The biggest question I have for the anime industry is why did it take so long to make such a show. Boobs and pantyshots seem to dominate the medium these days, and the creators jam fanservice anywhere and everywhere, but that’s fanservice for males. What about us, girls? Don’t we deserve a little eye candy, besides the odd sports anime and an occasional series with slight yaoi undertones? FINALLY some smart person thought about giving us, ladies, a little something to fangirl over! And let me tell you, this was glorious! First, what we got was a 30-second commercial that aired around this time last year. Surely, anyone who hasn’t seen it must live under a rock or something, but I’ll put it here anyways, because you just can’t simply watch this commercial too many times, baby.
Lets pause and barf rainbows for a little bit, ne?
Okay, I’m done. I don’t know if I will be able to deliver an objective review and not write what my biased little fangirl heart tells me to. But to be completely honest with you, there’s not much wrong with this show, really. From a production value to overall atmosphere of the show and how it makes you remember itself, it’s a brilliant piece that you will never forget, believe me.
First of all, the art. Kyoto Animation definitely didn’t disappoint, the colors were beautiful and vibrant, backgrounds were great, character designs were divine and that animation… that water!! I don’t like water much, but while I was watching the show I had a peculiar desire to take a dive myself. It was managed perfectly, looked natural and brilliant. Brilliant!
But what I liked the most about it was character designs. First of all yes, the muscles. But other than that, the characters looked amazing.I don’t know how to explain it. Every detail, every characteristic of a character tied together perfectly and created a design so similar and yet so different from all others. There were no unneeded details to differ characters from each other, but every single one of them looked unique. Especially Rei and Haru. And despite those supermodel bodies (and their gender) the artists managed to make the boys still look very moe.
Of course, animation was also done perfectly,so I won’t say much about that, except the swimming. I loved how boys looked when they swam. Everything looked natural.
Now, plot – at first there wasn’t much of it, to be honest. So, 3 guys are re-united in high school, and they meet their fourth guy friend, whom they lost contact with years ago. He seems terribly different from how he used to be
– oh the tragedy! How could that happen?!. And after a bit of pandering about, these 3 decide to create a swimming club. Adding a little sister, a moe teacher and a megane to the rack of spices along the way, little bit of tears, lots of laughter and even more muscles and moe and voila – we have free. Yeah, what I was trying to say here – the plot is your most generic recycled slice-of-life storyline. Don’t expect anything from there, but to be honest, this doesn’t take away much from the show, because the accent goes on the execution of whatever shitty plot it may have. Despite the gender of the protagonists, the premise of the show and the lack of chibi stuff (and tea) KyoAni managed to make this show absolutely, wholeheartedly, amazingly cute, in a way that’s very similar and yet drastically different from everything that they have done until now. It’s unique from almost any point of view and I can’t really recall seeing anything similar. Kimi to Boku may be close, but still not close enough. So, if you’re looking for something with the Code Geass/FMA/Soul Eater level of writing, turn around and go away.
The group of characters was also your standard collection – a cool, calm and seemingly aloof MC, a kind, big brother type best friend, an annoying happy-go-lucky generator, a fabulous megane and a tsundere. But that’s a full-proof version of a perfect company of friends that’s easy to operate. They all just click, character interactions are fun, lighthearted(most of the time) and natural. Nagisa is always there to generate new ideas and mischief, Makoto is always there to resolve any situation with his big brother power, and then there’s Rin, who gives all the other boys something to think and worry about. It’s great, really. I can’t say that these characters are amazing or the best I’ve seen, not at all. But they were more than decent enough to make the show great. Though at first Haru pissed me off. A lot. Oh, and try to guess, which character was my favorite? :3
The secondary characters were also lovely, not very unique, but definitely memorable. For example, Samezuka’s captain. He was the most adorable thing in the entire show. After Rei, of course :3
And lastly, the sound. First of all I’ll say that for such a small show the amount of soundtracks was gigantic. 64 tracks. 64! I bet the creators just didn’t know what to do with all the dough or something. I’m not saying it was bad, but half of them weren’t used in the show. And frankly, weren’t that good, either. The quality of the tracks was quite hi and miss with me, but all in all I’m quite satisfied, because the show sounded superb. It’s amazing how the composer determined exactly what kind of music Free needed. It’s really amazing, hot the BGM creates this amazing atmosphere that just jumps out at you from the very first second. This really makes you feel the show through, not just blankly watch it and then say just “Yeah, I watched Free.” and not feel anything when you say it. The OP/ED sequences were…. Okay, I’ll say it like this – SCREW Starish and their godly combination of voices. Style Five all the way, baby! Splash free, Ever Blue… these songs made me barf rainbows because the harmony of their voices was truly heavenly. I really can’t say enough, just go and listen to it. NAO.
All in all, this certainly was an amazing ride. Looking back, there’s no particular moment that may come to my mind, like Code Geass’ ending, or some scenes from FMA, or Ouran Host Club, or what have you. When I recall Free, I feel this amazing work, that is filled with amazing graphics, cute characters, and an atmosphere that makes you feel like you just peeked in another world. Just as rich as the reality you’re living in. All of the emotions, thoughts and images mix up together to merge into one thing – Free! Iwatobi swim club anime. You just have to see it, in order to understand what I’m trying to say. And I would recommend it to almost anyone. I don’t think a lot of people would dislike this show if they would go beyond that yaoi point. At first even I thought that this would be really gay. But Free surprised me, in being absolutely childish and innocent. Sure, there were moments when the creators were messing with our heads, but that’s the thing! They made us imagine… stuff. While the show was genuinely innocent. So I would recommend this show to all the girls out there, because – I admit. Those bodies. How can you deny yourself the pleasure of watching moe Calvin Klein models solving problems with the power of bromance.Plot – 6 Characters – 7 Art/Animation – 10 Music – 10 Enjoyment – 9 Overall – 8.4