Free! Episode 9 – Swimming together

Free nanase haruka swimming again
Let the fabulousness continue.

Moving on and staying the same.
Free! Episode 9 Review
Iwatobi Swim Club Episode 9 Review
“Hesitant Loosen Up!”

Finally, it seems we get that bit of development in Haruka that some of us have been waiting for. Even Rin is starting to open his eyes to understand what truly matters to him as a swimmer and as a person. Ironically enough, while Rin sought to move on by defeating Haru, Haru was the only one that ended up moving forward while he remained stuck to the past.

Free! Episode 9 Impressions



Swimming anime


Haru-chan swimming



Iwatobi Swim club cheer

Free gou and Amakata miho

BOOBS BUMP. Is this DxD?

Tachibana Makoto


Matsuoka Rin


Sure, we knew they were at least going to the regionals because the anime wouldn’t be able to progress smoothly otherwise, but seeing Haru blow past one person after another while the four jump with joy made me a bit excited as well. What’s even better is seeing Rin utterly stunned at their performance and the fact that he’s not with the group while this is happening. Finally, we see the beginnings of his attitude being slowly torn apart down to its base so he can understand what he really wants to do. This serves as a reminder of the past that he has clouded with his vengeance.


Nanase Haruka




Free anime iwatobi matsuoka


Oh damn. She’s getting it on. I wouldn’t mind a character with that kind of flirtation in a non-bromance anime.

Ryugazaki Rei


Nagisa Hazuki

Dude, Haruka may be an airhead, but he’s not retarded.


LOL. “Pointy teeth.”

Ryugazaki Rei badass



FABULOUS MEN IN FABULOUS YUKATA. I still appreciate the tiny bit of female yukata goodness no matter how short it may be. I know this anime isn’t geared towards having romance as bromance is the one that reigns supreme, but I was slightly disappointed at the flirtation by Gou’s friend being cut short. Jeez, they should let Makoto have some fun too. There’s not too much to talk about for the festival itself other than that some parts did make me laugh although not too much. It’s still a nice breather from the competition and we get some character progression moving forward which is much appreciated as Haru is a bit lackluster in terms of characterization.

Remember the fabulousness.

Matsuoka Rin can't handle the feels


The anime gave us bits and pieces about what Rin really valued from swimming. One side was wanting to be an Olympic swimmer and fulfill his father’s dream while the other is swimming with his friends because of the adrenaline, happiness and joy that he gets from doing so. At one point, the competitive side got the better of him which was the reason that got him to move to Australia to be better. He probably saw better opportunities elsewhere and chose the path he had to take to become an Olympic swimmer. The event that changed it all was his return which ended up in what he saw to be a humiliating loss.

At that point, the competitive side completely overwhelmed all else and he lost sight of the past with his friends. The past that he used to treasure. He felt jealous, angry, and isolated from his dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer so he wanted to prove to himself that he could be better than Haru. It’s not so much that he forgot about his past as much as he forgot how it felt to be in a team and to watch everyone win together. It was something completely within his grasp, but he still failed to see until it was too late. One of his most important reasons to swim was overlooked and lost by his lack of insight. He will try to pick up the pieces and while he may not utterly fail, the damage has already been done as regret picks away at his mind.

Tachibana Makoto

Let’s get the bromance started.

Free haruka confession


Just ignore the pretentiousness.

Damn straight.

Matsuoka Rin determined

You know what’s going to happen.


As for Haru, he still feels the pain of being thrown aside by Rin, but he finds comfort in knowing that he has those who worked hard with him and those he wants to swim with. He doesn’t go down the same path that Rin did and instead moved on with what he still had, something that Rin was and still is incapable of doing. His reason of swimming may have been just feeling the water, but now, it’s something more than that. Haruka feels the joy and excitement from swimming with Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei so he wants to continue cherishing that. Actually, Rin and Haru both seem to have realized just how important the team was and still is to them. Sadly, one person is just on the wrong side of the spectrum where the best path to take has been closed. Rin has to resort to trying to attain that feeling again with a different team and things probably won’t end well cooperation-wise. He’ll probably feel how much inferior it is compared to how he felt back then. Oh well, at least Haru can swim with him again.

Free! Episode 9 Review

I feel that Rin’s characterization is far more complex and noteworthy than Haru’s. It’s great that we finally do get some development with Haruka, but it hasn’t gained enough momentum to make it feel impactful. Characterization-wise, Haruka has been ignored for most of the season and has only been touched upon in the recent episodes upon the loss against Rin. Because of that, his realization is nice, but it doesn’t hold as much weight as Rin’s. Rin’s struggle and loss of direction has been hinted upon since the beginning. His demeanor throughout has been proof of the change in attitude compared to when he was a kid. And now that he sees that he’s been so blind, I find it to be much stronger.

