If Free's second season was an improvement for the series, its third season is its all-time low.
Free, in its best moments, may not have been anything more than mildly enjoyable (if teetering the line between 'fanservice' and outright pandering), but in this case it has fallen below even being tolerable. Nonstop, incessant melodrama, focused not on the main characters but split between the dozens of irrelevant side characters around them who nobody watching the show actually cares half a dingdong about. Any humor or relaxing little moments are gone, with an endless barrage of melodrama from opening credits to ending credits. Yes, if that sounds
interesting to you, by all means, have yourself a blast.
There are so many bloody characters in Dive to the Future that you will often forget who is who. KyoAni also assumes that everyone who watches Dive to the Future has also watched the prequel movie, High Speed, so you're also expected to care for characters you have probably never seen, or hardly remember. Depending on the way you divide things up, there are at bare minimum three different sets of characters, all largely doing their own thing for most of the season (one of these groups even living on a completely different side of the damn planet), with few important, and mostly minor connections holding them together. The high school group in particular is almost entirely irrelevant to the rest of the plot, them still existing only to appease fans of their characters who wanted to see more. Even by the final episode, there were still new characters being introduced, and by that point I had long since lost my patience. The ludicrous amount of subplots going on between Dive to the Future's seven million characters means there is so little time spent on each character that the viewer cannot get emotionally invested in any of them. It's like being given fifty dishes to sample, except all you get to taste from each of them is a tiny, minuscule amount on the tip of your tongue: would anyone actually feel full after that?
To say I had any fun at all watching Dive to the Future would be a lie. Whereas most anime at least try to intersperse the drama with a light-hearted scene here and there, the melodrama in Dive to the Future is all there is. It is the entirety of the show, with not a single moment to breathe. By the time I had finished watching even one episode, I would already be fatigued enough to want a damn break. While the first and second seasons of Free also had plenty of the 'ol melodrama to go around, it was nowhere near the onslaught it is here. Ikuya is waxing philosophical about not being able to see the stars, and I think, well, gee, you live in the most urban country in the world and somehow the word 'pollution' doesn't exist in your head. Hey, maybe I'm just dead inside, but I think it has more to do with how it is impossible to empathise with any word the characters utter. Dive to the Future is processed through your ears and your eyeballs, but never through your brain or your heart.
Some of the characters (Nagisa, for one-- boy, would I love to strangle this little dickweed at times) are infuriating as hell and do not even behave as actual people do. There's the flashback with Ikuya in the hospital, for example, where he smiles and giggles like a little schoolgirl whose mommy just bought him a new dollie. I suppose KyoAni believes that male characters should act 'moe' in the same way that female characters do, as if men and women in Japan somehow have the exact same mannerisms and behaviours (breaking news: they don't). Oh, and the white-haired foreign-dude's voice actor was such an awful match for his character that it was actually laughable. I think KyoAni had a grand slammin' total of one English voice actor available, and just handed him the job as their token foreigner, because, well, to be fair, Japanese people have no clue how white people actually speak.
I guess if you like gay stuff, Dive to the Future is pretty gay. There are scenes like when Hiyori tells Ikuya to forget about other dudes (and look only at Hiyori), as he towers over a submissive Ikuya laying on his back. Cue rockin' dupstep. Buuu-wuu-wuu. Everyone in this show is rainbow-ass-coloured gay, but KyoAni is only interested in teasing and playing pretend, for better or for worse, depending on how you prefer your gayness served.
Unsurprisingly, there is no real conclusion to the story, with your sole reward for watching the show being a "See you again in 2020!" announcement in the final few seconds. Um, thanks, but rather than more seasons, I'd have been much happier to see an actual ending to this one, which would have been possible if the show just focused a wee bit more on Haru's and Rin's central struggles and rivalry with one another, rather than all the superfluous rubbish surrounding the other forty-billion characters.
I fail to see the purpose in Dive to the Future, in 2018, five full years after the first season, when hardly anyone except the most hardcore of fans still care about Free. And another sequel in the works? For what purpose, exactly? They cannot do anything of value with such a massive cast of characters by throwing another measly twelve episodes at it. Surely there's better creative and monetary endeavors that could be pursued instead, and, well, I guess there are, what with the coming of their next fangirl-friendly series, Tsurune, this fall.
KyoAni always envisions these grand ideas on paper, but then give up midway when it comes to actually realising said idea. Were there twice or thrice as many episodes, a decent story might have been feasible, but with a cast this large and only twelve episodes, it makes you wonder if KyoAni is only capable of thinking in dreams, with reality somehow a distant concept to them. As long as they give the appearance of being something, so too do they believe they will truly become said thing. It's a bit like cosplay: if you're pretty and you act the part well enough, some who don't know any better might just assume you are the real thing.
The second season was a great comfy experience. Eternal Summer was what it was called and it was H O T just like the name suggests. However, it was much more than that and left several different factors unanswered, for example, In s02e09, Haru said: "What dream? What future? I have nothing of that sort!" Other questions it rose were: The traumas behind our transfer student (not wanting to swim on the behalf of team, only on individual level), Haru's lack of motivation, and the disappearance / solitude phase of the best boy. Essentially, this 3rd season is exactly as the title promises: Dive towards
the future of our characters and that's pretty much how the story goes.
The selling point of this season among its light hearted drama are the cast who are yet again showing what being a bro to your bro truly means. This is like all those cute girls doing cute things anime series except the cast focuses on boys (bros) doing cute (bro) things and they all are rather real characters (bros) instead from the moeblob side because these are real manly men. The single best part is how natural these bros act in every situation be it them spooning in bed or hanging out naked. It's only possible and #nohomo because they are real bros and so manly. It's rare to see male friends achieve this level of broship and that's pretty much why I like this show because all the other manly and bro shows (I really like manly and bro stuff) center around GAR Jesuses and muscle Moseses who are often also Gary Stu and practically immortal superhumans all muscles and spreading masculinity wherever they go. Free's cast is realistic and fragile, but it don't matter because they are so bro and support the shit out of each others, always.
