I guess there's a bit more to Free than 'shirtless bishounens jump in water'.
For a series that began with a crescendo of confusion, Free has come a long way in carving its identity as a genuinely decent, though largely forgettable sports anime. While I don't think it will convert anyone who detested the first season (and there were indubitably more than a few of them), those who enjoyed or were indifferent towards Free's first offering will find a large improvement in quality. And yes, heterosexual dudes can now watch it without feeling uncomfortable.
That's not to say that Free has forgotten its primary audience (teenage
girls and Tumblr fujoshi who squeal at the slightest homoerotic undertone), but at least now KyoAni has tried to justify the anime's existence by creating a story of value. It is less about clothes being thrown around and close-up butt shots and more about the boys growing up and finding their place through the love of sport. And each other... just, no, not in that way.
Free's second season shines largely due to its focus on Rin and his close friend and rival, Sousuke. Rin's character development continues throughout the second season with much more detail than previously, taking him from 'antagonistic jackass' to a genuinely believable and complex person. His goals and reasons for swimming swimming are clear and sensible, and so it is easy empathise with him when things take a turn for the dramatic. On the other hand, Sousuke's motivations are purposely made unclear until his secret is revealed in the final episodes. There's nothing complex or excessively grim about his secret-- just that he makes mistakes as all teenagers do and wants to alleviate his regret by competing against his friend. Sousuke's goals are nothing so grand and cliché as being the best in the world, and that's precisely what makes it feel authentic.
Furthermore, the two interact with each other as friends in the real world would in their situation. They aren't characterised by archetypes, catchphrases or 'moe' appeal as many of the others are, and the purity of their friendship is not dragged down by cheap fanservice and fujoshi appeal. They fight, disagree and have each other's back just as real friends do. I just can't say the same for the Iwatobi four.
The Iwatobi four are far less interesting. Haru represents one of my largest issues with the series; by the end of the story, I did not understand him any more than I did at the very beginning. He swims and sweats for himself and then casts aside years of effort for absolutely no reason at all (unless you consider "I'm bored" to be valid characterisation), only to be fired up again when Rin pats him on the shoulder. Uh-huh. Much like the first season, he is blander than a piece of cardboard.
Nagisa continues to exist largely as a vehicle for shota appeal and yaoi doujins, behaving so effeminately that even girls would find themselves feeling boyish in comparison. Rei on the other hand is much more interesting, fulfilling a sort of outsider role that the other three do not, but his presence feels a little bit on the uncanny side when you consider that he is a gender-swapped clone of Azusa from K-ON, right down to the inflections in his voice. And then there's Makoto who is just... there, neither offensive nor any great asset to the story. He's characterised more by his friendship with Haru than he is as his own person.
Some of the side characters, like Rin's sister, Gou, add plenty of colour to the cast... but then you have Nitori who exists only to remind us what the show was originally created for. Nitori (who I have personally dubbed as 'That Fucking Guy' and found myself rushing towards the mute button whenever he appeared) is pure, shameless pandering for the fujoshi crowd. There is no reason for him to exist in the story. All he does throughout the series is follow Rin around like a stray kitten, blush and cry repeatedly, and ruin important moments by jumping into arguments that have nothing to do with him. He destroys half of Rin's scenes with his "d-don't fight!" and "y-you can do it!" and for that I despise him.
The ending of Free certainly carries its share of emotional weight, and those who like the Iwatobi four more than I do will probably find themselves tearing up once or twice in the final episode. I just wish there was a bit more to it, something with more complexity than the typical "power of friendship" fare. It feels like that's all we ever see in sports anime these days.
It's also worth nothing that the penultimate episode, set in Australia, actually has western people speaking proper English instead of the incomprehensible Engrish common in anime. Wow! There's still the "all foreigners are blonde" stereotype, but at least KyoAni shows they're willing to put effort into the smaller things.
It should not come as any surprise given KyoAni's seemingly infinite budget, but Free looks amazing. The swimming matches are rendered with finesse and the backgrounds with incredible detail, resulting in a predominant feeling of awe when the characters find themselves in the massive national stadium for the first time. I also wouldn't be surprised if members of KyoAni travelled to Australia to gather research for the episode, given how alive and real the scenery feels. It certainly does more than just look nice. Had Free been drawn by almost any other studio, I'm not sure the characters and story would be anywhere near as effective.
The music of Free is so great that it does not even need good writing in order to draw emotion from its audience. All that's needed is to listen and the scene will come alive. Even when it was a situation I would not normally give a rat's ass about, the background music grabbed and held my interest in what was going on. To be fair, though, there's no big, memorable track that defines a moment in the story and the ending theme does kinda ruin the moment in the later episodes as it transitions from drama to some upbeat pop song.
Is Free a worthy sequel? It sure is, and I don't think there's any sane individual who could possibly think that the second season is a step back from the first. It improves upon its predecessor in virtually every regard, elevating itself from "fun garbage" into something that's consistently decent, occasionally even verging on the point of being 'good'.
But that doesn't change the fact that it's Free and that Free has a very specific audience in mind. It certainly tries to increase its appeal by toning down the fanservice, but with Nitori's increased screen-time and various questionable scenes (like Rin and Haru sharing a bed in one episode), I still don't think KyoAni has any qualms about alienating those outside its primary demographic. And I guess that's how it's always been and always will be.
KyoAni still has a long ways to go in order to redeem themselves, but the second season of Free is at least a step in the right direction.
The swimming boys are back! Free! kept its promise from season one ("See you next summer...") and returned for another season of swimming, slice of life and manservice. After the first season of five guys swimming competitively and their daily (mis)adventures turned out to be a huge success, it was no surprise that it would get a continuation. And now that the second season finished, how does it compete with its prequel?
Following the story of season one, Free!: Eternal Summer starts off with a new high school term. Makoto and Haruka are now third years, while Rei and Nagisa are now second years at Iwatobi.
And how else would they start off a new year if not with swimming? They return to the swim club and begin with the search for new members - failing in the process, participating in a friendly competition against the team of Samezuka, dealing with their individual struggles, and much more. All that while they practice and try to improve their swimming even more to participate in the regionals - in hope of success this time.
Speaking of Samezuka, in the meantime Eternal Summer gives us an insight on the swimming team of Samezuka as well - with Rin as the new team captain and a couple of new members the Samazuka swimmers are up for a fresh start and ready for more challenges. A huge focus here is the addition of Sousuke - an old childhood friend of Rin's, who transfers from another school for certain reasons.
But swimming is of course not the entire focus of the show. Just like season one, Eternal Summer is filled with lots of slice of life moments, because as we are all aware, Free! is not all about sports. It is not trying to be, anyways. Unlike other sports-themed series, the focus on seemingly "plotless" scenes is a huge one, and Eternal Summer is continuing to deliver great slice of life moments that evoke all sorts of emotions. If Iwatobi's hopeless yet funny search for new members, the heartwarming Nagisa-centered episode or the stunning trip to Australia - in the slice of life aspect, Free! is undoubtedly convincing.
