Honestly, Free! Eternal Gou-chan is a staple of my anime week. I don’t know what I’d do without—
twenty-five okay, more like twelve and a half minutes—of the best swim manager this side of the Pacific ocean every Wednesday. This has been a good season of anime for redheads.
There is a saying in my hometown, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And, if you’re like me, you can see that beautiful things abound in this world. This post is a celebration of such beauty.
Gou begins her weekly campaign across the arid desert (teehee) of female existence that is Free! Eternal Summer with a surprise bento check. For those of you who thought that Gou-chan only cares about muscles, well…you’re right, but as I wrote in my Chihayafuru post, I find single-minded commitment to a single goal quite attractive as a general quality. Drizzle on some love and care, like what Gou shows to the boys, and you’re got the recipe for a good human being. And, fortunately for the Iwatobi Swim club, Gou’s got the recipe to build their muscles and help them be healthier.
Following the announcement, Gou carries out the promised bento check to dismal results. Not a single member of the swim team has any nutritional awareness (although Makoto and Rei show unsurprisingly high rates of waifu bento-making aptitude), and so our fearless and caring swim team manager takes it upon herself to ensure the members of her team are fed as is befitting an athlete. To be honest, I can’t help but think that Gou is stretching herself a bit thin here. She’s already taken on the role of compiling the boys’ swim routine, and to now take on cooking duties? It seems a bit much.
Gou’s quest to provide for her flock of handsome and muscled ducklings leads her into the city (in a lovely and modest green shirt, pale yellow skirt combination). Again, I fear Gou’s commitment to shaping her bunch of happy-go-lucky swimmers into a bona fide threat in the pool may come at a cost to her own health. Nevertheless, she soldiers on and, happily, for now she seems in the best of health and the best of spirits. That is, at least, until she’s assaulted by a truly uncouth young man who refuses to respect her personal space. Much to Gou’s credit, she does her best to be understanding and kind in the face of such buffoonery, but it’s apparent she’s thrown off her game a bit.
Having braved both the dangers of the city and male adolescence, Gou returns to the Iwatobi Swim Club none the worse for the wear. Her hearty nature had a chance to manifest itself more in this episode than it has the past, evidenced by the cheer with which she presents the bentos she’s made to the members of the team. Haru and Makoto complain about the flavor (bless you—for once—Nagisa, for having actual taste buds), but the harsh reality of being and athlete and eating healthy is you don’t just get to eat your favorite foods all the time. Gou understands this, and although protein powder may not make the most delectable meal, she uses it anyways for the good of the team. Say what you want about Gou—she does what must be done.
Sadly, we don’t see much more of Gou in the episode, besides a brief appearance back in Haru’s house. It is here that we see yet another side of Gou, one that is committed to bringing up the best team she can—but not at the expense of her joyful personality, nor her reasonableness. She readily assents to Goro-sensei’s offering of pizza to the club, demonstrating a clear understanding that “one cannot wage war on an empty stomach.”
And that was pretty much the last we saw of Gou-chan. Not quite fitting for a show entitled Free! Eternal Gou-chan, but one must count his blessings as they come and not fret over the disappointments that life can so often bring. Gou-chan wouldn’t get down over something like this—neither should you.