English: Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 4, 2013 to Sep 25, 2013
24 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.891 (scored by 49253 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisThe story revolves around Haruka Nanase, a boy who has always loved to be immersed in water, and to swim in it. Before graduating from elementary school, he participated in a swimming tournament along with his fellow swimming club members, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka. After achieving victory, each of the boys went their separate ways.
Time passed, and in the middle of their uneventful high school lives Rin appears and challenges Haruka to a match, showing Haruka his overwhelming power. Not wanting it to end like this, Haruka, gathers together Makoto and Nagisa once again and brings a new member named Rei Ryugazaki to create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club in order to defeat Rin.
Related AnimeAdaptation: High☆Speed!
Other: Kyoto Animation: Suiei-hen
Side story: Free!: FrFr - Short Movie
Sequel: Free! 2nd Season
Characters & Voice Actors
About two weeks ago, I went into Gaia’s AMC forum to post a poll, asking the community what 2013 anime I should watch next. I expected Silver Spoon or Gatchaman Crowds to win, and they received 7 and 10 votes, respectively placing in second and third place. The winner, with 24 votes, was Free! Iwatobi Swimming Club, the notorious #SwimmingAnime that came into existence thanks to a viral animation sample, and an almost revolutionary ‘give us this show’ petition.
So, with almost half of that poll’s 60 voters daring me to dive head first into manservice oblivion, what was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to turn my head, and avoid making eye contact with that glistening banana-hammock of a show? Or was I supposed to test my mettle as a critic against one of the most manhood threatening shows to be aired last year? Well, let’s think about that. I love Princess Tutu and Ouran High School Host Club, and I was a motherf(yay)ing brony for two years. So bring it on, you rabid hords of Fujoshi! I watched your #Swimminganime, and now, I’m going to review the crap out of it!
The story of Free! begins with four ten year old boys. They consist of Haruka, a quiet boy who only feels at home in the water; Makoto, a laid back best friend character who’s afraid of the ocean; Nagisa, an excitable little moppet who should, by all conceivable logic, be voiced in English by Greg Ayres; And Rin, an outgoing boy whose connection to his friends can only be trumped by his much much larger ambitions. They were brought together by their love of swimming, although they quickly adopt an inside joke that ‘fate threw them together for having girly names.’ In any case, after their first big relay tournament triumph, Rin leaves the group to go to a middle school in Australia to train so he can become an olympic swimmer. Nagisa also winds up going to a different school, and the fellowship is disbanded.
That is, until the first year of high school, when Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa are finally reunited, and Nagisa convinces them to start the long-defunct Iwatobi Swim club back up again! Because, as we all know, “High school club” has been it’s own ubiquitous genre ever since Haruhi Suzumiya started grabbing up all the money in the world. With Rin’s little sister as their manager, a shy teacher for their faculty adviser, and a brand new team mate in the meticulous beauty-obsessed Rei, and the sudden reappearance of Rin as their new rival from another school, their swim club has only just begun to tread water!
Before we go any further, I should probably address the pink elephant in the room... People refuse to watch this show because it looks gay. Now, I don’t feel like turning this review into a gay rights rant, nor do I want to make any statements about whether or not I consider homosexuality(or lack thereof) an indicator of quality. Maybe there are some good yaoi shows out there... I don’t know. The ones I’ve seen so far sucked. So instead, I’m only going to address whether or not Free is, in a literal sense, gay. Like Hakkenden was.
About a year ago, I was dared by a friend to rent and watch Magic Mike. At the end of it, I said the exact same thing that I said in regards to Free. “Wait a second... That wasn’t that gay at all.” Yes, both shows feature plenty of scantily clad men to thrill and chill the straight women and gay men of the audience, but both stories take place in a setting where wearing next to nothing makes perfect sense in context... Stripping in one, swimming in the other. I can understand some guys not wanting to watch a show about male strippers, but if the sight of guys taking their shirts off to swim makes you uncomfortable, then buddy, you’ve got issues.
And the show isn’t even a yaoi. There’s barely any romantic content in the first place, save for one side character’s crush on Kou, but when you really pay attention, Free! is nothing more than a gender swap of Kyoto Animation’s many female-centric slife-of-life shows. Yes, the guys use cutesy honorifics and nicknames, and they seem to have an uncommonly close relationship, but nobody throws around the word “Gay” while watching Lucky Star, K-ON! or Tamako Market... Well, maybe in the pejorative sense... But in any case, while there may be some shounen-ai elements floating around in this pool, they’re subtle, and too subtextual to really effect the story in any way.
