Almost Review: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

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If you keep up with the latest animes then you’ve probably heard about Free! Iwatobi Swim Club (or just Free!) by now.

…And if you’re a fan of yaoi and you’ve heard about Free! then there is a 99% chance you’re already watching it…possibly rewatching it on a daily basis with shameless thirst. (LOL)

For those who know nothing about this slice of life swimming anime, though, I offer you a list of seven facts slash reviews. Perhaps it will help you in your decision to watch or not watch Free!

I’ll also add a # out of 10 score at the end to sum up my opinion on the show’s overall quality.

Alright! Prepare for some crappy listing!

  1. Free! is currently a controversial anime. This means that you may, unfortunately, receive some insults for becoming a fan of the show. Long story short, there are a lot of angry, sexist, homophobic, hypocritical anime dudes out there who loathe the idea of an anime that sexualizes men for the benefit of women–or fanservice. Keep in mind that these are the same dudes who will turn around and fap to anime panty shots then shed man-tears about how they’re tired of society judging them. *sigh* Anyway, consider this bullet more of a warning than something to use as a decision-making tool…because may have word “fujoshi” hissed in your direction if you say you’re a fan of Free!
  2. Speaking of fanservice... Yes, there is a lot of fanservice in this show. Once more, this anime caters to women. So, you can expect a lot of chest shots, ab shots, muscular arms, muscular backs, crotch shots, butt shots, guys getting undressed in slow motion (Actually, one guy–Haru–literally undresses the moment he sees water.  He has done this in public numerous times), and things along that line. But I must press something in the next bullet regarding the fanservice issues.
  3. Free! is not just fanservice. It has content. Those who deny that are usually members of the “ugh this is gay (Why is “gay” being used an insult? Come on, people. It’s 2013.)” or “lol omg half naked guys” crowd. When you look past the obvious sexual content, you will find your quintessential slice of life and sports anime. If you are fan of both or even one of these genres, you may like Free! To me, it accurately portrays what it is like to grow up with certain friends, grow apart as the years pass, and then come together again over a common passion. It also has a decent representation of what swimming is like. Those who enjoy swimming, or just being in water, may find themselves relating wholeheartedly with Haru especially.
  4. The characters are likeable. Yes, some of them do fall into anime stereotypes, but it doesn’t take away from their charm. My favorite character is tied between Haru and Gou–excuse me, Kou (you’ll understand why I did that once you watch the anime). Haru is a guy who is seriously in love with water. He cannot go a single day without submerging himself in it. As I mentioned before, he even strips down and tries to swim in public if he sees anything that contains water. His stoic personality along with those tendencies makes his antics extremely funny. Kou, on the other hand, is just adorable. She is a very determined leader, yet at the same time she cannot help ogling at the physical aspects of the boys she is supposed to lead (her slogan: “Look at those biceps!” *swoons*). There is a cute type, brainy type, sensitive type, aggressive type–so you’ll likely find a favorite character within the first two episodes.
  5. Free! is funny. Comedy doesn’t usually come to mind when I think of sports-oriented animes like Free!, but I had plenty of laugh out loud moments so far. I still chuckle thinking about the guys-having-feminine-names and girls-having-masculine-names punchline that keeps popping up. One character even goes as far as saying that a character named Rei should be recruited to their swim team because he has a girl’s name too and it’s, therefore, “destiny”. By the way, Rei will get a lot of laughs out of you. He tries so hard to show that his brilliant mathematical calculations can solve anything, even swimming, and it doesn’t go well for him. It’s funnier to watch. I promise.
  6. The animation is beautiful. You only have to look around at the landscapes to see how much work went into this anime. Every time they show water, I cannot help but marvel at how gorgeous it looks. It’s almost like standing right there in front of a pool. The character designs are a bit generic, but they’re not over the top. No spiky-haired guy with pink and lilac hair running around. The funkiest colors you may come across, hair-wise, is blue and maroon.
  7. The story isn’t bad. Sure, I can find animes with more interesting storylines. However, you kind of expect this type of plot in a slice of life anime. The biggest conflicts the characters face are internal. They may encounter rivalries along the way, but even those rivalries involve a lot of inner turmoil as opposed to physical confrontations. So, it does what an anime like this is supposed to do: it makes you like the characters, stay curious about their pasts, become eager to learn their futures, laugh, feel pity, feel anger, feel happiness, etc.

Overall, Free! is a feel-good anime. Whether you go into it for the fanservice, the life lessons, or to witness the blossoming relationships between different characters, you get what you’re looking for.

If you’re turned off by animes that aren’t high-octane…or you’re just uncomfortable with the idea of watching slow camera pans of scantily-clad guys dripping in water…then I wouldn’t recommend this anime to you.

Otherwise, this anime is probably right up your alley.

I give it an 8 out 10. Of course, this score is not too reliable since I am only 4 episodes into it, along with everyone else, but we’ll see how things turn out once the series ends. I have a strong feeling it will follow the typical route of animes like this (Not complaining. I like the occasional mellow anime between my humanity-against-overpowering-villains animes).

Alright. That wraps up another lazy, half-assed review!

I leave you with this. Consider it a “preview” of what you’ll likely run into while watching Free!

Later~

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