Another central theme of the second season is future. As Haruka, Makoto and Rin are in their last year of high school, it is an unavoidable question of what they will do after graduating. Definitely an interesting topic, and a good set-up for drama. Now, the drama - and the resolution - in Free! is often cheesy and overdramatic - and in the case of this season it is the case too, but still an improvement from season one. Especially episode nine shows how good drama in Free! can be - in this episode it was very well executed.
Story-wise, if you enjoyed season one for its story (or the lack of it in most parts) then you will like it in season two just as much. Lots of friendship, drama, slice of life, swimming is just as present here and just as enjoyable.
Character development is very much noticeable in season two. And this even though the cast has not changed much - the main group of five is still the same. The only important additions to the characters are Sousuke, whom I mentioned before, and Momotarou, Seijuurous younger brother, who joins the Samezuka swim team as well. And even though the change is small, the characters go through crucial developments, making them even more interesting than in season one.
Starting off with Haru, who already opened himself a little more compared to season one - while in latter he did not really take interest in swimming competitively ("I only swim free.") the final of season one showed its effect. Haru now likes swimming together with his friends, and competing against them. And over the course of Eternal Summer he goes through development too - his struggle with the question if he wants to swim professionally or not makes for some really good drama.
Rin's character is also a very interesting one in this season. From the angry and frustrated guy he was in season one he appears now as an easygoing character. It really shows how swimming with his old friends again returned him the joy of the sport. And as the new captain of the swimming team it shows even more.
Makoto, Nagisa and Rei do not get as much focus as Haruka and Rin, though go through some development too. Makoto decides how he wants to continue after high school and continues to support his friends with all his might. Nagisa gets an episode dedicated to him that gives us more insight in his character and is the usual moodmaker of the group. Rei continues to improve his swimming and strengthens his bonds with the group.
Just like season one, Free!: Eternal Summer stands out in the art aspect. The character designs look great as always and the animation is fluid. Especially the scenes where swimming is involved have spectacular animation. One other thing I noticed is how the background drawings are very detailed and beautiful too. It is especially noticeable in episode 12, which has a different setting from the other episodes. The scenery is stunning. Besides that, the series is as colorful as ever, fitting the mood of the show nicely. A thing I could criticize here is that some scenes were not as well animated as others, but this does not disturb the overall performance.
In terms of music, season two continues with the same old recipe for success. For the opening, we get a new catchy J-Rock song by the band OLDCODEX, that holds well up with season one's opening. The ending song is another fun song by the main cast of the show, accompanied by a hilarious ending animation. The background music continues to be nice, too.
Overall, Free!: Eternal Summer continues to be a fun series with great character development and nice music and art. Thus, I give it an overall rating of 9/10.
There is a limit to how much weight can a single shark lift.
Free!: Eternal Summer is a sports comedy slice of life show and a direct sequel to the first season, Free!. It is a reverse moe trope anime, with moe tropes found in girls given to the guys instead. Usually dubbed as a fanservice show for girls with swimming as a backdrop, does it have anything more in it? The answer is yes, it does, but not so much.
Another summer comes and the swimmers of Iwatobi and Samezuka High School swimming clubs are once again in a rivalry. It is the last school year
for Haruka, Makoto and Rin, and they have to make their career decisions and find out how much the passion of swimming can help them in the future, all in meanwhile an old childhood friend of Rin's appear to spice up the situation.
The plot is pretty simple: the characters start swimming and battling each other again while some of them sort out their personal problems and look forward to the future. The problem is though that KyoAni forgot how to make good drama. We witnessed that in Chuunibyo, we now witness that here. The anime fails to have a clear indication of what it wants to be, hovering around fanservice, sports and drama, and does neither well. The main plot element of the story, swimming, is not of much relevance, since the only thing driving it are characters wanting to swim a relay (which by definition is stupid and more on that later on), and is done horribly wrong, and as a sports anime it fails to create a climax and general hype.
The cast from the first season returns with some new additions and a little bit more development on some, so I'll introduce them shortly: Nagisa, Makoto, Rei, Gou (Kou), Miho on the Iwatobi side, Aiichirou, Momotarou on the Samezuka side are the basic one dimensional characters that can be described by a pair of personality/motivation traits, and are used mainly as plot devices, comic reliefs or assumes a cliched position (like teachers/mentors in Gou and Miho). That's a lot of characters. That's 6 characters in a show that has like 10 total characters that are atleast relevant of some sort. Excluding Makoto, none of these characters get any development apart from simply getting better at swimming (but there's no perspective provided, so that point is irrelevant).
Next on the list is Sousuke, a new (old) Rin's friend. His personal drama was the best in the show, and he is the only character where I could understand why he wants to swim the relay so much. Sousuke is a nice addition to the anime, helping the 2 mains develop and having enough characterization for the audience to care about him aswell.
Moving forward we have Haru. Oh, I personally hate him so much. As the main protagonist he is extremely shallow and unimportant to the story for the most part. The problem with all silent protagonists is that usually they don't show any emotions, meaning that there's no room for characterization from their perspective. You just don't who they are exactly, you can't relate, you can't care for them. "I like swimming because I don't know exactly" doesn't give me enough information to care for you. However, Haru's lack of emotions did not go unnoticed by the rest of the cast and ended up being a prrety decent plot point to spark things up. Fortunately, Rin saved him by dragging him to Australia and telling to develop the f*ck up, and he did. And it was actually believable. It doesn't change the fact that he was the worst character for 20 episodes, but he got a legit ending for him and is one of the rare cases where the silent protagonist turns out okay.
And here we have Rin, by far the best character in the show. He gets a huge amount of characterization, development, and backstory. In contrast to the other one (or at max two) dimensional characters of the show, he is miles ahead of them. There's nothing so much to talk about him, other than everything makes sense in regards to his character and personalization. All of his actions are completely reasonable and reflect on who he was, who he is now and what he wants in the future. However, he can only do so much alone, and he's not even the main protagonist, only a deuteragonist and even an anti-hero in the first season. If the anime was centered around him, boy that would have ended up so much better.
The problem with most of the characters again is the lack of characterization. The members on each team exist solely to form a relay, and otherwise are irrelevant. Motivation alone is not proper characterization, that's just a personality quirk. Some of them are so shallow, like Rei and Momo, that it is safe to say that they are just plot devices. Also, their girlish behaviour to reflect on the reverse moe nature of the show just doesn't work. All those blushes and cute moments should be left to girls, as it ruins other aspects of the show that are rather serious, like coming out of age. Furthermore, there's only like 10 characters in the show, the rest are 0 dimensional people that are there for the realism. Where are the other swimmers? Why is it only focused on 8 people when there are thousands of different kind of athletes? Global perspective? The perspective of the best? Nah, those don't exist. Sadly.
And the swimming is as bullshit as ever. KyoAni, if you wanted to make a sports anime about swimming, please research on what the hell you are trying to create, because swimming does not work that way at all. It reminds me of NASA using the "Armageddon" movie as a training program, where they asked the trainees to present all the scientific inaccuracies in a 150 minute film. A total number was 168. In this anime, I counted atleast 60, and with the first season combined that would be well over 100 swimming inaccuracies. That is, ladies and gentlemen, a lot. It's so much that you can safely say that the swimming is executed poorly and without any logic. Having a 12 year (and counting) swimming career experience, this completely destroys any enjoyment I could possibly have had from the races and swimming bits in general, and it saddens me that this anime disgraces swimming so much with its inaccuracy. I will tell you right now, don't get the idea that this sport works like that because it definitely doesn't. It's not K-On where everyone can just take a guitar and form a band, it takes years and years of proper practice and only the select few are successful, something that this anime failed to show us.
