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「遙かなるフリー!」 (Haruka Naru Purii!)
“Distant Free!”

After weeks and weeks of buildup, I think it’s safe to say that Kyoani did a great job at wrapping up everything. And sure, while I would have loved for our beloved Iwatobi swim team to make it to nationals I think that things ended in a really good spot.

But seeing how this final episode was basically a culmination of all the problems that were laid out through the season, I’m going to attack this post as a gigantic final impressions. And starting with the characters, I’ve been consistently blown away with how deep some of the characters became. Starting with Haru who some might consider the “main” protagonist, I still can’t get over how Kyoani managed to introduce a stiff and boring character and skillfully grow him into someone who actually deserves the title. Because not only did it really sell the whole recurring theme of self-growth but it just made him so much more likable! And while Haru may have gotten a lot of time to himself, there’s was someone else who also got a lot of time to really show us what he’s made out of. And that would be my favorite character of the series (after Gou) Rei! The awkward fifth man out who is sometimes a bit too book smart for his own good, he was another reason why I think Free! ended up being so successful. Between providing a lot of comedic relief by being the team’s rhetorical punching bag, I can’t praise him enough for the sacrifice he made during the finale. Because after seeing how many medals and awards Rei’s been awarded in a competitive setting, you would think he values the intrinsic value such things provide. Sure he may have said they were memories from the past, but I believe habits like those are hard to break. Which is why I would have never pictured him sacrificing everything he’s worked for just for the sake of repairing a broken friendship that didn’t necessarily involve him! And while I’m at it, even though those two took most of the spotlight it was nice that Mako and Nagisa still managed to make an impact. While they were mostly holding up everyone else, I thought it was thoughtful for Kyoani to provide us something to balance out all the seriousness.

In terms of the story though, I wish I could be as positive as I was for the characters. With an overarching theme of self-discovery and growth, I think that everything related to the main storyline was done quite well. From Rin trying to figure out just what he wanted to Haru and Rei confronting the elephant in the room — there wasn’t much more you could ask for. But whenever the story decided to stray from beaten path it always felt like something was missing. Be it the emotional impact or trying to figure out why something was important, you have to wonder if the person behind the Endless Eight fiasco was pulling the strings!

Before gathering my thoughts to conclude everything however, there’s something that I have to talk about before I end this point. And that my fellow viewers would be taking the time to talk about the amazing Gou and Ama-sensei — side characters who probably were the largest reasons why I kept watching. Between Gou losing it every time she got too close to too much muscles and Ama-sensei’s hidden yandere personality, I would have loved for them to get more screen time. Too bad this show isn’t in that genre…

All that said, I have to say the Free! did a great job living up to its hype. Because after being introduced to the world as “The Swimming Anime”, I never would have thought this show would have been as engaging as it was. With its crafty characters trying to navigate through a fairly complicated story, you sometimes forget that this show is supposed to be focused on swimming! But add in some amazingly beautiful scenes and some really heartfelt moments and you really have an engaging show. Sure the PVs may scare away some viewers but I think for anyone who’ll give this show a few episodes, they’ll be happily surprised with that they get!

Epilogue:

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End Card

Free   12   End Card
September 28, 2013 at 1:08 am
58 comments »
  • September 28, 2013 at 1:24 amStilts

    In the end, it was the usual KyoAni – technically adept, but the story lacked heart. They did all the little things right, but didn’t guide the larger story to something greater.

    But I enjoyed your posts, Takkun! <4

    • September 28, 2013 at 2:08 am†sooɹɔ†

      Arigato takkun!

    • September 28, 2013 at 3:31 amShuA

      Something greater like what?
      I think what they did was great and in the right direction. Maybe people want more swimming material, but honestly the character-based development story like this is more charming at least for me

    • September 28, 2013 at 7:36 amSDFGS

      Really stilts, lacked heart? If hear you mean providing us with a storyline that is completely new and out there then you might be right but as we see it, the story pretty much had a lot of heart, especially with Rei.

      • September 28, 2013 at 7:41 amSDFGS

        actually I would better word it as the plot may have lacked but the characters and their interactions/motives greatly made up for it.

