First Impressions: Free!

Reunion at the Starting Block

Free episode 1

meeeWell. After we all waited for the hugely anticipated “swimming anime”, aka Free, I think it’s safe to say it’s off to a promising start: That’s if you’re watching it for the storyline, not for the “fanservice”… O-or manservice.

So after a good start to the spring season, something happened right towards the end (coughNewLeafcough), stuff happened and basically I lost all motivation to finish writing Karneval and Suisei no Gargantia… OOPS. But fear not! Because as you may already know, we’re going to start afresh for this new season and ensure that our posts are up on time and etc and that we won’t just lose motivation half-way through the season. Yup. However, you CAN expect a review of Karneval very soon, so look forward to that. But right now, be looking forward to my posts for Free. I can tell you they’re going to be much more interesting (who am I kidding it’s really just for the bishies), than what I’ll have to say for Karneval.

Okay, so now onto Free! WELL. I did mainly pick this anime just because of the… well, bishies, okay, that’s true. But I am also a huge fan of Kyo-Ani (back when I reviewed Tamako Market in Winter and yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end!) itself, that and I used to really be into swimming when I was younger but never knew MUCH about the competitive side of it, so maybe I’ll learn some more through anime… Well, maybe….

Either way, Free is certainly something interesting and different. For starters, I’ve never seen a whole anime based around swimming… that’s because there probably hasn’t been. And I am wondering what on earth they’re going to do with it (cough, Tsuritama? For what seemed like an ordinary “fishing” anime turned out to be the end of the world… Literally, I suppose COUGH). Nevertheless, I don’t doubt Kyo-Ani, so I’m sure that they’ll end up turning this into something beautiful, something incredible, that’s when fanservice isn’t shoved into your face within the first 5 minutes or so. So already we got a good amount of backstory into the anime, when we get to meet the main characters and bishies and yeah yeah, I can feel a tragic story coming along with this Rin guy already. As for characters, you’ve got your typical stereotypes here… Somewhat. Haruka Nanase, our protagonist and main character of the story! He doesn’t care for anything else but swimming. SWIMMING THIS, SWIMMING THAT, I DON’T NEED ANYTHING ELSE BUT SWIMMING. He also has a habit of wearing swim suits EVERYWHERE. L-like gee, when he was about to get out the bathtub, I was just about to cover my eyes or screen OR SOMETHING, but then I knew that they… Possibly couldn’t have right? Seriously?! Who sits in the bathtub wearing a swimsuit? Anyway, I feel like… Nanase-“kun” is kind of like our character here who will develop and blossom into something beautiful eventually by the end of the anime and realise that friendship is always the answer, NOT SWIMMING. Then we have Makoto Tachibana (my favourite character so far!), our friendly, moe, “onii-chan” like character who is always looking out for his friends. That and I guess he likes swimming. Either way, he’s just our sweet character to help balance the angst that both Nanase and Rin emit, like, 24/7 (that’s how it seems so far). We also have our boy-loli Nagisa Hazuki, who is a first year student at their high school. He also helps keep the balance along with Makoto and seems to be very adventurous… Um… Y-yeah, like when it involves skinny dipping. This boy is never afraid to try anything new, by the looks of it! And we have Rin, of whom is still much of a mystery, but I can already feel the tragic backstory already.

Anyway, this episode basically just dives straight into the action, we meet basically nearly ALL of our main characters (I believe there’s one left we have yet to meet), and learn how things have changed from the past to the present. So now that all the boys don’t… Competitively swim anymore, once they meet our lovely and bubbly loli Nagisa, we visit one of their old swimming pools, where they used to train, and I kept thinking that there is something more to this Rin guy. The fact they constantly kept thinking about him, the photo on the wall, flashbacks, etc… Well, anyway, they SOMEHOW AND MYSTERIOUSLY MET RIN THERE BY SURPRISE… Gah, that’s one thing I’m kind of disliking, how all these things are happening so suddenly… Like one minute the mood would be all lighthearted and happy at school, the next we’re all tense because they’re entering the “spooky swimming baths”… Also, is it me or is the ost really.. strange? Like sometimes they’d play the music in the weirdest of scenes, and it just really wouldn’t fit, so much it reached the point where it began to BUG me a little.

