Because the series almost doubled it’s main cast this season, it’s easy to forget that Free! Eternal Summer has two primary leads – Haruka and Rin. And while Haruka’s angst has been on full display this season, Rin has mostly tended to be in the background, influencing the rest of the cast in significant ways, but playing a secondary role after getting the “starring” part in season one. Rin is again significant in episode 12 as he gently pushes Haru toward making a decision about the future.
What’s most remarkable about Rin this year, as I’ve mentioned too many times in the past, is that he’s totally transformed, doing almost a 180 from his previous season’s angry, emotional, arrogant self. In season two, that turnaround is marked by what is perhaps Rin’s most pointed characteristic now – his serving heart.
Throughout season two, Rin serves those around him, most obviously through captaining his swim team, and serving as a mentor and friend to Sousuke, Aiichiro, and Momo. In episode 12, we see this side further, as he uses an important trip back home, one that he off-handedly remarks he’ll use to secure his future plans, as a way of helping Haru. And also within the episode, he mentions a conversation he had with Makoto – he even still tends to that friendship as well.
How did Rin come to this point? In season one, the cantankerous redhead was shown unconditional love by the Iwatobi boys, eventually leading to his absolute brokenness and a change of heart. What results from that is a response from the deep recesses of Rin’s soul, a response so strong that it causes a holistic change in his life. Rin had long sought his own desires first; now, instead of receiving, he gives.
Rin’s response mirrors that of the Christian. When we receive the grace of God, it should also result in both inward and outward changes, affecting how we think and how we act. Just as Rin once took love and now gives it, Christians do the same in the realization that God came to earth to give love. Man was created not out of any need of God, who has always experienced perfect love and relationship within the Trinity, but to receive God’s love.
And God further demonstrates this love through servitude. We often think of serving as something lower, done historically by the lower class and reflecting, even now, something “less than.” But in Christ, we see God himself coming to serve man, showing that serving is a wondrous demonstration of love. Indeed, as we go low, we are lifted high. Regarding Rin, he was once a brat who cared only about self-love, but he’s now a serving leader whose character is the one that’s most admirable, even as Rin tells Haru that it’s him he’s always admired.
May we, too, seek to serve others, to humble ourselves in giving love, and to remember this: in lowering ourselves, there is something perfectly divine.