Here it is everyone! A review of the anime that lured me in with its manservice and hooked me with its plot and characters: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club! Sorry for the lateness of this review, but better late than never, right? 😉 ^.^’
If you want to read my First Impressions post about Free! and haven’t yet, you can find that here. The delay has been long enough, so I’m just going to jump right into it then! (Haha, did you see what I did there?) As always, watch out for those spoilers, since I will be talking about the plot!
As I mentioned in my previous post about Free!, the animation is simply amazing. I can honestly say that after watching the gorgeousness that is KyoAni’s animation, I am changed forever, lol. It really was a pleasure to watch (and ogle, when necessary ^^). Anyway, I talked enough about all that before, so I won’t go into it too much more now. One last thing I will say about it is that I’m glad that the quality was consistent! I think it if had gone downhill, it would have been more devastating than if it had been another anime. Well, that’s just what I think.
Another really impressive aspect of this anime was the music. Besides the opening and ending (which were awesome by the way), I really enjoyed the “background” music as well. Not only did it really fit the moment, it was also so good that it wasn’t unnoticeable or unmemorable. There was even some dubstep in there!! Very nice~!
Something interesting I learned is that Free! is actually based on a light novel by OOJI Kouji (art by NISHIYA Futoshi) called “High Speed!” or “ハイ☆スピード!”. OOJI entered it into an award contest held by Kyoto Animation, where is got an honorable mention. KyoAni ended up publishing it two years later. ^^ Alright, well, enough of all the “technical” talk, it’s time to talk about the characters!! I’m going to be talking about quite a few people this time, with some plot details in the mix, so I hope you enjoy! 🙂
I’m going to start with Haruka again! In all honesty, I ended up liking him more that I thought I would. He really came off as nonchalant, but now I don’t think that’s quite right. He’s a lot more caring than he lets on; maybe he’s just too lazy to show interest in anything but swimming (oh, and apparently swimwear, too, lol). He’s a good kid at heart. I will definitely confirm that his confidence in swimming is well placed, but I really think it was good for him to lose to Rin in the Prefectural Tournament. It gave Haruka a necessary kick in the rear to actually start trying to swim again. And this is completely random, but did anyone else notice that his dance in the ending theme was his “shake, shake, swish” move?? LOL
Next up is the sweetheart Makoto! Remember how I questioned whether Haruka felt that Makoto was his best friend? Yeah, they are totally best friends, although it seems their friendship is more of an unspoken one. There’s nothing wrong with that though! It was actually quite cute to see them interact, like when Makoto was -accurately- reading Haruka’s thoughts out loud. 🙂 Despite all his smiles on the surface, he’s quite the complicated character. He’s a scaredy cat of things supernatural, yet holds some seriously scary memories as well. He’s also got a good intuition and is a kind older brother! Awww! >///< If you can’t already tell, I ended up really, really liking Makoto. I would even venture to say that he is my favorite! \o/
Continuing with Nagisa now! He was quite the troublemaker, wasn’t he? We shouldn’t be deceived by his sweet and innocent looks, lol. He ended up being very different from how I imagined (i.e. mild-mannered). I was deceived I tell you!! ;D I usually get tired of these types of characters quickly, but Nagisa never got to that point. He was actually really funny! I remember laughing at a lot of his antics and how often he got the others in trouble or how he teased them. 😀 Hahaha! I especially liked his reasoning on why Rei was the one who had to join the swim team! ^^ Also, he seemed really intent to see Ama-chan-sensei in a bikini, or was it just me who thought that? lol
And last up for the Iwatobi boys is Rei! Oh man, I don’t even know where to start with him. ^^ His logic is a bit strange sometimes, but it almost always leads to something fun/funny happening, so it’s all good. I could not stop laughing when he tried to blame his inability to swim on the fact that he was wearing a speedo. Bwahahaha! The way he sank was so funny as well! I felt bad for him sometimes though, especially when Nagisa was always picking on him (like when they got stranded in the lighthouse). All said, I really liked Rei as well. Especially how he was always pushing his glasses up! >///< He’s actually a very close second to Makoto… Actually if Makoto is 1, then Rei is probably something like 1.25, lol, if that even makes any sense.
Now on to the emo-monster named Rin! Alright, maybe that was a bit harsh, but I still think he was a bit crazy about his whole attitude toward others. I know that he wasn’t doing well in Australia and that he lost to Haruka during that same time, but to still be hung up about it after so many years seems… well, a bit pathetic. He knew the extent of Haruka’s talent, so I don’t understand why Rin ending up blaming him for everything. It was his own loss. I will say that I liked him much more toward the end of the series, but he still put the Iwatobi boys (and his own teammates) through a lot of unnecessary heartache. I hope that he learned his lesson!!
A pleasant surprise in this anime where the two females, Gou and Ama-chan! I think Gou and I would get along just fine! LOL Truly, she is the envy of the female fans of Free!, since she gets to be around all those bare muscles! ^o^ I was right in guessing that she would be involved with the founding of the swim club, but I was happy that she was actually capable. She also had a thing going with the captain of Samezuka’s swim team, or at least, he was trying really hard, lol. Ama-chan was hilarious! She was so desperate to hide the fact that she was a gravure idol, although I can’t blame her. She got downright creepy at times! Coach SASABE was onto her though, and that was awesome, lol. Her use of quotes was a bit strange, but she genuinely tried to help the boys, and it seemed to help, so yay!
Hmmm… lastly, I think I’ll talk about the Samezuka boys, MIKOSHIBA Seijuurou (the captain) and NITORI Aiichirou (Rin’s roommate and swim club kouhai). MIKOSHIBA was a very goofy guy, but he really knew how to be serious, too! I was so surprised when he told Rin that he wasn’t going to be swimming in the medley, he was so stern!! He also has a big heart, as we seen when he welcomed Rin “back” to the team. He was fun, I wished we could have seen more of him. As for NITORI, I really have to give the kid some credit. Rin was such a bastard to him most of the time, but he stayed by his side and tried to help regardless. He’s such a nice guy! *sobs*
Oh! I also want to mention SASABE Gorou! Another funny guy! I liked how he got his revenge for them always giving him pizza (even though he is a pizza delivery man) by giving them pizza when they went on their hellish training camp adventure, hahaha! 😀
And here is a little Iwatobi-chan, just because! What a strange mascot, huh?
You can’t deny that this anime, despite all the manservice and stripping and muscles, is really an anime about 仲間, the ever-popular subject of most things shounen, lol. I’m so glad there was no serious romance in the plot (not counting Gou’s obvious love of muscles) because I think it would have ruined the story between the five main guys to have a random girl involved. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unfold; I was even bummed when I finished the last episode since I got so caught up with the characters. ^.^ I didn’t want it to end! One bonus though (if you didn’t notice at the end of the last episode, like that’s even possible, right?) is that they are hinting at a second season for next summer! Hooray! \o/ That made me really happy, and I hope that we get to see it! I especially hope that Rei will actually get to swim with them this time! *rages* (If you can’t tell, while I was happy things got sorted out between them, I was sad because I wanted to see Rei do the medley relay with Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa!!)
Just to let you guys know in case you already don’t, there are some short special episodes that will be coming out along with the DVD releases, called FrFr!～Free! short movie～. There will be six of them, so check them out when you get a chance!!
All in all, give this anime a chance if you haven’t already. It really is good! I know it is definitely on my re-watch list. Don’t forget to share your thoughts about Free! below!!
Until next time,