「追憶のディスタンス!」 (Tsuioku no Disutansu!)
“Memories in the Distance!”

Like its main character, Free! is only really exceptional when it’s in the water.

I can’t really say I saw anything here that changed my opinion about Free! one way or the other. There were no surprises for me in this episode, which isn’t in itself a bad thing. But given that my reaction to the premiere was somewhat muted, I guess it’s fair to say I was hoping for a surprise or two. I still feel that Free! is more interesting as a phenomenon than for its story, and that the audience reaction – and what it says about the state of anime fandom – is more important and more compelling than the series itself. But it’s not too late for that to change, especially with a new character on the horizon.

Basically, Free! is painting in primary colors at the moment – there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of nuance either to the story or characters. Also, I confess I have a certain bias against shows where the characters smile too much – it rubs me the wrong way – and there’s a bit of that effect here, especially with Makoto. But if I were to point up one character who poses a problem for me so far, it would be his fellow-smiler Nagisa. He really points up the delicate balance necessary for a character like this. In broad terms he plays a very similar role to Chizuru from Kimi to Boku – the token shota, the blonde-haired genki boy. But where Chizuru was the best character in that show, Nagisa is pretty grating for me. Why? Some of it no doubt boils down to Miyu Irino being a better seiyuu than Yonaga Tsubasa – but there’s more to it than that. I think it comes down to Chizuru epitomizing a sort of sincere silliness that KtB developed and which gave it a kind of quirky charm, which both Nagisa and Free! so far mostly lack.

That leads in to what I think is my biggest issue with Free! so far, which is that the show has a kind of contrived quality to it – nothing feels really natural with the exception of the shots of the characters swimming, which are the only time the show transcends itself and becomes truly memorable (like Haruka, the series seems more comfortable in the water than on land). Everything seems to be following a predictable template and the characters falling into predictable niches – the only thing that’s really unusual is the unapologetic focus on male fanservice, and TBH if this weren’t Kyoto Animation I’m pretty sure even that wouldn’t be considered such a big deal. As we got to know Gou Kou (Watanabe Akeno) better this week, she at least provides a kind of ironic self-awareness in that she seems to be filling the role of an audience insert character. That’s hardly news, but the fact is we’re used to seeing bland guys fill that role, and here we have a bland girl who openly goes “Kyah!”; over the pecs and abs and triceps (especially the latter, especially Haruka’s) so proudly on display. Those were the only moments in the episode that really made me laugh.

Other characters added to the mix are "Ama-chan-sensei" Amakata Miho (Yukino Satsuki) – who like Kou was in the premiere briefly, and as expected becomes the expected Swim Club’s advisor. She’s pretty much the stock hot and ditzy teacher so far, though she has some sort of secret past that involves "working for a swimsuit company". There’s also the boys’ former coach at the swim club, Sasabe – now delivering pizzas, in addition to a nugget about Haruka and Rin – and a member of the swim club at Rin’s school, Mikoshiba Seijuurou (giving us the surreal spectacle of Tsuda Kenjirou playing a teenager). But the most important of the new faces was one we saw only for a few seconds, Ryuugazaki Rei (Hirakawa Daisuke), as he’s denying Nagisa’s entreaties to join the Swim Club because he’s committed to the track club. He’s destined to become the fifth main cast member, and hopefully he proves to be an interesting one.

About the story itself, there’s really not much to say at this point. Pizza-coach’s revelation that Haruka quit swimming competitively because he beat Rin in a race when the latter was home from Australia for New Years – which upset him terribly – was a bit of an anti-climax. The Swim Club stuff was pretty routine, right up to Gou becoming the 4th member. It all feels very much like a standard KyoAni script right now, with one obvious adjustment. That tweak is obviously important, but it’s not sufficient it itself to make Free! an artistically successful series – and as someone who isn’t a huge fan of that script to begin with, I’m not finding anything really compelling about the series as a whole so far. In a way Free! feels like one big marketing experiment right now – can this well-worn formula, in the hands of the studio that’s unquestionably the master of it, be applied successfully to a series aimed at a very different audience? That’s certainly an interesting question – but as long as it remains more interesting than the story and characters, Free! has a real problem on its hands.

