Rumor has it that swimmers have the most beautiful bodies. Lean muscles proportionately balanced, stretching over broad shoulders, tight hips, long legs and arms. All in all, NAKED (well, not 100%, but we could work on the unrevealed areas on our own~). The very nature of swimming activities--which is that it's better one do not wear normal clothing that covers most of the skin surface--legitimizes people's (and fujoshi's hungry) gaze on these perfectly constructed bodies, without stealth, guilt, hesitation, or shame (well, depending on your conscience).
Just look at the bodies moving through sliver splashes of water, and how rivulets of clear liquid glide down the creases between those prominent muscles when they resurface. If this is not a feast to the eye, I have not idea what is. However, besides of the physical, we fujoshis are equally concerned with the spiritual (as hard as you may believe, we are....... are we?). We want to see those who have these bodies long for one another, obsess with one another, and go to a great extent to gain one another.
Welcome to our first dish to the never ending menu of BL/Yaoi moments in anime: "Free!". There is nothing more enticing than half-naked boys in water, competing, cheering, crying, fighting, and hugging (okay, where did the swimming go?). Through a Fujoshi Yaoi/BL filter lens, "Free!" is the complicated relationship among 5 guys--Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, Rei Ryūgazaki, and Rin Matsuoka--who find themselves trapped in an entangled love drama, trying to explore and resolve their feelings for their true love. And on a side note, they swim.
In terms of spoilers, I'm not so sure that you will be reading the story that you knew from the original rendition in this article, if you do not have a "Fujoshi lens." And for our fellow fujoshis, I'm sure you wouldn't mind any spoilers--since you might have already seen it, many times!
Let us begin~!
1st Moment--Haruka's apron over swimsuit (Makoto/Haruka)
In the opening scene of the opening episode of this anime, we get to see something that got us hooked to this anime for the rest of the season (for some, for the rest of our lives): Haruka wearing an apron over his wet swimsuit. Even more, for those who are fans of Makoto/Haruka, it is Makoto who pulled Haruka out of a tub full of water, reaching out his hand with a tender smile. Now, in what universe would a 16-year-old and perfectly able male adult need someone else to "lend him a hand" to get out of a shallow tub? We could only imagine the relationship between the two.
As Haruka was standing up from the tub, we see streams of water rolling down his firm muscular body, over his bare chest, across his six-pack, and down to...... his purple and black swimsuit. While we sigh in disappointment, we also sense Makoto's deep sigh when he said, "you're wearing swimsuit in the tub again?" The only explanation for this comment is that, for once, Makoto hopes to see a Haruka without swimsuit, in the tub (or preferably somewhere else).
However, the tactless and unconcerned Haruka did do something that sent Makoto's heart racing (as well as ours). Right out of the tub, Haruka puts on an apron over the still-wet swimsuit, and starts to cook mackerel. Makoto is apparently taken by surprise and overwhelmingly overjoyed by the sight of this (as we all are), and tries to cover his nervous excitement with unconvincing complaints (unlike us, we could openly drool in front of the screen, and relish our sense of pity for Makoto). Here, there are two possible scenarios that could follow. First, Makoto eventually succumbs to his primal urges, pins Haruka down on the kitchen sink, and finishes what he always wanted to do--with the apron on. Second, Makoto goes to the bathroom and takes care of himself, while Haruka finishes an overcooked mackerel, takes off the apron, and changes into school uniform. For me personally, I would love to see both!
2nd Moment--Nagisa's earnest pursuit (Rei/Nagisa)
This is the moment when Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa started the swimming club at their high school--Iwatobi High School. They are planning to attend the county swimming race, but are short of one member for the relay race. Nagisa spots Rei, and decides that he wants him and will do anything to get him (as the fourth member of their relay team) (I believe the professional term for this is "love at first sight").