However, I don't think this series is especially good anymore because it only has few things going on and most of what it had to offer was already seen in the first 2 seasons anyway. I.e. it got old. Worth of watching, but really I could have personally lived without this season.
Free!: Dive to the Future is an amazing sequel to an already amazing series. We get to see Haru and Makoto lives after finishing high school, which we don't see a lot of, as they face new challenges and problems that come with the higher competitive world of swimming.
This season we get introduced to Ikuya, a childhood friend of both Haru and Makoto, and he is shown to be very cold to others at the start for certain reasons which are then told later into the series, Haru, Makoto and everyone else has to help him get over his past trauma and worries so he
can become the lovable kid he once was. Now that is pretty much how the first half of the series is in simple and non spoiler-ish way.
Now the second part is Haru training for the All Japan invitational Tournament. We get briefly introduced to some other competitors to see what kind of opponents Haru and Rin will have to face in this tournament. Although it's not has drama heavy as the first part it is more intense and exciting, and then we get to the tournament and then the final episode were it leaves off finishing the qualifiers (kind of) and then teases us with sequel to come soon.
Overall to say if this was better then season two I would have to say no as season two was was absolutely fantastic. Compared to last season this was a little bit rushed at some parts and some things just sort of worked out for the sake of it having to work out but it didn't happen to much so it did not degrade my love for this season at all.
Overall this season definitely felt weaker than the previous seasons. Partly that is due to the vast expansion in the main cast and obviously because of that, not all characters got to have the screentime needed for their characters to develop or to do much with the characters. However overall I feel like what has been accomplished, was done pretty well.
This season's major flaw however is the slow pacing of the first half of the season. The first couple episodes felt so so slow and I also understand that time is needed to introduce new characters and establish what is happening with all of them,
but it just felt too long. On the other hand the pacing in the latter half was fast, which in a way mirrors competitive swimming and it makes you hyped up for the races. I feel like most of the fanbase feels the same way and it's so unfortunate that that happened and might have turned off some people from watching more, because the latter half is done really well and feels exciting and is immensely enjoyable.
Ikuya and Toonu's drama felt... I guess it was needed, but it felt too similar to previous Free! seasons, so that almost undermines the whole point of this season, which is the characters are growing up. I guess because they grew up the drama only lasted half a season now, instead of a whole. I understand that a lot of attention was needed to develop Ikuya's and Toonu's characters and story arch, but I can't help but feel like TOO much time was spent on their drama, when it could have been spent on, ya know, actual swimming.
Long time fans of Free! will love seeing all the characters come together (I myself teared up quite a bit when that happened) and it is lovely to see so many bonds form between characters. The new characters are pretty good (however the girls are all very unfortunately underdeveloped (then again, the story doesn't really focus on them anyway, but it's still sad that that is still the case)) and they are introduced quite well.
Tonally, the series truly feels like the main characters are slowly growing up, but that does not mean that they are suddenly fully fledged adults either. I feel a ridiculous amount of pride for these fictional characters and seeing them grow up, but still remain their same personalities and quirks and characteristics. Especially Haru feels like he has finally reached a point in his life that might have been unimaginable to him a couple years ago. He has come a long way from the 'I only swim free and I by twenty I will be ordinary' guy.
Could this season have been made better? Definitely. I feel like this season should have been 24 episodes long, so there would be more time for all the characters to be relevant and develop. I hope that the next season will keep the pace from the last episodes. (2020..... ㅠ ㅠ )
In the end, I still love Free! dearly and the characters are all very precious to me, so I will always be biased. However I can still see the major flaws in this season and I can only hope that next season will be handled better. The things this season did well however, were done really well. It is just unfortunate that the bad things sorta drag it down and that they were the focus of the first half.
Two things I'd like to say before I start this review. First, I don't believe anime should be judged by their fanbase as they have nothing to do with the show itself. It's not like whoever produced the show asked their fans to ship characters etc. Second, I believe in objective reviews, which is why it pisses me off that so many of the top reviews on this site are just memes but doesn't say if the show is actually good or not. If I wanted meme reviews I would just go to gigguk's channel as he does them far better than people here.
believe Free! is a genuinely a good show tho somewhat flawed. If you want intense sports show I wouldn't recommend watching this as Free! is mainly a slice of life and more about its friendships/rivalries rather than intense matches. This season, in contrast with the other ones, has more than one story going on and constantly goes back and forth between scenes, which is why I think its inferior to the other seasons since it always felt like there is too much going on but is still good nonetheless.
Plot (7/10): This season starts with Haru and Makoto going to the same college, Rin going to America, and Nagisa and Rei managing the new team back in Iwatobi high school. Like I said earlier, there are too many things going on, so it sort of leaves a mess rather than focusing development on a single story like what they did in previous seasons. The drama introduced in the story does seem to take an interesting turn with the appearance of Haru's middle school friend, Ikuya, and his new change in attitude in swimming, making the audience want to find out more about what make him cold and distant. There are several other interesting parts to the story but I don't want to spoil them.
Animation (8/10): The animation in Free! looks amazing, clean, and pleasant to look at, as expected of KyoAni. Although its not as good as hyouka, the water scenes are still breathtaking to look at, so no flaws here.
Sound (8/10): The opening sounds lit but the ending...a little eh imo. The soundtracks they played were awesome tho.
Characters (6/10): Biggest problem in this season. There are way too many characters introduced and none of them felt well developed. They all felt like the same person to me. Ikuya is just basically Haru (cold, quiet, a good swimmer) but forced into being his rival. Still tho I'm interested to see how the show will develop them later on in the story and hopefully we'll understand them better later on.
Enjoyment (7/10): So far I'm enjoying this season although its not my favorite one. If you are already a fan of this show you will most likely enjoy this.
The highly anticipated third season of Free! is here and better than ever!! With all our old favorites, and new characters, the plot is more dramatic than ever. Now that Haru, Makoto, Rin, and Souske have graduated, we get to see what their future holds and what the future has in store for the swim club without their older members.
