It was on that day you understood how easy it would be to destroy him: the dysfunctional side of Rin and Haruka’s friendship
I acknowledge how hypocritical it is for me to cry about not having time to write stuff while I simultaneously crank out meta, but contrary to popular belief these actually don’t take that long – and even if they did, I operate on inspiration. I had been planning this one for a while now (read: first during the drafting of Kaiyukan, and then again when I prepared notes for my lecture), because Haruka and Rin’s dysfunctional relationship IS at the core of Free! in many ways.
I have written about Haruka and Makoto, after all; theirs is a relationship that shifts back and forth between a nurturing symbiosis and stifling dependence, but at the end of the day they care about one another enough to avoid the worst of such pitfalls. The same is, of course, no less true with Haruka and Rin; as I said before, no dynamic goes without a shadow, but these shadows can be worked on and overcome when two people genuinely care about one another. The strength of that conviction is what makes Free! such a fascinating show to me to begin with.
In the end, the conflict that fuels the entire first season is simple, and also the basis for this post:
Rin and Haruka repeatedly misunderstand each other’s actions and motives because they come from two very different places of emotional cognition. Moreover, their ways of reacting to said emotional stimulus are likewise almost polar opposites, which naturally complicates matters. And if that wasn’t enough, these opposites often hit the exact most sensitive spots for both characters, as their instinctive modes of self-preservation also have the tendency of striking the other person where it hurts the most – be it on purpose or by accident.
Haruka and Rin could easily destroy one another. What’s crucial to the narrative is that they don’t.