes the fun away. Haru swims purely because he loves swimming, and he swims for his friends. Having to live up to all the expectations means that he was swimming not for his love of swimming, but to ‘impress the scouts’ and ‘set the fastest time’, which was evidently not what he wanted. This storyline was not expected and it was very refreshing. However, I was upset that Haru wasn’t able to swim the way he always does. Because honestly, if Haru really swims, nobody not even Rin) can beat him. Ohwells, I guess we needed some form of conflict at this stage?
While I did appreciate Shimazaki Nobunaga putting on a frustrated voice, I can’t say that I was highly convinced with his acting. The switch from angry (when he lashed out at Rin) to surprised (when he found out that his teammates witnessed said lashing) was really smooth. Almost too smooth. I did think that Shimazaki could have retained a little bit more edge to his voice, instead of switching from exasperated to cool and calm in a snap.
In other news, Rin has advanced to the finals, while Mako did not manage to do so. Ai-chan has improved by leaps and bounds to be part of the relay team, while Sousuke’s shoulder has gotten so severely injured that he was clutching it in pain in the shower. I appreciate this angle that Sousuke has been given – in some way, sustaining an injury makes him more relatable and less of a douche, if that makes sense *shrugs* but it is really sad to see a swimmer of his talent and capability be out because of an injury. And to be injured but still insisting on competing, oh a definitely NO NO. I do hope Rin finds out soon, like real soon. Because if Sousuke carries on in this fashion, he will be risking aggravating the injury further, and that would be absolutely disastrous. Do not ruin your swimming future Sousuke, please don’t.
*deep breath* Gosh that was an intensely emotional episode. Alrighty, because this was such a heavy episode, let’s cheer ourselves up a little. When I decided to cover this series (in response to Akatsuki’s KyoAni challenge), I asked my fellow writers whether they had any requests for screencaps. And so, Akatsuki-chan, just for you, I present this episode’s collection of collarbones~
Muscle-scope. First sign of muscles: about 8 seconds. Last week’s celebration was short-lived, because they have done away with the stripping again *sighs*
Till the next water time~ the next episode does look to be another emotional
ly draining one.