Moving on, the comedy is pretty simple. We have two comic reliefs on each side, Momo and Nagisa (Nagi is more of a pseudo). The jokes are mostly reactional, like Gou glancing over muscles, the teacher giving her literacy analogies, Nagisa's playful personality induced character interactions, basic stuff that can be assigned to be a specific character trait (sadly some of the characters are only defined by that single trait). It is not distracting, and it is funny and nice at times, so the comedy's fine. The drama is sometimes mishandled by a long shot (Nagisa runs away from home), or sometimes hits right on the spot (Sousuke's struggles), but the biggest problem is that it is not focused enough, and the anime is not long enough to cover and expand on every plot element. They did have 25 episodes over two seasons but only Rin is the one that got enough focus as an actual character.
There are a couple of illogical things in the show not regarding swimming (as much as I loved episode 12, them going to Australia was just whaaaat in terms of logic), but for the most part it's okay, since the anime doesn't try to have deep and complex situations and instead restricts itself to simple problems. There are no parents in this show (again), apart for them being mentioned, and I already wrote once that parents are an important piece to developing the personality of the characters, as they are typically the ones that influence children the most, and that especially applies in a coming out of age anime such as this one, where our characters face a dillema of what the future holds for them. As for the actual competition, they overuse the "power of friendship" way too much and that symbolism sometimes destroys immersion (like the last episode.... yes, I came to see them swimming with the dolphins, totally)
Animation and Sound:
Once again, KyoAni gets the animation done right. It's always a pleasure for the eyes to watch works animated by this company. I have a slight problem with how swimming is animated though, as everyone swims exactly the same and there's no variety at all, and on top of that the hand movements do not look like how it is presented in the show. It doesn't have much of an effect of those who don't know swimming that much, but it is a problem for those who have been a part of competitive swimming or follow the competitive scene.
The character designs are okay, except the fact that they made Rin's teeth like that to show us that he's kind of an antagonist in the first season, and that totally goes out of character in the second one. The blushes and cute boys doing cute stuff is well, reverse moe thing, you can't say much against it but they don't do anything to serve the narrative.
The soundtrack is unmemorable, the sound itself is pretty okay. The swimming sounds well and that's about it, nothing much to talk about here. What I could talk about though is the amazing decision to hire Aussie voice actors that speak with an Australian accent instead of getting some local japs to do their bad English gibberish impersonations. That was one of the highlights of the show for me and I was just stunned at the amazing English that was spoken here, something that is very rare. That bit alone made the Australia episode so much better (and one of the reasons why I liked that episode in particular so much)
The first OP for the show is very manly but otherwise forgettable, same with the second ED where instead of that you get fanservice pondering, cool but uninteresting. They made it better in the first season.
Free!: Eternal Summer is a rare case of a show which not only does the first season justice, but actually surpasses it (well, the first season was below average anyways). If the swimming was executed well it would have been a really good anime, sadly that wasn't the case. Apart from the KyoAni visuals style and fanservice for girls, there's really no reason to watch this series. Everything has been done elsewhere and better. Still, this might be your average jack-of-all trades anime where nothing stands out (and some elements stand out as bad), but overall you find it enjoyable enough to follow.
Although sequels can be a hit or miss, Free: Eternal Summer extends on the organic setup of the first season. From shirtless guys to competitive swimming, this show brings the reincarnation of the swimming genre, a sports series that revolutionizes itself with what it has already accomplished from season 1. A good impression for a sequel usually require the essence of the original. While Eternal Summer doesn’t blow the original out the water, neither does it sink beyond salvation.
From what’s shown, Free builds on the foundation of its characters and virtues with connections. Characters connect with one another for a common interest and passion. In
this case, it would be swimming. The first season gave the audience a well-rounded introduction of the characters ranging with a variety of personalities. The sequel expands on this by forging connections and relationships.
A prominent example is Rin, a character who used to share a rivalry with Iwatobi High School’s Haruka Nanase. Rather than putting on a ‘who the hell do you think you are?” attitude, his character becomes more blooming as he builds his own team. His new position as a coach of Samezuka Academy is a testament of this development as Rin becomes a role model for his teammates. These include returning member Aiichiro Nitori but also new members such as Momotaro Mikoshiba and Sousuke Yamazaki. Perhaps the most other prominent character of this team is Sousuke, a childhood of Rin. His personality is interesting to notice because he is almost similar to Rin from the first season. Tough, relentless, and intimidating, the sequel expands on his character through his relationship with both teammates and rivals.
Of course, Samezuka’s rivals are members of the Iwatobi High School. All the members return from the first season with little change to their personalities. One noticeable aspect though is how some of the members begin to seek their potential futures. Because even though swimming is a big part of their lives, their future careers also requires focus to what they’ve learned. The never ending waters still follow the swim members though. The second season titled as “Eternal Summer” follows perhaps all of our characters’ development as that itself is never ending. It’s a rare sequel with significance because it expands on the story without recycling with material it has to work with. Characters such as Nagisa, Makoto, Rei learns through more experience and to work with others. Perhaps what might drag the show down though could be a lack of interest on some of these interests such as the diehard attempts during competitions. But let’s face it, this is swimming and competitions breeds rivalries. Rivalries breeds a dedication to achieve, a will to accomplish.
Swimming doesn’t ride far from the sequel’s objective either. We see how characters improve as well as the impressions new players enter such as Sousuke. But what really stands out is the hidden development with some of the characters on technical terms. Haruka and Sousuke become a part of this formula through their rivalry both in and out the waters. What’s even more important is how it affects them physically and mentally. The sequel preys on this concept with a clever motive as the latter half of the show fleshes out their struggles. Rin too becomes part of the angle as lines of friendship and rivalries are drawn out when it comes to swimming competitions.
Humorous and lighthearted, the show is a feast for the ladies. As the sport requires guys to take off their shirts and dive into their water, you can expect washed out abs flowing smoothly in the pools. You want muscles? You will get muscles. Gestures and movements are also brilliantly rendered with a degree of both realism and imagination. We see how characters move in the waters that captures their dynamic improvements. The whole thing could feel sappy at cases though as some of the swimming competitions zooms lightning fast without much thrilling moments. In retrospect, shirtless guys are delicious to look with its ebullience. However, it still takes its easy path without digging too far or make surprises; except on a few possible occasions.
The visual front still retains its phenomenal quality thanks to Kyoto Animation’s high class production. Waters are smooth with delicacy while the guys are drawn with well toned muscles. There’s a less emphasis on fashion though with characters like Rei from season 1. Most of it is replaced with lighthearted comedy on various degrees of successes. What I do give praise for is the visual expressions of the characters in this sequel. This is especially shown in the latter half as characters show a variety of emotions such as in the case of Haruka. Nonetheless, the artwork enhances their expressions with opportunistic camera angles and face features. But taking a simple look at the visuals, the series is aim to please, especially for the ladies.
