Nagisa is digging his own emotional grave here. Haruka isn’t going to work there. Neither is Makoto.
The bells in my head went off at that scene. If you think about it, this is the perfect solution for Haruka and Makoto’s future; becoming swimming teachers there fits both of them like a glove.
- They’re both good with kids, as it was evident from the scene with Makoto’s younger siblings.
- It includes swimming, which fits Haruka.
- It requires patience, which fits Makoto.
- It’s in their hometown, so they won’t be separated.
Seriously, it’s perfect for them.
Which is why they won’t do it.
A theme that is always evident in Free! is change. The characters change their mindset 180 degrees of what they had in the beginning of the show.
- Haruka, who “only swam free” and not for Rin when the latter asked him to, ended up swimming “for the team” and to help Rin, when Rin hadn’t asked him to.
- Rin, who snobbed his friends, calling them “a waste of his time” and that he “only cared about beating Haruka”, ended up wanting to “swim in a relay with them”. He promised he wouldn’t cry, or embarass himself and ended up doing both.
- Rei, who found swimming “not beautiful” and believed that “it didn’t make logical sense”, because humans evolved from water, ended up finding Haruka’s swimming beautiful and from wanting to swim because he wanted to be beautiful, he wanted to swim because it felt good to swim with his friends. Moreover, he told Rin that he “wouldn’t forgive him if he interfered” and ended up giving up his position to Rin willingly.
Through character development, the boys ended up denouncing any beliefs and hints the show gave them in the beginning, only to take the opposite path.
There is also this:
The bird existed in S1 as well and Haruka always looked at it. Close to the end of S2ep1, Haruka looked at it too. This bird, interestingly, becomes Haruka in the opening, or at least, Haruka manages to reach it.
If this bird symbolises freedom, then the eoping implies that Haruka will reach freedom and take it… throughout competitive swimming.
And he can’t do that as a trainer/coach in the swimming club.
So yes, even if this path is possible, even if it’s perfect and if it makes sense for Haruka’s current mindset and personality, he won’t take it. Because that’s how Free! has always been.
However, this opens the dams for something rather not so happy.
There’s a reason why Nagisa is the one who suggests this option. This way, Makoto and Haruka won’t leave Nagisa behind a second time. This way, Nagisa won’t end up without his friends.
But, he just might.
In High Speed! 2, Nagisa is crying that he’s swimming all alone, since Makoto and Haruka are in middle school.
The preview for ep. 3 shows that Rei just might leave the swimming club, which, at that moment, seems to have troubles surviving without new members.
Nagisa will have to face his biggest fear, one he suffered through before:
Being left behind, all alone.
I have no doubt that Nagisa will be upset with Makoto and Haruka’s choices initially. I also have no doubt that he’ll come to accept the fact that he cannot be upset/angry for these choices, since the boys’ lives are their own to live and so are their choices. No one can dictate how to live and what to do, not even sweet Nagisa. It’s not his place. He will carry the emotional aspect of the separation plotline.
It’s their last eternal summer, after all.
But, as the ending shows, the boys’ choices will lead them to different careers and paths.
Not one is the same with the other.
However, the water in the ending filled the sky with stars that all of them watch with the same expression.
The water will always remind them of their days with each other, even if they’re not together anymore. And that’s the reality Nagisa will have to come to terms with.