Still, that’s not to say that Haru’s development is terrible. It’s just fairly average. If they had highlighted Haru’s own feelings about the struggle with Rin, it may have been better. Regardless, the rest of the episode pans out well with some decent humor and the slice of life relaxing feel that anime-watchers are so very accustomed to. For a build-up episode, it’s definitely a solid one. But I know what we’re all waiting for. The final showdown is almost upon us as this anime draws to a close. How will the conflict with Rin end? Will Rin end up alone and understand that he was mistaken so that he could move on? Will Haru and the others help Rin in some way or another? We’ll see soon enough.

Free Iwatobi Anime Wallpaper

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  • ree

    great review! i agree haruka’s development was the highlight of this episode but i still had this itching feeling for more? to be honest, this show would be really dull if rin wasn’t around

    • Entrav


      Rin basically is the sole conflict for this show or the one that causes it. A story without conflicts is well, boring.

  • zztop

    Just to ask, when you use the word ‘jelly’, I assume you’re not talking about the wobbly, fruit flavoured gelatin dessert. I’ve never heard that word being used outside that context where I’m from.
    More character development is always welcome! Bring it on! :)

    • Entrav

      Haha, it’s kind of funny that you describe it that way. By “jelly” I really just mean jealous. I like using that word in place of “jealous” when I’m not totally serious.

      • zztop

        Oh I see (O з O). Just it’s the 1st time I’ve heard people use ‘jelly’ that way. ( ̄ω ̄)

  • omgITSorange

    I also want to see that spin-off. That would be awesome! XD

    • Entrav

      Totally, seeing Rei being a detective with his pretentiousness? Hell yeah.

      • zztop

        He’d be on par with Poirot and Conan Edogawa, that’s for sure!

  • zztop

    Ika, Ika, everywhere!!

    But what about Ika Musume? She an ika too!!(;¬_¬)

    • Entrav

      Do you want to see her get eaten?

      • zztop

        Well, I am a bit of an S(sadist)…

  • Jacob

    I tried watching valvrave but after the first episode I was just uninterested and it seemed predictable. I know you liked valvrave so is this a show where it gets a lot better or is it just not the right anime for me?

    • Entrav

      It’s definitely not for everyone. See my review of it for more details, but it just comes down to enjoying the show without looking too far into the details. If you’ve watched some other absurd, crazy, over the top shows (such as Code Geass) and liked those types of shows, then you’ll probably like it. Otherwise, move on as it’s probably not for you.

  • Flaiboy

    My favorite episode so far. My daughter and I laughed our way through it. I disagree that Haru’s development hasn’t gained enough momentum to make an impact. We have been treated to episode after episode of watching Haru stare off into space as he’s lost in thought to the point of wondering if there are any emotions at all inside of him (I think he might of given them all to Nagisa).

    But at last we get to see him mature with the aid of his friends who didn’t even know that they had helped him to the degree that they spent most of the episode trying to keep him from thinking about swimming or shielding him from a confrontation with Rin. They clearly thought he would react by quitting the relay upon seeing him. But he’s grown past that, and I can’t help but think that the change we now see in him will be the catalyst for growth in Rin.

    I loved seeing the clutching of their respective chests as they each dealt with their own emotional pain. Once again, Rin shows his immaturity by being unable to process a painful experience; he has to learn that the change he seeks is not the outcome of any given race nor the utter emotional defeat of his former friends, but unless he grows and matures he will repeat this same pattern into his adult life. I laughed when his friend remarked that Rin had won so he could move on, now. If he doesn’t grow, he’ll never move on.

    Absolutely loved seeing a smile on Haru’s faced!

    • Entrav

      I’ve seen other anime do the chest grabbing and it just felt off because of the lack of build-up. Free! does it well enough that I don’t roll my eyes or find it too spontaneous for my liking. I’m harsh on character development in shows which is why I didn’t find Haru’s development particularly great. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it felt like fairly typical development compared to other shows. With Rin’s conflict being throughout being overtaken by this revelation is something that I like more than Haru’s. The depth in Rin’s character is more explored upon which makes the developments carry more weight. I can understand why some people would find Haru’s development impactful though as not everyone will not have the same standards.

      I think Haru moving on may be the catalyst for Rin to move on as well though we can’t be absolutely certain until the match happens. I’m looking forward to how they conclude the conflict between the two as I’m not sure if it’s going to be an amicable separation or if they’re going to go in another direction.