Soundtrack doesn’t change much from the first season with pop tunes and light-toned OST. Character voice mannerisms also retain their way of speaking. Sousuke’s stoic voice stands as a sharp contrast to most of the other members of his team though. In essence, it’s a contrast to the show itself because Free has all this energy while Sousuke seems to hold it back. Similarly, emotional scenarios has fitting music and credibility. I do also give credit for the creative attention of the ED song. Seriously, that song is more than just firemen, merman, or a male stripper. It’s a free style of art!
Free Eternal Summer isn’t by any means an improvement of the first season. I should say it’s probably more or less equivalent but different with its execution. Character relationships are developed with all building up to a climax through initial processes. Its light toned atmosphere combining with a diverse cast of characters will definitely catch your attention. In fact, the sequel is similar like most of Kyoto Animation’s projects with an ability to lift your spirit. Had a bad day? No problem. Free Eternal Summer will bring back the liveliness of what Summer feels like beyond just the naked bodies and swimming movements. For people who love Summer, people who love swimming, and people who love hot guys being wet, this sequel won’t be a disappointment to you.
The first and start of the second season to this anime was AMAZING. It was 6th on my top fave anime list. But as it progressed through the second season it just became really, really, really cheesy. I expected Rin and Sousuke to start kissing or something, which totally ruined the story for me. I enjoyed the rush it gave when they were partaking in tournaments etc, but once that side was over it just became a gay romance anime (not to be taken in offence, this was actually how the characters began to act towards each other)
first series was SO GOOD though, like I was literally addicted to it and I was impatient for the second season. I recommend watching Free!: Iwatobi Swim Club, but if you watch this season you will understand what I mean, hopefully. I'm sorry if you were offended by my opinion, I have nothing against homosexual romance animes. I've actually enjoyed many in the past, my favourite being junjou romantica, but it just didn't suit this storyline. It pretty much killed my attraction to the makoto and haru friendship. (If you're a fangirl/boy of this "shipping" stuff, you will probably ship haruxmako or haruxrin)
Anyways, I have it a 5 overall. It would've been a hell of a lot better if it wasn't for the cheap ending and the weird character friendships that were taking place etc. I enjoyed the first series though.
the torturted animista can only suspect who actually were the culprits pressed the studio in this way to deliver a sequel, but do in no way anything like the first run. whoever it seems it was someone pritty fat and humourless but with a lot of influence to actually insist in the second season, for contract reasons only of course (!), but could force the makers to iron the whole thing flat. as flat they just could get it. really flat i mean.
they removed all elements which created not a spectacular but still entertaining anime in season one, as the sense
of humour, the artwork and flawless animation suited the topic, and replace them with more of the dreadful "ganbanakya, ganbanakya" singing of morally indisputable, rather square looking crybabies. Was surprised they actually could swim.
holy bukatsu! Now this will propably give president putin some well deserved tears of moral enjoyment.
maa ii, 3 points because it had some colour and sound! thats quite generous.
Free! Eternal Summer is the season 2 installation of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. It continues on where the season 1 had ended. At the start of the series, Captain of the Samezuka Swim Team, Seijuurou Mikoshiba, retired and assigned Matsuoka Rin as the new captain. As the anime continued on, it displayed the powerful bond of Haruka Nanase towards his team and his friends. The main focal point of the season 2 is the Iwatobi Swim Club's dream of competing in the national tournament.
The anime also introduced a new character namely, Yamazaki Sousuke. Even though character was a supporting one, he played a big
role in the lives of the main characters. Sousuke became Rin's right hand man and Haru's main driver. Without Sousuke, Rin will never have someone who can protect him and give him advice and hope, while in the Haru's case, no one will remind Haru that Rin needed him badly and drived Haru to find his dream.
The anime displayed the strong bond of friendship between the characters. One example of this was how Haru's deeply cared about his friends when he revealed to Rin when they were in Australia that it's a big deal for Haru when he fought Makoto because of being stubborn of finding his own dream.
It also showed the essence of having a dream, being a leader, and having a hope to continue for your own future. What's good about the anime was that it not only focused on the main characters but also the supporting characters, like Nitori Aiichirou's struggle of improving his time record, Yamazaki Sousuke's shoulder injury that caused him to unable to swim anymore, and Shigino Hayato's overcoming his fear of water.
Overall, the characters were equally given attention whether main or not, and have each own dreams. The anime taught on how to achieve your dream without giving up and how to look for your own dream by simply looking what's around in you. The music was also good for the moods of each scene and the character songs for each characters. I highly recommended this anime to watch because of the good life lessons it relayed on it's viewers.
KyoAni is a very popular Japanese animation studio. KyoAni produced some of the most well-known "moe"shows in the industry, and animes like Haruhi, K! On and Clannad were household names in Japan. In retrospect, the popularity of these shows were mainly because of the popularity of the source material, but boy (!), KyoAni made them 10x more popular. On the other hand, KyoAni were not the only one producing those aforementioned shows, rather, they are part of a production committee (together with Kadokawa Shoten etc.), so got only a fraction of financial successes that those anime made (my assumption).
KyoAni made the Kyoto Animation Award which seeks (in my opinion) source material for adaptation. No winners were announced but one work received an honorable mention: Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!. Chunibyu got an animated adaptation in 2012, and even though it is not as popular as the previous franchises, its DVD sales were very good (15,466 average) and the total combined sales from all other media, made this a financially rewarding production to KyoAni (they got practically all the money). Chunibyu was followed by Tamako Market (an anime original from the creators of K!On), Free! and Kyoukai no Kanata in 2013. Tamako Market and KnK were not financially successful in DVD sales (3,684 and 4,329 respectively), but they showed that KyoAni could create a franchise. But speaking of Free.. KyoAni hit a jackpot and Free! became a blockbuster with 28k+ DVD sales and lots of merchandise sold. It is the most financially rewarding KyoAni production in years buoyed by (probably) its large fujoshi fanbase. In my other review, I called "KyoAni swimming in money" because of Free!. Now, buoyed by success by the first season, KyoAni made the obvious sequel, and its Free! Eternal Summer.
Eternal Summer is a MUCH superior production than its predecessor.
Here are some of its better points than the season 1:
1. It actually featured more swimming than the first season. More sports = More Win. The first season was criticized for being a fanservice show first and a sport anime second. The second season balanced the two, and in my opinion, featured some of the most highly slicked swimming material.
2. The drama is more stable, not contrived than the first season. I like the first season, but one character 'bitchiness ( Rin) does not make a compelling dramatic material. In Eternal Summer, the drama came from the character's choices and conflicts. It present a more realistic world where expectations become the source of stress from a main character. It showed that expectation from other people can break you.
3. KyoAni is a master at scenery porn. They were famed for creating fluid and solid animation that will make your eyes melt. Season 1 is a very solid entry animation-wise, but in Season 2, the animation stakes are much improved. It seems that KyoAni had an endless budget. Take for example, the swimming scenes in Episode 6 of S2. The fluid is alive and it is breathtaking. Props for KyoAni for bringing their A-game in this one.
