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A (Reluctant) Review of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club Ep 1-4

by | Aug 6, 2013 | ANIME | 66 comments


















A (Reluctant) Review of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club Ep 1-4

by | Aug 6, 2013 | ANIME | 66 comments




Should I watch Free! Iwatobi Swim Club…? Let’s Find Out

You know, I really do think Bonafide-San has a sadistic side to him that not many people see or even know about; for him to assign me, the newbie writer, THIS show of all shows to review is borderline criminal. But, this is what I do. I’m Cajun Samurai, and this is my review of Kyoto Animation’s Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club.

The male leads from Free! ISC ...asside from their school uniforms, this is the most clothing you will ever see these guys wear...oy.

The male leads from Free! …aside from their school uniforms, this is the most clothing you will ever see these guys wear

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, or Free! for short [or Free! ISC], is a projected twelve episode series, based off of a light novel called “High Speed!” by Koji Oji. The story follows four high school boys, Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rei as they establish a swimming club at their high school… and that’s about it. Boys starting a swimming club. Can’t add too much to it, or take too much away. Boys…start…a…swimming club. Oh, and one of the boys, Haruka, has a kind of weird back-story with another character, a boy named Rin, who has a beef with him… but we’ll get into that later. I don’t want to jump ahead of the madness… it’ll all come organically.

If this story sounds like something you’ve heard before, then, my friend, you are not mistaken because it’s been done over, and over, and over again in different anime with different characters. The only difference with this show is that… well… I take that back, there IS no difference! With regards to plot, this show is pretty much K-On!, Lucky Star, Highschool of the Dead, Big Windup, and Bamboo Blade, except those shows are awesome with regards to the way they tell their simplistic stories and allow the characters to tell the tale. This is the mark of a great slice-of-life anime. Free! is clearly NOT awesome, relying on the rippling pecs, abs, delts, and whatever the heck else the animators can anime on its male cast to mask over the fact that the story is pretty much the same rehashed crap we’ve seen over and over again. The only thing this show has going for it, and the only thing that it seems content with banking on, is that female viewers will simply adore the hot guys and pay little, if any, attention to the story… or lack of a story. Granted, at the time of this writing, this anime has only been released up to episode four, but this series is only slated to be twelve episodes, and if there were any sort of special twists or nuances to the plot or its characters, it honestly would have and SHOULD have been done by now. There is absolutely nothing special or unique about the story that Free! tells.

(From Left) Rei, Nagisa, Rin, Haruka, and Makoto...the main characters in Free! ISC

(From Left) Rei, Nagisa, Rin, Haruka, and Makoto… let the ovary destruction begin…

Much like the story premise, the characters of this show are pretty much your stereotypical fare that you find in anime of this sort – nothing truly inspiring, and none of them I found really likable or relateable. Let’s start with Haruka Nanase. He’s your typical stoic-style character who doesn’t speak a whole lot, but has a secret love. IN this case, his secret love is swimming. Actually, he’s OBSESSED with swimming and/or being in the water. How obsessed? He bathes and cooks with his swimming trunks on and wears them all the time under his regular clothes and he also has been seen completely disrobing and jumping in pools and other inviting bodies of water, weather or location be darned. We also have our stereotypical healing character in Makoto Tachibana [Heck, even his name sounds like someone I’ve seen in another anime…]. Honestly, you could replace him with a female, and I wouldn’t really know the difference. He’s clearly there for girls who like the sensitive gentle type. Nagisa Hazuki fills the role of the stereotypical, hyperactive younger friend…right down to the hoodie he wears under his uniform. It’s almost a staple in anime that your hyperactive, cheerful character wear a hoodie underneath his clothes. Don’t believe me? Look at Chizuru Tachibana from Kimi to Boku or Masaomi Kida from Durarara!!  Up next is our glasses-wearing character Rei Ryūgazaki. Rei is our intelligent, somewhat anti-social character of the group and, as some smart internet surfer was nice to point out, a dead ringer for Joe Kido in Digimon Adventure. Also in our male lead cast we have Rin Matsuoka, a former member of the swim club back in the day, and the supposed rival of Haruka. Yawn again. Go Matsuoka is the team manager [read “Equipment Manager”] and Rin’s little sister, but all she seems to do is just stand around and gush over the boys’ rippling physiques. Miho Amakata is the faculty advisor to the swim club, but… well… poor girl doesn’t have much going on upstairs, which can be said for a lot of the characters in this show.

The main problem with these characters as compared to other shows of this nature is that this show is CLEARLY trying too hard to make their main characters moe — that is, they force these pretty boys down our throats so hard and so fast, you can’t get any enjoyment out of the story because all you’re watching is the pretty boys. [Yeah, umm… maybe I should’ve picked better phrasing there… ah well…] So yeah, you could EASILY replace these characters with an all-female cast and it’ll still work because there’s nothing really special or unique about this group of guys. We’ve seen these characters done before… and, I have to say, done BETTER.

