Free! – 01


Nanase Haruka is a boy who has always loved water and swimming. Back in elementary school his swim club, consisting of Tachibana Makoto, Hazuki Nagisa, and Matsuoka Rin, won a swimming tournament, but went their separate ways afterwards. Now 17 and in high school. Haruka no longer competes, but is reunited with Makoto and Nagisa. Rin returns to Japan from Australia with a bad attitude and enrolls at Samezuka Academy a swimming powerhouse, with plans to become an Olympic swimmer.

What do we have here? A series that focuses on four/five guys, with no major female characters? That’s as refreshing as a crisp dive into the pool. We’re not usually viewers of sports series (except for Chihayafuru, which taught us that yet, karuta is a sport!), but when a highly anticipated new KyoAni series comes along, one is obliged to take a look. It’s an amiable, straightforward story: a group of friends (with girly names) bound by their love of swimming drift apart, but then come back together.

Nanase Haruka is your typical KyoAni male lead; talented but of dubious motivation. He loves swimming, but snickers at his past idealism, remembering instead the words of his grandmother: once you turn twenty, you become ordinary. In the beginning, he seems to be looking forward to crossing the threshold into adult mediocrity, but when Rin, formerly chipper and friendly, now a bit of a dick – returns to his life and challenges him at that which he does best, he’s shaken out of complacency. We’ll see how things shake out.

Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode was replete with shots of shirtless (and sometimes pantsless), muscular guys. That being said, we can’t really call it fansevice, since that imagery is kind of a given where swimming is concerned.
  • Rin’s estranged sister Gou (who wants to be called Kou because Gou is manly) wants to find out more about her bro through Haruka…or maybe her interest is in Haruka alone.
  • Why “Free!”? ‘Cause Haruka only does FREEstyle.