Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
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|Title:||Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club|
|Demographic:||Fan Service, Bishounen|
|Genres:||Sports, Slice of Life, Modern Melodrama, Comedy|
|Rated:||PG-13 (Suggestive Material, Sexual & Adult Situations)|
|Ending:||Unusual Outcome; Positive Outlook, Happy Ending|
|Sequel:||Free! - Eternal Summer|
Four boys—Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka—all grew up together at their elementary school and entered a swimming tournament. Their friendships grew as they trained together, eventually winning them their victory. Suddenly, the group finds out that an unforeseen change of plans has Rin leaving for Australia, to further train in hopes of becoming a professional Olympic swimmer.
The group of boys are forced to go their separate ways throughout junior high, until all but Rin seem pleasantly surprised to find out they're going to the same high school and will be reunited once again years later. It doesn't take long before Rin unexpectedly turns up from Australia, and challenges Haruka to a race. Rin wins, but feels that because Haruka seems to have given up competitive swimming and is not in his top form, the race means nothing.
Nagisa sees the competitive spirit in Rin and asks the others whether they'd be interested in forming a swim team for the school. After much hesitation, the group is formed with a new member, Rei—and they spruce up their school's dilapidated lap pool to begin their training. Rin, however, is enrolled at a different school from the others at Iwatobi High—a prestigious school called Samezuka Academy, with its own swim club. Because of this among a life-changing experience Rin had as a child, tensions form between him and Haruka, and Rin's emotions start to get the better of him. Especially once both schools find themselves competing for the nationals in a relay.
|Critique Rating:||Story Rating: B||Character Rating: A-||Visual Rating: A+||Score Rating: A-||Growth Rating: B+|
Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club has been one of the better animés I've enjoyed for a few reasons.
Despite being marketed to a female audience (as it revolves around young men whom are in nothing but their tight swimsuits
the majority of their time on-screen), I really came to appreciate all that it has to offer. Nevermind that first and
foremost the series is a bishounen and NOT a yaoi
series (as many overzealous otakuists are inaccurately describing it as), the show goes beyond aesthetically-pleasing
visuals to bring you a deeper connection to the characters. Though at times the story felt dragged out at some sequences, the
character development is easily recognized through their hardships and background traumas they face at a young age.
This gives the show a more realistic appeal of the slice-of-life drama that it is, nevertheless, simultaneously keeping the mood lively and humorous throughout.
What I also found great about this series is that it makes you fall in love with the characters, and really get a sense of appreciating their stereotypical—although very realistic—personalities. Every character has a unique trait, and every character is not without their own strengths or flaws. This gives the viewers a dedicated feeling to connect with the show, with the ability of relating to each character so effortlessly.
As mentioned earlier, if you find yourself liking a clear 'cut-to-the-chase' show with little-to-no stalling, this show may not be your speed. But overall, I find I didn't mind it all that much. The story has plenty of originality due to revolving around a sport, while maintaining a set of dramatic and comedic emotions.
If you're looking for something new and fresh, and don't mind constant fan service of the aesthetically-pleasing male anatomy, or a hint of sexual orientation that transcends the norm, I highly recommend you giving this story a shot. It has plenty more to offer besides the amount of fervorous charm.