Our Free! review

Our main cast in uniform by the sea…could it POSSIBLY get more bishie than this? Oh, who am I kidding… of course it can.

With regards to animation, this being a Kyoto Animation project, the visuals are quite nice looking. Kyo-Ani is one of the best in the industry when it comes down to nice looking animation. When they want something to look adorable, they do so without flinching. You need only look to previous projects like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Air and Kanon to see evidence of this. I have to admit, this is probably some of the best animation of this season. But seriously, this show goes a little too far with some of the visuals. In my anime reviewing career, I’ve taken many shows to task over their use of fan-service, and this time will be no different.

Seriously, it makes me wonder if the creators just gathered around and asked “How much can we show and still be on the air, yet make as many girls [and some guys] completely and utterly pass out?” I mean, it’s understood that, because this show is centered around swimming, that our characters will, indeed, be seen shirtless and/or wearing swimming trunks. I can accept that one hundred percent. I can even accept the fact that some of our characters will wear Speedo-style swimming trunks, and that their bodies would be extremely muscular. But all the lingering shots of the boys getting out of the pool, their absurdly ripped bodies glistening with sweat and chlorinated water gets tiring after a while. And it’s not like the creators are making this a rare thing; no, they almost go out of their way to make all our male characters disrobe and get in the pool, showing off their rippling muscles any chance they get. Episode ONE has two of our main cast members completely disrobing and going for a swim in another school’s pool. Why? Because it’s there, of course, silly. And just why does our rival character, Rin, have serrated teeth all across his mouth? Is he trying to knock off Soul Evans from Soul Eater or something? Are they trying to relay some sort of subliminal message that Rin is a shark and Haruka is a dolphin? [Nagisa actually compares Haruka to a dolphin due to his swimming ability and his love of the water…] Maybe that’s just something that will go unanswered? I don’t know, but suffice it to say, for an anime that is so detailed with everything else, one wonders why this somewhat unrealistic dental work passed muster. Ah well…

Rin in the closing credits...trust me, this is about the most sane moment in the entire closing sequence...

Rin Matsuoka in Free!

The opening theme for Free! is “Rage On!” by the group Oldcodex. I found it to be… okay. Nothing too inspiring, but tolerable. The opening animation paired with it is about what you would expect from an anime about swimming; our main characters in a pool or in water. The ending theme is “Splash Free” by Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa and Mamoru Miyano…the Japanese voice actors for Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, Rei, and Rin respectively. The song itself is, again… okay, but the animation that it plays over is nothing short of bizarre with a liberal dose of innuendo. Its something you pretty much have to see to believe, but  suffice it to say that once you do, you ain’t gonna forget it anytime soon… for better or worse. The incidental music is alright, and I don’t have a problem with the acting. In fact, as near as I can tell because I don’t speak the language, the acting is very well done.

Goodbye Free! I am now free of you...thankfully...

Goodbye Free! I am now free of you…thankfully…

So, where does that leave us? Well, four episodes in, and I can honestly say that “Free!” is just a gimmick anime with nothing much going for it beyond that. It’s pretty much a boy’s version of K-On! except with swimmers instead of band members. I’ve read several comments online about this show to the tune of “This is an anime for women!” and “It’s about time! It’s our turn now!” Personally, if I were female, and if someone said this was an anime for my gender, I would be insulted that the creators of this anime would think that this unoriginal, uninspired anime with its clichéd characters ripped to high heaven was all that it took to make me a viewer. Take note, Kyoto Animation—it takes more than breasts and beefcake to make a great anime.

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is being simulcasted on Crunchyroll

 




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Review

43%

CHARACTERS
40%
STORY
25%
ANIMATION
60%
SOUND
50%

About The Author

Cajun Samurai writes an awesome anime blog that you should check out. And give him a follow on Twitter too!

Awesome Comments

  • The ending theme was the most awkward, uncomfortable 40 seconds of my life.

    • :/

      I second that

      • I’m still crying myself to sleep at night. I just feel so violated…darn you, Bonafide-San! DARN YOU!!

  • But Boss, KyoAni Always finds a way! Except for Tamako Market.

    • Oh, they found a way, good sir. They found a way to bring a 6’1, 240 lbs black man to a state of emotional collapse.

  • Wow. Just looking at these screencaps makes me feel filthy, and I’m a heterosexual woman. I honestly don’t see how you made it through an entire episode, Cajun.

    • Kicking and screaming, my dear. Kicking and screaming. 😛

  • Anonymous

    So what you’re saying is that it’s like every other slice of life anime, you fucktard

  • Merancs

    You lost any slither of credibility you had to your review right off the bat when you wrote “(reluctant)” in your title.
    Come back when you’re not such a narrow-minded, uneducated Black man from Louisiana.

