|Also known as||Matsuoka-san (by Miho Amakata)|
|Height||160 cm (5'3")|
|Weight||51 kg (111 lbs)|
|Occupation||3rd year High School Student|
|Clubs||Iwatobi High School Swim Club|
|Relatives||Toraichi Matsuoka (father; deceased)|
|Light Novel||Chapter 6|
Gou Matsuoka (松岡 江 Matsuoka Gou) is a supporting character in the anime series Free! beginning with Free! She is Rin Matsuoka's younger sister, a third-year student at Iwatobi High School and the manager of the Iwatobi High School Swim Club.
Gou is a petite girl with crimson-colored eyes and long, burgundy hair tied back in a ponytail. Her school uniform consists of a light brown skirt, white shirt with red bow tie, gray long-sleeved cardigan, gray blazer, blue knee-high socks and black shoes. During the spring and summer, her uniform is a gray skirt, white shirt with dark gray collar, red dotted bow tie, gray sweater vest, white socks and pink shoes.
She has an easygoing and refreshing personality. However, despite her friendly persona, she becomes annoyed whenever anyone calls her Gou because it is a boyish name for a girl. She prefers being called Kou and will usually correct those who call her otherwise, although Nagisa Hazuki calls her "Gou" despite her constant corrections, eventually causing her to give up completely.
Gou often worries about her older brother, Rin Matsuoka, as she regularly checks up on him to see that he's doing well after his transfer into Samezuka Academy. She becomes the Iwatobi Swim Team's manager, knowing that the members were old friends of Rin, in the hope that they can restore Rin back to his old self.
As a manager, Gou can be strict when need be but, at the same time, supportive of the team's decisions and feats. She is an efficient manager, working diligently to improve their training by setting up regimens and organizing joint swimming practices with Samezuka Academy's swim team.
Despite being the manager of the swim club, Gou actually does not know how to swim. She also has an obsession with masculine muscles and a tendency to blush and get overly enthusiastic whenever she sees them.
Gou's father, Toraichi Matsuoka, is a fisherman who dies at sea when she is very young. She appears to have been born in Iwatobi, but moved a short time afterwards to another school district. Around the age of ten, however, her grandmother dies and she, Rin and her mother (Miyako Matsuoka) move into the Iwatobi house where her grandmother used to live. At that time, her mother and she became worried by Rin's plan to move to Australia to study abroad.
Some time shortly before Gou's eleventh birthday, she briefly meets Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa while delivering a cookie tin to Rin at the Iwatobi Swimming Club. Neither Makoto and Nagisa, nor herself, seem to remember the meeting when they later reunite, but Haruka does and Gou remembers him.
While watching her brother compete in the first medley relay, she observes his happiness when they celebrate victory. This memory remains with her after he goes to Australia for schooling. Although he returns every winter to celebrate the New Year, she worries over the way he no longer smiles and has become withdrawn. When Rin returns to Iwatobi in order to attend and to dorm at Samezuka Academy, he refuses to answer her texts or visit home, pushing Gou into action to make him smile again.
- Main article: Gou Matsuoka/Story
- Main article: Gou Matsuoka/Relationships
Creation and Conception
Hiroko Utsumi, the director of seasons 1 and 2, once stated that Gou and Miho Amakata are really supported by the male staff members. "Her expression is similar to Rin Matsuoka's. Her eye angle is also similar," she said. "Her hair isn't exactly the same color as Rin's, but they resemble each other's. Matching siblings are cute, wouldn't you agree? You sense that she really becomes emotionally attached to her older brother. I didn't want to have her feel like a character who relied on anyone else, so I made her the kind of girl who's got her own independent will. She's the kind of girl who does whatever she wishes. She has her own reasons for joining the swimming club. It's not that she's weak as a character; she joined because she would enjoy looking at muscles. Thus, we also depicted her discovering her own reason to enjoy the swimming club. Her personality is feminine yet clearly cheerful. I requested to Nishiya-san that I wanted her hair to be long. I think she's a character who splendidly stands out amongst the cast." Gou and Nagisa Hazuki are the same age and argue constantly about how he says her name (Gou vs. Kou) and the two of them together feels like a couple of kids arguing with each other. She is an important character who, because she is Rin's sister, serves as a bridge between him and the Iwatobi swimmers. Director Utsumi also contributed things she personally wanted to see in Gou's personality, like how she loves muscles.
- The name Gou means "inlet" (江).
- Gou's surname Matsuoka means "pine tree, fir tree" (松) (matsu) and "ridge, hill" (岡) (oka).
- Gou was named after the Sengoku warlord, Nagamasa Azai.
- In contrast to the male characters' feminine names, Gou has a masculine name.
- Gou's and Nagisa Hazuki's bedrooms were copied from North American furniture catalogs and blogs.
- Gou has a pet cat named Steve.