Yes, that is right. The First season of Free! aired during 2013. I cannot believe that either if you’re in shock like me – like me right now. Then you may be telling yourself “Man I remember watching this when it was airing” and to that, I say, yeah, me too. Time is going by too fast!
The story is just awesome. The plot has many twists, but what I really really like is that the past is strongly connected to the present. The 4 main characters: Haruka, Rin, Nagisa and Makoto (excluding Rei) are childhood friends who share the same passion: swimming. Life had a funny way of gathering them, tearing them apart and then gathering them back together. I will say more about the characters when I get to that point. Although the action might get a little boring sometimes there is a lot of comedy and me, who doesn’t laugh so easily, I find this anime way too funny.
If there’s one thing that this anime did right it was the art and animation. Oh boy did they know how to animate water? Considering that this is a swimming anime, to would be expected that the water would look pretty. However, you can tell from the quality that the animation budget mostly went to the water. I also appreciate the time they spent on the actual swimming itself, the movements were fluid and the boys had good form. This is where the show truly shines.
Unfortunately, the sound wasn’t as great as the animation, which is pretty disappointing because the sound can make the animation truly outstanding. Most of the soundtrack was pretty average which nothing much in particular standing out. The one bit I liked was the dubstep/techno used during the meet, which I thought was a nice touch considering dubstep was and is still pretty popular. The opening theme song is pretty typical as well, which makes the sport look edgy and cool while at the same time dramatizing the relationship between Haruka and Rin. The ending theme is catchy and refreshing, with the voice actors for the characters singing it themselves. I’ll admit, I was really into it for a while, listening to it on the 4-hour loop on youtube back this last summer.
On top of the lack of character growth, I believe the characters didn’t have much personality to grow on in the first place. In Free! we see some pretty common character tropes with a little quirk added to them to make them more comical. Haru is your ‘tsundere’ who seems to have a romantic love for water; Makoto is the ‘big brother’ who’s actually easily frightened; Nagisa is the ‘shouta’ who’s pretty dense; Rin is the ‘cool guy’ until he talks; and Rin is the ‘Sporty’ guy who gets discouraged easily. I’ll admit the troupes worked well with each other and they served as perfect fuel for a good chuckle here and there. But in my opinion, all of them were pretty two dimensional that relied on their quirk to keep the ball moving.
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