    • And you lost any sliver of credibility when you used the word “slither” where you’re supposed to use “sliver” and then proceeded to comment on someone else’s education. Also, it seems your grasp on the term “narrow-minded” is fairly weak as you are obviously a racist and shouldn’t find fault in others sharing the same characteristics as you. Unless, in addition to being a bigot with a poor command of the English language, you’re also a fucking hypocrite…

  • toplel

    Came here from google looking for art references. Found this review. Just as lame as the site. If you’re trying to review an anime obviously intended for girls, stop trying to compare it with moe-shit tier anime directed towards men. Anyways, ripping this pic and getting the fk out of this useless autism ramblings site.

    • Stanton Brasher

      Toplel sure loves that bad anime, guys. Can you cater your reviews toward him or her, please?

      • Sure, Next time we review something “intended for girls” we’ll drastically lower our standards as to what constitutes quality and forego any critical thinking or rational judgement – because that’s totally not offensive!

  • notaguy

    I think Free! is in a way like a breath of fresh air. You said it so… the storyline has been done countless times before. But it catered to a male audience, objectified women. This one seems to appeal more to the female audience. Even though the story’s not that good… that’s a nice change. Sounds a bit hypocrytical when everyone criticises fan service when it’s done with male characters, but we see otakus everywhere glorifying their waifus’ upskirts… I hope Free! finally starts the end of the norm of female objectification in anime.

    • So, what you’re trying to say is that objectifying WOMEN in anime is wrong…but when it comes to objectifying MEN that’s okay? I don’t understand your reasoning. If this show is as you say it is; going tit-for-tat against female moe shows, then that only makes this show even WORSE. That means that the sole intent of this show, the only reason it exists, is to be a revenge show.

      • notaguy

        Didn’t say that. Objectification is always bad. But objectification is always going to exist. It’s extra bad when the same gender is always the victim of that objectification, and that’s what happens in anime. Why do you call it a revenge show? Should only men enjoy fan service? Women can’t look at perfect, unrealistic and unattainable bodies and fantasize about them too? This show is criticised for having a weak plot and focusing too much on the character’s bodies, which is true. However there are thousands of popular anime shows with the exact same premise and they’re not subjected to the amount of bad reviews and excessive scrutiny this one is, which is weird considering the only thing that changes is the gender of the sexualized characters.

        • Notaguy, I’ll let Samurai speak for himself, but there are a few things I’d like to point out. I can assure you that if this show were made the same exact way, but with girls instead of guys, it would be given an equally harsh treatment by us. I’m fairly certain that none of us here on the Sofa King Anime team have any particular affinity for fan service and as you pointed out the show does have a weak plot and spends an odd amount of time focusing on the characters bodies. If you take a look at the score box at the top of this article, you will see the general criteria we use when rating a show. Are there any of these numbers that you feel are particularly inaccurate?

          If you are frustrated at seeing the popularity of male orientated fan service, I can understand that and can’t really fault you for it. But I don’t think turning around and giving false praise to a show that does the same thing, simply with a gender swap, is the answer.

          We do very much appreciate you taking the time to comment and express your thoughts and I hope you stick around long enough to see us bash a show for being nothing but fan service for males.

        • I’m not saying in the least that women can’t enjoy fanservice like men can–I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that with regards to this show, it seems like that’s ALL it has going for it–all looks but no substance. It just seems like a show that was made to “get back” at all the male-centered fanservice shows like “Highschool of the Dead” or “K-On!” To me, this show has no merit beyond it’s animation styling.

          For the record, I’ve written reviews on “Highschool of the Dead”, “Shuffle!” and “Grenadier: The Senshi of Smiles”; three shows that are heavy in the category of fanservice, and each of those series, I’ve taken to task HEAVILLY for their use of fanservice just like I did with “Free!” I take fanservice to task no matter what gender is being objectified.

  • Anonymous

    You cant really write an anime review if ur going to be biased well u can but its horrible This anime it does reply to girl but at least it different and a breath of fresh air.

  • LongPostAnon

    Lol, this is kinda funny.

    1. If you were not willing to write a review, why did you do it, knowing you’ll say nothing but unobjective things?

    2. Well, you say THIS series is typical and are comparing it with other series. Nowadays, can you find any stuff that is like truly 100% original? There are so many anime, you are bound to find something similar with other anime. I’m not saying this anime is super original, I’ve watched 8 episodes of it so far and I can say some parts are pretty predictable and not that exciting, but overall the story was still enjoyable to watch. Every anime series sucked to some at any point of time and you can’t expect every second of the WHOLE series to please everyone. And I agree with you the characters act like girls, but just have male bodies. However, in most parts of your post, it seems like you are criticizing this series just because it has almost an all-male cast.

