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With the characters of Free! beginning some personal growth, it seems a shame that there are only a few episodes left.

If you recall from my post last week, I was pretty sure the Iwatobi Swim Club would win the relay and move on to regionals.  However, last weekend I watched Kuroko no Basuke, which made me doubt that outcome.  While Free! has a slightly different feel to it than Kuroko no Basuke, I came to the realization that I was looking at Free! from an American point of view.  If it were an American show, there’s absolutely no way the Iwatobi Swim Club would lose the relay; Haruka losing his race would be all the shock a general American audience could handle.  But Kuroko no Basuke shows the versatility of anime (as opposed to American shows, at least) in that the main characters don’t always have to win.

Fortunately, my original prediction turns out to be correct in this episode.  The swim club will move on to regionals!

However, unless the folks at Kyoto Animation decide to substantially shorten the amount of time spent on each tournament, there should already be anticipation for a second season of Free!  If we consider that the prefectural tournament spanned three episodes, this season only has the potential to include one more tournament at the same pace.  (Yes, there are only three episodes of this season left.)  And this is barring any other plot points like practices, further training, and extended flashbacks.

Speculations on future seasons aside, Rin and Haruka make big strides on a personal level in this episode.  Even if he won’t admit it aloud, Rin is realizing that what he cares about isn’t necessarily winning, but working with a team, having a group of friends to cheer him on and to perform well for.  (Granted, this ignores the fact that he has Nitori constantly begging for his attention and he keeps ignoring him.)  Haruka, similarly, discovers that swimming with his teammates makes him happier than simply being in the water.

I wonder how Haruka’s change of perspective will affect the next few episodes.

Free! Episode 10 Preview

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