There were a lot of jokes before this aired that this episode wouldn't happen because "the entire show is the swimsuit episode," but nope! They found a way.
My prediction from last week was right; this episode was about Rei learning how to swim. I imagine that his constant drowning got old with some people, but I giggled at it every time. There's just something about someone sinking like a rock that cracks me up. What I wasn't expecting was the bucketload of fanservice that came along with it. The show has calmed down on that aspect since the first episode, but I guess since Rei wasn't around for that they wanted to make up for it? I didn't mind it too much, but I do have to admit that as the episode went on, I felt increasingly like a pervy old woman or something. I'm in my twenties and the characters are at least seven years younger than me, which makes it awkward when the camera decides to linger on Rei's ass. I have truly become Gou. "Good girls don't ogle underaged anime men!"
The swimsuit shopping bit was much easier to take, probably because I spent most of the time laughing at Rei and Nagisa's ridiculous swimsuit choices. Haru picking out the exact some swimsuit was pretty funny as well, although I have to say that I love that the running joke of his character is rooted in reality. I've never done competitive swimming, but I have family and friends who have, and I've been able to swim for as long as I can remember. I've been close to people who have a similar obsession to Haru's. I know enough to call BS on this show not having the characters tuck their hair into their swim caps and how Rei magically knows how to do the butterfly stroke, which is one of, if not the, hardest strokes out there (in all of my attempts, it was not beautiful at all). The point is, there is a real concern here when it comes to getting the right swimsuit (it can make or break a race), and I'm enjoying how Haru's obsession is framed in light of this. I'm laughing because I recognize the caricature, and it's probably why Haru is my favorite character.
|I can see the doujins now|
P.S.: In case you haven't heard, Free! won't be airing an episode next week. Word on Twitter is that it's been booted out of its time slot by a live stream of a swimming event in Barcelona. If that's true, this is the most thematically appropriate delay ever.
Images from Crunchyroll.com.