So Rin and Nanase were about to go have a race in the pool but nope, there’s no water in the pool, and Rin goes back to hiding in the shadows. Anyway, we meet Rin’s younger sister back at their high school, and she tells the boys that Rin is attending a swimming boarding school (does such a thing even really exist?), so yet again, our troublesome trio try to go sneak in. Oh, and they bribe Nanase into coming along (he did a very Oreki Houtarou styled “I can’t be bothered” as soon as Makoto and Nagisa mentioned it, ehehe) because there’s an indoor swimming pool where he can go swim. Once they reach the pool and everyone’s left, Nanase takes off his trousers, only for him to be wearing swimming trunks underneath again (gee, Kyo-Ani, PLEASE STOP SCARING ME LIKE THAT), except when Nagisa does it, h-HE ISN’T WEARING ANYTHING UNDERNEATH. So yeah… S-so much fanservice… /).(\ Then he pulls Makoto into the pool and waah, we somehow find our rival Rin again, and before we know it, we’re left on a cliffhanger again, when Nanase challenges Rin to a “duel”… O-or a swimming race.

So so far? My first impressions are exactly this:

1) I’m liking it. I really do. I like the idea, concept and to see how Kyo-Ani start to shape this into the masterpiece all us girls were waiting for… And boys too, of course!

2) Despite the dodgy soundtrack at times and the okay-ish opening, the animation is still pretty. Yeah… Well…

If I’m honest, it’s hard to really make any first impressions on Free when I have no idea what will happen next or how they’re going to make a storyline out of swimming. But hey, what I can say is… Well, why do you need a story when you have bishies? :’3

There actually is a swimming anime Lucy! It’s called Kenko Zenkarei Suieibou Umisho. Or in English, Kenko Nude Swimming Series Umisho. Sounds like the appeal of these two shows is very similar (⊙‿⊙✿)

And what is friendship without swimming, anyway? Kinda standard, apparently. I’m not really sure what I was expecting besides obscenely pretty boys in equally pretty animation. I mean, I ain’t gonna lie, the simple moe heads on ultra detailed physiques still kinda cracks me up, but it’s still cool at the same time. And besides the focus on swimming and and budding hotblooded rivalry fueled by further love for swimming, a lot of the interaction here is straight out of a regular slice of life series featuring boys.  That ain’t really a bad thing at all though. Free seems to have a fairly good grasp on itself so far, and if some studio is used to doing slice of life, it’s KyoAni.  I ain’t expecting another series I’ll fall in love with like Hyouka, but Free’s got something decent going for it so far. Now it’s left to see where and how far it can take it.

5 thoughts on “First Impressions: Free!

  1. I watched Umisho and I found it extremely boring. I don’t know, some of the jokes were funny but most of the time I was just waiting for the episode to end. Maybe guys would like it more considering that the majority of the characters are girls, but for me it was meh. It was more intended ‘comedy’ and some kind of weird ‘romance’ than ‘swimming’, and wasn;t interesting at all. Well, JUST in my opinion.

    I really liked Free! though. It has a story, some interaction and nice characters and awesome animation “who am I kidding it’s really just for the bishies”. Well, I admit that I scream in my heart and reality at everything, but really, I think the anime is really nicely done and in my opinion aside from the fanservice of half naked man bodies that was inevitable, the “boys love” undertones are really tame, so I just can’t wait to see what happens next. I watch it for the story as well.

    • Exactly. I think maybe that, even though it’s still like fairly simple in terms of storyline and whatnot, maybe it’s the charm of the anime, which Kyo-Ani seems to achieve with most of the anime they produce. And I like Free, because who can’t deny, the animation is still amazing, the characters and the storyline (of which seems to shape up more in episode 2) seems to be promising and I’m liking some of the characters too. They’re not just dull and bland characters, so I’m actually pretty excited to learn more about some characters, especially Rin in particular. OF COURSE, I mean I’m watching for the story too, as well as the bishies. I mean if I was watching it purely for the bishies and it had no story at all, I think I’d be PRETTY bored. That being said, I’m not really expecting this to end out as being a bl anime/yaoi. :3

      • I’m not expecting that either. At all. I think it has 0 chance of even going in that direction, no way of ending in BL. These types of anime never become boys love because they’re intended to be sports or whatever genre they are with slightly more fanservice for the fangirls. Actually I think that they are the ones who make the friendship seem more than bromance, and also the gay haters who shudder when they even shake hands. Haha

        • Yes, exactly. And if they were, you’d certainly get the hint of it already, because it’s a short series they’ll try and push some characters together a lot more too. It is a sports anime so they will mainly aim at the fanservice and that be all the try and achieve… Oh, that and have a good storyline/plot too to make it enjoyable for everyone who watches and not just for those who are watching for the fanservice. I just find it ridiculous how people are throwing such a strop over Free, because of all that male fanservice… It’s not like there aren’t tons of female fanservice “dedicated” anime out there already. Girls have barely any at all, you know.😛

          • That’s totally right. Many male otaku/anime fans/ fanboys seem to find it hard to accept male fanservice, no matter how unimportant it is, although you can find female fanservice in most anime actually, and some series are made just for them.😀

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