— Haruka Nanase.
|Also known as||Haru (by Makoto and Rin) |
Haruka-senpai (by Rei and Gou)
|Height||145 cm (4'9") (High☆Speed!)|
175 cm (5'9") (Free!)
|Weight||38 kg (84 lb) (High☆Speed!)|
63 kg (139 lb) (Free!)
|Education||Hidaka University |
|Clubs||Hidaka University Swim Club|
(Iwatobi High School Swim Club; former)
|Events||50 m free|
100 m free
|Light Novel||Chapter 1|
Megumi Matsumoto (child)
Lara Woodhull (child)
Haruka Nanase (七瀬 遙 Nanase Haruka) is the main protagonist of the anime series Free! and the light novel High☆Speed！. He is a freestyle swimmer and was the vice-captain of the Iwatobi High School Swim Club. He is currently a freshman at Hidaka University where he also a member of the swim club.
Haruka is a muscular young man with short, straight black hair and blue eyes. He always maintains a serious expression and rarely expresses emotion. In high school, he often wears his jammers beneath his regular clothing in order to be ready to swim on a moment's notice. As pointed out by members of his swim team, all of his jammers are nearly identical (black with minor variations in the violet striping), yet he claims they all fit differently, and he often has trouble selecting which one to wear in the morning. The most developed muscles of his form are his tricep and abdominal muscles (upper arms and abdomen).
His autumn and winter high school uniform consists of brown trousers, a long-sleeved white shirt with a green necktie, dark gray blazer, and blue sneakers. During the spring and summer, he wears gray trousers, a short-sleeved white shirt with a dark gray collar, a green dotted necktie, and blue sneakers. When not in school, Haru dresses in stylish, casual clothes suited for his age.
Haruka is a quiet but determined individual with a strong affinity for water. His greatest asset is his confidence in his decisions, once made. Despite his cool persona, which many perceive as uncaring, he is protective towards his friends, particularly those on his high school swim team: Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki and Rei Ryugazaki, but particularly Makoto, his best friend since childhood. This is seen twice during the team's seaside summer training -- first, when Makoto feels compelled to tell his team the truth about his fear of the ocean and Haruka, immediately sensing Makoto's discomfort, commands Rei to drop the question, though Makoto insists just the same and second, when Haruka actually rescues Makoto from nearly drowning earlier on.
Haruka also values his relationship with Rin Matsuoka, another childhood friend with whom he shares an intense athletic rivalry. During elementary school, while on break from schooling in Australia, Rin loses to Haruka in a private race and declares he is quitting swimming altogether. Though Rin's reasons are otherwise, Haruka believes it is his fault and, out of guilt, quits competitive swimming. When Rin returns for high schooling in Japan, an impromptu race restores both of their competitive spirits and both join their respective school teams. Later, at the tournament, Rin is released from his school's relay team and runs off. Haruka seeks him out and reminds him that it was Rin who taught him that the most important thing about swimming is not winning, but teamwork with friends. Rin takes Rei's place in the relay race and although the Iwatobi team's win is rescinded, everyone's friendships are restored.
Haruka's fixation with water sometimes makes him a comical figure as he will strip down to his jammer just about anywhere if there's available water nearby (including a fish tank). He even considers an encounter with a waterfall to be romantic. Despite being stoic, he is ticklish, as seen in the seventh FrFr short.
Haruka has been friends with Makoto since early childhood, meeting him on a local playground in Iwatobi. As the playing children run to see a passing rabbit, Makoto trips and falls but is helped up by Haruka who sees his distress. Since that time, the proximity of their homes and complementary personalities grows their friendship. One day, Makoto asks Haruka to join the local swim club with him, but Haruka refuses saying, "it's too much trouble." When Makoto replies he will not join either, Haruka asks why and Makoto says there's no point if Haruka isn't with him. Haruka eventually does join and others begin to see his incredible talent. 
