Category Archives: Free – Eternal Summer

Free – Eternal Summer! – 12 – 13 (END)

The end of an era and one of my favorite serialized anime for some time. As I’m sure everyone no doubt knows, I was a competitive swimmer for about 11 years (I’m only 24!) so this show had a profound effect and a deep pull on me.

So let’s talk about the show. What is Free actually about? Getting the best time? Swimming with the people you love? It means something different to everyone I think, but Free’s most central conflict and main theme has always been between Haru and Rin. In good taste and keeping this theme in mind, the show closes on the same note – Rin against Haru, Haru against Rin, just as it always should have been. Haru realizes what stage it is he wants to stand on, although it takes going back to Australia with Rin in tow to figure things out!

I know the exact feeling he felt when he stood on the starting block, looking out at the pool. This is competition. This is where it will go down eventually, you think. It’s invigorating. You think of every moment, every small conversation, every heat of every event you’ve ever swum in that has led to this moment and you being here, as good as you are at whatever stroke you swim. There is nothing like it in the world and despite being retired for about 5 or 6 years, I can still feel it. I can still remember it. I know exactly what it is like.

When you graduate high school, you’re really saying goodbye to some of the best friends you’d have ever met. The ones that you’re really, really good friends with will continue to be your friends even after you’re gone (Nagisa, Rei, Makoto – you know they’ll keep in touch). Unsurprisingly, Free even touches upon this as the realization that their senpais will go on without them dawns on young Nagisa and Rei.

Life goes on, however. Haru and Rin ascend to the highest stage in swimming, Makoto ends up becoming a swimming teacher as he wanted, and the rest continue about their lives. I like to think they keep in touch.

Let me add as one final note – The way this show ended was perfect. Nothing could summarize how I feel about swimming than with the tension in the air as the referee tells you to take your mark on a high stakes event.

Oh, sorry, one last thing. This episode turned Melissa into a sobbing mess. Poor thing.

Free – Eternal Summer! – 9 – 11

Tension continues to mount as Haru much choose where he’s going to take his life after high school and the threat of Nationals arises. While Iwatobi performs admirably at Japan’s equivalent to “States”, only their relay proceeds to Nationals, a first in Iwatobi High for about 12 years. This, of course, is a glowing accomplishment in itself, but the battle is far from over!

This tension, unfortunately, leaves Haru dead in the water. He does the only thing that someone needs to do in order to be disqualified from a freestyle event – touch the bottom with your feet (Pulling on the lane lines will, of course, do this as well). Rin confronts Haru and only escalates the issue. The question reamins – what does Haru want to do? Not even I have any clue.

Sousuke’s injury is also brought into the open as he tackles the last relay race he will ever do, putting an untimely end to his otherwise promising career. He knows that with his shoulder injury, he can never “Stand on the same stage” as Rin. He knows this is it for him. There’s something so solemn, sad, but real about this plight that it makes me upset even typing about it. Sousuke, you did good. Rest easy.

He doesn’t leave the stage without imparting words to Haru, who he claims he “still won’t recognize.” Still can’t get rid of that chip on his shoulder, it seems.

While everyone prepares for Nationals, Makoto and company can’t stand to see Haru acting so unlike himself. They confront him but only push Haru to act even more out of character – he even raises his voice. Like holy shit. Makoto drops the bomb on Haru that he’s planning on attending a university in Tokyo, which would mean moving away from him. Almost every anime set in a high school setting deals with this theme to some extent, and it’s very true to reality. College usually involves moving away from those that you know and love in order to pursue your dreams.

Haru, of course, doesn’t take this well. The 11th episode essentially ends in a huge shitshow. Looks as though Haru and Rin have some bro time in Australia next episode…uh, wtf? You realize you only have two episodes left right? What about Nationals?!

Free – Eternal Summer! – 6 & 7

Man, summer really is eternal guys. You know what that means, right? Free is going to have as many episodes as one peace, naruto, and bleach combined.

Of course (and quite thankfully), that is not true. The Free bros do compete as practiced against Rin’s school in both individuals and the relay though. It ends up being a bit of a mixed bag as the two school titans clash against each other. Nagisa, Haru, and Makoto all take first in their individuals while Rei takes fourth, which is extremely impressive. Any swimmer can tell you though that if you can’t fill up the lanes, you probably shouldn’t expect to win a swim meet. The relay is close but Rin’s team takes it. I must admit that Free did an excellent job at making me tense – I knew that both races could go either way and in fact – they did!

