— Gou, speaking to Nagisa Hazuki.
|Kanji|| 松岡 江|
|Rōmaji|| Matsuoka Gou|
|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 one of the supporting characters of the anime series Free!. She is Rin Matsuoka's younger sister. She is a 3rd year student and the manager of the Iwatobi High School swimming club.
Gou is a petite girl with long burgundy hair that is tied back in a ponytail and red eyes. Her usual school uniform consists of a light brown skirt, white shirt with red bow tie, light gray long-sleeved cardigan, dark gray unbuttoned blazer, blue trouser 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, light gray sweater vest, white socks and pink shoes.
Gou has an easygoing and refreshing personality. However, despite her friendly persona, she becomes quite annoyed whenever anyone calls her Gou because it is a boyish name for a girl. She prefers being called Kou and she will usually correct those who call her otherwise, but Nagisa Hazuki calls her "Gou" despite her constant corrections, eventually causing her to give up completely.
Gou often worries about Rin Matsuoka (Gou's older brother), as she regularly and persistently 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 could 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 efficient in her role as manager and works 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.
Toraichi Matsuoka (Gou's father) was a fisherman who died at sea when she was very young. She appears to have been born in Iwatobi and to have moved a short time afterward to another school district. Around the age of ten, her grandmother died and Gou, Rin Matsuoka (Gou's older brother) and Miyako Matsuoka (Gou's mother) inherited the house in Iwatobi where her grandmother lived. 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 met Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa Hazuki while delivering to Rin the cookie tin he plans to bury with the medley trophy. Neither Makoto and Nagisa nor herself seem to remember the meeting when they later reunited, but Haruka remembered her identity and name later on and Gou herself remembered Haruka.
While watching her brother compete in the medley relay, she observed his happiness while they celebrated victory, and this memory remained with her after he left for Australia. Although he returned every winter to celebrate the New Year, she worried over the way he no longer smiled and became more withdrawn each year. Eventually, when Rin returned to Iwatobi for schooling at a boarding school and refused to answer her texts, much less visit home, Gou became worried enough to take action to make him smile again.
- Main article: Gou Matsuoka/Story
- Main article: Gou Matsuoka/Relationships
Creation and ConceptionHiroko Utsumi, the director of the Free! anime, revealed 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 became 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 a 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 belong. I think she’s a character who splendidly stands out amongst the cast." It is also revealed that Gou is really poor athletically. If she and Rin were both athletic and swam, the animators would have to insert differences between them to show weaknesses. So, Gou only joined the swimming club to watch the members swim. The reason why Gou gets into arguments with Nagisa is that he won't change how he says her name. “Don't call me Gou, call me Kou.” They're the same age, so there’s no hesitance in her attitude. Gou has some aspects of her that are childish, so the two of them together feels like a couple of kids arguing with each other. At any rate, Gou is in an important position as a character. She’s Rin’s sister, so acts as a bridge between him and the Iwatobi swimmers. The director also contributed things she personally wanted to see in Gou's personality, like how she loves looking at 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.