OP Sequence

OP: 「Rage on」by OLDCODEX

「再会のスターティングブロック 」 (Saikai no Sutātingu Burokku!)
“Starting Block of Reunions!”

Let the insanity begin – Free! at last!

I can’t imagine the content of the first episode of Free! would surprise too many viewers, but there’s still an awful lot to talk about. I think a few things were pretty much a given: this is a Kyoto Animation show, so you figured it would look great – and it does. The creators have been blunt about the focus on manservice, so you figured there’d be plenty – and there is. You know by the babble since the first “commercial” aired that the viewer reaction would be fascinating – and it is. But the big question was always this: is the show itself going to be interesting? So far, I’m not ready to answer that question.

Technically Animation DO, Free! is actually a KyoAni series through and through, and that means the key staff is all part of their tight-knit family – though director Utsumi Hiroko is sitting in the big chair for the first time. Character designer Nishiya Futoshi filled that role on Hyouka, and the look of the characters is highly reminiscent even by KyoAni standards – though truth be told, Free! can’t match Hyouka in terms of the lush and detailed overall look (few shows can). The story itself comes from a novel by Ouji Kouji (to be published by KyoAni’s book wing later this year) which actually featured the main characters as grade-schoolers, which is how we see them in flashback as part of this premiere.

These guys are definitely not grade-schoolers, though – even token shota Nagisa Hazuki (Yonaga Tsubasa) has pecs till next week when the shirt comes off. And make no mistake, shirts come off a lot – Utsumi wasn’t kidding when she listed “torsos” as a major theme of this series. Nasgia and fellow leads Nanase Haruka (Shimazaki Nobunaga), Tachibana Makoto (Suzuki Tatsuhisa) and Matsuoka Rin (Mamoru Miyano) spend a good part of the episode stripped to the waist and beyond. That’s only natural for a swimming show, but Free! – so far anyway – is pretty unapologetic about its main purpose in life.

There’s a weird disconnect with these characters though, at least for me. Imagine if the cast of Kimi to Boku were athletes instead of… whatever they were. And then imagine they took steroids, getting the physical manifestations without the ‘roid rage. What you have is a bunch of impossibly buff hunks acting like middle-school girls – a strange combination of beefcake and male moe, not helped by a bunch of actors in their 30’s or damn close trying to sound like youngsters (the 40 year-old joins next week). My problem with Kimi to Boku – which grew on me to the point where I kind of liked it for its unpretentious innocence – was that the guys didn’t act in a way that was particularly male. I was hoping that as the rare school-life show about 4 (eventually 5, just like Free! will be) boys instead of 4 girls would explore the male side of the school experience (something like Danshi Kokousei no Nichijou eventually did), but the behavior of the characters was mostly indistinguishable from their hundreds of female counterparts. So far, the same seems to be true of Free! – and given the track record of the studio behind it, that seems unlikely to change.

That said, there’s nothing especially unpleasant about Free!. It looks like a KyoAni show, with the requisite high-quality animation – the OP especially is a work of art, fluid and stylish. The characters aren’t particularly annoying so far (Nagisa is borderline). But I can’t say I find the premise especially compelling yet. The four leads were all cohorts in a swimming club, where they won a relay and buried the trophy as a time capsule. Rin – the brash ringleader of the group – moved to Australia, Nasgisa went to another middle school, and Haru and Makoto went to a high school with no swimming club (or pool, apparently). Haruka (all the boys have girls names, which is a further blow against subtlety) is the main focus of the premiere – his resolute “I only swim freestyle”, his weird quirks like wearing his swimsuit in the tub, and his rivalry with Rin, who returns to Japan apparently having become a complete A-hole while down under. Our fifth hero, for the megane-oriented fans, doesn’t appear yet.

There’s nothing wrong with a show that’s transparently a service series for fujoshi, if that’s what Free! turns out to be – otaku have had hundreds of them, so they have no call to complain now. The series won’t be of much interest to me if that ends up being the case, and it certainly seems to be based on scenes like Haru grilling fish in a swimsuit and an apron and the WTF ED, which is a strange combination of niche manservice settings that seems to have been designed directly for Comiket. There could be more here – maybe one or more of the characters will emerge as really interesting (or like KtB, it’ll be the 5th lead who brings a new spark of life to the series) or the story or comedic aspects will find another gear, and Free! will reveal some hidden depths that weren’t apparent in the premiere. But for now this series is strictly swimming – albeit quite capably – in the shallow end.

Full-length images: 7, 37.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「SPLASH FREE」by STYLE FIVE (Haruka Nanase (Nobunaga Shimazaki), Makoto Tachibana (Tatsuhisa Suzuki), Rin Matsuoka (Mamoru Miyano), Nagisa Nazuki (Tsubasa Yonaga), Rei Ryugasaki (Daisuke Hirakawa))

Preview

185 Comments

  1. It wasn’t a bad first episode, but even when you get past all the fanservice, so far it doesn’t seem that interesting. Curious to know where this goes, so I’ll give it the three episode rule. Also, that ending sequence terrifies me.

    katsudon
    1. Terrified me too. I’d been seeing comments amounting to ‘ED AWESOME,’ and i went thru it with one eyebrow raised. the other one raised near the end when the shark grinned. Also, I don’t think I’ve seen a man so quick to drop his pants for something other than sex.