And speaking of the story... Okay, a few paragraphs ago, I briefly compared this show to Magic Mike, but unfortunately, the comparison shall go no further. Magic Mike was an awesome movie, and Free! is just kind of... Okay. I hate to be mean to it, because the characters are likeable, and I *was* constantly clicking the next episode button, so it was able to hold my attention pretty well... Free! is Kyoto Animation’s first ever sports based anime, which automatically means it has more plot than half of the work they’ve put out thus far, but even with that to boast about, Free! is still just a little too passive for it’s own good. They go to a few swimming competitions, but the stakes of these events are never more than just “We wanna swim together and get a higher budget for our club.” The only time this story has any gravity to it is when our heroes are stuck in the ocean during a storm, and they never seen to desire anything other than “Let’s be friends and strengthen our bond.” That makes for a very pleasant tone, but it doesn’t make for a very engaging series.
The only thing in this story that really develops is the relationship between the five leading males. Their growth as individuals is negligible, aside from Rin, although I can’t really complain, because they’re all really likeable characters. Their occasional coach is only ever used when he’s convenient, and their faculty adviser makes little to no effort to distinguish herself as anything other than a recycled K-ON! trope. Kou, the group’s manager, is not used nearly enough, considering how much potential she has. If she actually had some character arc, even for a single episode, we could have learned something about her as a person... We could have learned why she cares so much about the swim club, and hey, we could have learned why she never swims a single stroke despite being an official member. Seriously, I get that she’s non-athletic and is too female to compete alongside her team mates, but they visit a beach for crying out loud! She brings a swimsuit, and then just hangs around with the teacher! Why?!
As I said before, it’s a decent, pleasant show, and while I didn’t find the plot particularly engaging, I still enjoyed watching it. The chemistry of the characters more than made up for their lack of depth. I’m monolingual, but the japanese dub sounded really good, and I had no problems at all with the actual dialogue. I didn’t find all of the humor effective, but it had enough good jokes to not be boring at any point. In a lot of ways, it’s a happy little distraction, just like K-ON!. Normally, I’d give this kind of show a 7/10, but there’s one more aspect of this show that I forgot to mention. And that aspect is...
The artwork and animation. Dear God in heaven, this is one of the top ten best looking animes I’ve ever seen. Kyoto Animation may not be known for having stellar stories... Haruhi, Clannad and Chuunbiyoh being the exceptions... but it always brings great animation to the table, and from that perspective alone, this is the best looking show they’ve ever released. The backgrounds and character designs are outstanding, the attention to detail is mind blowing, the characters are capable of a full range of graceful, fluid motion, and the water... Oh my God.
From what I understand, the animation demo that this show was originally based on was released so Kyoto Animation could boast about how well it could animate water. But in the words of Kid Rock, it ain’t bragging if you back it up. If you’re not taking a simplistic approach, water can be one of the most notoriously difficult things to animate. There are some CGI movies where they have to treat every drop of it like a blue grain of sand just to realistically portray the movement of a wave. While there are a few notable exceptions, like the stellar art design of The Little Mermaid, most examples of animated water range from ‘adequate animation that you’re not supposed to pay any attention to’ to ‘horribly awkward CGI texture that you can’t help paying attention to.’ I’m looking at you, Gantz.
But I have never seen animated water that looks as good as it does in Free. They used a seamless blend of 2D and 3D techniques to make the water look not only natural, but alive. Every reflection, every ripple, every bubble and every distortion is captured with the power of a force of nature, and yet with the subtlety of a facial expression. And that’s saying nothing about the water as a character. Yes, I just called the water a character, and maybe even my favorite one in the show. I find the relationship between Makoto and the water to be fascinating, and I actually want to see the show again somewhere down the road just to see if I understand it a little better!
All in all, Free! Iwatobi Swim club may not have very good writing behind it, but what it does have is a charismatic energy that will grab you right from episode one and not let you go until long after it’s finished. The amount of love and enthusiasm that went into this show is like night and day when compared to some of Kyoto Animation’s more phoned in projects, and if that’s not enough, it’s a visual feast for the eyes of both yaoi fans and normal people alike. It hasn’t been licensed for an English release just yet, but with free fansubs available in all the usual places, I can definitely recommend this for streaming. It’s a solid 8/10, and the water’s great, so leave all doubts in your locker and dive right in! read more
After receiving universal acclaim on their short preview which showed Kyoto Animation (the same company that likes to churn out shit that panders from young, jailbait girls to old hairy virgin men such as myself) waving their ever-increasing sum of money in front of faces screaming how good they can animate water and delicious biceps which they then decided to finally animate it. It is shocking to see them come out with something new that they intended to aim only at a female audience and had many males turn their noses in disgust. However, being a male myself, if enjoying this is a crime, other than necrophilia, is the only crime I have committed.
