Orca & Dolphin: The Coequal Duality that is Makoto & Haruka

Hello my dear readers! It’s been a really long time since I’ve done one of these! It’s also amazing, that I’ve been using a prompt for this that should’ve ended back in July! I’m now one week away from completing the prompt. I’ll repost it when I’ve finished it as a refresher. But anyways,  another Monday has come and this week is a follow up to my last MCM’s post which was also a Boys Love theme featuring Doumeki & Yashiro. This time I’m featuring my favorite OTP (one true pairing) above all other non-canon ‘ships. I say non-canon because Free! is not a BL, although it can be interpreted as such by the fandom.

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If you’ve been following me for quite some time, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve only mentioned Free! a couple of times. But if you’ve spoken to me outside of the blog, then you know I’m a pretty diehard fan of the series, especially for Makoto, Haruka and Sousuke. There’s a reason as to why I haven’t been so forthcoming with my love for this series. Put simply, my reasons for loving Free! is an unpopular opinion. I love the relationship dynamics depicted between all the characters and the melodrama they experience. To be honest, it was Takuto’s post that bolstered my confidence in that it’s okay to have an unpopular opinion and I shouldn’t be ashamed of the things I love (granted Taku does love the same kinds of shows I do it appears – it’s nice to find a comrade!). Free! is known to be the kind of eye-candy fanservice geared towards women with the amount of abs and pretty boys that are flaunted. But, as pointed out by Annie on AniFeminist, this show also offers emotional fanservice, which is what was my main draw from the series; pretty boys and abs are a plus. And, just to add another positive view on the series from a male perspective I recommend reading Gespenst’s Free! – The AniTAY Review on AniTay’s site.

But don’t get me wrong, while I am an absolute fan of this series and will speak volumes of how much I love this series in a positive light, I get it, it’s a series that’s often poked and prodded at and made fun of. I see where those views come from, and I can laugh about it with you, I’m not so blinded by my love for Free! that I’ll overlook how ridiculously silly the premise can be, or roll my eyes at how cheesy some scenes are. But some of those super cheesy scenes are exactly why I love this show so much!

 

Which leads me to my MCM this week. While I’m weak for the bishounen pretty boys of  Free! I am very much attuned to the the relationship between Haruka Nanase and Makoto Tachibana. These two are a few of the leads on the series, and before you roll your eyes at my ‘ship, I’d like to say that they’re my OTP for more reasons than just an inferred romantic relationship.

The Individuals

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Makoto Tachibana is the kind-hearted big brother, the gentle giant that wears his emotions on his sleeve. Makoto has always been my favorite character of the show. Sure, Makoto’s probably one of the more handsome ones (a plus!) and has such a gentle personality in contrast to that, it’s a really hard to not like the guy. I always wondered why I was so drawn to him, and it’s more than just his character design. Makoto’s known to fuss over his bestie and his teammates (but more specifically his bestie) and is known to be a mother hen, a worrywart, that always is on the lookout for those around him. He usually observes those around him, takes into account their moods and then becomes the voice of reason that bridges those with differences together. Bottom line, he’s more like the “why can’t we all just get along?” types. These facets of Makoto’s personality resonates with me because, well, at the end of the day, I see a lot of myself in him. I’m usually the mediator, the one to bridge the gaps between those who need to come to a compromise – this much was apparent to me when I worked in a group of 3 in my study abroad program in Tokyo. My teammates couldn’t see eye-to-eye and they had a hard time communicating with one another, I’d step in to explain each of their sides in such a way the other would understand, which allowed for a compromise.

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image via Crunchyroll

Haruka Nanase is probably my third favorite character of the show. A stoic raven-haired blue-eyed boy (where have we NOT seen that in a sports anime? Have you seen the memes?) that’s Makoto’s childhood friend/best friend for life. Haru is a man of few words and hard to get a read on. Haruka reminds me a lot of my best gal pal. While I absolutely love her to pieces, she can be a bit stand-offish to new people. She’s a bit hard to impress and get to know, but when you can get past that barrier, she’s an incredibly warm-hearted and kind person. She’s also similar to Haru in that when she obsesses over something, it’s hard for her to pull away from it, which is where I have to come in and intervene and be a mother hen. I’m usually nagging her about eating properly and taking care of her health, which is something Makoto ALWAYS does. I’ve described Makoto and Haruka to her a lot (since she’s not into Anime) and she laughs every time, because she says that it does sound like us. She’s made a point that between the two of us, I’m a lot kinder and more open to talking to people for her sake. We may not have the same amount of years of friendship as this duo, but we’ve been inseparable since we became friends over 7 years ago in our first year of Architecture school.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

When I say that this particular relationship is coequal duality it’s not due to their relationship dynamics. For me, it’s more about the fact that I see both the pure friendship from a deep bond as intended by the creators while also basking in the fluffy love of an implied romance. There’s a duality that can be found in the stark contrast of their personalities. Whether it’s the deep bond that connects them or the implied romance, I hold both definitions of equal importance.

Best Friends Forever
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image via @kimata014
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image via Crunchyroll

First and foremost, Makoto and Haruka’s friendship speaks volumes to me. Why? One, because, like I said earlier above, the dynamics between them mirror me and my bestie quite a bit. She’s a bit more the stoic type while I’m the one that tries to befriend and please everybody. Two, despite those differences Makoto and Haruka support one another and believe in whatever the other puts their minds too. They don’t have to express words much as they just have a level of trust and understanding that speaks more than words. Having been friends since they were small children has given them that kind of bond. Although, they are joined to the hip and may also be co-dependent on one another, they still have their own goals in the long run, and just because they become separated due to the pursuit of their own goals, it wouldn’t be enough to break their friendship.

An Everlasting Love
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When I look at Makoto and Haruka through the lens of an implied romanice, I find the fluffy, feel good kind of love story that appeals to my maiden heart. The idea of falling in love with your childhood friend. The unspoken words of understanding between two people. More importantly, the comfortability that comes from being with someone for so long; there are no shallow pretenses, they know each others strengths and weaknesses and accept one another for what they are. These factors attribute to the solid foundation that has been built upon since the beginning of their friendship. Patience, understanding, and willingness and ability to compromise are what I believe equal a solid foundation, and to me a solid foundation is precisely what is needed for an everlasting relationship to work.

From the moment I started the series of Free! I was definitely caught up in the web of Makoto and Haruka from the get go. These two are just fit so well together. Opposites that attract, a level of understanding that goes beyond words. Knowing looks and glances. Being supportive of one another and 100% believing in their dreams as if they were your own. If that’s not the definition of soulmates and love, then call me a hopeless romantic!

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox and stop screaming to the world of my love for these two! Granted, this may have just inspired me to write about the series overall and really delve into what my draws are from this series despite the flack it gets! With that being said, to demonstrate how much I adore these two goofballs, I’ll post a few photos of my Free! collection!


That just about wraps up MCM’s return! What better way to break the ice with the two I’ve come to love the most over the last couple of years. Hopefully I’ve been able to shine a bit more positive light on this series despite the fujoshi undertones.  What do you think of Makoto and Haruka? Do any of you have a non-canon pairing that you just absolutely love and adore? Doesn’t have to be BL related, it could be Yuri, it could be any pairing that’s implied in any show. Let me know in the comments below!