      Kioku from Laptop
    1. I guess at least one person is very happy this season(and will probably need a new harddrive after because the current one will be filled with FREE capture images).

      TheMoondoggie
    2. It’s still fan-service, why is there a different word for fan-service from male characters anyway?The term man-service is sexist and on top of that it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t fan-service mean service for fans?So what does man-service suppose to mean, in this context?(oh, and this isn’t directed at you personally Cherrie just the people using the term, you happen to be the first one to use it).

      anon
  2. Well…. at least no one can accuse KyoAni of being built on MOEsplotation anymore. And KyoAni being KyoANi they aren’t just going to prove it, they’ll do it with style!

    fragb85
  3. First off, OMGWTF at the swimming trunks + apron combo. Kyo-Ani has just redefined the term of “naked apron”.

    While the boys all have gender neutral names, Rin’s sister Gou has a rather masculine sounding one, much to her annoyance. I do wonder what went thru their parents’ heads when they seemingly came up with their names?

    “Honey, let’s name our first child Rin and second one Gou!”
    “But how do you know if our first child will be a girl?”
    9 months later…
    “Oops… ”

    At least Kyo-Ani is honest about the blatant manservice, so we knew what to expect beforehand. That said, I noticed that among the credits was the name of Yokotani Masahiko as script supervisor.

    Yokotani had just been given a boost in his writing credentials in the recently finished, much critically praised comedy Hataraku Maou-sama, known for its excellent execution in when to deliver the punchlines.

    So besides the blatant manservice, we might actually have some decent story to look forward to, or at least some great comedy.
    (Fujoshi: tl;dr I watch it for the PLOT! )

    Suomynona
    1. Re the names Rin and Gou:

      Rin’s kanji is written as 凛, the kanji for cold. In Japanese names, the kanji 凛 is feminine and means ‘dignified’.

      Gou’s kanji is written as 江. There was a real-life Lady Gou, aka Oeyo, a prominent female historical figure in late Sengoku era Japan.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oeyo

      However, when pronounced, the hiragana for Gou,ごう, sounds very similar to, and can be attributed to a masculine Japanese name,written 剛, meaning strong/tough.

      zztop
      1. Aye. The Lady Gou reference is mentioned by Gou herself so I’m aware of the name’s origin. Gou’s parents probably named her after said lady based on their impression of the lady as seen in numerous Japanese TV period dramas. However what they did not anticipate was that in recent decades, the character 江 would normally be pronounced “kou” nowadays for a girl’s name, whereas “gou” would now be considered more masculine sounding.

        Suomynona
  4. Honestly, if this turns out to be nothing but fujoshi bait, I will be highly disappointed.

    I’ve always been a fan of shows with group male bonding (no homo), particularly with sports. Such movies like Coach Carter, Friday Night Lights, Invincible, Remember the Titans, and Rudy always inspired me with the relationship building between teammates while certain characters, or the team as a whole, overcome the adversity they’re faced with. Coach Carter specifically. That honestly has to be one of my favorite sports movies of all time.

    Now, Free! most likely won’t end up being as deep as that short list I came up with as those are probably some of the most inspirational sports movies of all time that I’ve seen. As long as it doesn’t go to far into the manservice, I can definitely see this being a really good show with Haruka and his group chasing their dreams and coming closer as a group along the way. I just wish anime (and the fans) would let same sex characters with close relationships stay as just friends instead of all the crazy shipping.

    Kyoani has proven though that they don’t delve too far into the realm of fanservice, so that’s a good sign, but that ED scares me (That club).

    Kuntzy
      1. Fujoshi is a term coined by yaoi fangirls, so I see no problem with calling them what they call themselves.
        Fujoshi (腐女子) meaning rotten girl is a pun on the homophonous Fujoshi (婦女子) which means respectable woman.

        Zannafar
    1. See that’s the strange thing – doesn’t otaku just mean anime fan? I’ve seen it used for girls as well rather than something like this that sorda comes across as derogative, almost (not saying it is NOW but it seemed that way before with its meaning being ‘rotten woman’??)

      I do apologise if that’s incorrect, however.

      Skins Thunderbomb
      1. Actually it’s the exact opposite.
        Fujoshi, while being self-deprecating, is almost of an affectionate term due to the pun contained.
        Otaku basically means nerd or enthusiast, but is seen as a pretty heavy insult in japan. The number of people who would actually call themselves otaku is probably far lower than those who call themselves fujoshi.

        Zannafar
  5. The ED looked like a Sequel to Magi lol.

    The best swimming anime is Umisho or at least it would be if it was fully adapted from the manga. Free doesn’t seem to be as goofy as Umisho and goes for a little more seriousness.

    I liked the first episode, but the swimming isn’t really exciting. It’s hard to make swimming in an anime look as exciting as something like a basketball or tennis anime ;p.

    Magoiichi
      1. Print screen? Try installing CCCP codec pack and play the episode with MPC. Stop the video at the scene you want to take a pic of and hit ctrl+I(or was it alt+I?). Name the pic then save.

