Makoto is now helping out Coach Sasabe at the Iwatobi Swim Club as a stand-in coach – teaching young kids to swim and melting hearts. The other boys worry a little that this might make it harder for him to dedicate himself to the training they so desperately need, but decide to let him go ahead with it anyway as long as he still trains. Also training hard is Nitori – which catches the eye of Sosuke, who then decides to give him a few pointers and prove that he’s a little softer inside than he seems.
One of the kids in Makoto’s swimming class is a timid young boy named Hayato who seems to hate swimming. It turns out that Hayato is the younger brother of Kisumi – one of Haruka and Makoto’s old middle school friends, and Makoto is able to do a lot of catching up with him when he comes to collect his brother. Kisumi tells Makoto that Hayato’s dislike of swimming is likely due to the trauma he suffered from nearly drowning once. Now recognizing a similarity between Hayato and his own younger self, Makoto tries to make swimming more fun for him by introducing him to a style that doesn’t require one to put their head underwater – his speciality, the backstroke.
Haru doesn’t seem very happy about reuniting with Kisumi for whatever reason, which Kisumi himself seems oblivious to. Kisumi also seems oblivious to the fact that a bombshell he then shares about Sosuke was likely meant to be a secret.
Well this episode sure was adorable. I’d been looking forward to it mostly because of Kisumi, but it ended up more like one big dedication to Makoto’s paternal side. It’s something we keep seeing throughout the series, particularly in regards to his younger siblings, and its a really great way of showcasing this part of him for maximum moe-point appeal. So hey, MaxFactory, now would be a really good time to unveil a prototype for that Makoto figma I’ve been waiting ages to see.
Basically, most of the episode’s appeal lies in exactly how much you love Makoto and how warm and fuzzy seeing him acting like a wonderful big brother/paternal figure makes you. I’ve seen reactions to this episode ranging from ‘nothing happened, it was boring’ to ‘this was the cutest thing I have seen in my life’. I’m leaning a lot more towards the latter, personally – also I’m really happy for Makoto to finally be getting more focus again. With all the looming doubts about life after highschool that have been in the background of so many of the recent episodes, I feel like this really is something that he could do with his life and be really good at. A lot of this episode felt like it was presenting this line of work as Makoto’s calling – in diret contrast to Haru, who still doesn’t seem to have a clue. Actually, Haru was certainly behaving strangely in this episode – not seeming thrilled with Makoto’s activities and being even oddly hostile to Kisumi for no apparent reason. Judging by the (strangely serious) episode preview, it looks like we’ll be going deeper into this next week, so hopefully there’s some answers.
As for Kisumi – like I said, I’d been excited to see him for a while now because he’s actually one of the characters in the prequel novel HighSpeed! who I was hoping would get an aged up cameo in Free!. I don’t know if he’s going to do anything else – it seems a bit cruel to introduce him otherwise, because he just seems like so much fun – but he’s at least not entirely pointless. He brings up one huge piece of information concerning Sosuke – the fact that his shoulder is injured. Now, this is interesting to me because as early as five weeks ago there were people speculating about this exact thing, because apparently, Sosuke only stretched out one of his arms. Back then I was both wondering how anyone noticed such a small detail and thought it was probably a coincidence, so kudos to those anime-sleuths that figured it out earlier I guess. Also kudos to kyoani for foreshadowing so subtlely. I don’t know a lot about swimming and how an injured shoulder would affect one’s performance – but is it actually possible to swim properly with an injured shoulder? Would this mean that Sosuke’s ability is actually much, much higher than it appears if he’s being hindered by it? Is it just his obsession with Rin that’s been propelling him through the water all this time despite the pain? I guess I’ll just have to find out.