      • September 28, 2013 at 10:03 amStilts

        The characters had plenty of heart and all that, it’s just that the story was okay. It was fine, perhaps good, but not great, and it aspired to nothing more than that. Like I said, my old gripe about KyoAni once again.

        Not that I didn’t enjoy it, I just always hope for more from them, and haven’t gotten it (at least lately).

    • September 28, 2013 at 7:51 amAmatsu

      agree with stilts. Free is very bland, the character development is weak and it doesn’t have the intensity of a real sports anime.

      • September 28, 2013 at 8:41 pmJuu

        Yes, Free! started out with bland characters. But really? The character development was weak? Not to mention that swimming wasn’t the ‘main dish’ here, aptly pointed out thedarktower.

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:35 amDespair’s Queen

    Oh Rei, you’re such a sweetheart..

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:38 amMeldoy

    Dat Rin x Haru hug <3

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:49 ammianghuei

    I’m just glad Kyoani ventured out and did something a little different. The story ended up being quite touching, especially the part where Rei agreed to let Rin swim in the relay.

    LOLed at Gou-chan finding that magazine with Ama-Chan sensei in it.

    Does the end card with “see you next summer!” imply season 2 next summer?

    • September 28, 2013 at 8:34 amzztop

      I wonder how Ama-chan’s swimsuit magazine got into the school changing rooms…
      You were doing ero things in there with the magazine weren’t you Coach Sasabe…This will be the perfect catalyst to start a new Super Duper Iwatobi High Despair,upupupupu~

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:53 amSkins Thunderbomb

    I really enjoyed this series. Beautifully animated, a decent story, and a nice flow. It worked, and it delivered, imo.
    Hope for a season 2!

    • September 28, 2013 at 6:01 amzztop

      Free!’s a prime example of ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.

      Also, the guy who voices Rin has very good range in his voice acting, especially if he’s capable of voicing both an emotionally tormented high-school athlete in Free! and a manic, genocidal red-haired alien in Gatchaman Crowds.

      • September 28, 2013 at 6:10 amthedarktower

        I agree!
        LOL, you’re right about the seiyū. he is a very good at that. but before Rin (free) and Katze (Gatchaman) he did Kira (death note) and Taichi (chihayafuru)! (and proabably many other lovely and funny characters..) :D

  • September 28, 2013 at 2:23 amzztop

    And thus the collective anguished cries and screams of despair of millions of fangirls worldwide were heard as Free!’s final endcard flashed across both TV and PC screen alike exactly as Monobear and the Mastermind had planned. Using Kyonani as dupes, they were now one step closer to unleashing Super Duper Despair upon the world! Upupupupupupupupupupupu

    Thank you, Takaii, for covering this unexpectedly wonderful summer series, and fingers crossed for a Season 2!
    Maybe the upcoming Rio/Tokyo Olympics might provide Kyoani writers with some inspiration of sorts for a Season 2 plotline…φ(・ω・` )

  • September 28, 2013 at 2:28 amthedarktower

    the last episodes was good finale with all those feels of the characters. thought it didn’t make an amazing impact, it was good they carried it out pretty well.
    poor Rei. he really did sacrifice himself ‘for the team’.
    the characters I liked the most were Kou(oops Gou)and the red-headed captain. but that’s just weird me. I didn’t like Nitori at all…he was annoying and unnecessary.

    KyoAni did their regular 1-cour anime which basically focused on characters than story, it’s not a bad thing, considering the fact that probably there will be s2 next summer. the animation was beautiful as KyoAni knows, though they put in more effort in “environment near water” rather than the rest, I could tell there was quite gap there sometimes.

    I think it was good that they don’t really claim “free” to be a natural sports anime, it’s was a nice element but not the main dish, which was good decision IMO.

