This episode gave me all kinds of feels. Seeing Ikuya finally opening up and letting those feelings out was very satisfying, it seems Haru is a part-time therapist for misunderstood youths troubled by their past relationships.
I like how the plot quickly wrapped up this Ikuya arc and is moving on to other bigger challenges, Haru has seriously improved his swimming strokes, enough to even rival Ikuya who has mastered them. Toono will most likely be less of a pain now that he has felt the healing, spirit soothing aura of the blessed water sprite, Haruka Nanase.
For those of you who’ve seen Free! Take your Marks or Starting Days, the energy of this episode was very reminiscent of that, although I love Rin, I must say that because of his absence from the episode, it really felt like the 4 were back to their old days, especially towards the end of the episode when they brought back their casual bickering, with Makoto acting as the mediator and Haru minding his own business, and they definitely re-kindled the fires of their friendship with Ikuya which will most likely come in handy when the plot starts to shift and things start to get serious.
I really like how Ikuya’s brother, Natsuya, felt so proud of him to the point where he even got inspired to pursue a goal and teared up over it, which was a cute yet powerful moment.
As for Haru, it doesn’t seem like he’ll get off the hook, his troubles haven’t even started, and I’m pretty sure that everyone he has inspired and helped are going to return the favor when he’s going to falter under the pressures of the challenges, much like in season 2. We saw Rin at the very last few seconds of the episode, after the ending, looking snatched as always arriving in Japan ready to tackle its competitions, I am so here for it, but I’m also looking forward to his reunion with the boys, especially Haru, the heat of rivalry and also of the obvious love between the two, might literally burn everyone who isn’t up to their level, hence why they’re going to introduce the new guys right?
Thank you for reading.