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As Free! nears the end of the season, we approach the regional tournament.  But first, Rei seeks out Rin in a surprising confrontation.

The confrontation isn’t surprising in itself.  It makes sense that Rei, being logical and analytical, would want the whole story regarding his teammates’ relationship with Rin.  The fact that he confronts the redhead isn’t all that surprising on its own.  What is surprising about this scene is how physical the confrontation becomes, and the fact that Rei is the one who makes it so.  If anything, I would have expected Rin to be the one to make it physical, to shove Rei into the wall or something.  The fact that it’s the other way around shows just how much Rei cares about his team and how much he cares about being on an equal footing with them.

Rei isn’t the only character who has been showing change lately, though.  Haruka has changed quite dramatically in the past few episodes.  In the last episode, he did a heck of a lot more talking than he had up to that point.  In this episode, he shows that he cares about more than just Makoto’s feelings.  Because he’s worried about Rei not being at practice, he shows that he cares about his team actually being a team and being friends.  This is a huge step from the Haruka we met at the beginning of the series, who only cared about being in the water.

I suppose this review would be incomplete without a question of exactly what the last episode will bring now that Rin has been cut from the relay.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Captain Mikoshiba did the right thing.  As the Iwatobi Swim Club has shown us, relays are largely built on teamwork and friendship.  Rin clearly hasn’t cared about his teammates in the relay during practice; we haven’t exactly seen him communicating with his teammates.  However, the question I have is this: doesn’t cutting Rin from the relay take away from the tension of the last episode?  Sure, we still want the Iwatobi relay to win, but that tension of swimming with Rin will now be gone.

I predict (at great risk of being wrong) that Rin will somehow get back into the relay.  I simply can’t see the same tension in the final episode without Rin being involved.

Free! Episode 12 Preview

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