It’s pretty standard for school life anime about high school clubs to devote at least one episode into persistently recruiting a new member, so this more generic premise made the episode a good point of comparison with other shows in the genre. It’s a testament to the man writing it that the garden-variety setup elevated the show and set an appreciably high baseline.
There were a couple of moments this episode that really showed off the combustible chemistry between the guys. That one scene where Makoto narrated over Haru’s twinkling eyes was a real keeper; it says something about the cast that they’re in sync enough to guess each others’ thoughts with reasonable accuracy. It also helps that Haru is slightly insane.
Really, though, everyone in the cast overacts from time to time. Joke-setup duty has been spread pretty fairly around the cast, which really lets accomplished comedy writer Masahiro Yokotani* play them off each other in good alternative “Who’s the crazy one this time?” routines.** I found myself rewinding the episode a couple of times to just watch what the characters just did over and over.
Moving beyond the inescapable charm of the main cast for a second, the story does seem to be moving forward. At the least, the characters have a goal; win tournaments, get funding, buy a gym membership. I’d bet money on the next episode focusing more on training to get them to that point, but it’s 50-50 on whether that’s teaching newcomer Rei accurate form or playing the cast off each other some more. This doesn’t feel like a show that’ll spend too much time in one place, though it could certainly afford to do so more than many.
*Responsible for gems like Hataraku Maou-sama, Himawari, and Sargeant Freaking Frog.
**I am of the opinion that the people raising the loudest complaints about this show would lap it up with the exact same premise and dialogue but bent genders.
“I am of the opinion that the people raising the loudest complaints about this show would lap it up with the exact same premise and dialogue but bent genders.” THIS. Thank you. And while I’ll be the first to say that this show certainly isn’t perfect, I also can’t disagree strongly enough with the people who have had seemingly knee-jerk reactions against it. It’s a blatantly obvious fanservice-laden series aimed at a female audience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lacking in any artistic merit. (At the very least, some of those visuals really are stunning. As a competitive swimmer myself, perhaps I can appreciate this aspect more than most.)