|“||I only swim freestyle.||”|
— Haruka Nanase.
|Also known as|| Haru|
Haruka-Senpai (by Rei)
Haru-chan (by Nagisa and Makoto)
|Age|| 12 (High☆Speed!)|
|Height|| 145 cm (4'9") (High☆Speed!)|
175 cm (5'9") (Free!)
|Weight|| 38 kg (84lb) (High☆Speed!)|
63 kg (138 lb) (Free!)
|Occupation||2nd year High School Student|
|Affiliation|| Iwatobi Elementary School (former)|
Iwatobi Swimming Club (former)
Iwatobi High School
|Swim Style||Freestyle (Crawl)|
|Light Novel||Chapter 1|
|Japanese|| Nobunaga Shimazaki|
Megumi Matsumoto (child)
Haruka is a tall, young man with short, straight black hair and blue eyes. He always retains serious expression on his face and never seems to show any kind of emotion. He seems to wear his swimming jammers everywhere. As pointed out by members of the swim team on multiple occasions, all of his swimsuits look virtually the same (they are all black swim jammers, but with slightly different patterns of violet), yet he claims they all fit differently.
His typical school uniform consists of light-brown trousers, a white shirt with a green necktie, a dark gray unbuttoned blazer and blue sneakers. During the spring and summer, he would wear his summer uniform, which consists of gray trousers, a white shirt with a dark gray collar, a green dotted necktie and blue sneakers.
PersonalityHaruka is a strong and quiet person who loves water. He is a taciturn and reserved individual. His strength lies in his confidence in his decisions. Up until Rin beat him their swim race, Haruka never questioned his reasons for swimming.
Haruka is very protective towards his friends, especially Makoto. During the team's summer training, Makoto relived his childhood nightmare in the ocean and felt compelled to tell his team the truth about his fear when the subject was brought up. Immediately sensing Makoto's hesitation, Haruka commanded Rei to drop the question.
Haruka also deeply values his friendship with Rin. Afraid that he had hurt Rin when Rin lost to him in a swimming race when they were little, Haruka had given up on swimming competitively just to guarantee Rin's victory the next time they were to race. This willingness to compete was gradually restored, however, when Rin challenged him a number of times. He was extremely devastated when he had overheard that Rin wanted to abandon swimming, as he wished desperately to be able to swim with Rin again. Haruka demonstrates his great determination, through his efforts to revive Rin's passion by seeking him out and offering consolation before the relay race.
Haruka's attraction to water makes him a very comical person; he will swim anywhere and in anything with water (including a fish tank). His style captivates many others, and he has a powerful fixation towards freestyle swimming in particular.
Second year high schooler, Haruka Nanase, reminisces about the times spent with his friends in their grade school swimming club and of wanting nothing more than to be a freestyle swimmer.
In the present, Makoto Tachibana, Haruka's best friend, goes to pick him up for their second day of school at Iwatobi High. While having lunch that day, they encounter their old friend, and recent transfer, Nagisa Hazuki. Nagisa then suggests that they go to their old dilapidated Swimming Club and dig up a time capsule containing a relay trophy they had won with their friend Rin Matsuoka.While there, Haruka once again reminisces over a photo of the race, being the last time the group had swam together before Rin had moved to Australia to enroll in a swimming school. Afterwards, the group shockingly runs into a completely changed Rin in the hallways. Rin immediately challenges Haruka to a race, until they discover that the old pool is empty.
The next night, Makoto, Nagisa, and a scarlet-haired girl, afterwards introduced as Gou Matsuoka, Rin's younger sister, pay Haruka a visit. Afterwards, Makoto and Nagisa convince a reluctant Haruka to visit Samezuka by tempting him to a swim duel in the school's pool. Upon arriving, they wait until the school's swimming team is done with practice and break into the academy's swimming pool. They are then discovered by Rin who aggressively orders them out. Haruka then steps out of the pool and challenges Rin to a freestyle match.
After the match, Haruka and the others are once again reprimanded for trespassing on Samezuka Academy grounds.While continuing the restoration of Iwatobi's outdoor pool, Gou, who was still confused about Rin's behavior, asks Makoto about their race and learns that Haruka threw the match. This allowed Rin to win since he was merely content with being in the water, something which angered Rin.
