BICEPS. TRICEPS. ABDOMINALS. OH MY!
Free! is that one show from the summer season that I enjoyed and couldn’t complain much about. Personally, I look for flaws and the things that bug the heck out of me when I watch anime sometimes. But, for some apparent reason, I couldn’t find anything when I watched Free! Could it have been the naked wet men who were the protagonists of this anime? Who knows.
Free! Iwatobi Swim Club (Or Free! for short of course) is an anime series that consists of twelve episodes. It is based off a light novel called, “High Speed!” by Koji Oji. To simplify, the plot is centered around four teenage boys called Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei as they initiate a swimming club at their high school. There is also another teenage boy called Rin (Who I think should have kissed Haruka. Just kidding!) who befriended Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa when they were in middle school. The story technically showcases their relationship to each other as teammates and friends.
Low and behold, the story may sound like something you might have come across before. Many have viewed Free! as a female version of K-On! But, instead of adorable girls drinking tea, snacking on cookies, and practicing their band’s music, we have four young boys who are technically half naked, wet, and swimming throughout most of the series. I honestly feel that vast majority of the female viewers of this show DID not pay attention to the story whatsoever because they were too busy admiring the hot guys.
There are those who say that the characters are stereotypical, predictable, and overdone. But, to be honest I liked the character development that flowed through the series. Haruka may be your typical quiet character who didn’t spoke much, but had a deep inner love for his passion. Actually, he is honestly obsessed with water to the point where he would cook in his swimming trunks and dive into any body of water without thinking. There’s Makoto (Who I thought had a slight thing for Haruka) who is really caring and nurturing. There is also Nagisa who is hyperactive, highly positive, and reeks of intense shota (Well, to me anyway). And there is Rei (My favorite character in the series) who is very awkward, intelligent, nerdy, and thinks every single form should be calculated before being executed. And last but not least, Rin who is the ex-member of their team back in the day and who appears as highly competitive (And who I also thinks has a thing for Haruka). And of course, Rin’s little sister, Gou, who really represented a vast majority of the female viewers’ reactions to the naked, wet, swimming guys. I seriously loved her reactions because they were SO spot-on.
I also enjoy the back stories of the characters as well. For instance, although it was pretty obvious, I liked how they showcased Rin’s actual feelings towards his old friends and swimming in the last episode. I also admired how the characters’ pasts were showcased in little increments throughout the series, rather than dumping it all out on the viewers in one episode.
I can honestly say that the male lead can seriously be replaced by females and it will still work out. Their names already sound female, and their personalities showcases possibilities for a genderbend (Well, to me anyway).
In terms of animation as a whole, the visuals are quite appealing to the eye. But, that is Kyoto Animation for you! The colors really showcased an inviting, summery, colorful feel. The detail when it comes to animating water splashes, flows, and waves were very spot-on and distinct, to the point where it actually made me feel like jumping in a body of water. And of course, the detail in anatomy shows how much studying they did just to get it right. The fan-service wasn’t intentional and in-your-face in comparison to other anime.
The opening theme for Free! which is “Rage On!” by Oldcodex was okay and didn’t stand out to me. On the other hand, the ending theme which is “Splash Free!” by Nobunga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa, and Mamoru Miyano (The voice actors of Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei) caught my attention respectively! It was that one ending theme that I never really missed or skipped.
All in all, I enjoyed watching Free! and had nothing to complain about for some apparent reason. Could it have been the muscles and naked wet guys? After writing this review, I still don’t know. Ha.