4. Much better soundtrack. There is a rap-theme in S2 and I like it. Some of the sounds were recycled from Season 1 but the other soundtrack is much better.
5. Characters that grow and have a development. One of the main criticisms that Free! had received is that most characters were pretty one-dimensional. I have to agree with that. But in Season 2, some of them have their fair share of character development. Haru is not just some water-freak dude. Rin is not just a bitchy-whiny friend. And I like it. It showed that the production team cared for their characters. One new character were introduced, Sousuke, and though I am initially turned off by his introduction, he grew in me by the reveal of his back story and motives.
So, I made my case that Eternal Summer is a much superior than Season 1. But I still have some sore points from Eternal Summer.
1. I did not like how the main conflict was addressed. The sticking point is that the built-up stress and breakdown of one of the characters were just magically disappeared upon his visit in a foreign country. It made the "darker and edgier" points of the show pretty pointless. I wish the director fleshly constructed the conflict more and not some shortcut in its development.
2. In relation to point no. 1 , I wish they did not add the some of the fillers in earlier episodes rather focused more so, in developing the conflict from its characters. I think a more capable screenwriter would create a much more satisfying pay-off by focusing on the main characters. I admit, even though my inner fudanshi is happy with the ending, it leave me cold.
I will rate this show a 9 because I am biased and I want to raise its score in MAL. But objectively, this will score 7.5 for me, but because I love Free!, it is a solid 8.
Free Eternal Summer is a solid effort from KyoAni and I am happy that they are now venturing out of their comfort zone.
I never expected myself to cry after watching, especially not a show like Free. But I did. Why?
At first I wonder, after competing for the swimming competition for the first season, will they compete again this season? The answer is undoubtedly YES. However, not only preparing for swimming competition, the main characters especially Haruka, Makoto and Rin since they are in the third grade, have to start thinking what they want to do after they graduate.
This is where I don't expect Free: Eternal Summer to be good. Although it is mostly about Haru finding his dreams, it is very relatable especially to
teenagers nowadays who are wondering what to do after high school. While the first season was cute guys doing swimming club (something like K-On but the main casts are males), the second season is about self realization, coming of age and growing up.
Kyoto Animation has gone all out for Free productions... It is really an eye candy.
The water animation is even better and more fluid than the first season.. feels as it is alive and realistic. We still have the same casts with exact same character designs (thank goodness) with some new ones. I love how they animate the swimming scene and some scenes like crying (basically activities that involve water) but unfortunately animation is not as good in other scenes.
Background art is another plausible element, it is so beautiful even I screen captured some of them and made them into my computer wallpaper.
New season means new opening and ending songs. I don't particularly heart them although they are still catchy (and funny for the ending). Soundtrack is more or less feel the same like the last season, those sonar-like electro and synth sounds.
One good thing, this season brings out more of the seiyuu's abilities to convey wider range of emotions like anger and frustration, and it was acted well.
With our third graders graduating, we got to see more character developments between them.
Our Haruka or Haru has always lack the motivation and goal even though he has great talent and potential in swimming. In Eternal Summer his feelings and emotions towards swimming are challenged and explored. We will also see how his friends Makoto, Rin, Nagisa, Rei brings their perspective and insight, in a way helping and shaping Haru in finding his dream. They are more to them than what we saw in the first episode.. each of them have their moments and we learn more about their other side and secrets.
There are new characters Sousuke and Momo in Samezuka team, it means new friends and rivals. Sousuke is quite deep as a character while Momo is your happy-go-lucky boy, another comic relief.
I wish to see more of Gou and the sensei though.. They barely get any spotlight and exploration, I feel they are just there for the sake of being there even though there are room for improvement.
Free: Eternal Summer really exceeds my expectation. I used to think Free as a light and shallow show where you can just watch without thinking and to pass by time. But this season proves me wrong. This time it is more on slice of life than just swimming, there are values we can take away from the boys.
It is bad to say this but, this is season is also where we say good bye to our lovely boys. Now they have grown and matured, going their own paths in life.. but as Haru said, "we will always be connected to each other."
The last episode wraps the show well, the ending was satisfactory I cried in a mixture of sadness and happiness as this show ends. It is a nice way to end summer.
Free! Eternal Summer took me for a ride starting from episode 3 till episode 13. Albeit very confusing at first (and last), I eventually learned the hottest guy's name and was satisfied with that. I'm fairly confident that most people watching Free! Eternal Summer will be able to learn at least one of the character's names before the abrupt ending.
The ending was, Lacking. It was rather unbelievable that the last episode hyped up the nationals swimming competition with a 20 minute intro (without an opening) about their pasts and reminiscing about their stories together, but the team ended up getting *th place. (no spoilers in
My expectations weren't so high... but after I got through the 2nd season I just can say: I did enjoy the show very much!
Of course there actually is a slight homoerotic undertone but this does not mean guys should stay away from it or it's only a show for girls and Yaoi Fans. I think for guys it's quite amusing to see those guys swimming, chatting, ... whatever..., with each other.
However, during the show, there is not so much attention on the swimming; rather, how they interact with each other, how they come and work together as a team and how they keep pushing
each other to raise the bar higher and - finally - for achieving their goals and dreams.
Furthermore, Free absolutely stands out for being an Anime with a great character development. It was beautiful to see how the boys - literally - went through the episodes, with their own personal ups and downs (and sometimes something in between).
The art and the sound work beautifully together. I absolutely love the OST because it does suit in the setting perfectly and gives the anime this unique, pecial Flair.
So, this is an anime I can highly recommend to everyone! It's anime about swimming, about friendship, about being a part of a Team, about loyalty and about dreams!
Watching this out of curiosity due to the hype and also for some time killing during holiday, Free!Eternal Summer is although might not be the best anime out there, it without a doubt is a very enjoyable series that worth your time.
Following its previous season, I must say that Free!ES stepped up their game in its story and characters.
While I finished Free! in average impression, Free!ES although still maintained its common theme about friendship, passion, ambition etc certainly had improved its plot with more relatable events and less complicated, messy childhood flashbacks unlike Free! Although with the theme is pretty much light and
naive imo, some of the highlighted events were delivered in a very satisfying manner that I found very endearing. Also most importantly it was less angsty and less annoying compared to the first season which I found really boring due to the dragging drama that could have be solved in mere 2 or 3 episode.
Notably, Makoto/Haru friendship ( the best thing in Free! series tbh), Rin/Samezuka team bonding and the overall relationship of the Iwatobi members although the latter only got me all the FEELS at the last minutes of the last episode.
My only complaint may be that the plot all in all was quite underwhelmed and as a sports anime, I didnt really get pumped up for the sports but rather to fall for the friendship between Free! characters instead. Not necessarily a bad thing but I wish to see more of the spirits in these athletes instead of shouting about friendship in each episode.
Also the new characters introduced in this season were quite random and underdeveloped imo. Their presences seemed to be an awkward addition to the original cast that I couldnt fit them in the old cast dynamic.
Beautiful art as expected from KyoAni production. The characters were drawn in very flashy animation and I got no complaint for all the eye candies in this show. I absolutely love how they animated the water and gave a very detailed touch to its movement and I almost could feel what it is like to the characters while being in water.