Dive to the future is my favorite season so far. With a perfect mix of humor, drama, and swimming it takes everything to a new level. Obviously, if you are new to the series watch the first two seasons, Starting days, and Take your marks first.
(A prequel movie to the first season, and a movie that leads up to season three)
Story 10/10: The story is filled as many twists and turns as always, with new characters being added, and old characters reappearing. A lot of gaps of what happened to characters are filled, and everything slowly comes together. It's excellent.
Art 10/10: From the cherry blossoms, to the water, to the eyes of the characters when anything dramatic happens, the art of Free! Is superb.
Sound 10/10: The Opening and ending themes are fantastic, as well is the general background music during the show, often adding a powerful effect to dramatic scenes (of which there are many)
Character 10/10: Every single character in this show is unique and wonderful with interesting back stories and personalities that add different aspects to the show. From the main characters, to side characters, all are perfectly crafted characters that I guarantee you will fall in love with. Seriously. It's a problem. I have to many swimming children.
Enjoyment 10/10: Free! has always been by far one of my most favorite anime's of all time, and this season is no different. I find myself counting down the days for the newest episodes, and terribly sad when they end and I have to wait another week for the next. This anime is truly a creation lots of people could enjoy. With it's themes of friendship and swimming, and incredible plot twists, it's not just a show for people who like muscles to watch, as some seem to believe. I fully enjoy this show, especially this season, and everything it has to offer. Swimming, friendship, drama, humor, great music, fantastic animation, unique and wonderful characters, Free! has it all.
Overall this season is a solid 10/10. So Free! fans rejoice! It doesn't get any better than Dive to the future! I can't wait to see what the rest of this outstanding season brings us!
‘My little swimmer: friendship is magic’ - The anime. I love it as much as anyone, but you have to admit the title fits. More now than ever.
One of the best parts about watching anime is seeing a series you loved get another season. The characters you spent so many hours getting to know, the scenery you spent admiring *cough*, the thrilling parts that made you sit up in bed to get a better look, and the emotional parts that made you cry.
Free! Dive to the future is a great example of that.
I’m not saying it’s perfect, because it’s not. Heavens knows there were far
too many characters this season to fit in any real screen-time for most of them. The show ends on a heart-warming but annoying cliff-hanger as usual. Nagisa’s voice is still far too high to ever be believable for a 17 year old guy. And Gou is still just there to harp on about how fabulous muscles are. I will be amazed if someone finds me a line where she doesn’t mention either Rin or muscles.
But watching everyone get back together again was just fantastic. The world of competitive swimming is a small world, and most people seem to know each other. Heck, most people are friends, and have to struggle to cheer for each other and strive to beat each other at the same time.
Despite not having much screen-time, most of the cast have grown a lot. Most are in Uni or older, and it shows. They can be more honest with each other. They support each other’s way of life. They’re patching up broken friendships, maintaining relationships, and focussing on their careers more and more.
Rin, Nagisa, and Rei had their main development in S1. Sousuke and Nitori had theirs in S2. Makoto’s and Haru’s are spread out all over the place – both get featured a fair bit in S3. But the main source of development, at least in the first half, is Ikuya.
[Note: Here’s where you’re gonna want to have watched the movie, because it provides some very useful background information. If you’ve watched ‘Starting Days’, you’ll know who Ikuya, Asahi, and Natsuya are. You’ll be able to compare their kiddie selves to their adult selves. And these three are quite important in S3, because of how they interact with each other and the rest of the group.]
Ikuya, along with Asahi, is a member of Haru and Makoto’s old swimming team (no, not the one with Rin in). His story is surprisingly similar to Rin’s, but his personality is more similar to Haru’s. Add in a loyal but rather possessive best friend (who himself is quite well-developed and stops being irritating after a while), a concerned older brother, and a ‘chance’ encounter with the former team, and you’ll get some pretty gripping drama. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in Free!, but you don’t need to fix what’s not broken. I was eagerly waiting for the next ep every week.
Finally, the swimming tournaments are still exciting to watch, but in a different way to before. It’s less a question of ‘will they qualify or won’t they?’ and more a question of ‘who will be first?’ Because we all know by now that the mains qualify in at least one race each.
Watching them swim just means watching them spend some quality time together, training hard and having fun. This is a slice of life, after all. Relationships are what we’re here for.
(Well, that and the swimsuits 😉)
Let’s put it this way. If you liked the first two seasons at all, you’ll love this one.
Okay, so bear in mind that this review has been written with only 4 episodes out, so maybe by the end of the season I've changed my mind. So far, though, I have to say that everything about this first episode makes me think that Free!: Dive to the Future will be amazing, and exactly what the fans of the anime would expect (this is definitely a compliment) and had been hoping for.
We get to see our main characters back in action but this time all grown up and in a different context (which I think is pretty great, as we rarely get to
see high schoolers actually leave high school in animes) and, at the same time, we finally get to see some old characters and how their lives look like today. This is a testament to Free!'s ability to present new characters and make the audiences get attached to them with only a couple of episodes, which then gives the writers room to explore these characters in future installments of the anime such as Free!: Dive to the Future.
I think most of us would openly admit that Free! is sort of a guilty pleasure. How could you reasonably explain to your friends that an anime about some guys swimming and competing against each other is SO good? It is difficult to explain, yes, because this show is SO MUCH MORE than that tagline. Free! and all its sequels have been consistently entertaining, emotional, intense but never overly dramatic, and simply fantastic. The story about this group of friends, with their problems and hopes, all wrapped up in this context of "sports anime" that keeps it all the more exciting, makes Free! (and all its sequels and prequels) an excellent anime, much better than you would ever imagine when you first read its synopsis.
Free!: Dive to the Future, just like its prequels, is the perfect summer anime, as it is ideal for these summer afternoons where you just feel like laying on the couch and enjoying a good time. However, it would be a mistake to label it only as a "feel good" anime, because even if it definitely qualifies as one, it is way more than that.