 

Preview

105 Comments

  1. I was actually interested in the story for this episode, whereas in the last it was just ‘mancandy mancandy mancandy’. So Free! has become more interesting for me even if the formula has been done before (I suppose mostly because I don’t watch any of the ‘moe’ shows since I find them nauseating) it’s fresh for me due to my lack of not watching them, ahahaha.

    Keep on swimmin’, Free~!

    Skins Thunderbomb
    1. I actually thought the bit where Rin was all moody and broody for the episode because he realized Haruto threw the race from his conversational tone carried a good amount of depth to it, making the episode a lot more interesting for me story wise.

      Nobody
      1. I didn’t think Haruka threw the race. Rather, he just didn’t feel bad about losing. If anything, he felt great about losing. After not swimming competitively for so long after feeling bad about being too good against Rin, he now knows that, because Rin is now faster than him, he has nothing to hold back on.

        Rin on the other hand obviously wanted Haruka to feel like crap, especially after their previous competition. He had trained so hard to finally beat Haruka, to make Haruka feel how horrible it was to lose. But unfortunately that’s not how Haruka sees the loss.

        Taiakun
      2. I’m led to believe that Haruka threw the race. Since they did the backstory on why Haruka quit the swim team, it implied that Haru felt remorse for winning – which is suggested to be the reason for Rin leaving.

        He feels good about losing because he has experienced the pain of winning.

        flCer
      3. I’m with the “Haruka didn’t throw the race he just lost” party.

        the heavy breathing as he swam and the sequence that visualized how he felt in the water made it apparent that he was just enjoying being in the moment as he swam. Rin was mad because Haru didn’t care about losing and Rin wanted him to be devastated. Rin didn’t get that Haru doesn’t care about times or winning-he just wants to swim and get that feeling he loves by being in the water. it’s not that he lost on purpose…he just lost and didn’t care that he lost.

        floobynooby
      4. I’m also of the “Haruka didn’t throw the race” camp. I think that Rin’s rage came from the fact that after his first race with Haruka fresh from Australia,he was beaten. Now , After all his ostensibly hard work and effort, he races him again and won, but Haruka didn’t care. I’m sure he’s wondering what the point of all his training was and even going to Australia if all he could do was was win by a slim margin and generate such a lukewarm reaction. Imagine putting in blood sweat and tears for years on end to win a heated (at least in your mind) rivalry and all you get his a clap on the shoulder and a “Hey, you won. Good for you.”

        TheWalker
    1. It was sort of the running joke that I’d be covering it, but after the first episode I wasn’t feeling too hot about it. Maybe this second episode will change it — we’ll see after work “frees” me from its grasps haha.

      But yeah, big props to Enzo for going out of his way to cover this show for the past two weeks. I was in LA for Anime-Expo for the first episode and I just got back when the second one aired (too exhausted to even unpack haha).

  2. At first, I started Free! out of curiosity (I like swimming even if I suck at it aha), mainly due to all the hype (and anti-hype too) so I didn’t expect much from it and maybe that’s why I actually enjoyed both episodes. Despite all the cliche characters and cliche situations they end up in, I found myself laughing bunch of times, especially in the second episode.

    As for the story, I’m finding myself to enjoy it as well, again, maybe because I didn’t expect anything too complex to begin with.

    So I can say that I’m going to continue this, it’s not the best thing ever but I don’t feel that I’m wasting my time either.

    Misk
  3. I personally found this episode to be much better than the first. This time round I felt the pacing was improved, and the exploring of the other characters (Kou and Miho) while continuing on with what we already know of the main boys, was great. Makoto would be my favorite right now I think, but I generally like all the characters. Miho made me laugh the most though, so she is the biggest surprise for me so far. I’m glad she’ll be sticking around as well for the club activities. I loved all the interactions, the comedy, and the establishment of the club. Everything is set, and from this point on I’ll be wildly surprised if I find anything that won’t enjoy based on my expectations.

