Free! Episode 2 Review
This week on Free!, we learned a little bit more about the characters and the show as a whole. The main plot was established with the official formation of the swim club. We got to know a little bit more about Haruka, Rin, Makoto and Nagisa. And we became much better acquainted with their homeroom teacher Ms. Amakata and Rin’s sister Gou. In fact, I’d say this episode successfully hooked me onto the show.
Last episode, we saw Rin and Haruka about to race each other for the first time since Rin returned from Australia (or so we think). While it initially appears that Rin has lost, we find out later that he was actually the victor of the race and is just weirdly upset about it. Rin seems like an extraordinarily troubled person thus far. He acts anxious in several of his appearances throughout the episode, and he seems to have cut off contact not just from his former friends, but from his concerned sister Gou as well. It’s discovered that he isn’t even on his school’s swim team, despite his extreme passion for the sport.
Gou, meanwhile, has started to hang out with her brother’s friends, even becoming their swim club manager (for some reason anime girls never join what could be co-ed sports clubs as anything other than the manager). She’s definitely worried about Rin, but she’s also pleased with her new friendships and revels in the parade of beautiful man flesh being shown off to her at every opportunity. I was sort of worried that Gou wouldn’t be accepted by fandom, but as it turns out, she’s basically Tumblr in human form and therefore seems quite popular on the internet.
Ms. Amakata got to shine a little bit here too. As the swim club’s faculty adviser, she acts as their mentor and overseer. She’s incredibly cute, with her anxiety over her secret past as a swimsuit model, and she seems like she’s going to be a zany but mostly stable adult figure in the student’s lives.
Makoto and Nagisa established themselves as Team Captain and Treasurer this episode. They remained a bright and sensible duo, at one point preventing the water-obsessed Haruka from…I kid you not…stepping into a fish tank at a hardware store. While they’re at it, maybe they need to send him to therapy. His hydrophilia is frankly alarming.
On a more serious note, this episode further set up the deep relationship between Haruka and Rin as well. As it turns out, they raced once before when Rin visited from Australia. Haruka won the race, and the defeat evidently crushed Rin’s self esteem, making the whole situation between them more awkward than your usual rivalry. Haruka’s wordless guilt over the fact that he apparently destroyed his friend is sombering and it’s obvious that he wants things to be okay between them again.
Free! seems to be shaping up into an interesting anime. The focus really is on swimming, even with the fanservice, and it’s actually pretty cool to watch the boys race, especially when it shifts to first-person view. Coupled with the intriguing relationship between Haruka and Rin, the fun side characters and the surprisingly well done humor, I’d say I’m excited to see how the rest of the series will go.
Next week we meet the fifth member of the swim team, sexy glasses boy Ryugazaki Rei. We got a sneak peak at him in this episode, but we’ll be introduced properly next week. The Geekiary will be attending San Diego Comic Con starting next Wednesday, where we’ll be providing swift coverage of the proceedings, but expect a review of the next episode once we return.
All photos and properties copyright Kyoto Animation