With all the above I want to really get the point across that Free!: Dive to the Future is as good, if not better, than all its predecessors. The creators of the show know what we fans want, even when we ourselves don't, and they gave it to us in the perfect package. So if you're a fan of the series, what are you waiting for? Do not even doubt it, every second you're not watching Dive to the Future, is a second you're missing out.
A third season for Free! is something I have always dreamed about but never thought would actually come true. The first 2 seasons exceeded my expectations… as if half-naked, dripping wet bishies weren’t enough, there was also solid plot and character development. These swimming boys endeared themselves to me and I was beyond excited for their return years after Eternal Summer.
However, as much as I’m reluctant to admit this, I don’t find the new season anywhere near as good as its predecessors. I have many gripes about Dive to the Future, such as:
- Not enough intense swimming races
- Not enough Rin (isn’t he supposed
to be the deuteragonist)
- Too much Hiyori (he is so meddlesome and annoying… I have never disliked any character from this series until him)
- Not enough Rei and Nagisa (they get even more shafted on screen time than Rin)
- New iwatobi members aren’t interesting enough for me to care about them
- Don’t care about Ikuya (most of the season is devoted to his development and I don’t find him to be a compelling character… his personality is somewhat reminiscent of season 1 Haru except more boring)
- Not enough college life
Last but not least, my main problem with the show is how it tries to cram in way too many new characters. With only 12 episodes, the show is unable to spend much time on each person and give them proper development. None of the new characters made an impression on me or made me care about them in any way. What really made the first two seasons shine was the camaraderie between the central characters, which is something that is lacking in the third season since they’re all in separate places and don’t have heartfelt interactions anymore. Their development was nicely wrapped up in the first two seasons, so it seems as if KyoAni didn’t know what to do with their characters anymore. Still, I would have preferred less focus on the new characters and more focus on the boys I have come to know and love.
If you watched S3 with shipping goggles, you were likely disappointed since that's not what S3 was about and that's a good thing. Instead, what fans got was more of the Starting Days characters and new characters to look forward to in the 2020 project. Of course, you didn't know that when you started watching but you have to have faith, ne? Haru and Makoto are very together in Tokyo, contrary to what S1&2 Director Utsumi said would happen, a big plus for Makoharu shippers, of which I am one. Rin got sassy with Sousuke, which was also a good deal of fun
to watch. Reigisa didn't get enough screen time, but neither did the new Iwatobi crew, though it's good to know they have new members with Gou Matsuoka, Miss Amakata and Goro Sasabe all reprising their supportive roles. The Samezuka boys returned to keep the friendships lively and the brand new characters were intriguing and sure to return in 2020.
Personally, I enjoyed the season from start to finish. The drama brought on by the reappearance of Ikuya Kirishima and his best friend Hiyori Toono was solid, if frustrating, since it gave us a view into what a dysfunctional Makoharu would have looked like instead of the supportive relationship it is and remains. Natsuya's brief visit with Rin in Australia was a hoot as it forced the swimmer into examining his obsession with Haru and his friendship with Sosuke in the funniest of ways. The new pro coaches brought into the picture were delightfully quirky and Haru's competition on the global stage was truly phenomenal and threatens to remain so.
What stands out, as always, are the bonds of friendship between these characters, especially between the Iwatobi crew with Haru and Makoto reuniting with Asahi Shina and Kisumi Shigino, along with Ikuya, Hiyori (eventually) and Nao Serizawa; and the Samezuka crew with Rin, Sosuke, and their former schoolmates. It's broship at its best. If you want to cry "gay baiting" you can, but why not view it as a positive spin on the queer community? I don't need to see fornication in het shows to feel the love and friendship between couples so why do I need to see it between gay couples? I don't, but I know when it's there and recognize it.
As a ordinary viewer, the sports anime aspect does fail a bit as there isn't much swimming as I'd hoped to see. I love Kyoani's water animation. As a shipper, especially a Makoharu shipper, I couldn't ask for more. It's clear Haru and Makoto are already "together" or on the verge of a serious relationship. Thank goodness the "love triangle" facing off Makoharu and Rinharu was ditched with the change of directors after Eternal Summer. Rinharu shippers are still hopeful for a miracle, but they're just in denial at this point.
In summary, DttF was a wonderful S3 and I thoroughly recommend it. Those who disliked it are probably disgruntled fans who either were hoping to see hugs and kisses or a continuation of a RH vs MH online feud. Or they realize that their 12 y.o. self is going to be in their 20's by the time the next segment is out and they're not likely to care at all. Me? I came to the series late (2017) and caught up on everything in a fanbinge. I'm so in, I'm drowning. It's all good.
1) I love "Free!" as much as you do.
2) This season is sh*t.
July 2013 "Free!" was airing by first time. I did not want to see it because I assumed it was going to be the <bad seasonal fujobait>. Later, my sister push me to see it... and OMG I was SO wrong. "Free!" became one of the most very careful development anime I ever saw. But now, with the pain of my soul I must say "Free! Dive to the Future" is ALL I did not want to see that July of 2013.
To put easy (to me, because my english is basic) I
appreciate how this franchise tried to give us the follow-up of a "true life" situation. Changes, experience, new people, these words means future. All of those things cab be very scary for many of us. <How> you can accept this changes and keep moving is (I think) the message "Free! Dive to the Future" want to gift us, BUT KyoAni *cough* Kawanami *cough* just did not make it, or rather, they did not make it in an genuine good way.
The elements, separate and developed with time and care, maybe it could have worked:
-HiyoIku drama was almost interesting but, at the end, the symbolism about the little mermaid don´t have ANY sense.
-I really thought that there would be a focus on Makoto. A Makoto thinking about is own future, and acting according that. But no, He is just like <he> on the second season "I don´t know what to do with my life. Save me, Haru-chan." Makoto, I love you, but grow up. Oh, and I almost forget a little, little thing... THERE IS A SCEN WHEN MAKOTO LOOKS LIKE A TOTALLY PEDOBEAR. HOLY CR*P.
