This post contains major spoilers for Free!- Iwatobi Swim Club.
I must admit, I am a major fangirl. When I first heard of Free!- Iwatobi Swim Club, I figured it was just going to be another mindless sports anime that attracted major fangirl attention due to its semi-believable characters and the kind of moving plot. Boy was I wrong.
The plot of this anime’s first season was just spectacular! Being an ex-swimmer myself, I understood some of the little problems they had. When I was younger, like Rei, I would have the form near perfect but I would just sink instead of going forward. These small similarities made the show feel very realistic and it reminded me of my old swim club days. The rest of the story (outside of swimming issues) was great! I thought it was so touching how Haru quit swimming because he hurt Rin but then how he saved Rin’s dream later on by breaking the rules so he, Rin, Makoto, and Nagisa could swim in the relay once again. Speaking of the relay, Rei deserves to be praised by everyone! He wanted to swim in a relay with his friends SO badly but to help Rin, who he wasn’t really good friends with, Rei gave up his spot to let Rin swim butterfly in the relay. How amazing is that?
In the first episode’s review, I had many questions about the series like “Why Rin changed?” and “What did Haru see that day?”. And all my questions throughout the whole series WERE answered! The answers I received were moving and added so much depth to each character and actually made many of their past and present motivations seem reasonable. The only character I say they majorly skipped out on was Nagisa. Nagisa had so much potential but his character hardly (if even at all) grew during this season. To me, he still felt like an energetic, basic comic relief that could not change. It made me almost feel bad for Nagisa since he didn’t have any deep emotional connections with anyone. Despite that, Nagisa is still my favorite character due to his overall good attitude and his happy-go-lucky personality!
The characters were one of the best parts of this show in my opinion. Their reactions to situations drove the plot and caused some rather quirky situations. As I estimated from episode 2, Miss Ama WAS a bathing suit model. The makers of Free! sprinkled little hints of her past occupation through all of the episodes, so it made for a fun little guessing game before it was outright revealed. I also really loved the side characters like Ren and Ran (Makoto’s little siblings). They were so cute and they added so much to the characters’ development!
Free! is also amazing at portraying emotions. It felt as if the characters’ feelings were screaming out to anyone who would listen. I felt sadness for Rei when he felt left out compared to the rest of his friends and the overwhelming fear that Makoto felt of the ocean due to the loss of his sailor friend. Each of their emotions had a logical reason for being there but the charcters continued to strive for the best for each other, even if it meant putting their own feelings aside (like what Rei does before the relay). The story brought out the best in every character and captivated my attention right from Episode 1.
Not only did the season cause such intense dramatic moments but it added in lighthearted humor to keep the show feeling fresh and easygoing. That kind of writing makes me extremely happy! I loved the scene where Nagisa and Gou fought over what Gou should be called. He pulled a trick, famously known as the strategy Bugs Bunny used on Daffy during the rabbit season episode of “The Looney Toons” to get Gou to agree she should be called Gou over Kou. Anther amazing example of the comedic elements is while they are swimsuit shopping. The boys try on all these goofy swimsuits and have ridiculous poses but Haru just keeps putting on the same swimsuits claiming they “feel different”. Gou’s fascination with muscles kept me laughing every time the show decided it was necessary for her to share her muscle-related feelings with the world! These simple little jokes and make the show feel more realistic and carefree.
My major issue was the pacing. At times, it felt like they had all the time in the world until the next competition but the next episode they would be packing to go! I understand it can be a bit boring watching people just swim laps all episode long but there must have been a better way to make time pass.
I also really enjoyed the music. Both the opening and ending were very enjoyable and unique. The ending was my absolute favorite though, in both art and music. It seemed so out of place but I am very glad to know even desert Haru loves the water just as much as regular Haru does!
But the best BY FAR was the animation. The water just looks so beautiful and the characters look amazing. They each look new, interesting, and their appearance fits their personalities to a key! The water glitters and moves so gracefully that I am in utter awe any time I see it. It mades me wish I could swim in that gorgeous pool of blue. I also loved the adorable little pictures they had at the very end of each episode. It made me happy to see them and I couldn’t wait to see what the next episode’s picture would be.Tweet