        TheMoondoggie
    1. Or grab a raw and use a program such as GOM, VLC or PowerDVD and use the “screen capture” function. Usually that’s the “c” key or a button on the player’s actual interface. It saves the images you want to a folder, cull the images you don’t want, convert the rest to .jpg, upload and finished.

      Though personally, I like the answer of magic much better. ^_^

  6. OMG swimming anime! Used to swim fairly competitively at one point of my life — so I am quite pleased to see this. The way they drew everyone swimming looked about right technique wise but there’s not enough people wearing swimming caps even though their hair was long!

    Come on guys — that 10ms count when you get to a certain level of competitiveness.

    The manservice was nice. I like the face (swoon) — and body wise… haha I remember seeing my team-mates looking similar by mid-late high school. We used to do dryland practices and swim six days a week, sometimes twice a day — so we were all quite toned. 🙂

    Ori
  7. I didn’t really imagine I’d enjoy this as much as I did but it certainly was an unexpected treat. And that ED…Shook my head the entire time but the smile and amusement never left.

    Luxrays
    1. “And that ED…Shook my head the entire time but the smile and amusement never left.”

      I was laughing my a$$ off. I couldn’t believe how brazen that ED was, but I love it .

      BNV
      1. I’m not expecting an sort of BL moments in this then awkward/accidental ones that the writers will most likly play up… Thus the term fujoshi bait seem very appropriate for this show. The ED was total fujoshi bait and KyoAni knows it. lol

    1. Drink beer, have sex with women, and uh … what are some other male stereotypes Guardian Enzo seems to want forced onto the characters?

      Femininity isn’t something to be feared or viewed as a sign of poor male characterization, just as the same is true for masculinity and female characters. As a guy (and a competitive swimmer myself) who is more on the feminine side I think these characters are a great representation of people who don’t fit inside the tiny box society has made to define what makes a man a man. I’m tired of listening to male anime characters mocking each other for embracing their femininity, and though Free is probably aimed at a core female audience, that doesn’t make their friendships or experiences any less viable. (And I’m just going to throw this out there from experience, most of the guys on my swim team act like middle school girls when nobody is watching …)

      Zeon
      1. I might have gotten a little steamed, so I apologize. It’s just rare for me to come across an anime I can relate to so intensely. Homosexuality and competitive swimming weren’t the best combination growing up, and I’m not implying these characters are gay (in fact, they’re all likely straight considering the audience and the producers) but I get upset when people discredit the show for not being afraid to push the characters away from male stereotypes, albeit maybe a bit exaggerated.

        Zeon
      2. this is EXACTLY my problem with Enzo’s impressions here. How exactly is a personality supposed to be “feminine” or “masculine”? They’re just character personalities, and they all happen to assigned to the male gender. A character doesn’t have to conform to shitty gender stereotypes in order to be considered a “good” character of that gender, fujoshi bait or not.

        At the very least, they’re not comparing dick length and grabbing each other’s crotches like girls anime compare their breasts. That’s “masculine” enough.

        Nitro
      3. This all reminds me of all the double standards people have for anime characters…
        Girl acting masculine/tomboyish? That’s also kind of cute, good female character.
        Guy acting feminine? This is just a girl in guy’s clothing, shit guy character.

        Nitro
      4. Your straw man aside, I’ll respond to that as if it were actually addressed to what I wrote.

        There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with guys having all kinds of personalities. My issue, as I stated in the post, is that with anime full of endless series about girls acting as guys imagine girls act, It would be interesting to see that rare school life show about 4 cute guys have the guys act in a way that’a a bit more distinct from the way girls in anime act. That was my problem with Kimi to Boku, too – it doesn’t mean i didn’t like the show or those characters, but it’s so rare to see this model used as a show about guys that it would be nice to see it done in a way that’s radically different from the shows about girls. Danshi Koukousei may well be the only recent example.

        I don’t endorse the objectification of either gender in anime, as it’s hardly the most noble use of the medium. But the way Free! has laid bare the hypocrisy of otaku who think the anime industry exists for their benefit is a good thing, even if Free does turn out to be a male version of those shows. Fujoshi have endured legions of female service series – with considerably more grace than otaku are showing now – and I don’t remember any complaints that those series must be for lesbians because there were no guys in the OP (or often, in the series itself). And the fact that Free comes from the holy bastion of moe, KyoAni, only makes the poetic justice that much more enjoyable.

      5. Unless I’m Will Graham and haven’t realized it yet, I know what I read and I know what I was addressing. I just don’t agree with your assertion that there is way for men to “act in a way that’s particularly male.” That’s all I wanted to say, but thank you for responding and I understand you’re viewpoint better.

        Zeon
      6. Drink beer, have sex with women, and uh … what are some other male stereotypes Guardian Enzo seems to want forced onto the characters?

        Are you kidding me?I don’t recall seeing the males in animes being portrayed like that and I think we’ve had PLENTY of variety in our male characters.The only real annoying stereotype might be the typical useless male leads in some RomComs – HOWEVER,that’s been changing for the better recently as well.And there’s no nothing new about the personalities of these guys.It has already been seen numerous times so they ARE stereotypes but of girls instead of boys.

        MgMaster
      7. Enzo does have a point. Actually it’s just Nagisa that makes you question everything. But then again it’s a fujoshi bait.

        Makoto acts like a conservative guy. No problem with that.