    I don’t think Free! was ever going to be as different from what KyoAni usually does; the only thing is the gender of the main cast. I’m hoping that when Takaii starts blogging this he’ll have more positive things to say, since it doesn’t seem like Enzo is enjoying watching or blogging it at all right now – and that is also not enjoyable to read. Everyone has a personal bias, that’s only natural, but I’m just hoping for a more positive outlook on this show, which should present itself to be fun and enjoyable, as it was always set up to be (probably with a does of childhood drama as well, but everything has drama to some degree). I wouldn’t expect anything more, or anything less of the show at this point, and I hope the blogging reflects that from here on out.

    Kuro
    1. The second half of your comment is actually the reason I wish Enzo would keep blogging the show. He’s actually giving a nuanced critique of the show and not simply being a cheerleader or hater.

      spike
    2. Nothing wrong with Ta-kun(welcome back btw & see you at monogatari!) but out of ALL the writers here,Enzo’s style is definitely the most fitting one to blog Free! pretty much for the reason mentioned above by spike.

      Don’t get misunderstand me here,nothing wrong with getting people pumped up about a show by showing off it’s positive aspects as much as possible – which is what RC revolves around and most of us love it for that as it’s primarily a place to have fun/be entertained rather than to criticize(at least,that’s how I see it) – but an anime like Free! isn’t that common.It feels like one big marketing experiment to quote Enzo,and I feel that a neutral view on it from a blogger is best.

      MgMaster
  4. I kind of agree about the story not being really there, original plot has never been KyoAni’s strong point. The slice-of-life/comedy bits are where they shine though and as usual it’s in top shape. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s just there. So really, this seems more like a regular KyoAni show than anything. Except, you know, only with hot guys <3

    Nitro
  5. – Would mind seeing more of Gou’s reactions because she looks really cute and regular commenter Vaan’s wish came true with her being the club manager. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Gou and Ama-sensei, and maybe find out what her previous job was.

    – I laughed at the gags in this episode, especially the “duck season, rabbit season” exchange between Nagisa and Gou.

    Zhinvu
  6. How the boys’s names in Free! are girlish in Japanese:

    Haruka, 遙: 遙 = distance. Although the kanji used for his name is not feminine, the name itself and its kanji variants are more commonly used as feminine given names. Male usage is very rare. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haruka_(given_name)

    Makoto,真琴: 真 = pure;true, 琴 = koto, the Japanese stringed musical instrument. This specific kanji combination is a feminine given name.
    Makoto is a masculine name if 誠 = sincerity is used.
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E3%81%BE%E3%81%93%E3%81%A8#Japanese

    Nagisa, 渚: 渚 = beach/seashore. The name is unisex. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagisa PS.I can’t confirm whether male usage of this name has decreased in recent years in Japan.

    Rin, 凛 : 凛 = dignified. A feminine given name. http://www.20000-names.com/female_japanese_names_02.htm

    Rei, 怜 : 怜 = wise. http://www.mahou.org/Kanji/4E67/
    The hiragana れい(rei) attributed to 怜 makes the name feminine. However, if the hiragana さとし(satoshi) was attributed to 怜, the name would be masculine. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%80%9C#Japanese

    Bonus: Gou,江: 江 = inlet,bay. As mentioned in ep 1, Gou was named after the real-life Lady Gou, aka Oeyo, a prominent female historical figure in late Sengoku era Japan.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oeyo

    However, the hiragana for Gou,ごう, can also be attributed to the name 剛 = strong/tough, a masculine name.

    zztop
  7. So I guess Ama-Chan Sensei quoting a little bit of chinese literature has become a thing now huh?

    “Duke Tai of Qi from the Shang Dynasty” – Founder of Qi. I believe the quote is
    “Grand Duke Jiang fishes – those who are willing jump at the bait” — which means “put one’s own head in the noose”

    She is really a badass teacher, working for a swuimsuit company, threatening Makoto and Nagisa with quitting etc, monitoring the guys in the hot sun while holding an umbrella etc.

