Ooh this was a good episode, a lot better than expected actually. I really liked they how they went back to their middle school days. It allowed us to get a better idea of the type of relationship Ikuya and Haruka shared. Ikuya was inspired by Haruka’s freestyle, and aspired to swim like him. To do that he needed to forge his own form. The two of them made a promise to race each other in freestyle as soon as summer comes again. But for whatever reasons, the promise was left unfulfilled. We still don’t know the exact reason why Haruka ended up quitting the swim team in middle school, especially when it he was on track to continue, but we do know it was bound to fall apart since Isagi ended up moving again.
But if there’s one thing for certain: Ikuya has managed to succeed, and is now a powerful swimmer who has finally caught up, or could already be well past Haruka’s abilities. I for one am excited to see the two race against one another.
After much external interference, Ikuya and Haruka were finally able to bump into one another, and their brief reunion was quite a sober one. Actually it feels almost as though Ikuya completely detached from his emotions, as a way to numb the pain. We can see that when Haruka apologized to him for breaking his promise, despite claiming it’s in the past, it’s clear that Ikuya’s heart is still bruised from it. It’s unfortunate that Haruka wasn’t able to get the chance to properly explain himself when he wanted to because Hiyori ended up interrupting them (GOD DAMN IT! I REALLY CAN’T STAND THIS GUY!)
One of the things that surprised Haruka, was how Ikuya doesn’t compete in relays anymore. Based off the way he talks about relays, I get the sense, he could either be experiencing the similar kind of loss as Haruka did when Rin left to train in another country, being unable to fulfill their promise as a team, and it stuck with him ever since. It could be, he simply doesn’t have enough faith in a relay team, perhaps fearing his team will fall apart as it did in middle school.
And then there’s the dude I didn’t like from last week’s episode, Hiyori. Well, he sure as hell didn’t make himself anymore likeable this week. I don’t know what is wrong with him, but Hiyori seems to be super possessive of Ikuya. He was deliberately trying to keep him away from Haruka and the gang. Ugh, I feel like he’s going to be that guy who creates all sorts of misunderstandings to keep them apart. I can’t stand characters like that.
Finally, it sounds like we have found the objective for this season: Is Haruka willing to extend beyond freestyle? While he certainly picked up the other strokes, by the looks of it, it seems Ikuya is the one who managed to pull ahead. The man who confront Haruka with that question seems to either be a scout or coach, or maybe both. We don’t know his affiliation, but it will be interesting to see how this will play out.
Another fun point that was made was establishing possibility for Nagisa and Rei to reunite with Haruka and the others at the All-Japan Invitationals. It is a difficult goal, but if they are able to qualify with good enough times, they may have the opportunity to actually race against Haruka. This is possibly how the season may all come together, with all these various circles that have all played a significant role in Haruka’s journey as a swimmer. Natsuya has traveled to Australia where Rin is because he heard about a good coach, it will be fun to see how the two of them will interact.
In all this was a solid episode, and it certainly gives me a lot more hope of enjoying this third season more than I had initially anticipated. It will be interesting to see whether or not this will be stronger than the second season.