        What I observed in KyoAni’s character animation here is that they used some of the ideas of motion applied in their female characters. I got a handful of that from Nagisa, Makoto a little bit during the times he was frightened. I just can’t shrug the feeling that sometimes it does feel too effeminate.

        At one point I gone and thought that kyoani animated too much girls that it reflects on guys. But then what is Hyouka and Chuunibyou. Then this lead me to a kind of conclusion that it’s done deliberately. So I guess we can safely say that it’ll stay. However though, that’s what Rin and Haruka is for. So far they’ve been the most convincing male character in terms of motion.

        That said. I wonder how this will unfold. I gotta say I love the OP. Whilst not as fun too look at as the ED, the OP is indeed better in technical terms. That swimming scene was really well done. I just could watch that all day. However the most interesting part is how they depict Rin and Haruka. Seems like Rin will be some sort of rival to their team. If this is the route the story will take, this will be a good starter for things to unfold.

        Regarding the initial worries of being too fujoshi for my taste, I gotta say, I’m surprised it had those moments but didn’t feel that alienating. Well if anything else, Kou might be the eye candy I just need for this show every once in a while. Or… maybe just this pic!!

        megalith
    2. I think I get what Enzo is saying and I can kind of agree. If I’m understanding him correctly then he’s basically trying to say that he has no problems with anime that focus on a group of guys leading the show like in free, however, he’d like to see more than just re-skinned k-on moe blobs as the male leads. If this is the case then I can completely agree with his point. I will watch free to the end because I personally am not bothered by most things written in fiction( after all it’s called “fiction” for a reason). That being said ATM ( this is subject to change) as I said before, Free’s characters just feel re-skins of some of the personalities already found other more “male oriented” shows. I would love to see some thing different in a show like free. seeing how it’s supposed to appeal to a different type of audience then the norm I think it’d be nice to have fresh male personalities that could give the show its own unique feel rather than copying the same old “moe blob/ otaku formula”. Anyway I digress… I will watch this show regardless but those are just my two cents. 🙂
      On a side note… there bodies make me jealous XD… my GAWD

      Naske
  8. I can’t believe no one mentioned the apron over speedo part yet. And I went through all that effort making that FL too!

    But yeah, Free’s first episode… was both a mixture of a lot of what I expected (in terms of the manservice) and the unexpected (that once you get past the manservice, it wasn’t particularly bad at all). Guess I’ll continue watching for a little bit.

  9. As Enzo mentioned,the guys act too much like girls in the bodies of guys and it’s a tad disappointing for me.I’ll prolly’ stick with this till the end,doesn’t matter if I’ll find it unbearable or not.Here’s to hoping for something more than just fujoshi bait though!

    MgMaster
  10. DEM ABS

    DAT SWIMSUIT

    DAT RIN IN THE ED

    WATER!

    Yes.

    Also, Enzo, it’s funny because I had the same problem with Kimi to Boku. They really acted like guys in Season 2 though. Which was surprising and refreshing. But yes, Season One was a bunch of girls in boy bodies for the most part lol

    EmD
    1. But they weren’t. They were always boys in boy’s bodies, and their personalities were feminine. That’s the type of characters they were. You might not have been able to relate to them personally, but that doesn’t make them any less of a “guy” then anyone else with an extra limb.

      Zeon
      1. Please, tell me what I want to turn this into because I didn’t realize there was ever an agenda here. Femininity and masculinity aren’t mutually exclusive characteristics and to treat characters as such would be blatant misrepresentation. The characters in the show you brought up leaned towards the feminine side, that doesn’t make them any less male. That’s all I was trying to say.

        Zeon
      2. I’m not going to reply with a particularly and polite essay like Enzo replied to you earlier because I’m not a writer, so I’m just going to be blunt.

        What I feel Enzo meant with his comment about Kimi to Boku (which by the way I loved, seeing as I watched both seasons) is that the only difference between KtB and something like K-On! was that the characters were guys. Otherwise, they behaved the exact same way all of the girls behave in the hundreds of moe shows that saturate the anime market these days. The expectation when you hear about a show about four guys, rather than four girls, hanging out is that they will do things like play sports, talk about girls and mess around and take jabs at each other and whatever, all the things that Daily Lives of High School Boys did. You might not like this ‘dudefratbro’ mentality but fact is, that’s how most guys behave and that’s what one expects to see when the rare ‘guys hanging out’ anime appears in the ocean of “girls hanging out anime.”

        Instead, the majority of season one was just like any other show. They were baking and fixing each other’s hair and holding their own mixers…which again, is like any other girls show. Is it wrong? No, but it’s not the expectation Enzo and I had when the show was announced.

        Only near the end of season one do the characters start acting more like typical guys and this carries into season 2. In fact, season 2 takes a jab at Shun, the most feminine of them all. One of the twins says something to the effect that Shun’s brother must have felt that he was living in a house full of women because Shun is so feminine.

        So no, Enzo and I weren’t claiming masculinity and femininity are exclusive to a certain sex. Which is what I mean with my earlier comment. The last thing I want is for this to turn into a debate about sex vs gender. This was not my intention with my comment, nor was I saying guys can’t be feminine. Funnily enough, my good friend who likes anime was both swim team captain and is really feminine, which is why I picked this show up in the first place.