While attending elementary school, Haruka teams up with Makoto, Nagisa and Rin to form a relay team that wins a tournament.
In Middle School, Haruka does not intend to join clubs because it will detract from his swimming time. On the first day of school, classmate Asahi Shiina approaches saying, "You look like the type of guy with no friends." getting off on the wrong foot with him, though he fails to realize it. Haruka does not want Asahi to call him "Haru" like Makoto, but says he can because he wants the boy to stop following him around. Haruka is eventually drafted into the Iwatobi Junior High School Swim Club, along with Makoto, Asahi and Ikuya Kirishima. Later in the school year, when Makoto creates distance between them, Haruka is the one to reach out and initiate amends. He also makes a pinky promise with Ikuya that they will one day swim a race against one another. Their team, however, falls apart when Asahi moves away and Haru quits competitive swimming (causing Makoto to also quit), hurting Ikuya deeply.
- Main article: Haruka Nanase/Story
Stats (season one):
- Main article: Haruka Nanase/Relationships
- Main article: Haruka Nanase/Music
Creation and Conception
Hiroko Utsumi, the director of seasons 1 and 2 of the Free! anime, describes Haruka as "equipped with 'coolness'." "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." She adds that the audience will get to see Haruka gradually change as he matures throughout the series, as seen in episode nine.
The animators had little trouble designing Haruka's character, paying special attention to his eyes, made blue to reflect his love of water. On close-ups of his eyes, the animators have made them detailed, using many frames to make them life-like. Character designer Futoshi Nishiya dresses Haruka with clothing for easy removal because whenever he sees water, he wants to swim in it. The designer also says that when he designed school uniforms for the Iwatobi High School students, they fit perfectly on everyone except Haruka, shocking the crew.
The animators named Haruka a "waterdere," because water brings out his emotions, which 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 explains in one interview.
- The name Haruka means "distant, remote" (遥).
- It can also mean "spring" (春) or "clear weather" (晴) (haru) and "flower, blossom" (花) or "fragrance" (香) (ka).
- Haruka's surname Nanase means "seven" (七) (nana) and "swift current, rapids" (瀬) (se).
- Haruka shares his first name and last name with a female character from Hagure Yūsha no Esutetika
- Like all members of the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club, Haruka has a typically feminine name.
- Haruka shares same birthday as the real-life U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer, Michael Phelps.
- Haruka often bathes wearing his jammers. 
- Haruka has excellent art skills, such as drawing and wood carving.
- The year before, he submitted one of 987 entries in the Iwatobi Town mascot contest. His entry was named Tobimaru-kun and it wasn't very cute, according to Gou Matsuoka.
- Haruka could be called "hydro-sexual" because he has expressed romantic feelings towards water when younger, though whether this continues into high school is unstated.
- Haruka has said "Tadaima" (ただいま), meaning "I'm home", upon arriving at the swimming club during elementary school.
- When asked which friend he would date if he were a girl, Haruka first chooses Makoto Tachibana saying it would be easiest, but quickly changes to Nagisa Hazuki when Nagisa promises to cook him mackerel for breakfast every morning.
- Rei Ryugazaki 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 and is usually correct, stunning those around them.
- Haruka once wore a girl's swimsuit in elementary school when Nagisa borrowed his trunks because the blond's sister swapped out his swimsuit for a female one. Haruka claims that he had no recollection of this memory, but admits he does by the track's end.
- According to Free! TV ANIMATION GUIDE BOOK:
- Haruka's best subjects are Home Economics and Art; his least favorite is English.
- Haruka likes cooking and is good at it. He once baked a chocolate-mackerel cake for Makoto's birthday.
- Haruka bathes with a dolphin toy he received on his first day at Iwatobi Swim Club.
- Haruka is ticklish and hates being touched.
- Once in elementary school, Haruka sleep-laughed, which is one of the rare times he has laughed out loud, besides when being tickled.
- Haruka's motif animal is a dolphin.