-New challenges for Haru definitely sounds exciting, but this challeges have a bishounen russian face who, for some reason (for me nonexistent), turned Haru into a thirsty beast of victory... OH GOD... STOP IT KYOANI! WHAT ARE YOU DOING! THE NATURE OF HARU <IS NOT> COMPETITIVE!
Now, maybe you'll say "but now he's an athlete".
Yeah, we already know that, but sports are not just about competitiveness, is about so many beatiful things (insert "Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru" characters here). Just because Haruka is entering on a competitive world does not mean that his nature should change. Haruka of this season <IS NOT> the free Haruka-senpai who Rei admire so much.
-About ReiGisa... ReiWho?
All chapters as one season it's a pitiful potpourri of feelings and events of previous seasons. I did not enjoy nothing of this season... NOTHING. It was painful to me see it, my eyes shed tears of blood (well, that is a lie but my soul felt it in that way).
This is the most painful score I ever had to put in my life. If you really appreciate the previus story and you are reading this review for decide to see it or not, please, dont see it. You will lose the beautiful perception you have of the characters.
Our protagonist has now started studying at the university. We get to follow him and several other characters with their respective problems. I’d say the main focus is identity - who you are as a person and what you want to be.
We get to see characters like Makoto trying to find his own path in life and Sousuke, who is concerned about a surgery that may or may not be the end of his career as a swimmer. Rei, Nagisa and Gou are studying their final year at Iwatobi. We get to see them with new recruits for the swim team.
These are only some
of the sub-plots in this season.
“If these are the sub-plots, then what’s the main plot?” you ask?
To be frank, they should’ve just named it “Free! Two Lovers’ Promise” because about 65% of this season focuses on Haru and Ikuya’s *Cough*romance*Cough* friendship.
Although I’m overjoyed to see so much of Ikuya and seeing him (and Haru) develop as a character, it doesn’t give much time for the other characters and events. In the end, episode 11 and 12 feel a bit rushed, which is why I’m giving the story 8/10. The way the guys are trying to find their own identities and lifetime goals is not only inspiring but also touching.
I’m very proud of Haru this season. Everyone who has watched the previous seasons or at least Starting Days are well aware of Haru only swimming free and nothing else.
In episode 7 and 8, we get to see Haru practice for- and participate in the individual medley just to keep his promise to Ikuya. The fact that he stopped swimming only free for a moment shows how far Haru is willing to go for the people he cares about.
Makoto and Rei share a similar dilemma. Neither of them knows what they want to do with their lives. With some help from Nao, Makoto realizes what he wants to do in the future.
Rei on the other hands never got this realization. He does think about his future, but never mentions his options.
As for Nagisa, we don’t get to hear much from him at all, which is a bit disappointing. His ‘major’ development was in the first season and his character has been a bit flat since then. Yes, he has become a better swimmer and has a charming personality, but he hasn’t changed much, has he? Does he still want to become an astronaut or an adventurer?
Rin is doing fine. He’s still aiming to become the number one swimmer in the world.
Sousuke has an interesting scenario. His doctor suggests a surgery if he wants to continue swimming. The problem is that this surgery may or may not end his career. The problem is that we don’t get to see much about this.
Natsuya also gets some development. In the beginning of this season, he swims and participates in races just to get money. He uses the money to travel to another country in the world, races, wins money and then the cycle just repeats. As the story goes on, he eventually stops swimming just for the money and starts taking swimming seriously again.
Even Nitori - the only character who I couldn’t stand in the first two seasons - was okay in Dive to the Future. He didn’t do anything outstanding, but he didn’t annoy me either.
I’m also happy to see how much Ikuya has grown since childhood. Especially his swimming.
Now for the newer characters. First we have Ikuya’s “best friend” - Hiyori (Seems a bit one-sided from Hiyori’s part). He and Nitori are the only two characters in Free! that I dislike. Like I said earlier, Nitori was much more bearable in this season. Hiyori wasn’t. In my opinion, Hiyori is a selfish, illogical, rude and manipulative control freak. He’s far too judgmental towards Haru and the others despite never meeting them, he makes decisions for Ikuya without Ikuya’s consent and goes out of his way to prevent Haru from talking to Ikuya. “Maybe he just doesn’t want Ikuya to get hurt again” Nope. After his race against Makoto, Hiyori clearly states that the reason why he won’t let Haru and the others approach Ikuya is because they’re too weak, not because he wants to protect Ikuya from getting hurt again. He also seems to be rather delusional as he considers himself as the little mermaid who saves the prince (Ikuya) from “sinking” (depression). Where did he get that idea from? According to Ikuya, he has been feeling like this for years. Hell, Hiyori (unintentionally) made Ikuya’s depression even worse. He also never apologizes to neither Haru nor Ikuya for his behavior. Hiyori's entire purpose in this season is to be a pain in the ass. That’s literally it.
Then we have Haru’s new “challengers” - the world record holder in freestyle Albert Wåhlander and the mysterious swimming prodigy Kaede Kinjou. The anime makes such a big deal about them (Especially Albert), but we never get to find out much about these two except that Albert has a coach named Ralph (Or is it Ralf?) and is a world record holder from Sweden. But Kaede? Nothing. Then only time we see him in action is in the very last episode where he participates in a race.
This category gets only 7/10. Hiyori single-handedly removed one point, one point off from the lack of development for Rei, Nagisa and Gou and lastly, one point off for showing close to nothing about Albert and Kaede.
Designs and animation (10/10)
As expected from Free!, it has beautiful animation. And somehow, the anime managed to make the guys even better looking.
Am I the only one who thought Nagisa looked a bit more…mature this season? He used to look younger and rather child-like compared to the other guys. Now he’s starting to look like a man. They grow up so fast…
I didn’t see any (major) flaws with the animation and the character designs look good. Even the clothes the characters wear for the ending look good. The hat Nagisa is wearing gets a bonus point.
