After Rin unexpectedly turns up on Haru’s doorstop and announces that they’re going to Australia, the two do exactly that. Haru mainly only agrees to come because he wanted to be anywhere but home at the moment, but the trip – involving visiting a bunch of instantly-recognizable-to-Sydney-siders locations, actually proves to be quite therapeutic for him.
Rin also drops in to visit Russel and Lori, the couple he homestayed with all those years ago, and gets to treat the viewers to more information about what it was actually like for him in Australia by way of copious baby-Rin flashbacks.
Finally, when the two predictably visit the Olympic aquatic centre, Haru may have finally gotten his inspiration back.
It’s kind of funny to me that so many of the fans are hailing this as a great episode because it was entirely about Haru and Rin having many moments together, whereas for me it was because I am a part-time Sydney-sider and KyoAni’s meticulous attention to detail in getting it right gave me a giddy kind of happiness. (In fact, it almost feels like a waste that there were people who didn’t realize all the places they went to were real!) I was admittedly skeptical when the first anime Australian to talk had what sounded to me like the thickest New Zealand accent ever, but the rest of this was pretty great. (The blond swimmer who inspires Haru towards the end is somewhat off though and made me wonder if he was voiced by the same guy). I was really impressed with Russel and Lori though.
It wasnt that KyoAni got real Australians to voice these characters that surprised me (after all they did it with the K-On movie and had taxi drivers and hotel workers voiced by Brits), it was the sheer amount of English dialogue – Russel and Lori end up being somewhat major characters for the episode and have an entire scene in English, and Rin also carries out a conversation with a hotel worker who has the appropriate amount of sassy anti-service you can expect from cheap crappy backpacker hotels.(Can I also just add how weirdly satisfying it is to hear Australian English – aka english with no accent to me – in an anime? I’m so used to the exaggerated American accents in the english dubs so the effect was vaguely surreal). Rin’s (or should I say Mamoru Miyano’s) spoken English is also impressive in that he sounds like how a Japanese teenager who learned english as a second language would sound. Miyano gave the impression that he understood what he was saying, which is more than can be said of the montonous script-reading in Zankyou no Terror. If you’re wondering – the japanese broadcast of this episode had japanese subtitles during the extended english conversations so that fans weren’t as in the dark as Haru.
As for the episode itself, even without all the little things for Australian fans (well, mostly Sydney fans) to appreciate it was quite a good one. It’s a bit corny in places – Rin and Haru ending up having to share a bed at their hotel was such fanfiction-level brazenness that I actually laughed. And it was a little all too convenient to have Haru snap out of his emo state and find his dream; although I understand how the trip helped clear his head. Most of all though I absolutely loved Rin in this episode. His tranformation from season1-Rin is almost unbelievable, and it was just so nice that he spent basically the whole episode smiling, and helping Haru just by showing him new horizons and neither forcing or guilt-tripping. I think it’s a particular side of him that hadn’t truly been shown until now.
I can’t believe there’s only one more episode after this (well, two if you count the bonus episode which will apparently be on the last DVD). Can they really squeeze all that needs to be done in one more…?