    I really enjoyed the series. the opening and ending were really…addictive.

    p.s
    http://etesuke.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-546.html
    ^I like such discovers during the series, this is so nice :P

  • September 28, 2013 at 3:11 amMi-Chan

    I loved the series a lot, it really did give me something to look forward to every now and then. I liked Haru’s growth and how it ended. I could not have seen a better ending to this broken relationship that got fixed. It just shows you how things could have been better had Haru known what troubled Rin back then, not losing to a swim race, but rather some issue. No one else would have known that subtle truth if it wasn’t for Rei. Sometimes I felt bad for Rei, to have been somoene brought out for a reason as starting a club, but you see how will he joins in the group as one of their own.

    It would have been nice to know why Gou was so involved with the swimming team, but it was easy to guess. Sometimes someone can be submerged into doing something that he brings in followers, or in other words, she wanted to get closer to Rin, or perhaps, maybe, she was into this swimming club because she also loved his father, and she wanted to do something related, or just because she had a boyish name and she needed to be with the girly named boys, who knows!

    Thanks for your review, highly appreciated. I have noticed you don’t place many screenshots of Rin, and I think some people didn’t like him, but ever since the start I felt bad for him. I was really upset when he said ‘I will never swim with you again!’ to Haru, and once he was down to it, he too realized it isn’t what he wanted.

    I would love a second season now, after all the charecters backstories have been introduced. This time, with a lot of focus on swim competitions, and heats, instead of a focus on the charecters. I think this show has put a very good build up towards a very good start of real swimming compeitions, now if only they continue!

    Cheers and thanks again. M.

    PS. I will miss Nagisa, he may be the cutest person I ever met in an anime, and in all honesty, I don’t easily think things are cute, but gosh!

    • September 28, 2013 at 3:14 amMi-Chan

      I forgot to mention how nice it would have been to have a friend like Makoto, or the relationship he has with Haru, very few people ever end up with that :)….

  • September 28, 2013 at 3:38 amDrift

    So glad Kyo Ani had the guts to do something different. An anime about boys, not girls in a swimsuit. We need more animes like this where is breaks the stereotype of anime.

    I do agree with everyone here the story did lack but all the lovable unqie characters made up for it in my opinion. In fact I was pretty much watching it because of the characters and not the story to be honest…

    But man, they just gave us everything in the end didn’t they. That cherry blossom scene, its like a typical anime scene where one confesses their love to another XD And who would have thought we will see a face like that from Rin!

    I’m so glad all the characters got their happy ending and I do have my hopes up when it read “See You Next Summer”. Hopefully there is season 2 since I do want to see Rei improving his swimming skill and because Free! seems to be doing well in sales in Japan.

  • September 28, 2013 at 3:51 amCybersteel

    Rei best chara

  • September 28, 2013 at 5:19 amLeticia

    I think this has been one of the best final episodes I’ve seen in a while, I just loved it! It was really intense and heart warming! I almost cried with that group hug! So cute! ^o^

  • September 28, 2013 at 6:21 amechykr

    Now that was way better than what I had expected, which I admit was quite low given some of the blatant “BL manservice” seen in the trailers.

    Credit goes to screenplay supervisor Yokotani Masahiro (with the excellent Hataraku Maou-sama in his recent resume) who no doubt know people would no doubt take the piss on the series for its BL nature, so he opted for the self-depreciating humour to begin with to take their prejudices down while slowly getting the character development up, coming to the quite satisfying ending where Rin reconciles his past with Haru and co.

    Now bring on Kyoukai no Horizon.

  • September 28, 2013 at 7:28 amish

    Rei simply got fed up with Rin and Haru’s constant bickering and unresolved s… ok, i’ll stop there. even if it meant sacrificing everything he’s worked so hard for ;)

    • September 28, 2013 at 7:42 amish

      i’d also like to add that if THEY DO go ahead with a Season 2 next summer, that’s when they will really try to be different and set itself apart from the rest of the field. usually sports anime is about fierce rivalries and people on the other team you swear on your soul to hate. but with Free! S2 we would have a healthy and friendlier rivalry, as hinted by the joint trainings, perhaps each team encouraging the other out like some well wrought out alliance. this is quite rare in typical Japanese sports anime.

      so yeah, it should really be interesting.

