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This week’s episode of Free! Eternal Summer allows some character development for Nagisa Hazuki.  It’s about darn time.

The episode has several parallels to the third episode of this season, which focused on Rei Ryugazaki, although this episode is considerably less comedic.  Nagisa runs away from home, but refuses to tell his teammates why, until they press him for hours and finally get an answer.  His parents want him to quit the swim club because his grades are failing.

This revelation leads Nagisa to explain that he went to a prep school in middle school, which made him hate studying.  He fell into a brief depression during prep school because he could never do anything fun and clearly didn’t make any friends during that time, either.  Swimming is what makes Nagisa happy, and he doesn’t want to quit that.  His friends, of course, set him straight and convince him to talk to his parents about it.

This particular personal conflict leads to further proof that Rei is an important part of the team.  It’s Rei who convinces Nagisa to talk to his parents (even when Nagisa has convinced himself that his parents will never listen to him).  It’s Rei who comes up with the most practical solution to the situation.  Rei has added such an important dynamic to the group and he’s incredibly important to the plot, as Free! Eternal Summer keeps showing us.

What this episode really shows us, though, is how important Nagisa is to the team, as well.  Recall that the Iwatobi Swim Club wouldn’t even exist without Nagisa’s persistence in season one.  It was his desire to swim with his friends that pushed Makoto and Haruka to clean the pool and form the swim club.  It was Nagisa’s tenacity that convinced Rei to join the swim club and make it an official club.  The thought of losing Nagisa, who is virtually the heart of the team, caused the other three to band together and do whatever they could to keep him happy and help him find a solution to his problem.

Because without Nagisa, there would be no swim club.

 Free! Eternal Summer Episode 6 Preview

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(Note: I’m moving tomorrow, and won’t have reliable internet access until August 5, so after that I’ll do my best to catch up with the anime I’ve been reviewing. I apologize for the lack of consistency once again, but preparing for this move has been stressful. I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled reviews next week!)