Special mention to the emphasis on the eyes that were well used in conveying subtle emotions from the characters without having to blurt any word.
I could not give higher rating for the OSTs as I prefer the previous OST more. But it was still good and I got no problem with it aside from my preference of the last season. The voice acting was top notch and they really delivered their character well throughout the show.
Characters : 8/10 //////MILD SPOILER AHEAD//////
Now move on to the strongest point of this show, the characters. Starting from our stoic, cool protagonist, Nanase Haruka, I must say that I am not entirely satisfied with his character. A man with little words, harboring vast love for water and swimming, didnt feel the need to acknowledge or to be acknowledged, I was baffled as to why majority of the cast were attracted to him. I love Haru but at the same time, I am not really fond of his overall manner in the series. Apart from being deeply bonded with water, his character so far were driven forward by his friends and his passion for swimming.
But I guess that's a part of his charms, having indifferent attitude made people riled up over him. Also I kinda wished his conflict ed mind was properly confronted with his own realization instead being dragged around by other people. I wanted to see Haru putting more effort into what he treasures in his life and find a proper meaning of his existence to other people. But despite that, Haru is still a entertaining character that I really enjoy watching him.
Next should be the other protagonist, Matsuoka Rin. Although I was totally annoyed by his angsty appearance in Free! Rin surprisingly amazed me with his development in this season. Moving on from his troubled past, he actually keeps on moving forward and with him being the leader of his team, it totally brings the best out his character. But letting go of your past doesnt mean you can forget your dream, with Sousuke's interference , Rin once again decided to pursue his childhood dream without looking back now. I am glad that they didnt take Rin into Iwatobi team but started anew with new people of Samezuka folks.
I was pretty contented with Rin in this sequel except that he should keep his temper low while confronting with people especially his friends and I kinda want to see more of his relationship with Gou.
Moving on to Tachibana Makoto, easily my favorite character in this series. I always has soft spot for caring, warm hearted character and Makoto is portrayed as a very realistic person. A genuinely kind friend that you wish to have for the rest of your life, he gave me the most impact in this series from his role as Haru's long best friend. Also I love how the anime keeping the subtle-ness in Makoto ways of taking care of his friends especially Haru.
and although being less vocal in his passion in swimming, he actually showed the most development in this sports. Overcoming his fear of water and aspired to be the one who teach others in confronting the shared trauma. He knew what he wanted to do and while sharing the strongest bond with Haru, Makoto truly stands out the most for me as a very gentle and yet assertive friend who pushed Haru forward but at the same time without letting his hands off him.
Nagisa and Rei, I was bit disappointed with them having less significant role in this season. Also with Gou... ohh myy I wish they would be more appreciative of her by honoring her job as their manager but it was again solely focused the boys instead.
For some other characters, I am ashamed to say that I got nothing to say as I didnt really attached to them to get insight of their character. But I did have lil problem with the new character especially, Sousuke. His character was okay and it could've been less awkward if his appearance was foreshadowed in the first season. His presence while it was necessary, he stuck up like a sore thumb in Iwatobi and Rin's relationship he appeared to be very random in some scenes.
well, that's all I've got to say about the characters with main focus ended up on the main characters lol but Makoto is love!!
What can I say, with this long ass review you can totally see how much I enjoyed this series lol With the all half naked boys fanservice, I contained my laugh and giggle from all the teasings
I actually wanted to give this a lower rating but then I remember all the fun times watching this anime, it deserves the 8. Not a 'OH WOW masterpiece!' type of anime but it still gave me a real good times following the journey of these passionate swimmers. Also with Makoto the bae in this, I was being kind with the score XD
sooo if you want an anime with eye candy bishounen flashing off their muscles in every second of it but at the same time experiences the joy being under water with the boys, sharing their cries and laughs, follow the dream and journey of their genuine friendship, Free!Eternal Summer wont disappoint you!
When I watched Free season one I honestly thought it was average at best, not even finishing it untill season two was about to begin. I watched up until episode 8 and dropped it. However coming back to it was the best decison I've made when its come to watching some shows. The last 3 episodes saved the show, making me give it an overall of mark 7 out of 10 for season one! NOW Season two
Story: Much better than season one, there was no awkward rivalry between old friends, as it was resolved at the end of season one and they all
got on very well, you could tell that they had matured and it was a mature enviroment. There was friendly competition and they all looked to the future making it all the more enjoyable to watch, however there was some character arcs that really pushed the show to much better than a simple slice of life of a bunch of "friends".
Art: I think everyone knows the art in this show is AMAZING! And I'm not just talking about the man-service. The water and animation of when they are swimming has soo much detail.
Sound: Opening was pretty good, and soo was the soundtrack, But the Ending song is what seals it. It's catchy and fun, you will find yourself bouncing around singing to it, it has soo much energy.
Charcters: All the characters grow in their own way through the series. However as Haru is the main character the show revolves around him. This is much different to season one, where it mainly centered around Haru and Rin. However the evolution of Rin is by far the best thin about this show, aswell as the growth of many of the returning cast. Haru deals with his future as well as showing a different side to him. Sosuke is a new character that comes across as a rival but however does give a different perspective throughout the series
Enjoyment: I will start by saying that I LOVE THIS SHOW! Season one was good at best, with the last episodes of the season saving it, but this exceed all of my expectations and made me soo attched and involved with the characters, making me kinda obsessed with it now.
Overall, if you were like me that didnt really get season one, dont worry, season two is excellent!
I realize this series is more of a fan service anime for girls. I would recommend any girls to watch this anime, but if you're a guy you probably won't get as much enjoyment out of this anime. I gave this anime a 5 because the anime didn't show much competitive swimming. The show focused a lot on fan service. For me, the first season was much better and this season was more of just a copy of the first, they just got better at swimming. Although the characters did evolve throughout this season.
The good points of this series for me was the soundtrack
was a 10/10. All the songs blended well with the anime. The art was also another one of its strong points. The story was good, but I think it could've been more entertaining at some points. It was a very relaxing anime, but it was mostly do to its soundtrack.
For girls I would definitely recommend this anime!!!
Anime covers just about every genre there is and there is always something for everyone, no matter what your preference might be. That's the beauty of anime. It is all inclusive, yet still unique, still unlike anything else in this world. That doesn't mean that every anime that has ever been made is something to be cherished, but every once in a blue moon, a special cherry blossom appears. The brightest star amongst the dark night sky. Free!: Eternal Summer is that bright star.
I went into this series expecting a simple, fun anime. But what I discovered, was something far deeper than I could have
ever imagined. The first season was emotional, but it was more about the fun, the joy of swimming. Eternal Summer goes above and beyond that, focusing on the future and our dreams. Deciding what we want from our future, what it is we long for in life, is crucial to succeeding in this world. Without a dream, we have no future. And without a future, we have nothing.
This overarching theme weighs heavy on our cast of characters. It is their third and final year of High School. Their third and final Summer together. The Seniors are posed with the same question that every Senior before them has been asked: Where do you plan to go after graduating? This weighs heavily on our band of joyous friends as they release the importance of their futures. The lives they've come to enjoy are beginning to change, and soon their lives will never be the same. This line of though leads to surprising confrontations, surprising revelations, and new determinations. Things that I have never seen so perfectly depicted in ANY form of media before.