        Well, and the manservice.

        EmD
  11. Thank you for the effort you made for the full apron/swimsuit shot 🙂

    This anime is quite good. Well good beginning at least. We already have enough animes where all the main casts are chicks so it’s good that we get animes like this where it’s not a reverse harem (well for us girls at least lol XD)

    But I must laugh at the fact how they are bluntly appealing to the fujoshis. From those zoom up of butt shots to blushing, to stripping to that ending and OP (where in one scene it looks like Rin is playfully pushing Haruka down XD) It’s like they are shouting “Fujoshis! Gather around” XD And gather around they shall.

    Will keep watching this. Thank you for blogging.

    Drift
  12. I say ‘Fair’s fair’. We guys have been getting multiple anime boobfests since time immemorial, so I think its only fair the ladies get their abs-fest this time around.

    PS. If I had abs like Haruka, I’d be finding excuses to strip to my undies(privately) at least once a day. But only on account of self-vanity!

    zztop
    1. I don’t think our female counterparts were in lack of their own fanservices too. I mean every bishie-ridden show seems to pander more to the female community, and there are lots of them. It’s just now, KyoAni went and gave them something that panders to them 1000%.

      If in terms of fanservice, Free! is a cross between a sports anime, DxD and Hyouka custom made for the females.

      TheMoondoggie
    2. Honestly the only animes I believe are truly made for the guys are the ecchi & harem ones and while there’s plenty of those,there are also plenty of shoujo & otomo shows as well.Other,more normal romance shows are probably made for BOTH genders equally.As for other stuff such as sci-fi,mystery,action shows(withouth harems & bishounens and with a fair distribution of male & female characters)?One could say that those pander more to the male audience rather than the female sure but that’s only because the former enjoy’s it more while the later less.

      MgMaster
  13. OK Here’s how I see this:
    Level 1: Fujoshi Bait.
    You have to agree on this: the show is all populated with stupidly handsome men.

    Level 2: Fanservice Show
    Really goes with Level 1. And the main target of panderization are female. The females are this show all feel like self-insert slots for female viewers, like Brother’s Conflict(also this season). Forgive me, but the only word I can describe this show is, well, gay. But I think people who describes it like this is understandable: when you tend to pander to one sex, the show will feel alienating for the other sex.

    Level 3: KyoAni usual.
    Visuals are stunning to max degree. Watching this in HD is like watching any KyoAni show in HD. If you were awed in Hyouka, you will understand.

    Level 4: Sports anime
    And this is where FREE actually lost me: It’s basically the K-ON of sports anime. Sports anime bores me due to being too linear(“AIM FOR THE TOP TEAM; WE GOT INTO INTER CITY! NOW AIM FOR THE NATIONALS!; WE LOST, BUT LET’S NOT GIVE UP!; TRAINING TRAINING!; ONCE MORE FOR THE NATIONALS!”), but K-ON is a bit worst since it’s mixed with SoL that doesn’t really give any character development. Since it’s sports I wish they will actually get more development than K-ON charcters, but I don’t want them to focus too much on sports(like most sports anime) and wish they would also tackle their lives outside just as much.

    So First Impression score 8/10. Feel free to comment.

    TheMoondoggie
    1. There’s so much in the reaction to Free! that pisses me off, but let’s start with two things:

      First, the use of “gay” as a pejorative term.

      Second, the fact that because this is a show full of hunky guys, it must necessarily be “gay”. Why is it that anime is full of shows about impossibly cute girls which have no male cast members, and we never hear people say “Hey – this must be a show for lesbians!”? Why can’t this just be a show aimed at women who like to look at cute guys, rather than a “gay” show? You don’t think the endless and wearying stream of cute girls being cute series are aimed at male otaku who like to look at cute girls?

      1. “First, the use of ‘gay’ as a pejorative term.”

        I don’t think it is a negative term. It’s more of preference actually.

        “Second, the fact that because this is a show full of hunky guys, it must necessarily be ‘gay’. Why is it that anime is full of shows about impossibly cute girls which have no male cast members, and we never hear people say ‘Hey – this must be a show for lesbians!’?”

        Yuru Yuri, Saki, Marimite, Kashimashi, Lucky Star all have yuri undertones, if not blatant. And it’s called gay because it feels like it. “Feels” meaning the fanservice is meant to appeal to the viewer that is presumed to be female. How do you think it would feel if some hunky guy who is half naked sets his appeals on you, who is a fellow guy?

        If that happens to me I’d probably run away.

        “Why can’t this just be a show aimed at women who like to look at cute guys, rather than a “gay” show? You don’t think the endless and wearying stream of cute girls being cute series are aimed at male otaku who like to look at cute girls?”

        But it is(a show aimed at women who like to look at cute guys). Same with my example above, it all depends on the viewer. If a guy watches hunky anime, he’d feel gay. If a girl watches something like Saki, she’s feel like a Yuri fan.

        And I really don’t get why are you all saying that calling a show gay or lesbian is negative. What’s negative about this show, for me, is actually the show being fujoshi bait, meant to drain the poor fujoshi of their hard-earned dough. It’s the same with the otaku pandering to the guys. And just as bad.