Run takes his loss against Haru like a man and goes back to do some badass weight lifting. Meanwhile, it seems as though Rin’a kouhai has taken his exemption from the relay a bit hard. To make up for it, he trains in secret every night to improve. Even Sosuke takes notice of this.

It really speaks to me as a former swimmer – sometimes people are born with talent and sometimes people aren’t. Those that aren’t have to work considerably harder. Swimming is equal parts technique and talent, you can succeed without one or the other but the combination of both will surely see you as leaps and bounds above your peers. It isn’t always that easy though, otherwise, everyone and their brother would be a great swimmer!

So what lies in store for our favorite free-bros? Preps for the regionals! I’m assuming we will get another mixed bag once that time comes, but time will tell.

Free – Eternal Summer! – 5

As far as I can remember, this is the first Nagisa episode we’ve gotten…ever! I can’t seem to recall any episode centric to him in the first season (and by all regards, he is probably the most underdeveloped of our main 5, not counting Sosuke).

Nagisa’s grades are suffering, so as a result he’s turned into a runaway in response to being told he must quit the swim team. Like all the Free’s, being forced to quit swimming is a fate equal to being stabbed in the throat, having salt poured on it, and being left to die in a spike pit. Nagisa obviously doesn’t take kindly to this and even refuses to explain his situation initially to any of his friends. After some hardcore coercing, he explains all that I just outlined to Makoto, Haru, and Rei.

Rei, being the best goddamn guy ever and Nagisa’s confidant (read: boyfriend and gay lover), propositions Nagisa and offers a logical solution to his problem, even going so far as to hide him in the Iwatobi swim club as his parents were in pursuit. Of course, it wasn’t actually his parents and instead their teacher (you can’t see any of their parents on screen, silly! This your first anime? If they’re not important you don’t see them.)

Nagisa, of course, is able to continue swimming because it means so much to him. While we’ve seen this sort of plot point before, it made me smile watching Rei support his good friend – to whom he was initially so cold towards. They’re, quite honestly, polar opposites. That’s what makes their relationship with one another work so well – a classic foil to one another. A fighter to his black mage, if you will (trust me, you won’t.)

Character development for Nagisa is a go. That is a good thing. But the real burning questions remain about Sosuke and how he views Iwatobi, doesn’t it? I suppose that will have to wait for next week (or perhaps the week after!)

Free – Eternal Summer! – 4

Much interesting development here for many characters but most primarily Sosuke, who we learn to have a greater understanding of. Sosuke seems like such a nice guy when he’s conversing with friends, what is it about Rin focusing on his friends that sets him so off kilter? Bad past experience with losing focus of his dreams? Perhaps in the past he loved a friend who didn’t love him back? Usually anime with attribute these strange stigmas to a past trauma that will eventually be explained. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem that Free has gone that somewhat tired route.

Sosuke makes a genuine attempt to connect with Rin and attempt to understand him rather than tell him he’s being “led astray” or some other knee-jerk close-minded bullshit, which was quite surprising. “Tell me what happened.” I was impressed. The whole time I was trying to determine whether or not he was being genuine and really believed Rin when he said that his “Friend’s saved him.” and that they “make (me) stronger.” At first I thought he was, then I thought he wasn’t, and then by the end of the episode I switched back to thinking he did again. What exactly is going on with this guy? What is he thinking?

Sosuke declares to Rin that he wants to see what he is talking about in a relay. This episode also showed us some troubles that Rin and Sosuke had on a relay together in the past – they don’t see eye to eye. Sosuke is an individual while Rin is a team player. Sosuke did not care to understand Rin’s point of view back then but now he cares about what he thinks – he wants to see the world as Rin sees it. Not sure if this means everything is okay between him and Haruto but I’m assuming he will attempt to clear the air with him while still remaining competitive. I’m glad this happened this early in the show – now we can focus on the more important stuff!

Rin is such a good captain. Loved his race with Sosuke at the end and the speech he gave to his kouhai about being on relays. It’s true – your heart has to be in it!

Oh, also, everyone getting graded on their food in the beginning of the episode was really, really funny. Makoto scored the highest!

Free – Eternal Summer! – 3

Otherwise known as Episode 3 – Rei gets cold feet (We think? (Scratch that no he doesn’t he’s more determined than ever)). Kyoani thought the title a bit long winded so they shortened it down a bit.