Thus begins Nagisa's consistent and fervent pursuit for Rei. Nagisa tells Rei that he is beautiful, that this is fate, and that Rei is the only one he wants. He tells Rei that, without him, he (well, they, the team) will be devastated (Nagisa does have a pretty good idea of the standard procedure to courtship~). It's probably rather hard for Rei to try to resist those sparkling innocent eyes beaming with adoration and expectation. Eventually, Rei agrees to attend a co-practice with Samezuka Academy, temporarily filling in for the missing fourth member. And, as soon as Rei sees Haruka swim, he falls in love (poor Nagisa).
Rei decides to join the Iwatobi swim club out of admiration for Haruka. However, he does remember Nagisa's devotion to him and tells Nagisa, "you are the person who got me into this in the first place. You have to take full responsibility of what you did to me (isn't this something you would say when proposing to someone?)." So, although we know that Rei definitely has feelings for Haruka, this last scene in the third episode defines the official relationship between Rei and Nagisa--as a couple (isn't this kind of messed up?).
3rd Moment--Rin pressing Haruak (hard) against an outdoor fence (Rin/Haruka)
And here comes my favorite couple--Rin/Haruka. As the story progresses, we know that Rin is the lost love that has been haunting Haruka since the first year of middle school. They bump into each other at a department store when shopping for swimsuits (of which Haruka has many identical ones). Rin takes Haruka out into a clearing, in the backyard of the department store.
Rin looks Haruka in the eye, with a blazing inquiry that is a mixture of indignation, hurt, accusation, deep desire, and ardent love. At this point, Rin is not yet sure of his deeper true feelings for Haruka. He wants Haruka to notice him, he wants Haruka to fixate his gaze on him. He wants Haruka to face him whole-heartedly and directly, to give him all of himself. He hopes Haruka can feel how he feels, but is lost in his own emotions. Unable to put his strong feelings into words, Rin becomes anxious and impetuous (keep note that 90% of the interpretations here are fujoshi hallucinations).
At the peak of his frustration, Rin grabs Haruka by the shoulder and presses him against the backyard fence (with a BGM of fujoshi screams). He closes his face into Haruka's, breath on his lips, maroon red hair blowing into Haruka's eyes. Rin says, "you have to live for me (well, "swim" is what he said. But in the context of "Free!", "live" and "swim" are synonyms)!!!" And kisses Haruka on the mouth (no, to our disappointment this did not happen. But it will. As long as you have faith, it will). Haruka gently moves Rin's hands, looks back into Rin's ruby eyes, and says, "I will. But under one condition," Haruka takes a deep breath, "you have to accept the whole of me." (Okay, this is getting a bit too far, but that's kind of what happened.... well, kind of.....?)
4th Moment--Deserted island and CPR (Makoto/Haruka)
Now we are back to our less dramatic yet steady couple--Makoto/Haruka.
The Iwatobi swim club has planed a training trip at the beach. On the first night, Rei went out on his own for practice, in hope of catching up with the other members. The rest of the team noticed his absence and went into the sea to save him. And of course, all of them got swept away by the dark ocean waves.
Makoto and Haruka are separated from Rei and Nagisa, and resurfaced on one of the small deserted islands. Makoto was unconscious at this point, and there's nothing else Haruka could do but to give him a wake-up kiss (this did not happen, either...... it was an unaccomplished mouth-to-mouth CPR attempt. At least let him get through with the mouth-to-mouth part!! Production team!!!)
After Makoto comes back to life from the (non-existing) kiss, the two sit side-by-side under a shade in the stone cliffs, with rain falling on the beach and sea, both of them naked (well, with swimsuits, but we could "look past" that). The near-death experience probably prompts Makoto to finally confess his true feelings to Haruka. He tells Haruka that, although he likes to swim with the team, the only reason that is keeping him motivated in swimming, is Haruka. "It could only be Haru," says Makoto, green eyes glistering in the rain, "I want (to swim with) Haru (the omission reveals what Makoto really wants to say. We're just lending him a hand. You're welcome)."
And just when Makoto is about to kiss Haruka, Rei and Nagisa appear (I told you this article is 90% fujoshi hallucination. If you want to know what really happened, go watch the anime.......... and you will find, everything in this article is TRUE).
