Animation Company: Kyoto Animation
Genres: Comedy, School, Sports, Slice of Life
Trailers: PV 1 | PV 2 | PV 3 | PV 4
Summary: The story revolves around Haruka Nanase, a boy who has always loved to be immersed in water, and to swim in it. Before graduating from elementary school, he participated in a swimming tournament along with his fellow swimming club members, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka. After achieving victory, each of the boys went their separate ways. Time passed, and in the middle of their uneventful high school lives Rin appears and challenges Haruka to a match, showing Haruka his overwhelming power. Not wanting it to end like this, Haruka, gathers together Makoto and Nagisa once again and brings a new member named Rei Ryugazaki to create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club in order to defeat Rin. – MAL
I don’t think a lot of us realized just how deep the story was going to be until people started reading the short novel (which does contain spoilers for the Anime viewers if they decide to read that first) and starting sharing the information around. But even so, starting off humorously with an overdose of amusing fanservice Free! had strong plot that makes it more than what meets the eye. They are sure to not leave out any details about the past and how it shaped the boys into who they are today, as well being sure to answer all of the questions. The pace of the series as whole was pretty well done, except for episode 10 in the beginning where it felt rushed, but it’s no big deal. With a solid plot and storyline, this show absolutely deserves a nine out of ten.
Characters & Development: 9/10
Man where do I start? The main characters were all awesome and their development was fulfilling, especially Rei, whose development out of the entire cast really left an impact on us the audience- thus makes him the best character. Each of the boys had their inner conflicts except for Nagisa. However this isn’t necessarily a bad thing so hear me out: Although Nagisa was the sole member of the group who showed no implications of having facing inner turmoil, he is still a solid character. Nagisa is unique because of his personality. He is a bubbly, optimistic guy who cares for the team but also thanks to his energy and persistence to get Rei to give it a whirl that they were able to establish the Swimming Club in the first place.
Animation Quality: 8/10
You know what I love about the animation in this show? The character’s eyes. There is so much depth behind them! It shows us the light, the darkness, the emotions- taking it to a whole new level. Kyoto Animation also have been doing an outstanding job with body language. When you apply these things to animation, I always felt that it adds a layer of realism.
Admittedly, there weren’t too many ‘Swimming Sequences’ since the competitive aspect was more of a subplot. However even so, I always felt they did a really good job with the swimming, especially the dives, the close up of details of the legs kicking, breathing and pushing themselves off the wall.
Orignal Soundtrack: 8/10
I wouldn’t say the OST is my favourite of the season, but there were some good tracks and both the OP and ED songs were absolutely addictive. Fun fact: The ED song is by the main cast’s seiyuus. God it’s such a good song, as soon as the single came out I was listening to it all day.
Overall Score: 9/10
Free! is a like a breath of fresh air. The story, the characters and their development and on top of that- SWIMMING, everything is amazing. Don’t shy away from this show because it features shirtless boys and has ‘Sports’ in the genre! This my friends, is definitely one of the top dogs of the Summer Season. This was the show I looked forward to every week, THIS was the show that I loved the characters and their backstories, AND THE FACT THAT FOR ONCE IN OUR LIVES, WE GIVES ARE GIVEN THE FANSERVICE WE RARELY GET!