Anime Essentials- Free! Iwatobi Swim Club – Season 1 Review

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After a run-in with former teammate Rin ends with bitter feelings and hurtful words, Haruka and his friends become determined to re-form the Iwatobi Swim Club. But they’re missing a much-needed fourth member! With their eyes set on the athletic Rei, they’ve got to do what it takes to convince him to join so they can be in fighting form to face Rin’s new school, Samezuka Academy.

Anime Essentials

Free! was re-released in the Funimation Anime Essentials line. Along with the classics line, these are equivalent of Funimation’s previous S.A.V.E. line of products. The tag line is Collect More, Spend Less. With the essentials line of anime, you can pickup these titles at a reduced price on Blu-ray and Digital. So if you didn’t pick it up before, you should now. You can pickup the complete first season of Free! over at Funimation.com. Oh and season 2 is also available in the Anime Essentials line so be sure to pick that up while you are at it. You cannot beat these deals!

Review

I am not one for sports anime in general. Mostly because I am not into watching sports in real life either. That being said, every time the summer olympics comes around, there is one event I watch each year. That event is swimming. So I thought why not give this anime a shot and see how it goes. A group of boys who formed a swim club back in middle school try and re-form their group in high school and not all of them go to the same school anymore.

It is clear from the way the anime is structured its geared towards fan-service of a female audience. That being said its also geared towards a younger male audience who is into sports, swimming specifically. The friendships that teams build is a central theme of the series. Haruka only wants to swim FREE or not at all. He doesn’t like the structure and rules of other forms of swimming so the 100 meter freestyle is his only event.

In fact he is so obsessed with water, he practically lives in it. He even eats mackerel daily. He is also very quiet and almost never shows any expressions of any kind, except around Rin. Makoto is the level headed nice guy of the group. His event is the backstroke. Then there is Nagisa, the super hyper and outgoing member of the group. His event is the breaststroke.

When they were all younger Rin and Haruka were rivals but after Haruka beat Rin in a race just before he left for Australia, Rin left upset and quit swimming, so did Haruka. Throughout season 1 the team re-forms and trains to make it to nationals with a new team member Rei, because Rin goes to another school. When Rin beats Haruka after running into each other at the old school pool, Rin decides to swim again. However, the secrets of the teams past history with Rin comes out and creates issues for Rin and Haruka.

The series is well paced and the story is enticing. I do wish they had a little more focus on some of the swimming competition more then they did in the first season. However, The build up of the characters and their backstories was worth it.

You don’t have to be a female or lover of fan-service to enjoy this series, though if you are either of those you will enjoy this too. If you like sports anime or are looking for your first one to get into, this may be your best pick. It includes the entire first season (12 episodes) plus the OVA.

Robert Prentice