Free! Iwatobi Swim Club… Meh.

Hey Grimms.

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.

Siiiiiiggggghhhhhh

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.

free-iwatobi-swim-club-kid-pic

Look they’re little kiddies

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.

 

Reaction

free-iwatobi-swim-club-haruka-and-rin

Omg HE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE (Mean Girl reference you’ll get it when you watch it)

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.”

free-iwatobi-swim-club-rei

Thank heavens for these three…

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.

 

Last Thoughts

Meh.

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?

 

I Do Not Own These Images

20 thoughts on “Free! Iwatobi Swim Club… Meh.

  1. I probably enjoyed the start of Free because it isn’t the usual sport thing. Yes, they are participating in sport but the story is about the characters (pathetic though Rin might be at times). That said, my Friday’s Feature for this week is going to explain why I’ve put finishing even season 1 of this on hold at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was under the assumption that Free! was meant more to pander to female audiences with their super detailed mostly naked wet hot guys sharing their feelings and hugging than it was meant to be a serious sports anime. I’m only half-joking to be honest because really most of what I’ve seen and heard of the show has been focused on fan-based shounen-ai aspects, fanservice and whatnot. Hell, first time I ever heard of this show was on a shounen-ai thread on an anime forum.

    The extremely short interludes between starting out/picking a sport or game back up, training and the first tournament is actually not that uncommon. Unless you have shounen jump levels of ‘it has HOW MANY EPISODES?!’ this rush is typically needed in order to move the plot along. Most of the time, this can be done well enough, but from you described it really seems like they’ve drained the tension out on purpose. For all I know, maybe they do active focus more on fanservice and character interactions than they give a crap about swimming. I have my same suspicions about Kuroko’s Basketball giving less of a crap about basketball than it does shounen-ai poking and fanservice. Then again, I don’t like to make assumptions that drastic on shows I’ve never watched.

    Nice review, and here’s hoping it gets a little more sporty down the line.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually started Kuroko’s Basketball so I’ll have some reviews out starting next week. I was actually surprised at how much I liked it. I agree that Free! doesn’t have many episodes to work with but at the same time I’ve seen other anime (never a sports one to be fair) with the same episodes constraints that have had amazing pacing. I think what gets me about Free! Is that if nobody told me it was a sports anime I would have thought it was a slice of life/drama anime. The sports take that much of a backseat. I wonder if I went into watching it with the idea that it was a slice of life anime if I would have had a better experience with it? I think Free!’s biggest problem was the lack of a strong plot. I think with the amount of episodes they had it was almost like they had to much going on. I think if they would have just stuck to one thing they could have devoted all 12 episodes to it and it would have progressed faster. Instead they have a million things going on so each problem only has an episode or two to be resolved.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If you haven’t come across it, there’s a parody of Free! on Youtube called “50% Off” which basically pokes a lot of fun at the series and general anime tropes. It might make you feel a little bit better about the original series haha

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The issue with Free is really that if you expect a sports anime than you’re going to be super letdown, like me :’D, cause it’s a drama & slice of life coated with a sports premise. I definitely felt it was nice but kinda boring/didn’t give me any hype, and I couldn’t get too invested with them or the event, maybe the other seasons are more swimming and less feels? Who knows, if you do watch S2, I wanna know!
    Definitely watch Daiya if you want sweat, tears, frustration and hardwork + lots and lots of hype moments!

    Like

    • I am def changing my mindset for s2 to see if that changes my feelings on the show. I just couldn’t get into s1 though as far as emotional investment goes… and that ending?! What the crap was that? I might have to go on a bit of a rant about it when I review s2.

      Like

  5. I enjoyed “Free!” very much. I actually didn’t watch it as a sports anime fan, but as a bishie fan. With this kind of art design with all those abs and hot bodies, I already lowered my expectations for the sports aspect before I even watched it because I know that if I watched this as a sports anime fan (which you know that I’m a big one), I would be disappointed just like you. But since I didn’t watch it like this, I enjoyed the story more. And of course, ogling the hot guys.

    Liked by 1 person

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