before i start the review i feel the need to say something.
I am, in fact, a girl...
you know in case you couldn't tell by the girly art or backdrop.
okay we good? good...
It's about a world with no water and one lone traveller as he seeks the life giving substance. it is rumoured to be in the hands of the evil lord of the land (we know he's evil cause he gets splashed with water on a whim and has pointy teeth)
anyways our protagonist must travel through many lands to no avail... no matter how odd the angle seems he must continue forward... and just about when all hope is lost he find an oasis and even the evil lord guy is there.... guess he's not so bad after all (other then they are skinny dipping [well our protagonist isn't... apparently they have spandex in this mystical no water land] in the only water source for miles and that can't be terribly sanitary)
that's.... that's not what the show is about? that's just the ending song...
OK... Take two.
Free! is about the journey of one swimmer who dreams of going to the Olympics, the same dream as his father. However after travelling abroad and seemingly reaching his limit his confidence is shaken. Can he really do better or is this as far as his skills take him... he gets further and further into a slump until he gets the chance to meet up with his old swim team and he learns that while winning is fine swimming should also be fun.
oh.... that's just the side story? well.... it's more interesting then the rest of the plot.
Free! is (for real this time) about a group of boys with girly names (and actions) who work together to form a swim club and participate in competitions, however none of them have been too serious about it since swimming together in middle school and one of the members sinks like a rock unless he's doing the butterfly stroke (more on this later)
so we have Haruka, henceforth known as Haru, who is obsessed with water... like... I'm surprised he doesn't drop out of school and just spend all day every day in a pool.
Nagisa, the catalyst for making the club, who has no discernible character traits other then being freakishly bubbly and acting like no human being ever.
Ma... um... Makoto? i think.... i call him gentle giant.... anyways again no real character traits he just gets an arc in the middle that i will be mentioning later.
Megane... um.. .ren? i think thats it...
anyways Megane is the aforementioned track team guy turned swimmer because, and i shit you not, he is a guy with a girly name... therefor he is hounded to join the club.
and last of the guys we have Rin, or as i call him pointy McSharkteeth... he is by far the most interesting character and as i mentioned before the show would have been better had it been his journey and dealing with the fact that he may not be able to obtain his goal and where he can go from there.
we also have Gou, she likes being called kou, who is a girl with a manly name who loves biceps and is the team manager... though all that is kinda tossed aside after the middle cause this story isn't about her... it's about 4 (5 i guess) extremely muscled high school students swimming together.
the teacher lady who's name i can't remember at all... i guessed when she was first introduced that she hated swimsuits cause she was a swimsuit model while my friend figured she hated them cause she made them and was sick of them.... one of us was right... and it wasn't my friend.
the pizza delivery guy/coach who comes and helps them improve and has a really stupid hairdo but otherwise no distinguishing characteristics.
you may be noticing a trend.
SO.... what did i think of free.
didn't like it.
by the end i didn't hate it cause it's fairly harmless (kinda.... more on that in a bit) but boy does this show have some stupid and enraging moments.
FROM HERE ON OUT i will be SPOILING things so... don't wanna see it then stop here, my opinion of the show is if you have nothing else and it looks interesting to you give it a shot... if you hate club focused shows you will hate this one.
first off... the positive.
I really enjoyed the ending song, even though i still feel that would be a more interesting show... the song itself was catchy and fun.
when the animation is good this show is incredibly pretty... but the animation is only good when they swim...
ugh... no... stay positive.
um... it's short... so i didn't have to deal with more fanservice filled filler episodes.
yeah that's all i got.