    3. Fanservice? Showing too much skin? Oh come on guys. Continuous cleavage and panty shots are okay but guys muscles are not? Ok… Yes, there IS fanservice in this anime. And ridiculous times too (Lol, guy wearing gay rainbow pants and butterfly suits), but fangirls (bl fangirls especially) and haters are blowing it out of proportion. I’ve watched 8 eps and I see fanservice, but if you watch it neutrally, it’s actually not really overwhelming that it destroys the plot. Besides, if you are gonna watch an anime that is so obviously gonna be targeted towards females, then you should’ve predicted what is in for you. It’s like watching To love ru and saying “OMG WHAT’S WITH THAT STUPID HAREM AND BOOBS URGH IT FREAKING SUCKS ARGH ”

    4. Lastly, I think rating the animation 6.0 only is not doing the animators any justice. A professional (3D) animator that I know said that the animation for the water and swimming is very detailed and I agree with that (I study 3D animation too). It is not easy to animate water without it looking unconvincing at all. Even with the help of cg, it is very difficult.

    Note: I watched the 1st ep of Free! as a joke, wanting to laugh at how gay it is. Turns out it was really refreshing amongst the mass of male-targeted anime and I look forward to every episode of Free! now. I know when there are fans, there are bound to be haters, and it is cool that people discuss why they like or dislike an anime. But biased bashing won’t go anywhere. I’m glad you quit the series and stopped wasting your time on something that you didn’t like.

    • Moeshit

      Hear hear

    • 52HertzWhale

      Of course one’s never going to find anything, much less make anything original. That’s a given. But this thing is that this anime doesn’t even try. It’s incredibly predictable, and the whole thing is basically pandering to its fans anyway–the anime ships itself! The fans barely have to do any work to make their ships canon. Also, fanservice of ANY kind is annoying. They never EVER said that panty/cleavage shots were good.

      • LongPostAnon

        Hi, thank you for the comment. On the whole, I agree with your comment. Even as a non-yaoi/bl fan, I already can imagine the parts where fangirls will scream and stuff. And after some episodes I hope the anime doesn’t become gay for real lol. But I just wanted to say it wasn’t overwhelming, and I enjoy this anime alot.

        Oh and for the “They never EVER said that panty/cleavage shots were good.” Sorry if I created any misunderstanding, but because they mentioned “relying on the rippling pecs, abs, delts, and whatever the heck else” so I said something.

        I’m just sad that they rated the animation 6.0. :’c I feel sad for the animators that put so much effort, working overtime everyday till the bone with horrible montly pay and probably NO overtime pay to create such great animation but people are denying it just because they hate the story… oh well :’)

        • Anonymous

          Unfortunately, it is a show, and not an art gallery.

          And putting more effort on one thing and not on another just gives it a lop-sided quality.

  • atom

    personally, i’m not into “slice of life” animes but i’m really enjoying free! at the moment. why? probably because i like the fact that male characters can have really strong bonds with each other that makes them more like brothers than anything else. as bishounen and gay as everyone makes them seem these are all strong characters with realistic backgrounds. fights, deaths, traumas, good memories and bad memories they have it all. besides, the anime hasn’t even ended… how are you gonna do a full on review on something that isn’t complete? and the ending pretty much tells a story itself, it’s common sense.

  • Anonymous

    If there’s anything that sucks about this anime, its that annoying Nagisa

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  • Anonymous

    I love Free!. It’s fantastic fan service all over the place and for me and similar fujoshi it’s like a gift from god. But I also like K-On! and others that do the reverse kind of fanservice. Basically— I like fanservice.

    I like Mononoke, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, and the like just as much too. But I think that no-real-plot-but-lots-of-fanservice anime has it’s place too. It’s just sort of mindless fun– like going to see a Fast and Furious movie. There *is* a plot in Free!, but it’s one of those situations where it’s obviously manufactured just to give the characters something to do while they’re stripping down and jumping in pools. But honestly, I really don’t mind that. Cause I came for the abs, and I’m staying for the abs.

    That being said– I still can’t watch that ending theme.
    Jesus christ what is that.

    • Haha! That ending… 0_0

      Thanks for letting us know what you think!

  • Your an ass, and you no one likes you. It’s a fucking anime for girls why do you think most of the people who demanded the anime were girls? It’s especially an eye-candy anime for girls. Seriously who asked you to watch this anime?

    • I did, which he stated in the first sentence. Thanks for playing.

  • Gladey

    I’m a girl and…I think this is a pretty bad anime.
    1) The muscles, for one thing, I found absolutely disgusting. Yep. I am very strange. But is there really need to strip the main character down whenever he finds any water just to keep everybody interested and stop them from changing channels?