    On the other hand, Rin is just one overly competitive guy who just can’t get his head over someone like Haru, who doesn’t care about winning. I guess that leaves him less than satisfied and compete not for the usual reasons.

    Normal girls do like buff guys eh?? https://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2013.jpg

    Random shots of the coach in pictures……that made me LOLed hard!! 🙂

    Swim, swim, swim, Haru!!

    https://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2010.jpg
    https://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2020.jpg
    https://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2036.jpg

    mianghuei
  8. I wouldn’t say the explanation for why Rin is now their rival is anti-climactic. How would YOU feel if you trained for swimming for most of your life, and spent thousands studying abroad in Australia with the goal of being in the Olympics, only to return to find you CAN’T beat the former friend you SWAM WITH IN GRADE SCHOOL??? I think his reaction was justified.

    starss
  9. A pupular and cute but ditzy and lazy teacher is forced to become a club advisor because of a secret in her past. Just where did I see that before…

    In general, I have to say though that this episode was more enjoyable to me than the first and certainly a lot easier on the eyes.

    Zannafar
  10. Gou is like the surrogate for the target fujoshi audience out there, isn’t she? Helplessly oogling at the abs of every man she sees, even in her brother’s own school.
    https://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2013.jpg

    So it’s amazing that she still managed to brush aside the blatant attempt by the Samezuka swimming team member to hit on her without even batting an eyelid.
    https://randomc.net/image/Free/Free%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2014.jpg

    Oh, and besides more Gou cuteness, I would also love to see Ama-chan-sensei in a swimsuit, soon. LOL (Fujoshi: Fanservice for the guys in a fujoshi-targeted show? BLASPHEMY!)

    echykr
      1. Does seem to work both ways. On one hand, you got the hot guys for the female fanbase(and Gou). On the other hand, the guys get to see Gou’s cute reactions and Ama-sensei.

        Zhinvu
    1. Interesting how you automatically labeled Gou as fujoshi when she hasn’t exhibited any slashy fantasies. I think you can more appropriately chalk it up to regular adolescent hormones.

      You wouldn’t call a guy who admires/ogles a girl’s body whatever the equivalent to a fujoshi is. You’d call him normal. So why is it suddenly fujoshi when a girl does it?

      Also, very nice point you made there about Kou and her composure when faced with that guy hitting on her. To me that actually says a lot more in that she’s not boy crazy, but more muscle crazy maybe?

  11. We’re still in the “cast setup” phase. What Kyoani does after that (in regards to swimming or just drinking tea), we’ll see. But so far (while originality is questionable, but hey, the genre is slice-of-life) it’s cute and light, and most important of all, i’m entertained. The small things are what get to me. Haruka being good at art, Nagisa being a history buff in pointing out Gou’s significance in the name, and Makoto just being the group’s mother hen. Ah, inserting subtlety creates my bias, which is why I absolutely adored Hyouka. But Kyoani has stepped into the sports genre, which is why crazy antics and shenanigans won’t be enough this time around.

    P.s. I’m still holding ground that Ama-chan-sensei is secretly grown-up Yui. You can’t deny
    that hair and lack of athleticism!

    The Amateur Alchemist
    1. Oh, the ‘join us and swim’ angel poster was Haruka’s work!
      So that’s why the Art Club members* were so keen on kidnapping him. 🙂

      *(paint-stained aprons,art utensils, all wearing glasses)

      zztop
  12. The characters are not anything special, but I found this episode of Free! to be quite enjoyable. Watching them set up a swiming club was nice and I’m liking the competitive sports angle to it which I hope they develop further after establishing the core cast of characters. The animation is also impressive, and lends an edge to this show over other cool guys doing cool things (well I wouldn’t call the cast of Free! cool, but…). I’m interested in seeing what the next character will bring to the mix. I do agree with you on the smiling part though it does come off a bit forced.

