(Apologies again for the long absence, but life has been busy and unfortunately that has to come before anime. But I’ve got more free time now, so you can expect reviews for at least a few different shows from me this summer!)
It’s that time again! Time to watch some bishounen swimming! We start off the summer season with the greatly anticipated Free! Eternal Summer!
This first episode has quite a few parallels to the first episode of season 1, Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. It starts off with Haru talking about the water, then Makoto comes to get him to go somewhere, then Haru insists on making mackerel before leaving the house. There are a lot of similarities to the joint practice with Samezuka Academy in season 1 episode 3, as well, with the Iwatobi High School boys swimming with the Samezuka team for a while, Rei forgetting his suit, and things like that. The parallels offer a nice bit of familiarity as Eternal Summer starts off.
We get some big changes right off the bat, though, too. Seijuro Mikoshiba makes Rin the new captain of Samezuka Academy, much to everyone’s surprise. The Iwatobi Swim Club does a ridiculous skit in front of the whole of Iwatobi High School trying to get new members. Coach Sasabe is reopening the swimming club Haru, Makoto, Rin, and Nagisa went to as grade schoolers, and offers to let the Iwatobi boys use the place until it’s warm enough for them to swim in their own pool.
There’s also meet in this first episode, although it’s not a truly competitive meet. What’s important about this meet is that the race between Haru and Rin acts as a pretty perfect metaphor for the change in their relationship from the last season. At the beginning of the last season, Rin only cared about beating Haru, whereas in this episode Rin wants to get Haru “fired up,” and their race ends in a tie.
This change in Rin’s relationship with the Iwatobi boys is made even more obvious when he comes to Iwatobi High School to see their pool filled with cherry blossoms. Recall that, when they were swimming together in grade school, Rin said he wanted to swim in a pool filled with cherry blossoms.
Without spoiling too much, it seems like this season is going to focus on Haru, Makoto, and Rin’s decisions about what to do once they graduate, while introducing a few new characters from their pasts (namely Sousuke, who is briefly introduced at the end of this episode). It seems, based on the OP animation, that Sousuke might be a new rival to Haru (although he’s also shown swimming butterfly, so maybe a rival to Rei as well). Rin is also going to have to juggle his new responsibilities as captain of Samezuka Academy’s swim team. I’m hoping to see some backstory for Nagisa and Rei in this season, too, and hope that the Iwatobi Swim Club can expand a bit beyond the four core members.
For fans of the first season, Free! Eternal Summer should definitely be a great addition to your summer viewing!