Therefore, I’m giving this category a solid 10/10.
Voice acting and music (10/10)
The ‘older’ voice actors were good, as always while the ‘new’ actors also did pretty well. Kudos to the voice actors of Ikuya, Albert and Hiyori.
Despite despising Hiyori, I think Ryouhei did a good job with portraying the character and making him sound like a real piece of shit. Especially the first five episodes.
After hearing Rin’s broken english despite living in Australia for years, I’m surprised Albert spoke perfect english. No stereotypical Nordic accent, no awkwardness. And if he has always lived in Sweden, I’ll be even more surprised.
The opening theme Heading to Over and ending theme Gold Evolution were both catchy and suited the anime. Though, I wish they could’ve “tossed the rock a bit further” with the opening theme as it resembles the opening themes of the previous seasons - Rage On and Dried Up Youthful Fame - a bit too much. Still, I must admit that I never skipped the opening or the ending of Dive to the Future. Actually, I listen to their full versions often.
Once again, I’m giving out a full score. 10/10 for the voice actors’ performances and the kick-ass music.
As I’ve already stated, this season focuses a lot on the bond between Haru and Ikuya for the first 8 episodes. After episode 8, they’re rarely seen together, let alone talk to each other.
Why would the staff put so much time and effort into their relationship and then just be like “Their drama is over now, so let’s completely move on and make them interact as little as possible because Ikuya is completely irrelevant now”. Of course, I didn’t want Ikuya to get all of Haru’s interactions, as characters like Makoto and Rin are also important. However, I think it was rather disappointing and lame how they almost completely ignored Ikuya for the remaining episodes when they made a such big deal about him (and Haru) earlier. Most of his appearances in episodes 9-12 are just cameos with the only exception being his race in the individual medley. He doesn’t say much. He’s just standing there to show that he still exists.
I’m also a bit disappointed that the only three characters succeeded with their races. The others failed and the final race was left on a cliffhanger.
To be frank, if it hadn’t been for the character development of Haru, the Kirishima brothers and Makoto, I would’ve given this category a lower score. Most of the other characters’ developments stand still during the season. The only (other) characters who came close to a good development but tripped right before the finish line were Hiyori and Sousuke.
Either a new movie or season was confirmed at the end of episode 12. Hopefully, the newer characters (Hiyori, Iwatobi rookie-trio, Albert and Kaede) will get their proper developments.
Episode 11 and 12 felt a bit rushed. It was almost as if the staff was trying to test themselves regarding how many things they can make happen in just one episode. Because of this, it made episode 12 lack charm. Yes, there were meaningful moments. However, those moments were a bit less effective than intended, which is the result of what happens when you try to make too many things happen in a 20-minute episode.
For that, Dive to the Future gets only a 7 for its ending.
Summary (42/50 - Great)
Although a few things about this season left me a bit disappointed, it was overall a good season and I’m glad I watched it.
I don’t know whether their next project is a fourth season or a movie. Regardless, the bar has been set pretty high since I’m expecting the next movie/season to provide with everything Dive to the Future lacked:
- Goals in life for Rei, Nagisa and Gou
- A continuation of Hiyori’s character development
- Character developments for Albert and Kaede
- Haru interacting with his parents
- And most importantly - More of Steve the Cat
And that’s my review of the third season of Free!.
I’ll be looking forward to the next project.
Just two years left…
This is one such Anime i would recommend to anybody to watch. Like any other SPORTS genre Anime, you won't get bored with this series. At least, i didn't get bored with it.
The only Spoiler is SWIMMING in this review.
It is a decent series about a bunch of guys who loves SWIMMING. You will surely like this series, i hope.
I gave it 8, doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with this Anime. I give 9 & 10 rating only to those Anime who are on my favourite list.
Anyway, watch this series and i hope you'll love SWIMMING.
This may be the best season of Free! yet. I'm going to start off by telling you what you should watch before you watch this season of Free! Obviously, the first two seasons are a must, but you also need to watch Starting Days and Take Your Marks to fully appreciate what you're going to get in this third season.
Now, let me tell you something that may make the decision for you regarding whether or not you should watch this season. Free! is not a typical sports anime. It's main focus is not the competition but the relationships and journeys of the characters. In this
season, that is not the case. In beginning of this season, you're going to get something very much like the previous two seasons because the first half of Dive to the Future focuses on Ikuya and the characters from middle school reestablishing a friendship with him. From then on, you're going to be focusing a lot on swimming competition and preparation. You're still getting the wonderful character work that you've seen previously (some of the best ever), but you're also going to dive deep into the world of competitive swimming.
Moving on to the character work I just mentioned. Obviously, as I said, you're going to get a lot with Ikuya as he's the main focus of part of the season. With that, you're going to get some development with his friend Hiyori. Makoto has a small bit of important development as well which is beautifully showcased. The biggest difference in character you'll see this season, though, is-- you guessed it-- Haru.
Because Free! focuses on it's characters, since the anime decided to start highlighting the competition aspect, you'll see Haru's character take a big shift. In my opinion, it's the best change we've seen for Haru. You're going to see him get much more competitive, and you'll see him hone in on what it is he wants out of competitive swimming, even more so than before. The storytelling of this season allows Haru's character to grow and change quite a lot, and it's done very nicely and realistically.
Beyond that, this season has the best nail-biters in the series. Storytelling is this anime's strong suit alongside it's characters, and it doesn't disappoint this time around. Many characters are introduced and reintroduced this season, a couple of which are insanely talented swimmers. Because of that, you not only get great suspense in the races, but you get a brilliant amount of tensity. If you thought that Rin and Haru were the fastest swimmers around, this season will make you think otherwise, and that's a really good thing.
It's very smart for this story to expand it's world by adding in strong opponents for Haru and Rin. Instead of risking their development flat lining by continuing to promote them as the strongest, this season of Free! will throw in a few wrenches. Because of that, this anime has the potential to extend on for a very long time, which is also helped by the fact that the anime made a slight switch into the competitive viewpoint.
