Hello, anon! I am glad to hear that, it was such a great episode that the thought of the fandom negativity not letting you enjoy it in its full extent makes me sad in turn. I love what you’re telling me and I completely agree with you; the field may be demanding, but doing what you love makes it worth it. I feel your freedom lies right there; in being able to do what you love and staying true to yourself because of it, rather than just running away from it because of the pressure. If you ask me, now that would be betraying yourself by locking your dreams away.
And I feel that the people who say that Haru will lose his freedom are forgetting Rei’s very wise and very important words to Haru.
"I think its truest meaning is having a free heart that can’t be bound by anything. So no matter what choice you make, as long as you remain who you are, you will forever be free!”
Kyoani included those lines for a reason. That is the concept of freedom they want us to have. We have seen Haru start caring about times, put actual effort on regimes and on improving them to try and get his team to win; and Haru is no less Haru because of it. It’s just a natural progression.
It may be just me because I’m a goal-oriented person, but I truly cannot think of anything more fulfilling and more rewarding than to find your calling and being able to do what you love. If people can’t appreciate that Haru has found his, then it’s their loss. Specially given that throughout the whole season Haru has not looked any more free than he did during those two last scenes in episode 12; you can see the way a huge weight has been lifted off him. And that alone says it all, imo.