So here’s the review that I promised to give earlier on! It wasn’t easy thinking of what to write about since these days, I haven’t had any new review-worthy material to work with. Many manga and anime are nice to read and watch but many aren’t worth publicizing with a review. Maybe I should do a post on good short manga to read. When I say short, I mean those manga with 20 chapters or less. What do you guys think? ^^
Anyway, today I just finished (actually, FINALLY) finished watching the anime Free!. I started watching Free! because I saw a giant poster of it in Akihabara when I was in Japan last December and was intrigued by it. When I started watching it, I got stuck on it because it was about guys swimming. There’s something about characters who swim – the animation of them diving into the water and slicing themselves through it is just beautiful.
The genres of this anime are Comedy, School, Slice of Life and Sports.
It’s basically the story about a boy, Nanase Haruka who loves swimming. He loves the water so much that he has a tendency to jump into any body of water so long as it’s large enough (including a fish tank) and when asked to tell the others about a romantic encounter, he relates it to an encounter with a waterfall.
Haru has two good friends, Tachibana Makoto and Hazuki Nagisa. Both of them swam with him in the same elementary school swimming club until a boy named Matsuoka Rin came along. Rin was energetic and he pushed the three of them to join a swimming medley relay with him. The four of them swam in a relay at a competition and won the championship but soon after, Rin leaves for Australia to pursue his father’s dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer.
The boys all part ways and Haru, Makoto and Nagisa reunite at high school. Haru is quiet and apathetic but straightforward. When anyone mentions swimming, the only thing he would say is that he only swims ‘free’, meaning that he only swims freestyle. Makoto takes care of him most of the time and is his ‘mouth’, speaking for Haru most of the time when Haru can’t be bothered to talk. Nagisa is the cheerful one who is ecstatic to see Haru and Makoto at school. He suggests that they set up a swimming club in their high school and swim together again.
This proposal takes some pushing but the club is eventually formed with the help of Matsuoka Gou, Rin’s younger sister who is in the same year as Nagisa. As for Rin, he returned to Japan and joined Samezuka Academy. When he runs into Haru, they decide to have a race. Haru lets Rin win but Rin isn’t happy. He vows to return to swimming and meet Haru in the swimming competition to swim with him again and beat him fairly.
We discover that back when they were younger, Rin had returned to Japan for a visit and he ran into Haru. They had a race and Haru emerged the winner. Rin was so angry and disappointed that all his training in Australia was for naught that Haru quit swimming competitively because he had hurt Rin’s pride.
The story continues to tell us of how the Iwatobi Swimming Club grew and bonded together with the entrance of their new member, Ryugazaki Rei who was persuaded by Nagisa to join the Swimming Club. Rei is dazzled by everything ‘beautiful’ and he does everything by theory and calculations (talk about nerd). He joins the Swimming Club because he saw Haru swimming and was amazed at his beautiful swimming form (I don’t blame him). The anime takes us through him learning the butterfly stroke, figuring out the relationship between his other three club members with Rin and improving himself to become a more mature and understanding person.
The Iwatobi Swim Club train for the Swimming Prefectural Tournament and even though the boys didn’t qualify for the next rounds in their categories, they did astoundingly well in the medley relay and qualified for the next round. They prepare to meet Rin in the medley relay but a twist occurs and Rin is reduced to quitting swimming. Can the boys save their old friend from throwing away the one thing he loves?
Watch this anime to find out.
– Final Thoughts –
Not the best anime out there but it was bearable. The scenes of the boys swimming were the best. Really. The diving into the water and swimming sequences are beautiful. Especially when Haru does it. The plotline wasn’t very strong and the story eventually got draggy. There was character development, though it was really slow since characters like Haru don’t say much. And the whole story line basically revolved around Haru and Rin and there was this unknown danger air around them the whole time that everyone knew was dangerous to touch and didn’t know what it was but refrained from bringing it up.
The whole situation between Haru and Rin was confusing. Rin was all angsty and swaying more than half the time too. It practically took 12 whole episodes to explain the relationship between Haru and Rin and what was really going on. And the explanation didn’t even turn out to be that big of a deal such that it required all that angsting.
The anime was funny at some points, due to Haru’s deadpan replies and Makoto and Nagisa’s infectious cheerfulness that can’t be swayed. But overall, I think that this story is a story mostly about friendship and teamwork. It wouldn’t be on my ‘re-watch anime’ list anytime soon though.