Free! Eternal Summer
by Lauren Orsini,
Sousuke's crying. Rin's crying. I'm crying. How am I supposed to review an episode expertly crafted to mess with my objectivity and go straight for my heart? My tears are my review.
But seriously, today's episode of Free! Eternal Summer provided what the previous installment was missing. It was hard to relate to Sousuke's injury without any clue what it was, or how it came about. Now, we've got a tragic backstory to go along with Sousuke's injury, as well as a clear indicator of just how serious it is.
As we've established earlier in Eternal Summer, Sousuke's always been Rin's childhood friend since Season One, albeit just slightly out of frame until now. After years of repression, Sousuke finally comes clean in a confession that makes both of them cry. “I'm not crying!” Rin bawls, tears running down his face—I think that's when I lost it.
Free!'s raison de etre is male bonding, and episodes like this one that go heavy on character drama make up the show's finest moments. The swimmers of Free! are antagonists, sure, but the plot always underlines they're friends first; an especially heartwarming moment was when Iwatobi and Samezuka were sportingly trash talking one another before the relay. Against the revelation of Sousuke's injury, the boys are showing their support for one another in the best way they know how.
Regular viewers hardly need it pointed out how top-notch the swimming animation continues to be, but I think it's worth bringing up again since the CG for each swimmer is so specific, it ends up becoming part of his personality. We've come to recognize that Haru's wall pivot is more powerful than Rin's to a visible extent, and Momotaro's dolphin-kick is noticeably different from Makoto's when they swim side by side. It's not just nice to look at, but an important detail for character development.
I saw a great quote on Tumblr which can be attributed to aiicheerio about how most sports anime are about the ins and outs of the sport in question while Free! tackles relatable storylines that make us all emotional. These final few episodes probably won't let up at all on that front as we figure out who's going to nationals and who's going to college. It looks like Eternal Summer is going to do its darndest to get those tears flowing; all aboard the drama train!
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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