ay yo homeboy looks like sharkweek
Considering that the context of the audio drama is supposed to be slapstick and/or lighthearted, I’m guessing it’s not meant to come off as creepy – but I think it’s arguable that it can, anyway, and I might as well explain the reasons why it’s an equally valid thing to consider:
I don’t personally feel that a girl sticking pictures of a guy she loves on her walls is any less weird, to be honest. However, the inherently questionable aspect there is not exactly rooted in the fact that Kou is a girl ogled by a guy – while it is certainly worth remembering that female-to-male objectification is never directly comparable to male-to-female objectification due to socio-cultural connotations, the reason I feel somewhat sketchy over the audio drama incident essentially boils down to the idea of whether it violates Kou’s privacy or not, regardless of gender.
To contextualize, I thought I’d quote the relevant parts from the scene in question (translation courtesy of digitalscratch):
NAGISA: There’s a photo at the bedside.
GOU: Whose photo? Whose photo?!
HARUKA: [picks it up] This is…
GOU: Brother put my photo in a photo stand?
NAGISA: Rin-chan must really love you, Gou-chan.
REI: That’s a little gross though…
GOU: What are you saying, Rei-kun?! It’s only natural for my brother to care so much for his precious, precious little sister.
REI: But there are photos over here too…
NAGISA: Wow, you’re right! Photos all over the desk!
MAKOTO: All of Gou-chan…
HARUKA: There isn’t a single photo of us.
REI: There’s something definitely wrong here! What brother in his right mind uses a heart sticker in a letter to his sister?!
HARUKA: Wait! This isn’t Rin’s handwriting!
MAKOTO: You’re right! And now that I have a better look at it, it says “To Gou-kun”!
GOU: Gou… kun…?
REI: You don’t mean…?
MIKOSHIBA: [barges in] Hey, what’s wrong with you people! Don’t enter other people’s rooms without– I–It’s you, Gou-kun! This is perfect, I was actually writing you a letter! I–I was wondering if you’d like to go see a movie with me this Sunday–
GOU: Um… sorry, no.
Now, let’s take a look at the above excerpts a little closer: the Iwatobi kids essentially discover not only a framed photo of Kou in Mikoshiba’s room (one they initially mistake for Rin’s), but also a stack of photos on his desk. Given that Kou is hardly a former model like Amakata-sensei, the chances of her having random idol photos lying around is unlikely – where did these photos come from, then? When were they taken, in what circumstances? Haruka and Makoto point out that not a single one of them features the guys, which would mean they are not just haphazard snaps taken in the middle of joint training; you can already see where this line of thought ultimately leads at its worst. And even if we don’t assume the worst, how would you personally feel if a someone you barely know has been snapping photos of you without your knowledge, and moreover, consent? Then developed them? Stacked them in their room? Wouldn’t that strike you at all uncomfortable, or odd at the very least?
Sure, some people might simply be flattered. Some might not care at all. But you can see how Kou reacts to it in the second part that I quoted: when Mikoshiba directly asks her out, she turns him down with what seems like mild awkwardness. At the very least, she doesn’t seem impressed – like she hasn’t appeared impressed with any of his advances during the show. In plainer terms, even if she’s not distinctly distressed by it, she probably doesn’t like it either. For a girl who goes into a trance over random muscles (and Mikoshiba sure has some fine examples of those), that’s saying a lot. The combination of Kou not consenting to said photos and her coming off as awkward after discovering them is enough reason for me to feel more creeped out than amused by the whole exchange.
And hey, maybe it’s all harmless fun. Sure enough, like anon points out, we are sort of used to the idea of teenage girls engaging in activities similar to this, such as cutting out the photo of their crush from a yearbook, or writing them letters they’ll never send. It’s not the direct concept of this which can come off as questionable, but the context: Mikoshiba is a 3rd year student crushing on a 1st year student, which means he’s almost a grown ass man, not a preteen. He should probably know the underlying implications in something like this; therefore, the power imbalance (which also partially always derives from gender imbalance) between the two of them can likewise strike a negative chord with some people. In other words, there’s a lot of factors at play underneath the surface, even if the whole exchange is meant to be humorous.
On a final note (and I apologize in advance if this comes off as aggressive in tone), I also want to add that just because “a beauty like Kou” is “bound to get attention” at an all-boys’ school doesn’t mean it cannot not be questionable in tone, or something she/us as the audience should be 100% okay with. Kou can’t help her looks any more than she can help which dumb ass school her brother picked, and it definitely doesn’t justify anyone randomly perving on her either. Whether what Mikoshiba’s doing comes off as that or not, though, is up to everyone’s own judgment. I’m not saying it is or isn’t, just presenting the reasons why some might feel that it is.