One last thing to mention here is that this season doesn't cover as much ground as the previous two seasons, and the ending is definitely not the same. In the past, Free! has covered around one school year and it's always ended with the promise of the next year. Meaning that time would skip in between seasons. However, in this season, less time is covered overall and it seems like there is going to be a cliffhanger that'll either be picked up directly or will pick up a few days or weeks in the future. In other words, this season doesn't end cleanly. Again, that isn't a bad thing. In fact, I think it's a really good move to keep interest in the story.
There is so much more life in this anime that we will get to see come 2020, and I have never been more excited to be a fan of this show. I 100% recommend that you watch this season if you enjoyed the rest of Free! The character interactions and meetings are like no other, and you'll be on the edge of your seat for most of it. You'll probably even cry here and there, too. Give it a go because this season will show you what Free! can really do.
You know sports genre anime are quite interesting! Yes, FREE is interesting and that's why I continued to this season ! I have seen 7 episodes so far and from what i see this season has portrayed much more character developments!
Guys swimming in pools. You get to see their body parts ! Must be amazing for Female and Gay watchers, But i can assure you this anime is not a gay anime but full of fan services that might seems gay to you ! Anyway it's a fun series to watch.
STORY (9/10): About it's story? It's a solid story. Pretty solid i must say.
You will see many interesting flashbacks and well sought writing made it a masterpiece in this genre ! There's not many superficial type of things here, just normal swimming ! And this season's story layout seems nice and neat. It has a great potential ! Let's see if next episodes are good or bad ! Till now it's AMAZING
ART (10/10): I gave a perfect 10 cause it's artwork is that of the newest anime should have ! It will satisfy many watchers and pretty detailed also in some aspect !
SOUND (8/10): OST's are good. So Music is perfect, as for the anime sound quality ! It's average ! Just like any other good anime. You will not experience any kind of problem with this sound !
CHARACTER (9/10): This season have already shown much development to it's characters ! As per episode 7, many things happened which i cannot reveal here !
ENJOYMENT (10/10): PERFECT ! Full on entertainment you can say. Fair share of emotion, comedy ! Balanced totally !
If you want to know more you obviously have to watch this ! finish previous seasons if you haven't ! Whole series is a great one I must say !
Keep Watching ANIME, Have a safe and sound life !
Be happy, #HAILANIME
As someone who had binged all 3 seasons of Free in the span of less than a week, I was compelled to leave a review, as a note to my future self and maybe for anyone reading this.
There are subtle spoilers if you squint.
For a sports show about swimming, Free isn't all too bad, however, season 3 tried to take flight like the other two seasons before it, and it ended up crashing.
Story (3, Poor)
This aspect ties into character, but the plot was all over the place. From one place to the next and so much drama that really was not needed as it as
all seen before. The beginning was slow, which was okay, but it kept on being slow even halfway through the season and it was simply a drag to watch. Some moments in the series really were not needed and could have been used for developing more on the characters. It picked up towards the end, but then everything just went too fast with too many missing plot holes, ending in that manner as well. It just didn't give that same vibe as the previous two.
Art (8, Very Good)
There were so many nice things to look at in the anime and everyone looks really nice too. Very appealing to the eye and certainly upped the game in the art department this season.
Sound (8, Really Good)
The soundtrack really upped itself this season, there were many nice tracks playing in the background, and it feels like it really builds on the previous seasons. Fresh and energetic to say the least.
Character (3, Poor)
There were way too many characters, some of them honestly were not needed. Then there were some characters that felt like carbon copies of ones in previous seasons, the same drama ensuing between the two of them. It was really repetitive and drawn out, infuriating almost. Then just when you feel like you get to know the characters (roughly 3/4 through the season), there are more characters thrown into the batch and they just stir up even more unneeded drama.
Aside from the original few from the first two series, the other characters were not nearly as fleshed out and they really did feel like extras simply sitting on the sidelines for cheering purposes. I guess they were nice to look at for the most part.
Enjoyment (4, Decent)
Apart from all the drama, it was really nice to see everyone again and how their lives are fairing. There were some instances in the show that I looked forward to for sure, but it didn't win over the fact that there was a very long period of senseless drama.
Overall (5, Mediocre)
It was okay for the most part. To some degree, the music and art made up for the lack of story and character. Still, considering Free's previous seasons, I was expecting much more.
If Free managed to get its identity in its first season, and more or less holded that into the second one, the third season Dive to the Future is a huge disappointment, full of cliches and repetitive formula spammed all across the episodes.
For starters, you absolutely have to watch the previous movies to at least care about the characters and some plot points, otherwise you will be left outside of the group, not even knowing what some scenes means, or what happened in some flashbacks. But that's solely because the anime focused on drama...
Oh, the drama. Let's talk about the drama.
Free managed to grab attention on its first seasons, this one used past cliches and plot lines repeatedly but with other characters. Half of these 12 episodes are spent in something that we already saw in past seasons, trying really hard to make the spectator care about a particular problem, but already making it clear how it will end.
Formulas are repeated over and over to a point it looks like Saint Seiya. You have 2 to 3 characters in each category and the character whose name is screamed the most, will win. If their name is not screamed that means it will lose, just to plot device the next episodes into a huge drama to be unfolded to some sentences you take from your luck cookie. You can almost take those shounen lame quotes from any anime out there and place on Free!:DF and it will work.
Some people complaining about fanservice and fujoshi bait: The anime never advertised otherwise, so if the characters look gay or something and that annoys you, you aren't the target audience. It's simple as that. I myself love a good fanservice with boys, but even that is lacking in Free and the drama stole everything. I admit there are some good shots here and there, but it's lackluster compared to the 1st and 2nd seasons. Dive to the Future is lackluster not because is gay, but because the actual drama is cliche, overused, repetitive and obvious.
Oh, and there are coincidences all over the place. All. Over.
No action whatsoever. Of course, I speak metaphoric because its an anime about swimming, but almost no swimming happens, and when it happens the result is so obvious that isn't worth it to watch it.
