Last week ended with some shocking news about Rin that has the potential to complicate things for the Iwatobi team. Not only that, but our glasses-clad swimmer Rei seems to be getting more and more embroiled in the complex relationship between the rest of his team and Rin. How does it all pan out this week?
This episode starts out with a flashback featuring the days of swimming gone by. It’s Rin first day at Iwatobi’s elementary school, where he has just transferred to. It isn’t the first time he’s met Haru and Makoto though. The three of them have run into each other before at swimming competitions. Rin seems overjoyed to be there, but Haru is less than welcoming of the newcomer. Maybe because Rin keeps trying to push Haru and Makoto to swim in a relay with him during the next swimming competition, which Haru tries to avoid, insisting that he only swims freestyle.
Despite that though, it’s clear that Rin’s presence is having an effect on Haru. He starts training harder after watching Rin swim, and Rin continues to be impressed and curious about Haru’s innate swimming skill. He tries questioning Makoto about Haru’s obsession with freestyle, but doesn’t accept that it’s simply how Haru is most comfortable in the water. The group does grow closer though, which makes Rin’s announcement that he’s moving to Australia after the school year is up even more shocking for them all.
Back in the present day, the Iwatobi team has taken on Coach Sasabe as their official team coach. They’re making progress under his disciplined regimen, but Rei in particular doesn’t like the way Haru’s focus on swimming has changed since his loss to Rin. In fact, there are a lot of things troubling Rei. After catching Rin’s emotional moment by the elementary school in the last episode, he’s struggling to understand the relationship between Rin and his own team members.
The situation comes to a head when the team meets at Sasabe’s home to partake in a special swimmer’s hotpot meal (despite the fact that it’s summer.) Gou finds an old photo album filled with pictures of the current Iwatobi team’s elementary school days, and Rei becomes more and more troubled until they leave for the night. On the walk home, he confronts the rest of the team. He’s just as much a member of the team as any of them, he argues- so why shouldn’t he know what happened with Rin in the past as well?
No one is insulted by this question; in fact, Haru and the others seem to be happy that Rei finally considers himself as part of the swim team. Haru tells him the rest of the story of their childhood: how Rin was dedicated to swimming a relay with the Iwatobi team as a child because that’s what his father had done, back when he was a kid and attended Iwatobi himself; and how Rin visited Japan after moving away and challenged Haru to another swim match. After Rin lost, he told Haru the one thing that caused Haru to stop swimming with a team: that after losing to Haru, he would never swim again.
This answers a lot of questions for Rei, but not all of them. The next day at swim practice, Rei doesn’t make an appearance. Instead, he walks to Samezuka Academy and asks to see Rin. The episode ends as Rin exits the building and the two face off.
First of all- finally! I knew it had to come to light eventually! Turns out that Amakata-sensei used to model for a certain type of magazine before she became a teacher. Better yet, Coach Sasabe was a fan of the magazines and owns many copies featuring her posing in swimsuits. Amakata-sensei hasn’t had a lot of screen time lately, and the mystery of her aversion to swimwear had been pushed to the back of my mind- so it was fun to have it come up full-force again.
To be honest, I’ve been feeling bad for Rei lately. There’s all this drama going on, and he’s sort of the fourth (or fifth) wheel being dragged along by it all without really understanding why. It was unclear until today whether or not he felt put out by that, but at the very least we now know that he wants to be a part of the team as much as possible; and to him, this includes knowing the team’s past and helping solve the problems they have to face as a result of it. He’s come a long way from being the reluctant last-minute placeholder on the team, and it’s clear that the other members have noticed the change.
Other than showing Rei’s struggle with the team’s past, this episode pulled a lot of weight in the history department by giving us extended flashbacks. The most important detail that stands out in all of these is how much Rin has changed. He used to be lighthearted, personable, and full of energy he was willing to share with everyone around him. It draws a really stark contrast to the introverted, angry Rin we’ve come to know.
Another slow episode, action-wise. Still, we got a double-whammy of emotions from the past and the present in episode 10, and the two were balanced out very well. It looks like all the work this episode did in setting up Rei and Rin will pay off next week, and I’m excited to see how the two hit it off in their first solo interaction.