    2) The plot…ugh. Boys start a swimming club. Amazing. I hate how everyone says ‘Ohh, but it’s an anime eye-candy for girls!’ So, just because we’re girls, we don’t deserve to have an anime with decent plot and characters? We’re just handed a bunch of muscular, long-haired men who are topless 75% of the time and told to be happy?
    It would be fine if the topless guys were actually developed, interesting, and if the anime told a story other than ‘Boys start a swimming club and one of the boys can’t swim and this causes a tiny bit of tension with about a dozen flashbacks in each episode that we don’t really need.’ We didn’t need half of the flashbacks-girls (which are the target audience for this anime) aren’t stupid. We can figure half of the flashbacks out for ourselves, given a few hints and clues. But this just hands everything out for you on a plate and doesn’t let you figure anything out for yourself.

    The animation and visuals were stunning, however-especially the water scenes. And I do agree that the animation deserves a higher rating. It’s not the animators fault some people dislike the anime.

    Lastly-please stop saying ‘Well if you don’t like it, don’t review it!’ Sorry, but that’s what reviews are for. They’re to give your opinion on things. Otherwise, if you just review things you find good, it isn’t a review at all. Fans of the anime have their opinion. The reviewer on this page has theirs. And they’re allowed to share it.
    Sorry this is so long :c

    • Mama Russia o3o

      *applauds* I am a girl as well (I doubt age is of importance but I’m 17 so it feels like the targeted audience) and I have to totally, if not COMPLETELY, agree with this!
      No sarcasm, I agree whole-heartedly; my friends watch this (whoop, fellow girls and gals) and they say it’s great, dare say, the best Summer anime. Of course I’m not allowed to scoff and call their opinions as belittle or soaked in the gagging fanservice they wanted, and I won’t -I just want to agree with everything you said 🙂

      Animation, fantastic! I remember the first, what, 10 second (or more) preview was blown up on the interwebz and anticipated by so many -even I was interested because I never had a dabble into “swimming” anime. But alas, the plot and show sequences let me down greatly. There hasn’t been much growth, other than friendship perhaps, and my goodness that has been overused… probably on purpose, so maybe I should hush my mouth at that bit, eheh.
      Plus this claim of “realistic backstories with the characters” is something I greatly disagree with -interesting characters, yes! Not one character was bland personality/appearance wise 🙂 however the slice of life backstories were too over the top and ‘dramatic’ for me to consider realistic. But that’s just me xD

      Also agreed with the review thing. It’s amazing how people can sit behind a screen and get so butthurt (or god forbid, feel the need to be the internet police) on a review that’s just doing it’s purpose- expressing a rightful opinion on something 🙂

      Stay awesome Gladey~!
      PS: Sorry I rammed my little review/opinion in this reply; I was just so glad to see someone with similar views as me ^^ thanks for sharing, bwaha ;u;

      • Gladey

        Ohmigoshthankyou;w; I was convinced the reply I got would be someone calling me a bad person, but it wasn’t, so thank you for that c:

    • This comment wins all of my internets. Rock.

    • Wizer

      I totally agree that people have the right to give their opinion but as a “reviewer” he had a responsibility to watch the entire story. There is a difference between opinions and reviews. One can’t give an honest review from watching half of a movie or reading one chapter from a book. You say, “If you just review things you find good, it isn’t a review at all.” Thing is anybody can have an opinion, but what makes a review a valid one is when it’s done impartially and without bias. This one was not. If he had, at least I would have respected his opinion and accepted his review. As it stands, his review is absolutely nothing special or unique. It is just an opinion.
       

  • Anonymous

    Really? K-On was…ugh.e

  • Anonymous

    I think the main reason people are taking offense to this review is the tone. It is very negative from the start, and doesn’t even seem to try and give the anime a chance. I’m completely fine with people not enjoying this anime (my best friend doesn’t) but its not nice to bash things when they simply might not be your taste.

    Personally, I love this anime. It is the first anime I started watching while it was still being released and got excited for each new episode. I began with just wanting to watch it for silly fun, just go over to a friends and watch a silly swimming anime… but I got really into it. I love each of the characters and their personalities, which, despite seeming completely stock at first glance, each have bits of depth that begins to reveal itself as the story progresses. The story itself is well-paced and intense, admittedly with silly moments every now and then, but overall it was fun and enjoyable for me. Now I admit, if you cant stand slice-of-life shows then you probably wont like this, but in my opinion it is one of the better slice of life shows I have ever really seen. Sure the muscles are nice, but that isn’t why I kept watching. I kept watching for the personalities and the FRIENDSHIP~~~~ …(and a little bit for the cute boys too :3 )

    Also the animation is beautiful.

  • Abs, muscles, seemingly careless main character that tries to be cool, nice sensitive guys who smile and put hand behind their head while laughing, guys with “girl” names, bad intro and ending music, eye candy, fangirls who love the anime because of muscles, and finally girls who continually speak of said anime at school. These are the factors that make up an anime that I hate named Free!