Like a girl sitting anxiously on the casting coach for the once in a lifetime chance to achieve a spot in the porn industry, you never know what you are going to get with something that has as much negative reception as this. You've all had that feeling, where you are sitting on your computer, expecting the worst, right hand to Jesus and reciting the Fifth Amendment, hoping what you are about to watch isn't absolute rectal cancer. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t experienced both of these sensations of anxiety before (the first one more than the other, unfortunately) and this is one of the times where a miracle happens and it completely catches you off guard. Shockingly, this show really isn’t as bad as the other straight males make it out to be, but I won’t lie as there are some instances that have been making me question the sexuality of the characters and myself afterwards.
After having his heart shattered after being beaten by his love interest Rin in swimming, Nanase Haruka decided to once again create and join his own swimming club in hopes of being able to once again go against Rin. The story is simplistic as fuck as follows the same formula of slice-of-life comedy that Kyoto Animation always does. Cute boys/girls doing cute things + comedy + school = $$$. But you honestly can’t expect Baccano or Monster level type plot and for what Free sells itself as, it does it pretty well. It does the slice-of-life aspect well and although not my type of comedy is quite humorous at times. The rivalry between Rin and Haruka and their struggles to try and best each other are entertaining and engaging to watch and almost as good of a rivalry as Goku and Vegeta, Naruto and Sasuke, Walter White and Pizza or me and STD’s. (7/10)
I’m not going to lie to you; the characters suck pretty fucking hard and consist of some very forgettable and bland main characters which all 5 coincidentally have girlish names. 3 of the main characters Nagisa, Rei and Makoto are pretty much side characters as most of the focus throughout the series is on Haruka while the 3 of them are just comic relief and sit in the corner jerking each other off. Seriously, they swim their events and no one gives two fucks about them. The most focused on and the most interesting one out of the 5 main characters is Haruka. This motherfucker is stone-cold; he shows little to no expression and does not take shit from anyone. He only swims freestyle and that’s that, end of fucking question. What’s this, freestyle isn’t even an event for today’s race? Well it is now, because Haruka is here and your opinion doesn't mean shit to him. The second most focused on character is Rin, Haruka’s former crush and rival. After returning from Australia, Rin turns into a racist, homophobic, man-hating, sexually frustrated bastard (which, being from Australia I can confirm happens a lot) and the selling point of the show is the chemistry between these love birds since Rin got his ass destroyed (both figuratively and literally) in swimming and wants to redeem himself. Also, he has shark teeth so you know not to touch his monkey. His sudden behavior change came as a shock to the main characters but as the story progresses Rin’s drastic change in personality is explained so there was somewhat a hint of character development and the same with Haruka and Makoto but that doesn't change the fact that the characters are essentially shit. (6/10)
The animation is great, with the carefully detailed muscles on the luscious boy’s bodies to their slender, perfectly developed thighs. Then there’s the actual animation itself but that isn’t really important right now. Every single line and color used solidifies the masculinity of these 5 flawless specimens and KyoAni proves to us once again that not only are they able to design cute girls but also make a man think twice about their sexuality. Personal feelings aside the animation is indeed great, little to no short cuts have been taken and every inch is detailed and filled with vibrant colors. Character designs and facial expressions were well animated how they are able to make water look that fucking good is beyond me. (8/10)
I had mixed feelings as far as music goes. The opening was great and the ending was too arguably (if you disregard the guys in the club in full BDSM Bondage clothing) and the OST consisted of calm, uplifting tracks that fit the mood completely. Then there’s the fucking Dubstep. As a fan of electronic music, that was the worst attempt at creating atmosphere and tension that has ever assaulted my ears. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure did it and succeeded but this? Not so much unfortunately. I’m not exactly a pro at FL Studio but as hard as I try I am unable to create something that sounds that out of place and retarded as that. I would compare it to Will Sparks having a heart attack from an overdose of Viagra and getting his dork sucked from under his DJ set from a twelvie whilst smashing keys blindly on the side but even that is giving it too much credit. Fortunately the atrocity that Tatsuya Kato calls a ‘song’ doesn’t appear often and played only in the more intense scenes while the rest of the soundtrack is pretty good. (7/10)
Free was definitely the biggest surprise of the season and I bet a lot of viewers went into it expecting demon shit and came out surprised at how enjoyable it was. Animation was great, music was as well for the most part, plot was simple but engaging and in the end was a nice story about camaraderie, hard work and dedication. But I won’t try and feed you shit and if you are a full-fledged homophobic and come in expecting a complex plot interlaced with no homosexual undertones because of this then don’t watch it, because it still strongly focuses on the beautiful men’s curvaceous abdominals and not much more. I know I’ve been joking about homosexuality this whole review and I’m sorry for that, so if you’re a judgmental class A scrotum caresser like the others and not watching this for that very reason then you are a terrible person. If you can get past all the female fanservice it actually makes for a decent show, my hairy penis thanks you KyoAni. read more
Surely these two series have a lot in common to begin with the main focus being the sport genre, one focused on basket and the other on swimming.
