Now that things have calmed down a bit, you’ll have to forgive me again for making one of these posts. This is partially because I saw this moment when I first watched the episode and also to all of you makoharu shippers who are disheartened by the apparent “lack” of evidence in this episode.
I feel like there’s a crucial moment that hasn’t been mentioned very much.
The boys all come to their own realization during their leg of the relay.
Rin’s is about finally seeing the light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Nagisa’s is about being a member of the team and following his friends.
Haru’s is about letting go of his burden as he realizes who it is he swims for—the team. You can really see the emotion sparkling (literally) in his eye, moreso than both Nagisa and Rin, even though they look quite elated in their own rights.
Makoto’s realization, however, is just as poignant and twofold.
For one, he has let go of his fear, just like in high speed, thanks to his friends and especially Haru. Like he said, if Haru isn’t there it’s pointless. But he very much is and that has made all the difference.
And what is more moving than anything is what Haru said in the hotel, because it is a direct response to those words Makoto told him in episode 6, the ones Haru remembered just before first deciding to swim in the relay with them again.
While the “I want to swim with you” is important, it’s the previous sentiment that packs all the weight.
In the free! OST Ever Blue Sounds, after the songs “Crisis of Life” and “Memory of the Past” from episode 6 comes “I Need You”. I found that quite poignant and exactly the right sentiment for this situation, because it’s exactly what Makoto is saying.
He can’t do it without Haru. He needs Haru.
And so when Haru tells him in the hotel scene—albeit in his flustered and hesitant way—that he’s glad Makoto is there with him, he’s voicing something that has always been understood but never vocalized before: Makoto is important to him and he needs and appreciates him as well. And of course, knowing Haru as well as he does, Makoto understands completely, both the meaning of Haru’s words and his decision to bolt as quickly as he does.
So, with the support of his friends and Haru’s words, he is able to let go. But there’s more to it than just that.
Haru describes Makoto as an orca. His strokes are powerful and he tears through the water, so he finds it appropriate. But as we know from high speed, Haru finds that Makoto tears through the water as if he’s running from something, which he is. It’s desperation that makes his strokes so powerful, as desperation is known to do.
But as the panic disappears and he opens his eyes, he finds that Haru’s words from the previous night and his presence—and that of his friends as well—have taken him to a completely different place, one filled with clouds that fills his eyes with sparkles just like Haru’s.
Despite being the one constant in Haru’s life and always being there, despite sharing everything he possibly could, the one thing he never could share with Haru was the feeling of being accepted by (and he himself accepting) the water and letting it and its calm envelop him.
That’s why, if you look at him as compared to the others, he barely moves. He’s just floating along slowly, completely enraptured in the serenity of the moment. And as he stares up at the bright blue, cloudy sky, his frown changes into a smile and his eyes are filled with an incredible amount of light.
As we see in the final moments of the episode, as Haru describes being one with the water, those same clouds float above him.
Makoto is overjoyed in this scene not only because he’s conquered his fear, but also because he finally understands that one part of Haru that his inhibitions have always prevented him from experiencing. And that just makes the bond they share that much stronger. They know each other intimately, and Haru has always been able to see right through him. So even if he doesn’t communicate it, he knows how Makoto feels. He knows and reciprocates it 100%.
And that makes all the difference.