Later that night Makoto runs into their old coach Goro Sasabe. Sasabe reveals that Haruka and Rin had a race when the latter made a rare return to Japan, of which Haruka easily won. Rin was exceptionally disappointed that his hard work was for nothing, creating a rift between them, subsequently causing Haruka to quit competitive swimming because he had hurt Rin's pride.
When Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Gou finally finished the restoration of the pool, Haruka couldn't help but jump in it and swim, much to his friends' dismay.
Haruka catches a cold from his swim in the newly restored Iwatobi High swimming pool. He, Makoto and Nagisa try to find a fourth member for Iwatobi Swim Club and at the end, Nagisa succeeds to get Rei to join them.
At the store where Iwatobi Swim Club is buying new swimsuits, Haruka and Rin run into each other and have a short discussion about their differing forms with Rin wanting a race with them both in peak condition, or else he may no be able to move forward from his loss and both decide to settle the score at the upcoming tournament.
Afterwards, Haruka takes a turn trying to teach Rei freestyle swimming and fails, greatly disappointing Rei. As the day draws to a close, Haruka laments to Rei that he too isn't compatible with other techniques in that he doesn't swim freestyle by choice; merely because it is all he can swim. The next day, having come to this realization, Rei tries the last technique and finds it compatible with himself: the butterfly stroke.
Gou excitedly proposes that they use a decades old training regiment and venture to an island for a summer training camp. They all agree and decide to find sponsors. Later, Haruka expresses concern for Makoto since he had a rather scarring experience with the ocean in the past, to which Makoto reassures that he is fine.
- Main article: Makoto Tachibana
Makoto has known Haruka for over 13 years, having been friends since kindergarten, and is his best friend. As a consequence of being together for so long, Makoto is able to read Haruka's mind, understands Haruka's good points, and is often forced to speak as his spokesman. When Haruka doesn’t want to speak anymore, he just "leaves it up" to Makoto to speak for him. It allows Haruka to act aloof and stoic, but still get his thoughts across - though they aren’t stated to be his, necessarily.
Haruka, in particular in his 12-year-old portrayal in High☆Speed!, is rather spoiled by his best friend. He is extremely used to having Makoto always there to help him with making decisions and even speaking up his mind, and when he feels like Makoto oversteps his boundaries, he dismisses him in his mind as a meddlesome guy. But as soon as Makoto isn’t there to help him, or does something else instead, Haruka pouts and wishes he was there.
Both have had near-drowning experiences; In the sixth grade, Haru fell into a river and was saved by Makoto. During the training camp on the deserted island, Haruka saves Makoto after he fails to save Rei. When Haruka brings Makoto to shore he is terrified when he realizes Makoto is unconscious, and is about to preform CPR, but then Makoto coughs up water and regains conciousness. He tries to sit up and look for Rei, but Haruka tells him that he should be resting and holds him down. Shortly afterwards, Makoto tells Haruka that he is the biggest reason he still swims and gets close to the ocean because Haruka does, and he cares that much for Haruka and what Haruka loves, enough to put his fear aside so he can enjoy it with him, wanting to share the experience, to understand what makes Haruka the happiest, and so he overcomes fear for it. Makoto wants to understand and feel the same emotion as someone else to the point of conquering a deeprooted fear — something that gave him a panic attack, made him stop moving in the ocean during a storm, while trying to save someone, despite himself. Haruka then gasps, showing that he himself didn’t even realize what he was to Makoto until Makoto told him so.
Haruka greatly dislikes it when people use his girlish first name, but Makoto always somehow manages to win the argument and calls him 'Haru'. Makoto is also the major person to restrain Haruka from randomly stripping around or diving into fish tanks. When he gets scared, he tends to hide behind Haruka or cling to him in some way.
Makoto and Haruka are often seen doing things together, such as sharing rooms, going to school, and having lunch. Also, being best friends, they are often seen wearing same or similar clothes and accessories and sharing things. They live very close to each other with Makoto's house being visible from Haru's. Specifically, Makoto's house is at the bottom of the stone stairs leading to the shrine near their house, with Haru's house being up the stone stairs, just past the first torii gates. It is not uncommon for Haru and Makoto to wait for each other on the stone stairs.
They are very close and care for each other greatly. In the beginning of the series, Haruka didn't express himself as much, although Makoto always knew what he was thinking. Throughout the show, Haruka begins to speak his mind more often, especially to Makoto. He's very gentle towards his best friend, treasures him greatly and is very afraid to loose him. In the hotel, he tells Makoto "I appreciate you being here for me," which embarrasses him to the point where he gets up and "goes for a run".