/edit ugh typos etc what is proofreading
Well, to be fair, two-dimensional side characters like him are more or less essential in a show like this, because not everyone can be fleshed out in the span of the series; Nagisa, for example, is a main character yet he doesn’t get much more than that either. In that sense, Mikoshiba serves a very narrative-bound purpose also: he’s a figure of authority without being a teacher (unlike Amakata-sensei), an older brother figure without being a conscious senpai to Rin (i.e. someone for Rin to look up to without feeling directly inferior to him, so he’s not threatened by Mikoshiba like Rin is threatened by Haruka), a comic relief to balance out the Samezuka Linkin Park fest (you know what I’m talking about), and also a separate tie-in to Iwatobi through his link with Kou. The latter in particular allowed the story to cross over to Samezuka during moments when the Iwatobi kids themselves would have had no reason/method of engaging themselves with such a prestigious school, even if Mikoshiba’s actual crush on Kou can admittedly come off as somewhat superficial (or even creepy, if you take the audio dramas into account, but I try to remain neutral on this because somewhere in my heart I genuinely hope he’s not a creeper).
That being said, I like how certain subtle aspects of the story-telling still offer us glimpses of the various sides to Mikoshiba as a person: from various instances on the show, we can tell he’s a straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of guy who nonetheless motivates his team through positive, upbeat thinking and an array of encouragement. He’s super observant and can smell team dynamic trouble from miles away, and is not afraid to also confront it. While I agree that there’s probably a hundred different ways he could have better handled the “oh hey Rin ur off the team lol” scene (or rather the timing of it), the actual logic behind his decisions has always been sound; likewise, when Rin apologises afterwards, Mikoshiba is all smiles and willing to let bygones be bygones, because he is able to objectively view the situation as a team captain. All that, and he’s also a really damn good swimmer in his own right, breaking records left and right.
He’s still somewhat two-dimensional, make no mistake, but the circumstances of when he is used as a plot device also allow him some room to breathe and exist as an individual, which is why I hope we see more of him in the future. (And also because aesthetically he was the first person on the show besides Rin I imprinted on as a potential waifu
only to realize a few episodes in that I was actually in love with Haru’s dumb ass self but whatever I blame haircolour bias)
what is it ur training in?
your training sounds so hardcore! (and also slightly terrifying)
The “you fill it in here” just gave me flashbacks to the ending of the Magic Knight Rayearth manga ahaha /random
This interpretation is not off the mark either, of course. I agree with the sentiment that whatever the actual theme of S2 will be, it won’t revolve around Rin nearly as much – like I expressed earlier, S1 was Rin and Haruka’s story because the entire premise necessitated it, but S2 currently more or less has free reign on that front.
I think how we view the alternate possibilities of S2 depends on the stance we take on its origin: was Free! a story meant to hold on its own with no plans for a sequel? Or did they conjure the story on the premise of High Speed! with every intention of following up with more, should the series become popular enough? If the former, will they rehash something from the rumoured High Speed! sequel or just make things up as they go along? If the latter, were those plans in consideration already while creating Free? All of these circumstances basically place us in a continuum of new variables; for example, the idea of adding a new person is highly likely in terms of basic storytelling, but the importance of that person may or may not feel organic depending on whether that person was shoehorned in for the sake of generating drama, or if they bear importance to the bigger picture.
The funny thing is that we can take this line of thought (regarding variables) even further: we don’t really know if Haruka’s even going to be the focal character any more than Rin might not be, especially since Haruka’s growth in particular came full circle in S1. If they focused on someone else entirely, how would that shift the tone of the show? If they focused on everyone equally, would it make a cohesive, substantial plot-line possible? Literally there are a million different ways this could go, so until we gain more information on the future of the show (in January?), each guess is as good as the other in my honest opinion.
Well, the biggest clue for S2 lies in the final moments of episode 12: Haruka asks Rin whether he’s still going to follow his father’s dream, and Rin responds with “No, I am following my own dream. How about you, Haru?” and the camera first flicks back to Haruka’s face, then zooms into the sky – this is about as STAY TUNED FOR MORE IN SEASON TWO as you’re gonna get, I suppose.
What that entails, though, could be a world of different things. Will everything center around Haruka’s quest to discover his dream? Will it be related to Rin’s dream as a competitive athlete, or will he find some completely different path? I mean, you can draw drama from both, but whether that carries an entire season’s worth of dramatic tension is a different thing. With Rin gone as an “antagonist,” I wonder if they’ll try to fill up that slot with new faces also.
I guess it largely depends on whether we carry off right from where S1 ended or if we’re looking at Haruka, Makoto and Rin’s third year as a whole, since graduation always brings out the kleenex what with people having to confront the reality of growing up. While Free! is technically not exactly a sports anime, some of the same rules still apply: not everyone who does sport x when they are in high school is going to become a pro later on in life, and those who don’t must own up to it at some point when other educational prospects are still available. I suppose that’s where the whole “Makoto moving on” idea thrown around by one of the directors (?) stems from, so I wonder if they will thematically approach that at all.
Adding in more INTENSE FRIENDSHIP DRAMA, on the other hand, could easily become convoluted in the sense that it’s hard to top Haruka and Rin’s clusterfuck of misunderstandings, so I’d rather they took a completely different direction altogether.
I sort of have no idea what is going on but this ask is also the cutest ever