    Smiledie
  13. Ama-sensei is by far my favorite character. If there is anything people should take away from free, it’s that it didnt devolve into some crass fanservicey show. The fact that there is some semblance of plot and conflict, even though it may not be groundbreaking or down-right complex, the fact that this show even bothered to try is a win in my book and therefore these eps have been enjoyable. Here’s hoping we can delve into some decent character development before the show is down; and i would also like to see more of the swimming from a competitive angle.

    sonicsenryaku
    1. I also wonder if she has a hidden dark side like K-ON’s Sawa-chan-sensei. She did give out an pretty dark aura after hearing Nagisa’s plan to make her wear a swimsuit.

      Zhinvu
  14. Nagisa’s a pretty devious character, IMO.

    From conning Gou to pronounce her name with that Gou/Kou exchange, to suggesting Ms. Amakata as swimsuit service bait for swim club enrolments…If that isn’t devious then I don’t know what is!(━_━)ゝ

    I look forward to future developments on his side, Muahahahahaha… ψ(`∇´)ψ

    zztop
  15. I only recently noticed that those random dance moves in the ending aren’t random at all, but supposed to be reminiscent of the characters’ respective swimming styles (breaststroke for Nagisa, backstroke for Makoto, butterfly for Rei and freestyle for Haruka).

    Not sure if it’s something so obvious everyone noticed right off the bat, but I thought I’d share in case there were other slowpokes like me.

    Elle
  16. Kyoani year:2012,2013

    Hyouka-No coments.
    Chunibyou- Tatsuya Ishihara shows(again)his skills.

    Tamako Market-Cute girls doing nothing.
    Free!-Cute boys open a swimming club.

    I mean,really?Is there any chance i still can hope for Haruhi 3?? Is there any chance i can hope for something with a interesting history?No focused on fanservice?

    Well,for the very least,Chuunibyou 2 is on production,but that is not something to get all excited about,since the fanservice is huge,but is genuinely fun.

    Bu really,Where´s Haruhi 3 Kyoani?

    Tred
      1. I totally forgot this one.And yes,that´s the kind of anime that i put my hopes on.To be honest,i´m expecting something like Hyouka or even better.

        But,for what i know, there wasn´t any confirmation for Winter though.

        Tred
    1. After the stunt they pulled with Haruhi 2…you seriously want a Haruhi 3? Kyoani is perhaps my favourite animation studio, but what they did with Haruhi 2 will always be unforgivable.

      Taiakun
      1. The endless eight was a huge mistake,no doubts about that.But i think the movie pretty much compensates this failure,giving an outstaning well directed work,that shows everything Kyoani can do.Also, There´s the fact that the novel just keeps geeting better and better,so, i don´t see a reason why not do it.

        Tred
      2. To your point – I loved the movie too, and I think they should keep it as movies! Both anime series so far has been head scratchers. The first was confusing the way that they mixed and mashed up the chronological order…and yeah…endless eight…

        Taiakun
      3. To be honest,i think that´s what have more chances to actually happen,because even i wanting a tv series,i have some concerns about this format,since,like you said,the producer team managed to scrum over season 2,after that big mess up on season one,which didn´t make any sense,because the order on the BD´s where chronological.

        One of the reasons that i keep believing is because i love the series, and other is the experience the team already have,making a 3º mistake unforgivable.

        Tred
    2. I sure as hell would like to believe that rants like these are copy paste material but in reality some people still hold a pathetic rant like this.

      Jesus Christ just let it go cry babies. I myself would love more FMP and Haruhi but that’s not gonna happen if all parties agreed to this, basically the ones who hold the god damn cash AND the rights of the source material.

      SPONSORS >>>>>> KyoAni.

      KyoAni does the job which is laid in front of them by Kadokawa. They surely can suggest but if the head honchos with cash don’t want to fund it, KyoAni sure as hell won’t fund it for themselves and risk getting axed by the ones who hold the rights.

      Seriously… DO SOME THINKING FOR A CHANGE.

      /rant

      megalith
      1. Hey,take it easy man.Haruhi is always good to talk about,happening our not,And yes,my line “where´s Haruhi” is a fanboy line that wishifull fanboys whom don´t know how the industry works and etc.I get that,but,to be honest,i prefer to bellieve that i´m just a guy who likes that “x” anime and want it no matter what.That´s it.But, really?You have absolute sure that Kyoani really wanted to give us the FMP and Haruhi series, but they can´t?Maybe.But this one-sided naive justification i heard much.And also,do you really think that Kyoani woudn´t do a thing if their series were not a huge hit anymore,and they needed to “rescue” former series?

