Sorry about the delay! It was just way too hot to work at the computer last night! It wouldn’t have been healthy for me to do so! (I thought I was gonna pass out!)
I must say, it’s about bloody time we get some good development. Recently I have been feeling wishy-washy about this season of Free! and even considered dropping it altogether because of I was starting to get bored, but finally, the competition is about to get interesting!
At long last, a new challenger has emerged, and one that has no previous history with Haruka. Albert Wahlander of Sweden, current record holder of 100m and 200m of Freestyle, and he is a monster in the water! His title is not just for show, he finished long ahead of Haruka and the rest, and was already out of the water by the time Haruka reached the finish line. Everyone is shook to see Haruka had lost, but I wonder what Haruka himself thinks. When he first swim with Albert during practice, he was mesmerized by his swimming style. It could be for the first time, Haruka has someone who inspires him to climb greater heights. It is hard to say how ‘competitive’ Haruka actually is when the guy more often than not would win his races, and if he does come second, he hasn’t shown us getting all worked up about it— at least not yet anyways. Perhaps this experience will truly ignite that competitive spirit within him, fanning the flames to push him to train harder than ever before.
But Albert’s arrival to the stage doesn’t just make him Haruka’s sole rival, that also applies to Rin, Ikuya, Natsuya, anyone who will be swimming in the same competitions as him. Of course we know Haruka is the strongest of the bunch so far (but I am curious to see just how strong Natsuya has become, since he has won countless competitions himself), but the rivalry will more or less all be the same, the only difference, Haruka will not longer be their only goal to beat.
That being said, I look forward to learning more about Albert’s character. On land, he appears to be a pretty chill dude, but once he starts competing with people (such as challenging Isuzu at the arcade), his competitive spirit just takes over and he becomes a monster that will kick your ass. What kind of personality he has when he’s in that zone, we will find out soon enough.
However I will confess, it is starting to feel a bit tedious to write about Free! Dive to the Future! I think my main problem is that it feels like they are wasting time with pointlessly cutting to the Iwatobi Swim Club, or the cut where Nitori was talking to Rin how he and the others were worried about Sousuke going to Tokyo— and I find asking myself, were these scenes really necessary? Of course it’s nice to see the characters interact with each other, but really I feel like they should just focus on the main group at hand. It doesn’t really help how everyone is just about connected to every character— which is beyond insane when you think about it. Who would have thought Mikhail is Nitori’s uncle! (WTF?!) For God sakes, this “it’s a small world after-all” theme has spiralled out of control! We don’t need every character to be connected, I want to see new history and rivalry be be born, and not dwell so much on the past which Free has been revolving around from the very start. It’s about time to start something new, and hopefully Albert’s character will offer just that. (Unfortunately there is a high probability he has been coached by Ryuuji at some point or another.)