With one episode remaining, Free Eternal Summer has surprised me in how good it’s become. The first season had it’s moments, but it was mostly mediocre, and the same could be said for much of season two. It sometimes felt like a conglomeration of tropes and ideas that, though well put-together, were very artificial. But as the show nears it’s end, Free gets better and better, taking a turn toward significant questions about growing up through the lens of pretty boy swimmers.
While the last couple of episodes focus on Haruka, who has struggled all season to find his way, it’s Rin that compels me the most. As I mentioned earlier this season, he’s like a born-again believer, someone who’s been transformed and now genuinely lives out his faith. It’s easy to forget that season one’s Rin was angry and bitter and arrogant, especially in light of the kindness, patience, and leadership he’s shown all season long.
Episode 12 of Free Eternal Summer particularly focuses on Rin’s humility. At the beginning of the episode, Rin tells Haruka two heartfelt gems. First, he apologizes for their locker room incident, and secondly, Rin tells Haru that he’s always admired him. The humility here is impressive – there’s little that’s harder to do than to apologize sometimes, unless it’s to tell your friend that you want to be like him. And yet, without hesitation, Rin does both, sharing his inadequacies.
And I believe it’s this humility that opens Haruka to him. For once, Haru doesn’t feel the pressure he’s been feeling from everyone to pursue swimming collegiality. Instead, he’s confronted by someone who loves him and, though Rin knows what’s deep in Haru’s heart, he simply leads his friend to make that decision himself. Rin won’t force the point – he’ll simply open the door and let Haru walk through on his volition.
For Christians, there’s so much in Rin to emulate. His story should mirror our own – as he was at war with seemingly everyone in season one, we were at enmity with Go, and after receiving grace, he and we completely transform. The change in Rin isn’t perfect, but it’s thorough, as should be the case with born-again Christians, who should also reflect humility and the whole gamut of characteristics that also marked Christ. And in doing so, we can reach out to others, as Rin does with Haruka.
The question we should then ask ourselves is “Are we reaching out in love to others?” And if not, why?