Kyoto Animation pulled out all the stops for Eternal Summer. There was no holding back, and no looking back. The art is the greatest I have ever seen. It was at many times on par with the work of Ufotable. So beautiful and full of life and depth. And it also further proves that KyoAni is the undisputed king of water animation. Ever wave, every ripple, every drop of water looks so natural that it is hard to believe that it was drawn and animated. The beauty of the water is further emphasized when placed against the early morning sunrise and cherry blossom petals littering the surface of the water. Eternal Summer is a visual spectacle that is rivaled only by the infamous Kara no Kyoukai. And that in and of itself is an honor that very few are granted.
To top all of this off, the soundtrack tugs at all of your heartstrings, striking all the right chords. I almost cried on numerous occasions. It was unbelievable at first, but as the series went on I feel deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. It drew me in with the sounds of the rushing water, the gasps of the characters, the raw emotion of the voiceovers, the authentic Australian English, and wonderful orchestra's. It was a feast for the ears, the mind, and the soul.
And yet, I'm sad that there will likely never be a Season 3, as the title Eternal Summer even suggests. This is the end of the adventures of the Iwatobi Swim Club gang. But... that for once isn't such a bad thing. As much as I want to see more of them, their story has already been told. And it would probably be next to impossible to top such a masterpiece as Eternal Summer.
Free!: Eternal Summer has accomplished something that only two anime, Clannad and Welcome to the NHK, have done before it: It left me in a state of catharsis. I sat in my chair and thought for a good while. Clannad made me question my life. Questions that I thought I had answered, were suddenly left unanswered. And so I strived to answer them once more, and I thought I had. Then Welcome to the NHK led me to the realization of just what I had become in my ignorance of the world, and I began to see things I had never seen before. And now Eternal Summer has taught me something that I will try my very best to never forget That I have to find my dream. It just won't find its way to me. I have to go looking for that dream myself, so that I can have a future. Nothing communicated that to me more than Eternal Summer. I have nothing, but praise for this season of Free! and I will never regret deciding to watch it. And so it is with that, that I can wholeheartedly recommend this series to everyone, anime fan and non-anime fan alike. This is a series that should be on everyone's anime Bucket List.
Initially I had no intention of writing about “Free!” again, mainly because I thought it couldn’t offer me anything new… but I was wrong.
The characteristic trait of “Free!”, and what I loved the most about the first season, was the always present factor of the friendship and camaraderie the swim team shared, it wasn’t the most special or unique one (might say), but it got to me in every sense of the way, thanks to the classic connection felt with teenage characters, that being the struggles of growing up, all accompanied by this, for some people risky, sense of male bonding that made the whole
Take it as you like, I can’t stop anyone from seeing the series as they want to see it… yeah I’m talking to those kind of watchers. Yet to me it was a marvelous display of teenage friendship and “soul searching” (in the cheesiest of ways).
So when the second season was announced I just expected another adventure for the gang, just another stepping stone towards the same goal, a slightly different display of just about the same thing… but I was wrong, again.
“Eternal Summer” took it a step further, and all in the right directions, straying away from the first season the focus moved away from all the high school drama towards adulthood and the natural evolution of the characters, not as characters in a fictional world, but as people (felt the connection yet again), which was awesome. This season switched focus towards a more personal character focused approach, leaving the “teenage issues” deals behind as they got all changed and transformed by age, and trying to make the transition to adulthood for the characters so real and approachable that anyone who had the misfortune of feeling lost during this time of their life is definitely gonna feel the spark.
And that’s the main beauty of “Eternal Summer”, unlike other second parts, it really took the concept a step forward, that concept being common “real” life problems. You might wonder what’s the point of getting too close to home, or what’s so special about it, but you see that’s the key of a good sequel, the interests are already at play and the characters are already developed (so is your care for them), so the stories and personalities don’t dwell in the same topics needlessly, they move beyond their previous state and get their necessary refreshment.
Yet not all is good in “Eternal Summer”, the drawback of the plot choices it that they leave the series too focused on the main characters conflicts, and more sooner than later even the main characters became subdivided and the swim team gets prioritized for the sake of making some of their stories more layered towards the end, I don’t need to say which characters get the spotlight… right?
In the end “Eternal Summer” is as good as a sequel can be, and as they should be, expanding the characters in a natural consistent (yet not equal) way that makes them feel evolved, matured, “grown up”, not forgetting the things that made the original great in the first place, the friendship is there, evolving with them, and the oh so loved camaraderie makes its “grown up” appearance as well, making this second season a full circle, as far as refreshing and improving its contents.
In conclusion, it a great series, obviously conditioned by how much you loved the first season, but overall a great experience whose message really is to be kept with you like the eternal summer… ok maybe not, but certainly for a long time.
I'm going to say it: Free! ES was one of the best shows of the summer. Read into it however you will, but the second season of Free! improves beyond the original in nearly every way.
I remember when Free! first burst onto the scene last year. Personally, I was surprised at how a show about swimming (with some potentially homosexual undertones) developed such a large following so quickly. I was even more surprised when I found that I myself had become part of that following. The first season of Free! was incredibly satisfactory and I found myself looking forward to season 2 almost immediately. And
it doesn't disappoint. Free! Eternal Summer lived up to my expectations and more.
Season 2 of Free! finds that Rin and the Iwatobi Swim Club have reconciled and are now friendly rivals (thank god). However, Haru, Makoto, and Rin, now third-years, are facing graduation and their last year on their respective teams. This becomes a central focus--what will they do after they graduate? The show explores this question very well and uses it to really get into how the characters are feeling at this turning point in their lives. Rin is dead-set on becoming an internationally-recognized swimmer. Makoto is unsure of what lies ahead, be it swimming on a university team or attending the local college. And Haru, perhaps for the first time in his life, is dealing with genuine pressure. Scouted by universities and without any post-graduation plans, Haru is ill-equipped to handle all of the sudden complications in his life. And we finally get to see what's going on inside Haru's head. He's more than just the quiet kid who likes water a little bit too much. Season 2 really defines Haru as a person and his character makes great strides. Don't worry, Nagisa and Rei are still very much here too. Both get their respective attention in the storyline and also become more than what we originally thought they were. Nagisa isn't always cheerful and carefree and his facade is somewhat broken down. Rei reveals himself as deserving of more credit than we perhaps give him, and really cements himself as an integral member of the team.
Joining the mix are a couple newcomers: Yamazaki Sousuke and Mikoshiba Momotarou. Sousuke is Rin's childhood friend and an elite swimmer; Momotarou is the younger brother of the previous Samezuka team captain and shares his brother's attraction to Gou, much to Rin's chagrin. Sousuke becomes a central character as he is quickly at odds with Haru, while Momotarou provides some comic relief and occasional insights. Both are welcome additions.
Overall, season 2 of Free! focuses largely on the interactions between the main characters. Supporting characters such as Gou and Ama-chan-sensei are kind of put on the back burner as a result, but there really is nothing lost. By shifting the focus from plotline to character, Free! really gets to the root of what drives each one of them, and the show pulls out its fair share of surprises along the way. This is an excellent example of a show that successfully shakes things up while still maintaining a tested formula.