WHY I DON'T LIKE THE SHOW.
it's dumb.... really dumb... characters are flat with little to no motivation... character arcs are whiplash quick and then never mentioned again.
the show will have pointless, blatant, pandering fanservice to get the yaoi fan girls squeeing.
there's an episode that mostly show at crotch level with a shopping mall montage for no reason other then to show these badly proportioned men have no equipment.
there is an episode where megane can't swim cause the strokes are ugly but after talking to haru and seeing a butterfly he can no magically do butterfly which is probably one of the most difficult strokes to do... and in the end it doesn't matter cause he's cast off to the side as he isn't one of the original 4.
again, the proportions in this show bug me mostly cause they look unrealistic for that age group... swimmers are quite lean but this show would have you believe that they have extremely defined muscles even though 3 hadn't been training much/at all since middle school.
any time they aren't swimming the animation just really fluffy and floaty and it almost feels like they didn't know how to write men so they just drew guys but gave them very moe female reactions to stuff (for nagisa especially)
one of the characters is afraid of the ocean yet he sets up a tour that would have them swim to four island... wait..
wait.. that's really dangerous... between currents and one of your guys not knowing how to swim that's really really really stupid... why are you doing that?!
ugh so one of them goes to practice at night, nearly drowns, the one who's afraid to swim in the ocean tries to save him... also nearly drowns.... and then after being saved by the remaining members they meet up and tell spooky stories in a lighthouse.
two people nearly died... and you are just okay with this? in fact it helped him get over his fear?
well that was simple...
and that's the problem
they barely have to work at things to have it go their way... i mean it's better then K-on cause at least they spend the club time to actually practice but it just feels rushed...
I hate to say it but 26 episodes may have done this show good.... but more focus on shark teeth and possibly more drive for Haru... like have Haru also have some kind of dream aside from "i feel water... i don't resist it"... I'm not saying it had to be Olympics... maybe he wants to own/run a public pool or teach kids how to swim.... maybe he wants to swim in every body of water ever... i don't know... just SOMETHING would have been nice. wanting to compete is not good enough (in my opinion)
also the last episode.
a) well that's where all the animation budget went...
b) wont that get them disqualified? (it does)
c) you guys know that you can swim in a pool and it doesn't need to be a competition... I'm serious i do it all the time..
d) stop with the pandering "you crying yet?" eye glazes with emotional music... you wanna make me cry then get me invested in the characters... don't just be like "it's sad cause we say it's sad"
around the middle of this show this was number 5 on my top 5 hated anime...
but then i saw diabolic lovers and this was bumped off so fast.. .cause in the end i don't like this cause it's pandering.... but it's harmless... it has a plot... a stupid plot... but hey it is there. characters do have an arc... other then nagisa who seems exactly the same... but still shak tooth learns something, haru gets more emotion... giant gets over his fear and megane learns how to swim the most difficult stroke in a night....
i do worry what this holds for the future.
again, I'm a girl and this show was aimed at me (supposedly) HOWEVER i'm the type of girl who prefers plot to fanservice (if there is fanservice on top of plot that's fine as long as it makes sense) and i just know for the next year or so i'm gunna be dealing with shows that are claiming to be for me but are really just pretty boys being pretty with no depth...
They will try to copy free without understand what makes work. and even though i don't like the show much it does work in its own way... for whatever reason (well... i think I've given quite a few reasons actually) this show didn't resonate with me... but it does show that there may be a trend of shows targeted at girls that aren't necessarily reverse harem or out-right shoujo titles.(not that there's anything wrong with either of those genres... they just don't tend to get a lot of merchandise)
besides... i know I'm probably going to have to get my Hypocrite card ready cause.... next season (i think it starts pretty soon) theres going to be a show about boys with Glasses.... Megane-bu (i think that directly translated to Glasses club) and if there is any sort of kryptonite for me.... that's pretty much it. I hope it's good... but i doubt it will be... so yeah get ready to ring me a new one for disliking this when that will be as bad if not worse... only time will tell.
so yeah... what was your opinion of free! ? i know the majority of people really liked it and i would love to hear why.
And remember... just cause i don't like something you did like doesn't mean i hate the people who did like it... i have my own personal opinions and biases that make me think the way i do. It's good to have a varying level of opinions or the industry will stagnate.
Also my friend saw it as well and you can read her thoughts here