        Tred
      2. I sure as hell took it easy but you guys keep flipping my switch from time to time.

        Anyway it matters very little if KyoAni really wants to do it or not. But it also doesn’t hide the fact that KyoAni was never one of the important sponsors in those projects. They are a animation studio. They get work from publishers who most likely have the biggest say if the anime is necessary.

        Truth be told, anime is most of the time just promotion material. They aim to earn by not only hoping the discs would sell but also hoping other merchandises would sell as well. Anime originals are another thing though. So with that in mind. Does Haruhi need a new anime? Most likely as heck not since motherfckn Tanigawa is taking his sweet time releasing a new volume.

        DO ALL THE PRODUCTION COMMITTEE MEMBERS AGREE(NOT JUST KYOANI) TO DO IT?

        KyoAni doesn’t want to do Haruhi/FMP = No Haruhi/FMP
        Kadokawa doesn’t want to give the go signal = No Haruhi/FMP
        Sponsors don’t want to fund it/axed the budget = No Haruhi/FMP

        You see. There are many things that can contribute to an anime not being made. It’s not just the Animation Studio alone. Here’s one more for the list just in case…

        Not enough source material for another season? = No Anime

        megalith
      3. Oh and one more thing. It matters not if KyoAni wants to do it or not. In the end, the anime is either there or not. KyoAni can do whatever the hell they want. If this were really any more heavy with the manservice(in a fujoshi targetted way) I would’ve dropped this myself. Surprisingly it’s not that much.

        Moving on…. I suggest you drop that self entitlement you hold so dearly and just watch whatever it is you enjoy. More so if you don’t support them and not BUYING THE MERCHANDISE OVER THERE IN JAPAN. If you did buy the merchandise from the “glorious” land itself then by all means pray hard and summon all the mystical beings you can and hope they can somehow tangibly influence the major companies to make an anime for you.

        Also it doesn’t necessarily mean that KyoAni has to be the one to make Haruhi. Things shifted from studio to studio. That’s how Kanon/Clannad(TOEI) and FMP(GONZO) worked. You can add that to your list of prayers and hope Kadokawa lets the damn thing be made by other studios.

        So with that I hope you realize that it’s pointless to rant: “Waaaaaaa KyoAni you god damn SOB where’s my [insert decomposing anime franchise here]?”

        Just… Move on. 🙂

        megalith
    3. Haruhi season 3 would be nice to see as i have been impressed with the creativity of the source material; however, I would rather have the remaining haruhi LN’s be adapted in movie format (and OVA’s for the more campier stories in the series) as Taiakun suggested. Disappearance is one of my favorite anime movies of all time and if they can maintain that quality with future adaptations in movie form, heck even do it better than disappearance, then the haruhi franchise will definitely be redeemed, which in my opinion, it already has with disappearance. They left the series at a great point and i think that’s also the reason why so many people want to see more because there is a lot more to the events of disappearance than anyone initially thought. Out of all the novels tho, I would love to see Dissociation get a movie. That one is by far the most interesting.

      sonicsenryaku
      1. I´m a little lazy to read novels,and i don´t have a tablet,so i prefer to wait for the movie-series to enjoy it.But, from the spoilers i heard, Disassociation is really the best novel,and is geeting harder and harder to resist from it.There´s also the fact that Sugita Tomokazu makes all worth it.

        Tred
  17. I personally am enjoying this anime. It makes me laugh, the animation is great, and I like the characters. Rin is pretty interesting to an extent, and I do want to know more about what has happened to him when he went to Australia. The voice acting is pretty good too. I just don’t really like Nagisa but I don’t normally like characters like him anyway so it’s not a flaw of the anime or anything, just me. Kou is a cute girl character (lol and the only I guess).

    I think it will be fun to see next week how they get the dedicated-to-track Rei to join the swim club.

