I’m back again with another anime review and my first sports anime since Haikyu. As you are all aware I have a deep obsession with Haikyu and to be honest I think I’ve put off watching another sports anime because I just don’t think anything will ever come close to it’s level.
Case in point… Free! Iwatobi Swim Club.
Well first season wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. It was just, there. The premise of the show is about four guys (Rin, Makoto, Haruka, and Nagisa) that use to be in a swim club when they were kids and won their first and only medley relay race together.
Sadly right after the race one of the members (Rin) leaves to go to a swim school in Australia. Shortly after Haruka (who was very close to Rin) starts middle school he too drops out of swim club and decides to never competitively swim again. Makoto and Nagisa are never aware of his reasons for swimming but without both him and Rin they decide not to swim as well.
Fast forward to the present they’re in high school when they hear their old swim club is being torn down. While in elementary they had buried a time capsule so they decide to dig it up before the construction starts. While there they run into Rin who challenges Haruka to a race. Rin beats Haruka but is upset about his win because he knows Haruka isn’t in racing shape.
After their race Nagisa comes up with the idea of creating a swim club at school. If they form a swim club then they will be able to see Rin at tournaments. Haruka and Makoto agree to the new swim club formation and once they find their fourth member they’re in business. In comes Rei who is actually a track athlete but with a lot of prodding from Nagisa finally decides to join their swim club.
The story focuses on them basically sorting out all the drama that has caused Rin, Haruka, Nagisa, and Makoto to no longer be friends. We learn a lot about their pasts and their reasons for swimming. A long the way they decide to make it their goal to go to nationals.
Lame. I’ll tell you right off the bat that after dealing with Rin’s bullshit for 12 episodes I’m in no mood to sugar coat things. The fact of the matter is that since he’s such a whiney drama king for the entire season the majority of the show just focuses on his feelings. The actual sport of swimming takes a serious backseat.
I don’t know maybe some people like that but for me I was totally irritated. Where were the harsh training sessions? Where was the love for the game? Where was victories based on trust and teamwork? Where were all the elements of a sports anime I expected to see?!
I’ll tell you were they were. They were drowning in a sea of angst provided by Rin and Haruka. That’s where they were. Not only was I completely let down by the lack of sports related events, I felt like the show as a whole had no direction when it came to goals. It was basically like, “The goal is to see Rin. If we make it to the next competition in the meantime than that’s bangin’”.
What the heck am I suppose to do with that nonsense? How am I supposed to be pumped if the characters themselves aren’t even pumped? I’ll tell you the answer to that. The answer is that I can’t be pumped and that was a damn let down let me tell you.
On top of that what the crap was up with that ending? I won’t say what it is (spoilers) but I will say I thought it was stupid. Was I supposed to be touched? Was that meant to be endearing? Because it wasn’t, I just thought it was dumb. Maybe it was because at that point I was just done with the drama, I don’t know, what I do know was that it did not leave me craving season two. Honestly I didn’t even realize that was supposed to be their season ender.
As annoyed as I am right now I am willing to hold out hope for a better season two. I mean now that they have their emotional crap sorted out season two will actually be able to get to the sports side of things.
This show did have some amusing moments (mostly because of Nagisa, Rei, and Makoto) so there is hope season two is better. Again this show wasn’t unbearable or anything like that it just wasn’t moving. There was never a time where an episode ended and I felt like, “Oh my goodness, I NEED to know what happens next.”
I also hope the pacing of the show is a little better in season two. Everything in season one happened so quickly. I mean Rei has to learn to swim competitively in a week, then it’s like boom first tournament, and next day hope you make it to regionals. There was no build up to the competition so I didn’t get emotionally involved in the characters. I honestly didn’t care if they won or lost.
It’s no Haikyu I can tell you that right now. If you’re looking for something to do to kill an afternoon this will fill your time. Don’t be surprised if you aren’t 100% sucked in though. Again I hold out hope that their second season is better but I’m not going to hold my breath or anything. The characters aren’t super memorable but they have potential so who knows. They might surprise me.
Have you ever seen Free! Iwatobi Swim Club? What was your reaction?
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