  • September 28, 2013 at 7:35 amRed HeartGold ZX

    Except for Tamako Market and Hyouka, all of KyoAni’s well-known shows had made me cry in at least one episode… And Free’s Final Ep totally lived up to my expectations. :)

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:19 amJel

    I just want to commend Mamoru Miyano on his work with Rin. Considering he can sound like happy-go-lucky Tamaki Suoh from Ouran to seriously nuts Light Yagami from Death Note to our comedic lead Rintaro Okabe from Steins;Gate to angsty Rin… (Believe me there are more, just wanted to emphasize his range in different characters who are leads). Also those tearful moments with Rin were amazing. Great job, Miyano.

    He was the main reason I wanted to watch this, bundled with the fact it’s a KyoAni project. Speaking of which, I believe this might be the first anime he’s done with KyoAni? Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:24 amzztop

    And as we come to the conclusion of Free!, let us say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye to the all-round fabulousness of Free!

    Until next summer…

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:31 amstarss

    Oh Rin. You lovable fool. You did everything I wanted to see happen in the finale, and it was splendid. This touched my heart so much.

    I love how reality hit at the end! All that practice for getting expelled from the games lol!! Hahaha! It’s like the Ratatouille ending.

    Let it be known that this anime wasn’t just made for fanservice! This had an ACTUAL STORY, as opposed to K-On! or Lucky Star!

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:38 amNoZaku

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:06 amstarss

      Interesting. Apparently, a lot of people here HATED Free!. Must explain the low reply count.

  • September 28, 2013 at 8:46 amchic

    If Rin was practicing introducing himself to a classroom, is he going to switch to Iwatobi?? Fingers crossed for a second season! ^^

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:44 amWindaerie

      I actually hope Rin stays with his current school! That way, Rei can be a part of the Haru-Makoto-Nagisa team (he totally deserves it), and Rin can learn to bond with others, now that he has his passion for swimming back. :)

      • October 3, 2013 at 12:09 pmchic

        I really do hope Rin stays in his school, which was also my impression from the “joint training” mentioned in the epilogue. So I guess him introducing himself was just a gag for old times sake? ;)

  • September 28, 2013 at 9:51 amWindaerie

    Man, after watching this show I am really motivated to learn how to swim! But my swimming attempts will probably end like Rei’s first attempts…floundering in the water whilst moving nowhere…. xD

    Thank you for sticking with Free! to the end, Takaii. Your posts are always anticipated and appreciated.

  • September 28, 2013 at 11:13 amLaughingMan

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • September 28, 2013 at 1:24 pmWindaerie

      You do know that guys can be friends with guys and not be homosexual, right? And that swimming usually requires you to wear a speedo and to not wear a shirt. Just sayin’.

      • September 28, 2013 at 6:16 pmLaughingMan

        Oh please… like this series wasn’t made to pander to yaoi obsessed fujoshis.

    • September 28, 2013 at 1:54 pmstarss

      It’s called making friends.

    • September 29, 2013 at 2:13 pmLeticia

      So what if it is mainly oriented to girls? I find that 90% of the shows are oriented/appealing to guys with all the ecchi, and the boobs and butts stuff, so I don’t think a show oriented/appealing to girls coming out once in a while should do no harm ;)

      • September 30, 2013 at 1:59 pmLaughingMan

        Are you implying that those are the kind of shows that I’m into? I’m not into tasteless ecchi bullshit shows like that (the Monogatari series however actually has really good writing so that gets a pass). I’m not acting like this series is a sign of the apocalypse for the anime industry. All I’m saying is that it was objectively a bad show that relied too much on pandering to fujoshis. It’s just as tasteless as the numerous ecchi filled shows that pander to otaku.

      • October 1, 2013 at 6:11 amLeticia

        I didn’t mean to imply anything, I just find it quite unfair that you classify this series as material for fujoshis, because I’m not one myself and I don’t like yaoi, but I enjoyed this series a lot, so I don’t get your point. Is there fanservice? Yes, there is. But there is also a gorgeous animation, likable characters, and friendship is the main thing here (and swimming), not the fanservice. Anyways, I can understand why a guy wouldn’t like this show, as I myself don’t enjoy the ‘boobs and butts’ animes, but I respect it nonetheless, and don’t make bad comments about it, like you do.