And last... That cliffhanger.
When I speak about this cliffhanger I'm not only speaking about the final scene, I'm talking about a lot of characters that were introduced just to make any difference in the next season in 2020. We spend 3 episodes learning about these characters, a little bit of their personality traits and one or two dialogues, only to be left with nothing and hang to the next season. The season finally just brags about more cliche drama until its over and can end on a "?" note.
If you are in for the fanservice, you are going to have a fun time. Art-wise this anime is absolutely great and definitely a level up from previous seasons. I have yet to say that no one has a better water than Free!. Some shots are fun to look and some reactions are the little sugar in this journey of boredom.
What the hell happen to the sound? There's a particular OST that plays in some scenes that feels completely out of place. One of the scenes - night, in the park and two characters - which was supposed to be taken seriously, has its atmosphere broken by this techno-like song.
And...We have actual English in the anime. Even though they don't have a strong accent, it feels out of place to a point that I believe they used a third party company to make those sentences and only sent the audio, since even the sound quality is disconnected. One English character has a voice so weird that is unsettling.
All in All, Free!: Dive to the Future is a huge filler that doesn't add anything to the story, holds itself into obvious dramas, and makes the main character way more important than he deserves to be. To an anime that introduced so many characters, why they even exist if everyone keeps focusing on Hakura like he's this untouched entity? There are one or two plot points that could have been explored way better, but instead they are holded by formulas that worked on the past and are used again in the same fashion. If you are in for a good cute boy's club melodramatic thing, you are in for a fun time, but don't expect anything spectacular.
Too little happens in the first half of the season, and too much got crammed into the last few episodes. Just when I sort of perked up when it seems like some plot finally started to unfold, the season ends. The main issue I had was with the subplot to repair Ikuya's relationship with Haru and co. that basically went around in circles for no reason other than to waste time. The resolution felt like a cop out and only happened because the plot needed shift focus.
The story further hurts itself by stretching too thin as it attempts
a failing act of juggling an expanding cast of characters, none of whom get properly fleshed out to the point where I actually care about them. Either the new characters contributed nothing to the plot or they were introduced for plot points only (and therefore felt flat and bland). The coaches only made an impression on me because of their association with Rin and Haru. I loved Isuzu but why did we meet her?? And there were some international swimmers. That's it, that's all the information we get on them. I only remember them because they showed up in the opening and I kept wondering when they would make an appearance. I assumed they would play a much bigger role, since they were uhhh, in the opening.
Well, after waiting four years for a season 3 (which I did not see coming) the boys are back for another season of epic pool battle.
Usually, I won't be watching this show any further, as it is a yaoi show, but what lead me to give this show another shot was because it takes place at a University competitive environment; and I can see how Haru and Makoto adapt to this new environment.
STORY (8/10) - As much as I love swimming, Kyoto Animation never stops to amaze me with the build-up of dramas with more of middle-school dilemma surrounding Haru. Despite a
slow start, and tons of flashbacks, the story finally picked up the pace. But I would say they should focus more on the improvement in swimming than the social drama itself.
ART (9/10) - As expected from Kyoto Animation, they never stop to amaze me with the beauty of water animation during the swimming scenes.
Sound (9/10) - As always Free never stops to fascinate me with their amazing openings with intensive rock and energy. Regarding the background sounds, it was used perfectly infused with the dramatic moments.
Character (9/10) - Character development was once again a significant category in this sporting anime. As Haru has to find ways to help his old buddy back in middle-school while being obstructed continuously by his overprotective friend. On the bright side, we get to see Makoto progressively develops his coaching skills over time.
Enjoyment (7/10) - I did not enjoy this season as much of the previous two seasons because it reminded me of season 1 drama, and I sort of expect much more focus on them to train for world level than to national level. I would say I enjoyed more of the second half of the season since it finally refocuses on training for national competitions than solving life problems. You can see all this at my weekly reaction vlogs on my channel.
But I still highly recommend this show for those into sports genre (especially swimming), or just a casual yaoi fan.
As for me, I still enjoyed it, but not as much passion I had for the first 2 seasons.
This review will be updated as more episodes come out...
We're back guys! Our dose of the old boys, swimming, and of course, delicious abs. What more can we ask for? I was expecting the novelty of the whole sports element to wear off for me at this point (after all, most of what I can recall from the first two seasons was just really enjoying the beautiful characters and tension between the them) but I found myself pleasantly surprised. Apparently, the makers have not lost their ability to make swimming interesting.
Let's begin by discussing the story-- this is a spoiler free review,
so I won't reveal much other than yes, as the title states, this takes place a little bit after the second season. If you haven't seen both seasons, I would highly recommend that you watch them, but if you have seen them but just forgotten most of what happened (which happened to me, unfortunately), worry not! The story is very clean and current, and so far, not confusing at all. Even with the basic background knowledge of the five main characters from the past two seasons, you should be able to enjoy this thoroughly.
Next is the art--- oh boy, it was breathtaking. So many times I had to rewind because I had literally zoned out staring at the gorgeous art. The water, the cherry blossoms at the beginning of the first episode, the character designs (and abs, dear god) are all gorgeous and it's easy to see how much effort went into this.
As for the sound, the opening theme was pretty fun, but I preferred the closing myself. Perhaps I was a little biased by the beautiful, hot characters dancing their hearts out... regardless, closings for Free! have never disappointed.
The characters have all changed but haven't changed, if that makes any sense whatsoever. They all retain their main elements (so far, anyways) but they also have this new maturity to them that I'm really appreciating. However, I can't say they're really what you might call 'deep' characters, so I'm not sure about that yet. But then again, in my opinion, characters for Free! have never been all that deep.
As I mentioned earlier, this review will be updated as I watch more of this, but as of now, I'm really happy with the direction its going.
Have a great day everyone!
UPDATE: To those who feel like this review comments about the boys' looks a little too much... sorry! It's hard to not mention how beautiful our boys are :)