The anime Free! is a great coming-of-age teenage drama about four teenage boys who are passionate about swimming and making it big in the swimming world. It is one of the very few sports anime which deal with the sports of swimming in particular.
It has accumulated so much popularity within a short span of time that an animated film trilogy has also been released to wide acclaim and praise. Another film was also planned to be aired during the time of the Olympics in 2020 but unfortunately had to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Quick Review
The anime Feel! is playful, light-hearted, and entertaining. Getting to watch the charting of the development of their characters will strike a chord with many. Also, it is full of pretty and ripped teenage boys who are extremely talented at swimming.
Thus, it has been a huge hit with many Fujoshis, who have made many gay ships of the characters widely popular. If you’re a fujoshi, you will love it. The animation is also very attractive and effective at decorating the plot.
2. Is it worth watching?
Free! is totally worth watching. With its beautiful animation, good plot, beautiful characters, and a dazzling soundtrack, it does an excellent job of getting the viewers hooked to the anime.
The plot of the anime minutely focusses on the rivalries between the two characters, Haruka Nanase and Rin Matsuoka. The former is a prodigy, and gifted swimmer, and the latter has been his rival since childhood days.
Set in Iwatobi in modern-day Japan, the anime brings forth the rivalries, friendships, teenage angst, and future aspirations of all the four major characters. All of them join forces to bring back the Iwatobi High School Swim Team’s former glory. A later addition team member is Rei Ryugazaki.
The plot of this anime may seem quite unique and different from other anime. The anime does have an interesting plot for sure. But it is still very similar to much other anime, as evidenced by the enormous amount of fan service it provides to Fujoshis.
This aspect is quite reminiscent of a mildly similar anime called Yuri on Ice. Both feature dubious amounts of deliberate hints of homosexual acts and shippings.
The pacing of the plot is fairly fast and does not stagnate. It touches upon each aspect of the backstory of each character, which ensures relatively few plot holes.
Also, it is filled with beautiful moral lessons and delightful stories that are inspiring and encouraging. While the lessons of Carpe Diem (“Seize the Day!”) and fighting for your dreams may seem cliché, the approach of this anime to highlighting these lessons is so innovative and revitalizing that it isn’t dull.
Its realistic portrayal of intense psychological battles of the swimmers through using apt metaphors and brilliant animation adds another layer of depth to the entire plot.
All the characters of the Free! Universe has its own quirks, idiosyncrasies, and personalities. While all of them are drastically different from each other, they get along very well, and their friendship and bonds are extremely strong.
The chemistry between the characters serves to heighten the drama and excitement of the plot. Haruka and Rin have an ongoing intense rivalry that has been there since childhood.
The depth of each of their personalities is explored, using the past (shown through flashbacks) as a comparison. Their development as human beings across temporal boundaries makes them much more relatable and lovable.
Another notable character who is the only female character in Free! occupies the fan-girl role who loves drooling over the ripped bodies of her brother’s friends. She helps infuse the anime with comic relief.
3. Final Thoughts
The anime is thought-provoking, humorous, and intense, all at once. The elaborate and intricate imagery of water are drawn is breath-taking.
Also, one note to be kept in mind, watching this anime may make you start wanting to swim, which is something you may want to avoid during this pandemic. Nevertheless, I’d definitely recommend it. It is a good watch.