    Also, I hate when people watch anime, adore Japan because it’s Japan, and when they use Japanese words out of context. You are my KAWAIIIIIdesubakachan me: stfu

  • lol

    I agree, I am a 14 year old girl, and I say Free! sucked. You would think that I would be in love with the whole boys-with-no-shirts-on anime, but it annoyed me to the point of not even wanting to finish the 1st episode. I liked the ending theme though, and I hated the opening with all my heart.

  • Anon

    Oh dear, you form your opinion based on 4 episodes. Of course the first few episodes are going to pander to the audience but believe me, after a turn of events in episode 5 the story does get a rather touching, deep plot. It follows the bonds of friendship, male friendship to be exact. I think what makes it interesting is that we’ve seen female friendship being sprayed on screens all the time, however not many series depicting male relationships (That aren’t romantic in any way) exist.
    I personally think that Free! was great, yes the fanservice was tedious. However, the characters do get real depth and emotion. Well, I’m sure you’ll be writing yet another review next Summer once the series gets a second season.

  • TheCure

    Boo hoo am i the only one here who likes this anime just cause the stories cute (no, not because of the guys, i just find the whole overused, cliche, moe story friggin adorable here)

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  • Snuggles

    How is K-On! even blatantly targeted at a male audience? They’re not flashed half naked 80% of the time, and they look 12 body wise (of course, as long as the person’s a female, it’s fuckable from a male’s perspective making that comment insignificant).. When I look at the anime, I think mostly of a female audience, anyways.

    • bob

      The Mio panty shot? Hmm? That was for the girls right?

  • Valentina

    I AGREE WITH YOU. Finally some sense!!!!!!!!!

  • Amber

    The funniest thing in the comments are the special snowflakes trying to win points with guys by being all “Oh I’M A GIRL and I don’t like this. Did I mention that I’M A GIRL? I’m not like OTHER GIRLS you see. I like good anime like Naruto”. Give me a fucking break.

    With regards to this review, I don’t understand the problem. Most animes are shit these days. At least Free! has style. If I have to sit through one more episode of Naruto talking an enemy into being nice (“You’re just like me! Here, sit through fifty flashbacks while I go and get my pHD in Psychiatry!”) I’m going to puke. The only decent anime I’ve come across in a while in Shingeki no Kyojin, and I’ve seen a lot of anime. If you’re holding out for an amazing anime, you’re going to be disappointed, because that’s like expecting every book to be Harry Potter. Free!’s premise is simple but effective: it’s about friendship and swimming. And that’s great. It’s a fun, silly anime made for teenaged girls to enjoy.

    I would also contest the idea that Free! is just like every other slice of life anime. The very fact that the eye candy is a bunch of guys in tight lycra rather than girls makes this a bit different from the start. Personally, I’ve found the otaku whining about “unfair ideals” to be quite pleasurable, considering how many animes feature gratuitous shots of bouncing tits in tight tops. Not to mention the fact that the characters are not necessarily typical for their archetypes, and, despite any similarities with archetypes, you’re always going to encounter tropes. It doesn’t matter how interesting and new a character is, they’re going to adhere to certain tropes, whether it’s the genius, the badboy, the tomboy, the avenger, or whatever.

    Four episodes definitely isn’t enough to work with. You won’t have encountered the changing relationships, Rin’s inability to cope with his Father’s death, or Makoto’s trauma and attempts to get over it. Maybe a sports anime has been done to death, but so have most genres, and people still enjoy them. The point of Free! isn’t to create a masterpiece of intrigue and suspense, but to lightly entertain a female-targeted audience who may enjoy all of those glistening muscles. If nothing else, it’s definitely been a success in Japan; a second season is going to be announced officially in January, and Makoto Tachibana has recently placed second in the Biglobe poll asking male otakus to name the anime characters they would like as a boyfriend. 15,000 votes were cast. Maybe fanservice, friendship, and swimming are the way to go after all. It’s certainly a formula which seems to have worked.

    Because, sometimes, people don’t want angst-and-death-filled animes. They want something light, silly, slightly cliche, and filled with fanservice. Considering the fact that your main criticisms seem to be the level of fanservice and unoriginality, maybe you’re the outlier who has different tastes, not the thousands of girls (and guys, judging from the Biglobe poll) who enjoyed Free!

    Oh, and one last thing: “You could replace him with a girl and I wouldn’t even know the difference”? Really? Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds? “Girls are sensitive, not guys. Guys eat red meat and tittyfuck”. That’s the vibe I’m getting. So even fictional guys can’t like kittens and care about their friends. In the words of Aziz Ansari, “do you think dicks will fly at your face” if you show an ounce of sensitivity? But, hey, maybe Makoto wants dicks to fly at his face. His relationship with Haruka is extraordinarily intimate by Japanese standards, after all. I finds it weird that you failed to place their relationship within the context of Japanese social interaction, but I guess you were too busy getting pissed over sensitive guys, wet muscles, and story lines you, personally, find cliche.