Both Free! and KnB have a gorgeous art style and colors, which doesn't let "indifferent".
Plotwise, as a few other person mentioned already, the main charas Kuroko and Haruka are both the quite type; also both titles share a curious thing that somewhat "uniforms" them, in KnB they have color-related names for the GenMir, while in Free all the important charas have a girly name.
Being team sports genre focused, obviously both series see the team of main characters that will aim to the first place in competitions, and as any respectable serie the main chara/s will have to face, at some point, their rival, being a "long lost friend".
Both show you the beauty of their sports to the point to let you all bumped up and make you say "let's play basket/let's go swimming!"
So yes, indeed, if you liked one of these already, you might really want to check the other, as you'll probably love it too!
They both have old teammates meeting again as rivals. Though neither are shounen-ai, there are some moments that make you question whether or not the characters are straight.
Haruka and Rin are somewhat like Kuroko and the other players of the Generation of Miracles.
Both are about old teammates who meet again in high school as rivals.
Well, if you are looking for some cool guys, both Kuroko no Basket and Free! are series to check out.
In fact, both series consists of a cast of male characters that are dominant in their perspective sports. They also have rivalries with certain other characters that brings out some of the intensity of both shows. There's some fan service for the female audience. Additionally, both series also seems to have a building of friendship between certain characters. Of course though, there is that sense of rivalry that can be traced back through flashbacks that brings out some animosity. Both series also has a manager/coach who is female but also becomes involved with the teams/clubs that consists of the male dominant casts.
Kuroko no Basket and Free! are both shows about bishounen boys that were good friends before high school until one becomes a rival (Aomine in Kuroko no Basket and Rin in Free! ).In both shows the more quiet main characters(Kuroko and Haruka) has to defeat their rivals before they can reach their ultimate goal.Both shows also have a female coach who are just as entertaining as the male leads,show the development of their friendships and the training proses they go through before facing their rival.However Free! is a bit more on the slice of life side than Kuroko no Basket.
Both are an anime focusing on a sport throughout the whole show. Both are shrouded with immense testosterone from all the male characters, with a few females added in to not overwhelm the show with its manliness. Both plots focus on the concept of rivalry from old friends they use to compete with in their sport category. Both anime seem entirely different with the animation and quality of the soundtracks, yet they give each anime the same type of feelings as the audience watches as the story progresses—angst, eagerness, determination, etc. Both are similar in the competitive-sport-rivalry sense so you might like one if you like the other.
Rin's peronallity is kinda looks like Aomine Daiki
Rin & Haruka's friendship are like Tetsuya & Daiki's friendship... so as his talent, Rin is an athlete who had been practicing since he was a kid, and Haruka is someone who don't care about but love swimming so much
those two are really similar with Kuroko & Aomine
Both about sports although KnB is way more focused on it than Free!, whose purpose is also show the relationships between the main characters and the character development. I want to highlight the fact that I'm talking solely about the anime adaptions of these two series so.
The target audience of Free! is mainly females, of course, and probably those who are fond of shipping.
In KnB's case it's a way more open one, since girls and boys could watch it and enjoy it equally. BUT If you really are a "fujoshi", believe me, there are a LOT of characters you could ship so no worries.
Anyhow, I would like to say that if you've watched Free! you probably will like KnB, but it doesn't necessarily apply the other way round.
Sports. Bishounens everywhere (fanservice too; although Free! takes it to a different level). Good comedy. Somewhat unrealistic skills. Rivals. Childhood friends. You name it.