5th Moment--Ai Nitori's plea for Rin to stay (while holding on to Rin's bare ankles) (Rin/Ai)
Although this is not a pairing that I myself is particularly interested in, since there is definitely something going on between them in the anime, we might as well take a look.
One of Rin's Swim Team members at Samezuka Academy, Ai Nitori, is apparently infatuated with Rin. However, he soon finds out that Rin is blindly obsessed with Haruka, and there's hardly any space for Nitori to set his foot in between the two. Still, we see Nitori's innocent (to the point of naive) persistence in his pursuit for Rin.
The night before the county race, Nitori is holding Rin's ankles down while Rin does his sit-ups. With some hesitation, Nitori asks Rin why isn't he traveling with the team to the city for the race tomorrow? Rin answers with an ambiguous reply, "well, I have some errands to run," and continues doing his sit-ups. Tightening his grip on Rin's ankles, Nitori looks down, pauses, and utters his words in a whisper, "...... are you planning to meet Nanase (Haruka)?" Even without a Fujoshi filter lens, this very scene here, so obviously presents nothing but Nitori's strong and unsuppressed jealousy towards Haruka, Rin's one and only true love.
Rin dismisses Nitori's blunt emotional expressions with a simple comment: "are you a stalker?" But eventually tells Nitori that he's visiting his father's tomb before the race. He even tells Nitori that he has his own advantages and strong points, and with effort and practice, he has the potential to stand out. So, although Rin has already shown how much he loves Haruka in the previous episode, their relationship is still wading in murky waters, especially with competition from Nitori and Makoto.
6th Moment--Rin riding Haruka!!! (Rin/Haruka)
We have come to our last, but not least, moment of Yaoi/BL in "Free!", and it wraps up everything we (well, at least I) long to see.
Before their turn for relay race, Haruka finally admits that he wants (to swim with) Rin. When Haruka finds the missing Rin in the backyard of the dome, Rin sees him and screams at Haruka with hurt and devastation. Haruka tries to convey his true feelings for Rin, telling Rin that he needs him and wants (to swim with) him, and loves him (okay, he did not say this, but it is pretty obvious), and that Rin is the person who taught him all this. However, the devastated Rin is unable to grasp the true meanings of Haruka's confession (how hard is it to understand "I want to be with you?" well, probably pretty hard when it didn't really happen in the story......).
Rin's frustration soon turns into violence. He runs up to Haruka, grabs his collar, and thrusts a (hard) fist into Haruka's face (we hope he thrusts something else into somewhere else of Haruka's~). Haruka holds on to Rin's fist (which we see as something else), and they both fall to the ground. They rolled on dirt for a couple of feet before Rin comes to his senses and lands still on Haruka, riding him face up (RIDING!! FACE UP!!).
The disoriented Rin starts to cry (this guy is so emotional..... and we love that~). His tears dripping on Haruka's cheeks, finally admitting that he too wants (to swim with) Haruka, and longs to be a part of his life. Haruka holds out his hand gently and wipes away Rin's tears (this did not happen, but it should), and says, "come, Rin. This time, I will show you scenes you've never seen before." And we all know, as Rin says, "yes," Haruka will be showing Rin unprecedented pleasure and satisfaction (in the bedroom).
And here comes to end of he Yaoi/BL moments we've identified in "Free!". There are definitely more moments which we are reluctant to leave out (for example, Rin and Haruka immediately taking all their clothes of at the first sight of each other, and Rin calling Nitori's first name, Ai, instead of his last name). In addition, if you seek pleasure particularly through auditory senses, the last relay race is a scene you would absolutely relish (the heavy underwater breathing will put you to sleep easily; or keep you wide wake the whole night~).
Let us know what scenes you enjoy the most in "Free!", and what pairings you love, and the stories you have for them~!! We will be talking about "Kuroko's Basketball (Kuroko no Basket)" next, so stay tuned!