        TheMoondoggie
      2. The issue is you’re imposing your own reactions and insecurities and trying to pass them off as the show somehow being at fault. It’s not like the guys are spending 20 minutes giving each other oil massages or anything homoerotic like that. They’re competitive swimmers, being mostly naked is part of the sport. Just because that makes you feel uncomfortable it doesn’t mean the show is doing anything blatantly homosexual in nature. So yes, your way of describing the show as being “gay” is in fact you using the term as a derogatory statement about the show, when in reality the issue is your personal reaction to the show. If you say “watching this makes me feel gay” that’s different from saying that the show itself is gay. One is simply your personal reaction, the other is you painting the show in a negative light as something that it’s not.

        spike
      3. First of all I did not say that Free! is doing anything that is blatantly gay, for everyone. I said that the fanservice meant for the fujoshis ultimately will feel “gay” to straighter male viewers. While I agree, though, that it isn’t the show’s fault that it feels gay to one group of audience since it’s main target are actually females. I should have made that clear earlier.

        Second of all I did say that anyone thinking this FEELS GAY depends on who is watching. Now if you have a brain half the size of normal, you’d properly equate that to OPINIONS and everyone has opinions.

        Third, I still cannot see why all of you think that the word “gay” is a negative remark. It’s like if you ask a gay if he/she is one, they’d go ballistic and accuse you of being sexist. If you find a person who doesn’t like shows that feels gay to him, it doesn’t immediately mean that he hates gays or that think gays are bad. It just mean that he doesn’t like it, much like how he, say, may dislike chili peppers. He doesn’t think that chili is bad, he just don’t like how it taste and he may prefer something else.

        TheMoondoggie
      4. You don’t think the endless and wearying stream of cute girls being cute series are aimed at male otaku who like to look at cute girls?

        But Enzo,who’s to say that those shows don’t appeal to the female audience,especially the younger ones,as well?I’m sure shows such as the ones Doggie mentioned,Yuru Yuri, Saki, Marimite, Kashimashi, Lucky Star,have a plenty of female viewers and there are plenty of guys aren’t interested in them at all(*raises hand*).

        MgMaster
    2. finally, someone who dont take whatever RC writters gives to him as if all of their words are from god. im not flaming rc writters, in fact i love them, i just hate that almost all of here are just nodding to their every opinions.

      Ryuuzaki
      1. It’s not like I always agree with the bloggers, you know. I once got into a small argument with Ghost over SAO vs Space Bros(“which one is more boring” edition). I also told Moomba months ago not to do Maouyuu since he has read the ultimate version as well and I fear the blogger will have biased judgement on the show(which failed ultimately since Stilts, who also read the ultimate version, ended up blogging Maouyuu.)

        TheMoondoggie
    1. One thing i learned from this episode is that apparently living in Australia makes you grow shark teeth, ruins your previous friendship, and turns you into a arrogant douche XD

      Naske
    1. I think that it’s the community’s fault for this show being overrated. They just like to hype too much on something.

      Fawning this show is forgivable, at least if you’re female or a boy’s love fan. I don’t think straight guys won’t be put off by this, unless you’re ok or isn’t disturbed by the manly fanservice.

      Storywise it’s still too early to judge.

      TheMoondoggie
      1. I didn’t mean just RC, I meant the whole anime community. They all just hyped it when they learned KyoAni was doing cute guys doing cute things. MAL and 4chan are the more notorious communities.

        TheMoondoggie
      2. https://randomc.net/2013/04/29/special-report-the-strange-feminism-of-tv-free/comment-page-1/#comment-970456
        Even worse is when you get hardcore feminists who have little idea what they’re talking about, and start talking about pants sizes in the US, or that even promiscuous women can be excused because they didn’t have a good female role model around them to teach them not to trade their body for attention.

        Ugh, just thinking about the amount of stupidity this anime attracts. Why can’t everyone just enjoy the swimming aspect?

        Anonymous
  14. Ms. Amakata: Think back to what Li Bai said…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Bai

    Li Bai(701-762) was an acclaimed historical Chinese poet who lived during China’s Tang Dynasty(618-907). Out of the 1000 poems attributed to him, quite a few of them were about the pleasures of drinking wine, which explains why Ms. Amakata quotes a ‘goblet’ in her lines.

    Just a cultural bit I thought I’d share.

    zztop
  15. lol. More of that ‘they don’t act like men’ thing. *eyeroll* Maybe if society weren’t so keen on enforcing gender stereotypes, such a thing wouldn’t be so discomfiting to certain viewers. That being said, Makoto is the only one I found to be on the feminine side. I think many viewers are projecting his traits onto everyone else since they interact.

    snapples
  16. The oldest female introduced so far (the teacher) is the most ‘moe’ look that KyoAni is known for, the irony.
    But I am liking this new style, hope the rest of the series can keep up the quality.

    TSouL
  17. I thought this whole episode was hilarious in a ridiculous way and the animation was pretty top-tier, as expected of KyoAni. Water has never looked so beautiful in an anime. Those splashes… Just wow.

    I can also relate to Haru a bit when he says he only swims free(style). I don’t swim, but I play tennis and I prefer to just play for fun. Not big on the competitions and I feel like (at least for an amateur like me) it just ruins the fun as you try to always win and winning becomes the goal versus having a good time.