    It doesn’t have to be original to be good. KyoAni does a lot of the same type of themes, and it doesn’t make it any worse. It’s all about how it is told after all. Same plots can be told differently by different writers and the characters that portray them. There are a lot of the same stories that has been tossed around and changed up a bit, but it’s because of how they’re written that people are still drawn to the different ones. Of course this doesn’t apply to all manga/anime/books/movies/etc. but I can think of quite a few.

    Jel
  18. It’s always interesting to read your opinion and reviews as you present it in such a reasonable manner.

    I don’t profess to be well-versed in the KyoAni world but I have seen my share of them recently and to me what I feel attracts people to their work, apart from the fact that it’s slice of life, is that they all have a certain charm to them.

    Not being an expert, I don’t recall if there were characters that smiled a lot, but isn’t that a common trope in any anime? Does Mugi-chan not qualify as the same? Instead of a character who smiles a lot, I think it’s more to provide a gentle mothering presence to the group dynamic. Look at KtB’s Shun.

    I’m not a Nagisa fan but I don’t get the impression that he smiles a lot. He gives me more of a go getter impression than anything. He’s the action taker of the group. Left to their own devices, Makoto and Haruka would just go about their business and boring lives. Nagisa initiates most of the action and prods everyone else to do the same. He’s rather crafty and he gets things done.

    I am however a fan of Irino Miyu, and while I love Chizuru, his voice for him really really annoyed me. While I can respect his range in voice acting and even be impressed at how he voiced Chizuru, I can’t help but cringe whenever I hear him. Not to say Yonaga Tsubasa is better, but it’s not as grating for me.

    I agree that the discussions and reactions are more interesting than the series itself, but I wonder if you or everyone else would have the same problems or opinions if this were swimming team made up of girls. Are your objections really based on personality flaws of the characters, or would you have embraced these flaws and found them charming if it were girls you were looking at instead?

  19. I’m enjoying this series so far. Yes, most of it is just a reverse slice of life anime, but so far I don’t feel anything wrong with that. The presence of Gou/Kou has been good for the series to give it more balance overall. Apart from Nagisa, I don’t really see the whole “cute boys doing cute things” thing going.

    Looking at it from a sports anime, I’m quite enjoying this one. Reason being that it has one of the more realistic (okay…guys with girls names is a bit out there), compared to Kuroko’s basket for example (seriously, some of those special players are more superhuman than super skilled…no one in the world are able to consistently shoot 3 pointers from anywhere on the court for example, not even Ray Allen/Steve Curry etc). What you see is what you get. The main character is good, but not superhuman in his abilities. Maybe I’m a bit biased having gone through swimming training in the past, spending about 20 hours a week going back and forth trying to improve my time by a few split seconds each race. I can see why Rin was so upset about losing to Haruka a few years prior, seeing how extremely rigorous swimming training can be in Australia, and losing to someone who isn’t serious about winning is heartbreaking. Haruka on the other hand hurt his friend without realizing it, which caused him to lose interest in racing. Though it is somewhat anticlimatic to some, it is certainly not cliche. What would have been worst is if this dragged on for many more episodes to go.

    Going by the 3 episode rule, I think that I’ve seen enough to warrant going the distance on this series.

    Taiakun
  20. Nice episode overall, but Gou’s moe is WAY too distracting, even though I know she is where fujoshi’s insert themselves.

    I think I finally found best girl for Summer 2013.

    TheMoondoggie
  21. This is waaay better than the first episode. Glad the plot of moving forward and it was not all about hot naked guys swimming.

    Thank you for blogging this and looking forward to it next week.

    Drift
  22. We have swim-sport anime. We have cute girl like Kou and a sexy sensei but the first one gonna be put as a team manager and the second has some trauma against swimsuits. Dafuq?! KyoAni, I want Kou in a swimsuit and I want her now!

    Patrick
    1. I realized that all comments in this page which had compliments about Kou (Gou) or Ama-sensei got thumbed down. What’s so wrong about a guy watching a show because of female characters? (though I do know which is the target group of this show) 😛

      Patrick

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