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— To Rin, about the competition
|Also known as|| Ai (by Rin)|
Ai-chan (by Nagisa)
|Birthday||January 4 |
|Height|| 168 cm (5'6") (Free!) |
171 cm (5'7") (-Dive to the Future-)
|Weight||57 kg (126 lb)|
3rd-year High School Student
|Education|| Samezuka Academy|
|Swim Style|| Breaststroke|
|Events|| 100m Breaststroke|
4x100m medley relay
|Relatives||Mikhail Makarovich Nitori (uncle)|
Aiichiro Nitori (似鳥 愛一郎 Nitori Aiichirō) is one of the supporting characters in the anime series Free!. He is a 3rd-year high school student at Samezuka Academy and the current captain of the Samezuka Swimming Club.
Aiichiro has light blue eyes and short grey hair with short, straight bangs. He appears to be the shortest member of the Samezuka swim team, but nevertheless, is about average height. A notable feature of his is a beauty mark, which is located diagonally under his right eye. His swimwear is a purple and yellow square-leg swimsuit and he is sometimes seen wearing a Samezuka Academy jacket.
Aiichiro seems to be friendly and a slight chatterbox. Sometimes he speaks a little too much, like when he mentions that all the Iwatobi swim team members have girly names, but is quickly reminded by Rin Matsuoka's glare that Rin also has a girly name. While he is not always quiet and reserved, Aiichiro is a consistently hardworking swimmer, who recognizes his own limits. He admires Rin to the point of wanting to specialize in two swimming styles (breaststroke and freestyle), just like him, and does anything he can for Rin. Aiichiro remains a bubbly person, never giving up, even when Rin snaps at him or finds him annoying.
Probably because they share the same room, he often does the same things as Rin. He looks up to Rin and feels sincerely happy for his victories. He participates earnestly in club activities and is a hard worker. At one point, Aiichiro felt miserable and frustrated with himself, since he was not able to participate in his preferred event. Because of that, he wasn’t able to understand Rin who, although he was able to participate in any event, only participated in the 100-meter free.
When Rin says that he would "see his father," Aiichiro misunderstood him and sobbed out, "No, you can’t die!" Those were pure tears which came from listening to Rin's obstinate heart. More so than his tears, his crying face was emphasized. During the joint practice with Iwatobi High School, the side of Aiichiro who firmly separates business was shown. He warned Rei Ryugazaki, who wasn’t wearing a swimsuit, and urged him to change.
In elementary school, Aiichiro was in the same swimming competition as Rin, Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana, and Nagisa Hazuki. However, he and his team lost in the prelims. Even so, Aiichiro was extremely moved after watching Rin and everyone else’s winning relay. Ever since, he has looked up to Rin.
- Main article: Aiichiro Nitori/Story
- Main article: Aiichiro Nitori/Relationships
Creation and Conception
The director of Free!, Hiroko Utsumi, commented that if you left Rin alone, he would be isolated without anyone, so there needed to be a character — more like a conversation partner — who would draw him out. The character born out of this need was Aiichiro. Aiichiro's role was to draw out Rin’s heart. Because Rin could understand parts of Aiichiro that were like himself, he felt like talking to him. Aiichiro is not discouraged by Rin's hard-heartedness, and is unexpectedly bold, as well. Utsumi added that he's a very cute kohai. The character designer, Futoshi Nishiya, said that from the very beginning, he was to have bobbed or "mushroom" bangs. That way, there wouldn't be conflicts with other characters' designs, and Aiichiro could be drawn smoothly. At first, there was a version of him wearing eyeglasses, but it was scrapped as unnecessary. Since Aiichiro is a boy with a cute feeling, the staff had to be careful not to clash his design with Nagisa Hazuki's design. For his hair, they first thought about some a green pattern, but settled on a bluish-grey silver.
- His and Rin's room number is 210 and sits across the hall from Seijuro Mikoshiba.
- Aiichiro's desk is always untidy, much to Rin's annoyance.
- In the Free! FrFr OVA, Rin is so annoyed by Aiichiro that he requests to switch rooms with Seijuro Mikoshiba.
- He keeps his umbilical cord in a grey box on his desk, which is criticized as "useless" by Rin.
- In elementary school, Aiichiro used to write an observational journal on Daphnia. He still keeps it on the desk in his room at Samezuka Academy.
- Aiichiro is seen having a Porny Heaven book, hinting that he could be interested in that kind of stuff. This book is pink (most porn books geared toward women in Japan are pink, and usually contain gay porn). 
- His class is 1-3.
- He's writing My Journal On The Morning Glory Flower.
- His hobby is playing with dogs.
- His official spirit animal is a duck, however he is also popularly linked with the seal and pilot fish.
- It is speculated that Aiichiro has asthma. This is due to a scene where what looks to be an inhaler is visible in his desk drawer.The theory is reinforced by a moment in the drama CD, where Aiichiro is heard wheezing and choking while trying to run after Momotaro Mikoshiba.
- At the end of his third year, Rin appoints Aiichiro as captain of the Samezuka Swimming Club.
- Aiichiro's first name (愛一郎) contains the characters 愛 (Ai) "Love", 一 (Ichi) "One", and 郎 (Rou) "Son". His surname (似鳥) contains the characters 似 (Ni) "Similar" and 鳥 (Tori) "Bird."
- His favorite food is borscht.