    Did anyone else hear that dubstep in that final scene where Rin finds the trio in his school pool? I lol’d pretty hard and was starting to wonder if they had hired Skrillex. Maybe I haven’t watched enough anime, but it was the first time I heard dubstep in one and if was completely hilarious, even though the scene was completely serious and high tensioned.

    Jel
  18. Also, what’s the point of these ‘man’ compound words. Manny, manpurse, manservice. The actual word can actually be used and it will mean the EXACT same thing. Guys don’t need a special word every time they do something a little outside of the ‘norm’, whatever that is. All it does is serve to separate/isolate them.

    snapples
  19. Not gonna lie, I watched this with a gay friend and that was fun. I guess I’m picking this one up for my joke anime this season. Can’t wait for the episode where they compare their penis sizes, just like how anime girls compare breast sizes to each other.

      1. Anything worse than spiders? Sharks maybe? Huge ants? Wild Cats? Bad Traffic? Racist residents or something like that?

        Because if so, I’d probably drop the idea of having friends while I study there and just do what I do during highschool(home-school-home route).

        TheMoondoggie
    1. As another Australian – our teenagers tend to be giant assholes, yes. But to be fair, I think most of our teens are assholes.

      Not all Australians are jerks ^^; It’s like any country – you just need to find the right people. 🙂

      Skins Thunderbomb
  20. Plot speculation! heavy on “Plot”:
    Rin beats Haru at a swimming challenge in episode 2 “I’ll show you a sight you’ve never seen before”-Haru challenges Rin to a relay at some other HS competition/national event thing for a rematch -Haru, Makoto, and Nagisa have to train so they have to form up the swim club-alas they don’t have enough people-they recruit Rei-4 people is enough for a relay!!!-training! + angsty Haru/Rin and all the other moe tropes that KyoAni is famous for until the final episode where Haru and Rin duke it out (angst and sexual tension abound!)

    if that’s even close to the plot of the show I’m just going to laugh and roll my eyes and watch anyway.

    floobynooby
  21. When you are 10, you are called a prodigy. When you are 15, you are called a genius. When you are 20, you are just an ordinary person.

    For the record, that ED dubstep is sick!

    mianghuei
  22. Considering if the opening is true in foretelling the show’s future, plot will come! (i’m still scarred from K-on’s “dream” of playing on Budokan mentioned in the first episodes. Although it was still an enjoyable moe-fanservice show, I always cry at THE POTENTIAL of the cast actually chasing after that dream.)

    p.s. DAT ANIMATION, both in manservice and swimming. The artist in me is overjoyed. Kyoani continues to deliver visually. T.T

    The Amateur Alchemist
  23. Well I was actually didn’t expect to enjoy this, but I did
    This shows is hilarious
    Pros: The usual KyoAni animation standard, rivalry between Nanase and Rin seems to be the main focus of the story, it’s actually pretty fun and some comedies were pretty good, lot of fanservices *slap*, music is unique and original, at least there seems to be a decent plot and it’s extreeeemely enjoyable. Don’t forget about the cool OP and hilariously amazing ending
    Negatives: The guys (especially Nagisa) sounds too girly (that can’t be helped…), nothing really strikes me as awesome yet
    It’s a promising start. I expect deeper story and maybe something happened with Rin that changed his attitude? Only time will tell

    shua
  24. It was meh, there was pretty much zero to keep any kind of interest besides the manservice… tried giving it a chance and boy did this show fail.

    It wasn’t really very funny or relatable (unlike say Danshi Kokousei no Nichijou) and not one character seemed interesting. When you look at KyoAni’s previous series there was always someone who stood out, Hyouka it was pretty much everyone, Chuunibyou had pretty much everyone as well, Haruhi had well… Kyon, this show had nothing really…. its really just missing something in the personality department.

    Raso
  25. How has this turned into a debate? I thought we were discussing anime here. Is the music good? Is the story enthralling? I could care less about the discussion on whether or not men have to act like stereotypical males to be viewed as men. I do admit, there are lots of guys who drink and go gym, me included. Yet I still love anime. Does this stereotype me into the anime nerd category or the douche bag male category? People are all different and are a mixture of things. I think Enzo is just saying that the guys act really girly. Nothing wrong with that, just his two cents on the matter. A lot of guys act girly, and they are still guys. Now can we talk about anime? I feel like I’m being too serious on this.

    datoneguy
    1. I’m glad you pointed this out, and I agree with you. The comments here remind me of the response to Aku no Hana. Where both posts are speaking of one aspect of it and are not even mentioning the story-aspect, plot, pacing, characters, music, voice acting… There are many other relevant characteristics to discuss about in this anime besides whether people think this anime is not “manly enough” or not.

      Jel
  26. Personally I hate animes like K-on ‘style’, where the entire staff are cute (or moe) girls talking nonsense. I thought there was nothing worse than that, but I see I was wrong …

    Daety
  27. The first time I saw the ending, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing due to its WTFness. But hey, at least it started making a little bit of sense after watching it a couple of times… somewhat. The song’s pretty catchy, too.

    The guys dancing in the club in the background though? Hello nightmares.