It is shown that Haruka bought Makoto four aquarium fish. Nagisa told Makoto to name them Nagisa, Rei, Haruka and Makoto, however Haruka told him that it's better to name them Mackerel, Bonito, Tuna and Jackfish.
- Main article: Nagisa Hazuki
- Main article: Rei Ryugazaki
Haruka and Rei have a good senpai-kohai relationship. When Haruka saw Rei practice pole-vaulting for the very first time, he was amazed by how amazing he looked doing so. When Nagisa told Haruka and Makoto that Rei didn't join the swim club, stating that Rei might hate water, Haruka gained a big dislike for Rei, saying that they don't need someone like that.
When Rei finally met Haruka in person after running to school with Nagisa, he asked Haruka if he was Haru-chan-san Nagisa was talking about. Haruka cut him off telling him not to use both '-chan' and '-san' on his name. After Rei saw Haruka swim at the joint practice with Samezuka Academy, he realized that he wants to have the kind of freedom Haruka is. Haruka told him that it's not freedom that he has, but freestyle.
- Main article: Gou Matsuoka
In the first episode, Gou visited Haruka's house to ask him for information about her brother, but he didn't answer her, so she decided to head home, running into Makoto and Nagisa. It is shown that she does care a lot about Haruka, as well as other members of the swim club, and is very worried over Haruka and Rin's dramatic relationship. She tries to be always there for Haruka and others and help them improve their swimming as mush as she can.
She is constantly swooning over Haruka and his figure.
- Main article: Miho Amakata
Miho is Haruka's Classic Literature teacher as well as his homeroom teacher. Haruka's not really impressed by the fact that she became a teacher as her plan B, as well as the fact that she misunderstood him for a girl, calling him "Miss Nanase Haruka." However, she apologized for it immediately after Makoto had clarified the misunderstanding. 
- Main article: Rin Matsuoka
In elementary school, Rin was in the same swimming team as Haruka, Makoto and Nagisa. After they won a tournament, Rin went abroad to Australia to study swimming. Haruka constantly remembered how Rin promised him to show him a sight he has never seen before, and held onto that memory. When Rin made a rare return to Japan, Haruka and Rin raced, and the former easily won. Rin was exceptionally disappointed that his hard work was for nothing; this created a rift between them, as Rin refused to take Haruka's extended hand. Subsequently, Haruka gave up competitive swimming because he damaged Rin's pride. Later, when they went against one another again, and Rin won without much difficulty, Rin was not satisfied as Haruka was not swimming at his best potential. He urged Haruka to swim competitively, so that they may have a fair race, to which Haruka complied.
Rin's best stroke is the butterfly, but his obsession with beating Haruka, who only swims the crawl stroke, led him to focusing on that stroke and whatever distance Haruka was swimming in the competitions only.
Throughout their various encounters, their relationship was portrayed to be very tense, as Rin was continually preoccupied with the notion of beating Haruka. Rin sometimes got very frustrated with Haruka, acknowledging that Haruka has the ability to showcase that he is an extraordinary and unusually excellent swimmer, and yet Haruka only cared about immersing himself in water. When Rin officially defeated Haruka at the prefectural tournament, Rin claimed that he will now never swim with Haruka again, resulting in Haruka's utter despair. For Haruka, it was not all about winning. Makoto later told Rin that Haruka had thought something else mattered more, which was why Haruka wanted to race with Rin. Nevertheless, Rin did not understand him.
In the final episode of the anime, when Haruka saw that Rin was struggling in his individual race, of which he consequently lost, he immediately rushed from the stadium to go look for Rin, prompting the others to follow. They overheard that Rin was taken out of the relay and wanted to quit swimming for good; this instantly had a destructive toll on Haruka, who faltered and buried his face in his arms. Haruka longed desperately to swim with Rin again. When Rei assured Haruka that Rin was not particularly angry with him but was emotionally scarred by his own failures and insecurities in Australia, and that his true desire was to swim with everyone again, Haruka was determined to find Rin. Haruka ended up being the first to locate him, having correctly inferred that Rin would be at the tree that looked similar to the one in the Iwatobi Elementary School yard. When Rin took notice of him, he started to lose his sanity because he was not able to swim with Haruka again. He aimed to punch Haruka, but Haruka stopped him, making them both fall and roll on the ground. When Rin saw what Haruka wrote on the ground before the tournament—he wrote "For the team," a phrase Rin had written in their childhood—he started crying, asking him why could not swim with them again. Haruka reassured him that he still could, and told him that it was his turn to show Rin a sight he has never seen before.