This was a Rei episode. Rei, the one who usually feels left out and is pretty emotional despite what he thinks about himself. Rin, Nagisa, Makoto, and Haruto? All childhood friends. This leaves poor Rei out in the cold and feeling like he doesn’t belong, something I can unusually relate to for some reason. I feel for the poor guy – he just wants to be closer to his friends. Not only that, he doesn’t want to be such a one trick pony, only knowing how to handle the relatively difficult butterfly. This, uh, wasn’t such a bad thing when I was a swimmer – being damn good at one stroke is just fine, although I ended up being good at 3! Everybody has at least one stroke that is their downfall.

As a side note, I loved how the beginning of this episode demonstrated that all the swimmers aren’t as good on land, but Rei was once on the track team and therefore kicks tremendous ass in the relay race. Nobody seemed to have expected it either!

Rei, once at odds with Rin, ends up being secret buddies and learns how to swim other strokes with relative proficiency in secret. Misconstrued as Rei losing interest in swimming, they are relieved in an adorably sappy way that he was struggling hard on his own. Gay or not, this strong bond of friendship nearly moved me to tears. I love these guys. It’s hard not to feel the strength of their friendship from beyond the screen as they work hard to perfect their techniques with the intent of making their teammates proud.

More free please!

Free – Eternal Summer! – 2

So remember when I was talking about Free isn’t Free without copious drama? Well, we got it here in full force. There’s little to talk about but I have to say I was surprised with how forceful and aggressive Sosuke got with Haruto. It seemed beforehand that he was simply irked but at that moment all came into focus – like a boiling volcano, he was attempting to keep a lid on something that was moments from exploding. And explode it did.

Sosuke is mostly a cool guy with the exception of his overreaction to the way that Haruto treated Rin by getting him DQ’d at the end of last season – To say that this irked him is a gross understatement. As usual, Haruto doesn’t remember or think he did anything wrong (really, he didn’t) and just wants everyone to leave him the fuck alone and can you really blame him? Somebody is always getting up in his face starting shit. Poor guy can’t catch a break.

Sosuke and Haruto end up competing, indirectly, in a relay. Haruto ends up winning (but made me sweat several buckets first) which is good because it’s clear it was personal with Sosuke. To put it bluntly, Sosuke can take the massive chip on his shoulder and shove it up his ass.

Haruto is stoic, but sometimes being stoic and showing less can cause others to rise to greater action and show even more. I’m not sure if this is the thought process but a part of me thinks that Sosuke is bothered because while he and Haruto are acquainted, he doesn’t know him well enough and mistakes his generally stoic nature as apathy – as though he intentionally “dragged down Rin” with the hopes of beating him and using him. That seems like a hell of an assumption to make about somebody, but when you’re pissed, you’re pissed. I doubt thinking clearly is going to be high on the list – instant gratification and revenge WILL be, though.

Free – Eternal Summer – 1

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So, are you guys ready? After cries for more of the free-bros, our pleas were answered. What are some of the changes we can expect this time around? Less drama, more SOL? Wanna know what I have to say to that?

Please – keep it the way it was. I don’t understand how people could be against the drama because as far as I’m concerned, without the drama Free isn’t Free – it’s every other SOL out there. In any event, on to the episode.

Without a giant chip on his shoulder, Rin formally retires as the source of constant drama in the Free-iverse. The captains step down and they have a friendly swimming competition with Iwatobi which results in Haru and Rin setting both personal bests and a pool record. When you think about it, Rin has beaten Haru more than Haru has beaten Rin. With this (counting a draw as a victory for both), this makes it Rin – 3 Haru – 2. Who’s counting though, what is this a fucking shonen.

While I’m certain it’s no surprise, I love how Free interjects small bits of swimming trivia; for example, in freestyle you can actually do any stroke you want – the forward crawl is used most frequently as it is the fastest. It is not extremely uncommon to see the occasional butterflier in freestyle though – Throughout my decade long career in swimming, I had seen more than a handful.

Because I was a swimmer for such a long period of my life, it has had a profound impact on who I am as a person and how I would view a show like this. When you think about it, swimming has gotten a lot of notoriety lately – from Michael Phelps in 2008 and 2012, to even weeaboo shit like Free. Swimming was the only sport I was ever good at and ever enjoyed – I occasionally jump in a pool and swim a few laps for old times sake, too. I hung up my swimsuit for good in 2009 but that doesn’t mean I don’t have extremely frequent dreams about it – and do I ever.

BACK TO ANIME. Sosuke is the new badass drama faggot in this season and if his name is any indication, he will probably have a lot in common with Aizen. Thankfully, his name is NO indication at all so that previous statement is very false. Seriously, you judge a person on their name? How’d that work out for you? Goddamn, you’re such a Thomas sometimes.