First up, we finally get to know what Sosuke’s deal is. Hurray! Basically he wasn’t that interested in swimming relays until realizing how much it meant to Rin, and was somewhat gutted when, as kids, Rin told him that he’d ‘found friends to swim the relay with’ (ie, the Iwatobi boys). He dedicated himself to training after Rin left for Australia, and ended up injuring his shoulder from overexertion. Despite his dream to race against Rin again at an international level, his injury had him about to give up the sport for good. Then, of course, he happened to witness Rin’s swimming in the tournament last year…particularly his striking change in behaviour when he swam the relay. Thus before he was able to face Rin again he went through numerous rehabilitation exercises for his shoulder, with the goal of being able to swim with him before he finally quits. Unfortunately(?) for Sosuke though, Haru overhears this entire dramatic private reveal presumably intended for Rin’s ears only.
Eventually it’s time for the relay itself, which ends in a victory for Iwatobi – Samezuka coming second within a hair’s breadth.
I’m honestly in two minds about this episode.For one, I’m very appreciative of all the Rin-moe, because pointy-toothed crying boys is my weakness. He’s also the cutest as a kid, so any flashback with him in it is always fun to see. There was stuff like Rin having a cold on christmas, which was absolutely pointless in terms of what it brought to the narrative and yet I love that kind of thing. So yes, lots of cutesy moments, and also another of those pseudo-shojo manga moments with Rin’s hair blowing in the breeze as he gasps dramatically at the appearance of his friends that made me laugh so much last season. Also, this was kind of a nice touch because while last time it was the Iwatobi boys that appeared as his friends, this time it’s his Samezuka team-mates, which makes it another neat little way to show his character development. But still, it doesn’t stop it from being hilarious to me.
And then there’s Sosuke. There’s a few things I liked about him in this episode – for one it’s nice to finally see him emoting, and I think the show did a good job with showing his frustration and agony. It made him feel somewhat deeper than he did before. I also like that the explanation for his injury is at least attempting to make sense – bringing in things like rehabilitation exercises to bring some realism to it, anyway – although the fact that it still didn’t seem to be hurting him until the plot required it to is still annoying to me. But, this episode more than ever just really makes me question what the actual point in Sosuke is. I know characters shouldnt really ‘need’ a point most of the time, but the overly ham-fisted attempts at trying to retcon him into the season 1 events are pretty lame. ‘I was totally there when you and Haru had that fight at the end of season one, Rin! I was just hiding behind the wall! I was going to call out to you but…I couldn’t! And then I just went home!’
Anyway, the actual important part of the episode was that both teams have made it to the nationals. The next episode looks like it will be returning to Haru’s inner dilemna – which is good because the sudden break from it seemed a bit weird and kind of mucked up the pacing of the show in my opinion. But we’ll see.