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Heartwarming: Free!

Season 1

  • While there have been a smattering of moments here and there, in episode 5, Haruka and Rin show concern over Makoto's fear of the ocean.
  • Also from episode 5, after talking with Gou, Rin, in his first moment of brotherly love for her, offers to walk her back to the lodge she's staying at. The look on Gou's face says it all - she's so happy that her big brother wants to spend some more time with her.
  • Many moments in episode 6. We again have Haru showing a lot of concern for Makoto, Makoto - as always - trying to put his friends at ease and not blaming Rei for what happened, Nagisa doing his best to cheer up the others...
    Nagisa: If you're scared of the ocean, why did you participate in this training camp?
    Makoto: Because I wanted to swim... because, I wanted to swim with you guys.
    Makoto: When the four of us swim together... I feel like we can go anywhere.
  • Rin going running the morning after the storm and deliberately going by the Iwatobi team's tents to make sure they're okay.
  • When Haruka comes home late after everyone fails their qualifying rounds in episode 8...only to find Makoto asleep on his doorstep, holding his phone. He picks up the phone and hears a message from Nagisa, Rei and Gou, all begging him to come home and swim a relay tomorrow. Haruka wakes Makoto up - and agrees to swim the relay.
  • Rin still remembering the strokes that are so characteristic for his friends. Him apparently realizing WHAT it was that he taught Haru what else could be important to swimming victories aside. Him getting positively jealous of Rei... ... pretty much all of the scene is both heartwarming and a Moment Of Awesome. ... just like pretty much all of the episode.
  • The promo art and assorted posters and CD covers tend to have their share of sweet moments.
    • The cover for volume 2 of the drama CD. Kou being happy to spend time with her brother, Rei and Nagisa walking together in the back and for once not getting on each other's nerves, and in the fore we have Makoto sharing something on his phone with Haruka who is smiling.
  • In episode 9, Haru buys goldfish for Makoto at the festival.
    • Episode nine itself was practically a crowning episode of heartwarming, with Haru actually smiling and realising how much he loves swimming with the rest of the group. Their faces when he tells them this are priceless. The Power of Friendship at its finest.
      • The fact that he's crying as he's smiling and saying that he wants to swim with them again. The boy finally showed some emotion towards his friends instead of having Makoto translate.
  • Episode 11 really shows how much Haruka's opened up, and it's incredibly sweet every time. The once-stoic-faced boy smiles many times in this episode, in response to his teammates and friends, and he has a few sincere heart-to-hearts with each of them. His Brutal Honesty seems to have developed into a knack for being direct but saying exactly what people need to hear.
  • Also in Episode 11, Haru thanking both Makoto and Nagisa for their friendship. Their reactions of pure elation are something to be seen.
  • Episode 12 in its entirety. Rei letting Rin take the Butterfly leg of the relay. Rin crying and hugging Haruka and apologizing. Everyone hugging Rin. The picture at the end with the Iwatobi Swim Club (including Rei) plus Rin, who is beaming. Just. Rin smiling. Rin being happy. Everyone being happy. Feelings abound.
  • The five boys' friendship as a whole and how it plays a huge role in all of their character development is quite touching and possibly the strongest element of the whole series to boot.
  • EVER BLUE is a Crowning Music of Heartwarming
    What I found when we were brought together
    Thanks to my friends, I saw something totally new (I wonít forget it)
    Itís a sight more precious than winning or losing
    Youíre the one who showed me the wonderful EVER BLUE

Season 2 (Eternal Summer)

  • In general both Haru and Rin are much more open than in the first season. Haru is still generally quiet and The Stoic, and Rin tends to be aloof and sometimes irritable. But they're both clearly happier and more engaged with the world and their friends. Haru's obsession with water seems to have relaxed into his biggest interest, and he's interested in other things too now. Rin cares about and tries to support people, even the ever-exasperating Momotarou.
  • Seeing the cast on good terms from the first episode. From Haru and Rin's friendly rivalry to Rin continuing to call Nitori "Ai" and seeing more of the Matsuoka siblings' support and love for each other, it's certainly a nice way to open up the season.
    • Nagisa calling Nitori "Ai-chan" while playfully teasing him. It seems like Nitori made some new friends too.
  • The little kitten from the first season is all grown up, and Makoto still plays with it.
    • In the second episode, you can even see he still has the fish Haru won for him. D'aaaaaw.
  • The reason Rei had been falling asleep in class and sneaking off, using errands as excuses after school in episode 3; he'd been going to Samezuka to receive late night swimming lessons from Rin so he could practise the other swimming strokes. Even better, he was doing it to surprise his friends.
    • Rei's face when Haru (the one he looks up to the most when it comes to swimming) proudly acknowledges how hard he's worked. The guy's so happy he looks close to tears.
    • Rin happily giving him swimming lessons for what probably are several weeks and being genuinely happy for Rei's progress; also openly declaring Rei a friend.
    • The entire club being pretty upset at the idea of Rei leaving the club and begging him not to. This whole episode is a testament of how close they have gotten by now.
  • From episode 4, all of Rin's talk about how his friends "saved" him and support him. He even says that they are his strength. Character Development is wonderful.
  • Nagisa ran away from home in episode 5. His friends are so concerned for him!
  • The adorable ending card to episode 6.
  • The entirety of episode 8, where Makoto coaches a group of little kids, and helps one of them get over his fear of swimming.
  • Sousuke going out of his way to coach Nitori's late night swimming practice in episode 8, and insisting that he takes a break beforehand after seeing how much the poor boy has tired himself out practicing in his efforts to improve. It's even more touching considering the implications that Sousuke has gotten his Game-Breaking Injury from similarly overworking himself and that he wanted to prevent the same from happening to Nitori.
  • Where to beginwith episode 11? First there's Sosuke wanting Rin to be happy and successful which is why he asks Haruka to be by his side in his stead. Then, as tearerking their fight is, Makoto and Haru have their fair share too again - Makoto admitting that he never obected to Haru's aloofness and disinterest because he thought this was what Haru wanted and that he now speaks up because he realized that Haruka in fact is NOT happy and that he wants him to find a dream to pursue and to be happy. (in short: both Sosuke and Makoto want their best friend happy and thus ask Haru to go pro.) Basically all the concern people show over Haruka. Makes the rest of the episode just the more tearjerking.
    • And before I forget her, Ama-chan being her usual Reasonable Authority Figure self and remarking that the principal shouldn't make Haru's life any harder after his breakdown.
    • Haruka smiling at Ren and Ran, Makoto's little siblings.
  • Episode 12, while Rin and Haruka are in Australia, they visit Rin's homestay parents, Russell and Lori. They say that even though Rin put on a cheerful face during his first time in Australia, he had a hard time adjusting to a new country and language, so they made sure to make him feel as much at home as possible. It's obvious that Rin cares as much about them as if they were his real parents.
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