Free! remains a visual pleasure. Iwatobi looks as picturesque as ever and I never tire of the swimming scenes. Credit must be given to this show for making the swimming sequences dynamic and captivating. Free! likes to do this thing where it gets into the mind of each character as they're swimming and it really draws the viewer in during these scenes. Same good stuff we saw in season 1. No complaints here.
A particular little highlight I have to mention is the OP. WOW, it is leaps and bounds ahead of the season 1 OP. From the song to the animation, everything about this OP is just on point. I actually didn't mind watching the OP each week without skipping it. Just a little thing that helps to make the show that much better.
Free! Eternal Summer goes beyond what was accomplished in season 1. They wanted to shake things up a bit and the end product came out beautifully. At the end of the day, Free! is about a group of guys who have a passion for the sport and want to see each other succeed. It's as pure as storytelling gets. And in a summer surrounded by action thrillers and numerous mediocre fanservice shows, Free! provides a welcome breath of fresh air.
Art (7): This is the only truly good thing about this show. The animation is gorgeous. I've always love Kyoto Animation's aesthetic and they way they animate faces and emotions and the subtleties in the character's expressions. But, I have to say that the characters aren't even really deep enough to animate truly subtle emotions on their faces, one of the things that makes the Haruhi Suzumiya character animations amazing as well as the Lucky Star animation, or what I've watched of the Nichijou adaptation. Granted all the characters in those stories are far more interesting and compelling just as people who have lives outside
of what the central theme of the show is, but now I'm off point. My point is that the animation is amazing. The show is very pretty. And that's its biggest plus.
Sound (3): The only music I remember even remotely liking is the ending theme. Which wasn't as good as the first season's ending theme. The OP was as annoying as the first season's and just as unfitting. And I don't remember any other music at all. The dub is okay. I still think that J Michael Tatum was miscast as Rei, though he can be good at times. And Nagisa's voice got annoying after a while of hearing him WHINE AND WHINE AND WHINE!
Story (4): Admittedly, the pacing is better than the first season. Probably because this one has a lot less to establish before just jumping in. The last season had to establish everyone's relationships with each other, then the swim club, then the whole thing with Rin, then get Rei into the club, then have Mako's fear of the ocean (which wasn't necessary, just random fluff), before the regionals. This one just has to establish Sousuke and Momo. Momo is fine. I don't really have any problems with Momo. He was a fine addition and he had good chemistry with the other Samazuka swimmers. We'll get to my problem with Sousuke. Anyway, yeah. The pacing and story was better than the last season (which isn't saying too much, the story was the weakest part of season 1)
Characters (2): A lot of people love these characters. And I don't give this category such a low score because I hate them. I don't hate all of them. I liked Haru in the first season. I liked Rei in the first season. He was a legitimately entertaining character in the first season, and he still is in this one. I rank this category so low because of a few things.
First: I assume that Rin, Mako, Haru, and Nagisa all met when they joined their kid swim league (if not, they knew each other even longer), which means they've all known each other for at least like... 10 years? 12? And SOMEHOW when Mako tells Haru he's already decided his future and Haru gets pissed that's somehow their FIRST FIGHT EVER? ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS? Alright, why this is ridiculous, okay. So, I have this friend who I've known for literally the same amount of time. 12 years. We've been best friends for 12 years. And we fight ALL THE TIME! I consider this person my honorary sibling, and we have pretty much all the same interests and incredibly similar opinions on a lot of these things and WE FIGHT ALL THE TIME! It's ridiculous. If it was Nagisa and Rei's first fight, that would make sense. They haven't known each other that long. Only like a year or two. But knowing someone for like 12 years to the point where you see them everyday and have NEVER had a fight is completely ridiculous.
Second: Everyone assumes that Rei is gonna quit the swim club JUST because his former coach offers him a place on the track team and he's busy after school. Which is dumb. If he came up to them and said that he was gonna quit THEN you can freak out. Don't jump to conclusions.
Third: Nagisa runs away from home just because his parents want him to quit the swim club because he's getting terrible grades. Any reasonable parent would do this. I WOULD DO THIS if my kids were getting bad grades. It doesn't mean "WE DON'T WANT YOU TO HAVE FUN!" It means "Hey, you need to get your grades up, and if you do you can go back to your club." It's the one part of the E Class system from Assassination Classroom that makes sense. Kids who don't do well shouldn't have the ability to participate in sports or clubs. That's also how schools work. At my school, if you got bad enough grades they wouldn't LET you join a sports team. This is how motivation works. It's not bad parenting. And all the teachers and club members treat it like it's ABUSIVE! If that's abusive, then almost every American high school is an abusive institution, as are many parents who are loving and caring and just want their kids to do well in school. My point is that this is ridiculous.
Fourth: Since Rin, Mako, and Haru are about to graduate they choose to have these super 'emotional' and 'dramatic' conversations about future and dreams and being scouted literally every five minutes and it get so boring and cringey. At least the cringe in the first season wasn't this freaking constant. WE GET IT THEY'RE GRADUATING! I DON'T EVEN FREAKING CARE ANYMORE! GOD! SHUT UP! PLEASE!
Fifth: And this is the worst one. Sousuke. Sousuke starts off likable and a reasonable character with realistic goal. Then, the main plot point surrounding him is that his shoulder is seriously injured because he neglected to take care of it when training. THIS IS FREAKING RIDICULOUS AND ILLOGICAL! ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU REALLY WANT ME TO BUY THIS? Okay, maybe this is harder for me to swallow because I used to be a swimmer myself and I didn't take it anywhere near half as seriously as Sousuke takes it. Any time I had any pain, even minor, I would immediately report it to my coach. Even if I wasn't sure it was swimming related. ANY SENSIBLE HUMAN BEING WOULD IMMEDIATELY TELL THEIR COACH AS SOON AS THEIR SHOULDER STARTED BOTHERING THEM! And then GET A DOCTOR! No one as strongly into being a professional swimmer as Sousuke would allow an injury to get to the point that it hinders him FROM SWIMMING! Seriously. I once sprained my wrist outside of swimming, and while it didn't prevent me from swimming, my coach literally PULLED ME OUT OF THE POOL AND WRAPPED IT FOR ME when I told her about it. This is the responsible thing to do. Sousuke is an idiot.
Overall (3): Watch any other better Kyoto Animation Show or sports anime rather than this series. Please.
Free! Eternal Summer was not as dramatic as the theme song made it out to be. It had a lot more comedy and somewhat corny scenes than I thought. However, sandwiched between those is an internal battle that is slowly building in Nanase Haru, is swimming because he loves the water really enough? For a fan of Free!, the previous season, it's satisfying to watch the swim team train harder, watch Rei improve, and reaffirm why they swim. As a motivational message, it's almost convincing to make someone want to swim. Still, if you feel the slice of life is being laid on thick, hold
out for when they reach regionals (sorry for the spoilers). Everything after that, is rising towards a climax. We start to see the characters stand on their feet. For me, that was the most satisfying. In character development, Free! Eternal Summer is one of the best. It's similar to Houtarou' s situation in Hyouka. I digress. I highly recommend Free! Eternal Summer!