    • mus-a

      You’re awesome. Well said.

    • Mae

      I couldn’t have said it any better. Kudos!

    • Beezies

      Couldn’t have said it better, way to go! In my opinion no one should write a review if they have such a blatantly clear bias.

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  • Wise Anon

    Haha if it was reverse with girls, you (and everyone else) would probably love it..

  • anon

    wtf this was basically the male version of k-on lmao. pathetic insecure fanboys.

  • me

    Free (at least to me) is pure fan service for us ladies out there. Because let’s be honest here (I’m going to try to say this without being a feminazi) fan service these days is directed towards guys which is fine I don’t mind. So our created here just wanted to give us ladies something along those lines

    Oh and please don’t ever tell me that this ruins the image of men. First it’s anime, but if we’re talking about image look at the anime women

  • Mae

    Since second season is comming I think that’s why this old review was bumped on google. Anyways, this review is only a summary of the original poster’s favorite animes. We don’t really need the uncalled for anime promotion; we get it, you loved Soul Eater and all the others your mentioned.
    I understand you didn’t like the anime, but if this site is meant for reviews, they must be objective not biased ones. From the start you decided you were going to hate it. It’s not fair to tell people “you won’t like this, it’s not worth watching” only because it wasn’t your taste. It was already demonstrated that despite the over used fanservice and light plot a lot of people did like it, and everyone should decide for themselves whether they enjoy it or not.
    Also, what’s with the “females should be offended that this was aimed for them, since it lacks any plot” thing? Hmmm? There are tons of male-targeted animes that have the same characteristics, and you can never forget about the impossibly sized boobs or the typical beach episode just to show the girl’s bodies. But suddenly we should be offended for being offered some fresh eye candy for once. Whatever the reasons we might have to enjoy this anime it doesn’t really matter, it makes us happy, so… what’s the problem? I did find a plot, tho, and I did like the characters as well. It’s really funny, the relationships are just cute as hell and the show is deeper than you let on, but sure, four episodes aren’t enough to see that.
    If we, girls, need something smarter or more complicated with lots af angst and struggle, all we have to do is check out other animes; there is a very long list of shows like that. Most of us watched Snk and Free! at the same time, it was a good balance, and possible to be obssesed with the two. So again, what’s the big deal if it’s become popular?
    I do hope you’re not FORCED to watch the first two episodes of the second season so that you bash the show again based on the main character’s bishi looks. I’m sure you suffered enough.

  • Mae

    I doubt my comment, which wasn’t inapropiate, erassed itself, so thank you for dismissing my opinion. Now I clearly see this site doesn’t have any credibility.

  • Anonymous

    well to put it plainly i am a female and this show was well boring and i only watched all of it because i was hell tired and kept getting told that i should check it out over 6 tries of watching it i was still bored and 12 episodes later i felt like it was a waste.. their is a thing called over kill.. to much fan service that it turned my brain to mush and i had to stop and go cleanse it with some thing that was well anything else.. would i watch it again well not unless i had to, soo yes 12 episodes later i was still bored. i can think of a few things that could make it better but hey. i guess it was an ok anime

  • Skyler

    I’m sorry to say but this review does not match at all with the anime. Have you seen Free!? Well, obviously seeing as I’m a girl you’d think I’d defend it due to fanservice, correct? Actually, I am a shounen fan and shounen alone. But I started this series a few days ago and it’s very impressive. It’s just like Japan to set a new psychological level in even such a mundane hobby as swimming. The show had a normal story but the production was done very good and it was very symbolic. It actually reminds me of why I watch anime and why we all do and if you wanna remember why you watch anime too, then watch this one because it is beautiful and fun.
    Ps. Most frown upon it due to fanservice to girls, but if it had fanservice for guys, it would have been a completely different story, wouldn’t it?…

  • Belle

    Some people like different things. Not everyone likes everything you do and vice versa. Just watch what you want and enjoy yourself. I like free, and I’m going to watch it. You don’t have to. But at least watch more than 4 episodes before you do a review: you’ll at least have a more informed argument.

  • Potato

    Free is a lot like Ouran in the sense that it starts off as a seemingly brainless comedy/high-schoolish anime but it becomes so much more. Unfortunately to achieve this “so much more” you have to stick to it till the very end. I’ll admit I initially found it quite a stupid anime but I stuck around. And you know what? I love it now. Come on man, no matter what kind of review you’re doing, you have to keep an unbiased opinion. But all I’m seeing from this review is one-sidedness, negativity from the start, you didn’t even watch the whole thing! Either way maybe this type of anime isn’t your kinda thing.