  • September 28, 2013 at 11:33 amKurama

    The way Gou was staring at that picture of Ama… I wonder if she’s thinking about becoming a bikini model herself O.O
    Please let it happen!

  • September 28, 2013 at 12:10 pmKitsu

    I waited for a paticular scene from a light novel Free! is based on, I think it’s saved for season 2, and there is plenty of other material we can get from novel and current story, now that all relationships are settled and characters moved on. May be more Gou-chan and Ama-sensei, and swimming competitions, and Rei’s growth. This season is good, but second WILL be better.

  • September 28, 2013 at 12:38 pmSylpher

    What an enjoyable show it was! It’s the first Kyoani show I really liked and this coming from a straight guy. Sure, it isn’t very deep or thought-provoking, but the school-club antics, emphasis on character development, swimming action, training sessions, background stories, rivalry between Haruka and Rin, Rei trying to fit in, cast interactions and the campy fanservice humor were successfully mixed to create a compelling and fun series.

    There were only two minor cons for me: the annoying effeminate boy with the grey hair (can’t remember his name) clinging onto Rin and the cringeworthy support chant during the swimming races.

    I initially thought I wouldn’t like Free, but it far surpassed my expectations and I hope there will be a second season.

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:38 pmEntrav

    THE BROMANCE IS TOO STRONG IN THIS EPISODE.

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:49 pmAnanas

    Shut up Nitori.

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1mkyD8gB3i9

  • September 28, 2013 at 1:53 pmBNV

    God dammit… curse you Kyoani for striking my fujoshi heart. When I saw Rin finishing his 100 m swim and struggling to get up from the pool along with the sad piano music playing… I didn’t felt anything for this guy as a character and BAM! I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOO! RIN!?!?!?!?!” And this… http://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2016.jpg

  • September 28, 2013 at 3:57 pmpetitorenji

    I loved this final episode. The competition scene where they were swimming as “one” had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. But then again, any man in their “doing their best” at anything they’re confident in is highly attractive.

    I’m curious as to what next summer will bring.

  • September 28, 2013 at 3:59 pmCrunchie

    I was extremely glad to hear Haru wasn’t constantly monotone any more when he confronted Rin. It was a beautiful scene with such amazing voice acting.

  • September 28, 2013 at 7:03 pmberrish17

    Ahhhhhhh such a awesome ending <3

    KyoAni thank you!! Love the scene with the sakura~

  • September 28, 2013 at 7:47 pmTheMoondoggie

    KyoAni’s attempt to cater to girls is a complete success. By wrapping a complete Fujoshi bait with sports tropes and marinade it woth KyoAni’s trademark animation sauce it succeeded in making a common street junk food look and taste like a five star gourmet dish. It’s this wonderful magic and power to gather random things and bring it together shows just how much KyoAni is master of it’s craft.

    9/10.

    • September 30, 2013 at 1:59 pmLaughingMan

      Nobody likes you. Fuck off.

  • September 29, 2013 at 12:04 amrandom viewer

    “I’m…free!” – is what Haru was going to say. I loved this, best summer anime to date. That team spirit really brought a tear to my eye. <3 And I must get the soundtrack. "Ever Blue" was that insert song at the epilogue? I wished Rin did transfer schools, but joint training is fine too. Oh ho now someone else knows the sensei-secret. And Haru is smiling on the inside. ^_^ Yes, see you (Rei) next summer!

  • September 29, 2013 at 8:59 amnexushero

    It’s a another decent show from KyoAni. After all,KyoAni are the masters when it comes to shows related to highschool but I sorta wish they take more risk and go back to making another FMP series. It will be a dream come true if KyoAni announce they were making another mecha show.

  • September 30, 2013 at 8:55 amkatsudon

    I’m happy that the show got made, but I just wish that it was better.

  • November 22, 2013 at 6:27 amルイヴィトンボブール

    ファンタジー世界