Two-thirds of the way through the season, we finally resolve the Ikuya drama in “Metamorphosis of the Soul!”. In true Free! fashion, everyone’s problems are solved by swimming with Haru. At this point, I’m starting to think that boy can bring about world peace.
No, seriously. “Metamorphosis of the Soul!” proves that literally everyone’s problems are solved by swimming with Haru. Makoto even suggests this method of problem-solving when he finds Hiyori sulking by the vending machines.
After last week’s dramatic cliffhanger, we finally get to see Haru and Ikuya race in the IM. I have to say, after all the drama of this season so far, it’s a little anticlimactic that Ikuya gets his groove back in the first half of the episode. It’s nice to have something fluffy and happy after all that angst, but it also feels like they wasted so much time that could have been devoted to other things – Rin in Australia, Makoto and/or Sousuke and their future plans, the Iwatobi boys’ new team…
I also get the sense that this episode was supposed to finally make me care about Hiyori, and I…just…don’t? I’m miffed that so much screen time has been spent on his and Ikuya’s relationship, which wasn’t even a thing until this season, when, again, we could have been spending time with more established characters who deserve a deeper story.
On the plus side, maybe now that all of this is over and Ikuya’s “fixed” or whatever, we can focus on characters that I actually care about. Not Hiyori. (Although he should really apologize to Haru and the others. Dude was a jerk.) (I also have thoughts about how Ikuya’s been depressed for years but suddenly swimming one races makes him better, but this is a swimming anime so it’s not like I was expecting much.)
I am continually impressed with the way Free! animates its swimming scenes. The IM and the freestyle relay were things of beauty – some of the best animation I’ve seen, not just in Free!, but in sports anime in general. I am a little disappointed that “Metamorphosis of the Soul!” didn’t show us more of Haru swimming the other strokes, since it was such a big deal that he was doing that in the first place. I hope that he doesn’t drop the IM now that he’s raced Ikuya, because I think it’s important to his growth that he continue to improve his swimming. (Also, I find it difficult to believe that he didn’t beat the base time in IM, considering he lost to Ikuya by like half a heartbeat.)
Now it seems as though we’re going to focus more on the competitive aspect of this season. If you watched until the end of the credits, you saw the brief scene of Rin arriving in Japan, which means things are about to get good! The preview for episode 9 also gave us glimpses of the mysterious figures from the OP who have been absent so far this season. I am ridiculously excited that all of the important players are finally in the same country again. I am also excited for the (hopeful) shift in focus. There is no way that Rin and Haru’s rivalry won’t be a big feature of at least one of the upcoming episodes.
What did you all think of “Metamorphosis of the Soul!”?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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