    Elle
  28. why they release anime like that…. that not enough to release the moe stuft each season ??

    they realy need to degrade the anime genre even further ???

    honestly the only ANIME i was able to watch since ONE YEAR WAS :

    shin sekai yori
    psycho pass
    shinseki no kyoji
    valvrave

    and this season so far….
    danganronpa

    and my only hope maybe for add :
    Uchouten Kazoku
    blood lad

    anime are dying…. they just need CUT the fanservice , the retarded , and make GOOD ANIME with good story … and you would get more of the crown of normal people ( aka no otaku )

    we enjoy anime too … and we are far more people …

    whywhywhy
    1. Unfortunately the anime industry tends to pander to the same types of people with the same stuff each year instead of trying something new. Just look at Tamako Market: it’s essentially the same as K-on.

      NoZaku
  29. I have got to stop doing this to myself. Sports anime and manga just bore me to death, and this was no different. Group of friends blah, blah, blah, mind tuned out the rest having seen it done before. Characters were nothing to write home about as none of them sticks out enough to be remembered. Manservice is just a gimmick to draw in a certain demographic(s).

    Hmmm….

    Just remembered that there is one sports manga I like: All-Rounder Meguru.

    rh75
    1. I’ve noticed that fans of this show instead of rationally defending why this is so great resort to bashing those that don’t. You should be able to say that the story is great because of X or the characters are new twists on Y. Or that we have not seen a sport anime do Z. But we get posts like yours where you take the low-road instead of the high-road. Yes, the comments just bashing it for one point(manservice)are boorish, but so far the defenders are the same (you hate gays).

      rh75
  30. hibari and muroku from REBORN anime,

    is that purple hair guy gay?

    on last 4 screenshots

    they ripping off honey senpai from Ouran High school host club, and thus the only person wearing brief

    hibari
  31. Since no one pointed it out yet….the blonde hair shota has penguins on his boxers. Anyways, its odd, despite all the mancandy that I salivate over, as a gay guy…the character I actually like the most is one of the females…Gou.

    SDFGS
  32. I hope the story gets a little better… I mean, I personally think it was going too quick for me, but it’s understandable they had to lay the groundwork for the plot and introduce the characters.

    For the fanservice though… definitely amazing! haha~

    rochichan
  33. I manage to squeeze in a few episodes of anime when commuting to work. Naturally the passengers next to me glance at the iPad out of curiosity, and this is definitely going to be one of the more awkward shows I would have watched in public.

    Moose
  34. There’s always something attractive about dark-colored hair and blue eyes that go together to draw you in to watch this, or it was just that ending. I have a feeling that “fan-service” is in every episode, intended or not. This anime is best-suited for the summer season!

    random viewer
    1. I liked the dancing in the ending if you go to a nightclub its not odd to find groups of people dancing like that. That scene where Rin poored the water over himself was just hilarious if I was a girl I probably would of started drooling about then if I wasn’t earlier. The desert was a good metaphor.

      agr0n
  35. i’m just happy they’re animating a series about swimming. it’s nice to see a stroke other than free animated, and to see it with the actual movements and not just an arm splashing into the water makes me want to watch more. i’m sure a story will arise soon enough, and i’m interested enough in the characters to keep watching.

    lauren
  36. I was kind of expecting this to be Kurko no Basuke just with swimming, but the character’s are allot more feminine while in Kuroko they were masculine 🙁 Are they trying to say swimming is less masculine than B-ball?!? JK Anyways the determining factors for me will be this new 5th guy and the actual action. Heck if the swimming is just as sick to watch as the moves in Kurko were I’m definitely sticking around. Heck I don’t even like watching basketball or playing it, but I loved Kuroko; I like swimming so my hopes are high :p

    agr0n
  37. I actually enjoyed the first episode. The animation was amazing and I liked the plot. I’m curious as to what the other episodes will be about. It’s nice to see something different in the anime world, like swimming being the main focus. It’s too soon to say anything, but I’m giving this a shot.

    Valerie
  38. So many comments with both a lot of likes and dislikes. 😀
    I am surprised that this series is covered by male bloggers. It’s certainly more interesting that way.

    boingman
  39. WTH! Kyoani,why u dun make fanservice anime for guys but u made one for girls?!?! I want some fanservice anime for guys with YOUR QUALITY OF ANIMATION, NOW THAT’S GONNA BE AWESOME

    maou
  40. Even if I didn’t enjoy the show (which I do, it’s a fun watch and I really enjoy the animation) I’d be grateful for KyoAni for making it.

    It really brought to the surface how 1. misogynist and 2. homophobic (and insecure) the Anime fandom really is.
    Twitter OVERFLOWS with Tweets like “Women and fucking gays are ruining anime” and “This show is so gay no male could ever watch it” (I am male. I am watching it. Some of my straight male friends are watching and enjoying it as well.)

    It’s really sad, and I kind of expected it, but I think this really needed to become an issue.

  41. Only problem I have with this show is the name and the strange movements. Is there really a need to do that? Japan’s got those weird gay memes for a long time, from yaranaika, to billy herrington, to 真夏の夜の淫夢. I watched all of them. I’d rather they make full gay anime than something like this. There were also anime considered “homo anime” in the past but I don’t remember seeing this level of rejection.

    seablue
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