Seven episodes in and it’s pretty obvious that KyoAni knows their main demographic. We all knew from the start, but these recent episodes have definitely played right into the hands of the fujoshi crowd. A two-part training camp arc that leaves them on a deserted island and has an almost-mouth-to-mouth cliffhanger? Good play, KyoAni, good play. There’s a lot of pandering in the form of long stares, blushes, and wavering eyes as well, though it’s almost played for hilarity’s sake in Haru’s case. When asked who his childhood crush was, he starts to describe what everyone believes is a cute girl, but turns out to be a waterfall.
We’ve also gotten more of a glimpse at Rin’s past, which is important since he’s the main motivator for the Iwatobi Swim Club. Between Gou asking Haru to save him and Rin and Haru’s late night race, bringing Rin back from the dark side of competition is definitely the focus of the series. They’re definitely trying to set him up as a sympathetic character, explaining his rough personality and abrasiveness by showing the importance he places on his results and on measuring himself by his father, who was also a famous child swimmer. It works, but only a little bit. Unfortunately, Rin just comes off as too much of a dick who treats everyone around him badly, and it makes you wonder why everyone aside from Gou, who is obligated to worry about him because he’s family, still bothers. The other members of his swim team, Nitori and Mikoshiba, are definitely too good for him. They’ll have to try a lot harder to make Rin’s actions more sympathetic, and as it is, the man-pain is already a little much, especially with what he pulled at the end of episode seven. It has the potential to give Haru more development, but pretty much firmly cements Rin as a selfish asshole.
The animation remains one of the strongest points of the series, aside from everyone’s pure joy and passion on the subject—watching and listening to the character’s voices and faces light up when they talk about swimming or the beauty of a stroke really catches you up in it. It’s obvious KyoAni did their research, especially as the team goes to their first tournament, the prefecturals. It was especially refreshing to see them follow the setup of a tournament with heats and lane placement based on seed times. ALSO, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOW GORGEOUSLY THEY ANIMATE FLIP TURNS.