  • planet25

    Free! was recommended to me by a lot of people, and was pretty disappointing. The anime was strung out too long, and basically had no real plot. The second season is pretty much a repeat of the first, except the last few episodes where everyone is panicking about their future.
    I have watched a lot of anime, and this seems to steal ideas from like tons of them.
    Some good anime that is worth your time (and have a plot) would be
    Air Gear (it was discontinued, but really good, 28 episodes)(a bit of fanservice)
    Kyo Kara Maoh (had a serious, good plot, went through with it. It also had a lot of bishounen but it wasn’t like Free!, there were girls and boys. And it has 117 ep, 5 Ovas. One of my favorites)
    DRAMAtical Murder (Love it! had a great plot! Lots of pretty people.)
    K Project (Love it! has the pretty boys, and the lots of female and male fanservice, as well as a great plot)
    Nabari no Ou (great plot, absolutely broke my heart and made me swoon at the same time. Even character’s deaths didn’t ruin the story, had a plot and ran through with it)
    Karneval (cute boys, hot boys, big chested girls, amazing story, it has it all. However this is a bit darker, has scary demon like creatures to defeat)
    I’m not a big fan of anime girls, they are either 1.big chested weak damsels in distress, extremely slutty and all or 2. big chested fighting chick who is so independent and doesn’t need a man in her life and secretly loves the main male character.
    But the above anime are great! I’d recommend them over free anytime.

  • Lucy

    Ok if you have only watched to the 4th fucking episode then no it hasn’t progressed that much. If you watch the whole thing it dose get better and i mean ya hiw thr characters act is definitely over used but still. After i watched the whole thing i was sitting thinking it was amazing. And if you sat there afer watching it all and tried to connect it to your own life you might get something from instead of just sitting there criticizing it when you haven’t even finished it

  • Kristian

    I think that Free! is a great filler anime to pass time when your bored although I’m not too sure about being a dedicated and devoted member of the fandom… The animation is honestly very pleasing to the eye, and it’s what first drew me to this anime. I can definitely say that I thoroughly enjoy watching the characters swim in the water (which happens WAY often), and the fanservice does help a great deal as well. God those abs and muscles are drawn pretty damn well, I have to say.

    Also, the whole spiel about the typical bishi characters isn’t too big of an issue in my eyes. Just how many times have we seen the “cool but actually cares guy” or the “well-liked happy go lucky popular” type (every shoujo manga EVER)? It’s gotta be pretty difficult creating new, innovating, and interesting characters that will be well received by the general audience, so it doesn’t bother me too much. Eye candy right?

    I actually wholeheartedly enjoy watching the ending “Splash Free.” I find the song itself to be super catchy and the animation during it is interesting (and bizarre) enough to keep me through it. Embarrassingly, there was even a point in time where I memorized the lyrics, not intentionally, but because I’d heard it so many times! In my opinion, that’s a true sign of a successful song.

  • Orange

    There are few comments in there that imply women are more boring than men and that perpetuate the idea that all women have to be caring and gentle. Which is misogynostic.

  • Letusia Sup

    I love Free Iwatobi Swim club. It’s very relaxing and fun to watch. I probably like this because I’m a lady. The anime looks unique and beautiful. If someone said that those boys can be replaced by girls, they’re wrong. I would not watch the anime if the gender is flipped. I’ve always wanted to see boys showing good friendships with each other. It’s very touching. The vibe is really good. There was another boy group anime and I didn’t like it for some reason.

  • :P

    Well… I can agree with you, but you should give it the place it deserves. There are many(and I mean many) fanservice anime. This ones just a fanservice anime aimed at girls, instead of guys. However I’ve never seen it(and never want to) so I can’t say… Btw I’m a girl, but I’m gay so…. I’ll go ask my straight friend what she thinks of it….

  • Kayee Chong

    Haha I love all sorts of anime including Free!. I mean, it’s definitely not up to the awesome ones out there (Fullmetal Alchemist!!) but it’s nice, sweet, and slightly cliche and I really like it. I adore the animation, the friendship between the dudes and (hehe) the fanservice. Your review is a little negative so I think you should give the thing a chance and watch the whole thing! You haven’t gotten to the good bits yet. The characters do get fleshed out, particularly Rin and Haru. I’d also argue that the fanservice decreases as the series goes along and focuses more on plot. 🙂

  • neko

    Im a woman and I think this is an anime for women why? beceuse it is, is not an insult , is just fan service, with a cute history for us. We like this kind of thing too

  • Taylor Pak

    I love Free! It’s one of my favorite animes. I thought it was really inspiring, so I decided to start swimming myself. I actually just started 3 weeks ago, and I’m trying to get on a team.

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