At the relay race at the tournament, Rin, at last, got to participate in the relay with his old team again. Rin swam right before Haruka, and when it was Haruka's turn, Rin was captivated. They managed to win, and Rin ran to Haruka, hugged him and cried that it was, indeed, the best sight he could have ever asked for. In the credits, it was shown that Haruka and Rin became great friends once again, as they began to divulge their respective dreams and goals to one another.
- Main article: Goro Sasabe
Goro and Haruka have a good relationship. Goro used to be Haruka's coach while he was still a coach at Iwatobi Swimming Club. When Rin came back from Australia during his Middle School years, Goro was the one to let him and Haruka race back at the Iwatobi Swimming Club pool. He was the only one to know about Rin's and Haruka's race and Rin's breakdown up until he talks with Makoto one night after running into him. He cares about Haruka and others very much and is willing to give his all to help them improve their swimming.
Creation and Conception
Hiroko Utsumi, the director of the Free! anime, described Haruka in one word as "cool." "Haruka seems to be equipped with 'coolness'," he says. "One aspect of him is his love for water. He has a bit of an eccentric image; he has trouble interacting with people at a fundamental level. If he’s not interested in something, he won’t do it. Normally his facial expression is very unsociable, but he gets highly emotional when it comes to water. He’s a direct boy who has a strong obsession with the freedom that water gives him." The director said that the audience will get to see Haruka gradually change as he matures throughout the series, as was seen in episode 9.
The animation crew didn't have any troubles designing Haruka's character. They paid special attention to his eyes, that were made to be blue to reflect his love for water. On the close-ups of his eyes, the animators made them detailed and made sure to use a lot of frames. The character designer, Futoshi Nishiya, made Haruka lightly dressed for easy removal, because, when he sees water, he wants to swim in it. The designer also said that when he designed school uniforms for the Iwatobi High School students, they fit perfectly on everyone except on Haruka, so the crew was pretty shocked by that.
The animators named Haruka a "waterdere", because water brings out his true emotions, that nothing else can do. "Sometimes it's obvious that he loves water by how much his eyes sparkle when he sees it. Those kinds of actions and glances speak as much as words to help bring out that humanity in him," Utsumi explained in one of the interviews.
- Like all members of the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club, Haruka has a female name.
- He bathes with his swimming trunks on.
- Haruka will go anywhere as long as there's a body of water that he can get into.
- Haruka has exceptionally great art skills, such as drawing and wood carving.
- The year before, Haruka had been one of 987 entries entered in the Iwatobi Town mascot contest. His entry was named Tobimaru-kun. According to Gou, it wasn't very cute.
- He has a certain romantic attraction to water.
- Rin stated that Haruka has said "Tadaima," which means "I'm home," upon arriving to their swimming club during elementary school.
- If Haruka was a girl and he had to date one of the boys from the Iwatobi Swimming Club, he would choose Makoto because it was the easiest choice. However, his choice was quickly changed to Nagisa when the first year promised to cook him mackerel for breakfast every morning. 
- Rei states that Haruka's decisions all center around mackerel. 
- Haruka and Makoto appear to have a game that consists of Makoto guessing what Haruka is thinking. 
- Haruka once wore a girl's swimsuit in elementary school. Nagisa borrowed his trunks because the blonde's sister swapped out his swimsuit for a girl's one. Haruka claims that he had no recollection of this memory, but shows that he does at the end of the track. 
- Haruka's best subjects are Home Economics and Art, while he's bad at English. 
- Haruka likes cooking and doing chores. 
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Episode 1
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Episode 4
- ↑ Episode 12
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 High☆Speed!
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Episode 6
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Episode 2
- ↑ Episode 11
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Episode 8
- ↑ Episode 5
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Episode 7
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Episode 9
- ↑ Episode 12
- ↑ Episode 7
- ↑ Episode 8
- ↑ Episode 12
- ↑ Episode 12
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Free! TV Animation Guidebook
- ↑ Episode 3 Preview
- ↑ Episode 7 Preview
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 Iwatobi High School Swimming Club's Diary 1: Track 3
- ↑ Iwatobi High School Swimming Club's Diary 1: Track 5
- ↑ Iwatobi High School Swimming Club's Diary 1: Track 6