Both are extremely good sports anime, though one is swimming and the other is basketball. Both have memorable characters and awesome opening theme music. Both have memorable moments that will leave you stunned and wanting to swim and/or play basketball!
I'm sorry for making such an obvious rec. Free! = Kurobas plus water. They both have a strong, silent protagonist and a crappy sports team determined to make it to the top. Old friends become rivals whom go to elite sporting schools. The uniformity in names of team members (colors in Kuro and girly names in Free!) is also similar. And of course, the *coughs* pretty boys. The only thing is, Free! has a bit more fan service.
Both are sports anime that have a lot of good looking bishounen guys (fan service for girls, lol). Both have old teammates compete with each other in high school.
Both of them are very sports-centric and have many different characters (with various hair colors) that are namely, males. They both have that feel-good kind of sensation that comes along with watching teamwork, friendship, and all of that nice stuff. And they also are bother rather funny and slice-of-life themed animes, though KuroBasu is focuses a bit more on the sports (basketball).
If anything, I find KuroBasu a lot more exciting and fun to watch :)
Hot guys, sexy guys, handsome guy and sport anime which most of the girls are interested in.
- Some second years get together and form a club for practice.
- The club is also in a school who never did well at tournaments
- The antagonist is also talented and connected to the main character's childhood
- There's also a female coach who's talented at her work.
The plot is also rather similar: Train at a not-so-popular highschool to meet their rival from middle school at a tournament later.
All in all, it gives off the same sports-anime aura with competitive athletic spirit that gets you excited just like Free! does.
Both shows are focused on the changing of relationships over time, more specifically friendships becoming rivalries, with the rivalries being over sports. In Free!'s case, Haruka and Rin become rival swimmers, while in Kuroko no Basuke, Kuroko butts heads with his former basketball team.
Kuroko no Basuke and Free! are both mostly composed of a bishonen cast, with some obvious parallels between them, such as having significantly calmer protagonists (Kuroko and Haruka) and their more competitive rivals (Aomine and Rin).
Both shows are fun to watch and although they focus on sports, are well-written and interesting. The mostly male casts are fairly diverse and interesting, and their interactions really bring the "Growing Up" theme home.
Sports with a lot of fanservice and perfect boys who everybody loves.
Both are sports anime and deal with the friendship of the team. They both look into the depths of teamwork and how they strive to reach their goals.
If you enjoyed sports genre type of anime then Kuroko no Basuke and Free! is for you. Both will let you experience what it's like to swim/play basketball. After watching both of these anime, you will probably think "I want to swim/play basketball. Plot-wise, both involve the main characters (Nanase Haruka and Kuroko) enjoying the sports they are in. Later on, they will overcome difficulties with their teammates. Kagami and Rin are also kind of similar. Both have red hair, are arrogant, and in love with their sport to the point that that they will do anything. Teamwork wins the game.
These anime are of the sport and bishounen genres. The characters are likable, funny, and cute in some form. Teenage boys in high school who are in a sport team compete with other schools and use teamwork. They have some girls involved who are reliable.
Water-themed slice of life shows bursting with colour where attractive boys bond over water-related activities, such as fishing or swimming. Tsuritama is the wholesome one, the one you wouldn't mind introducing to your grandma. Free!, however, positively delights in showing you just -how- attractive these boys are. Blushy blush.
The characters are somewhat alike but both in common have water, one of the main characters are trying something new and trying to be good at it. They are in the daily lives in high school. Mostly male cast and the both animation's are well done.
Lots of guy characters with a water themed story. In tsuritama it's about fishing and more laid back while Free! has more a hardcore like sports anime feel about swimming.
Both include a group of teen boys that bond over a hobby (swimming in Free! and fishing in Tsuritama) Both have homoerotic undertones, colorful, and water theme.
Both are water themed and are about a group of teenagers who bond over swimming/fishing.
Both shows feature 4 male leads, 1 of whom is a kind of rival/outsider of the group. They both center around water and have gorgeous animation.
Opening Theme"Rage on" by OLDCODEX
Ending Theme#1: "SPLASH FREE" by STYLE FIVE (Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Mamoru Miyano, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa) (eps 1- 11)
#2: "EVER BLUE" by STYLE FIVE (Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Mamoru Miyano, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa) (ep 12)
Which fansubbers do you like the best? Click + to approve of their subs for this show. Click - if you don't think they did such a great job.
AnimeYO! [AnimeYO!] (Brazilian Portuguese)
HayaiSUB [Hayaisubs] (Brazilian Portuguese)
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