Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club [ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION]
Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club [ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION]
Jason: Hey KKS readers! Today we have a special round table discussion on this summer’s popular Anime, Free! We are joined by AJ, Kimi, and Stella! This discussion will be led by AJ. Welcome guys! Can you guys give a brief introductions about yourselves?
AJ: Yo! This is AJ here. Not much to say about me besides that I’m just your average anime fan. This will be my first time doing a round table discussion, so I’m excited to see how this goes.
Stella: Hello, I’m Stella and it’s nice to meet everyone! This is also my first time taking part in something like this, so I hope you’ll have fun reading our discussion. I watch too much anime but don’t always finish it. Awesome female characters are my weakness and cute boys are what makes me interested in anime.
Kimi: Hi, I’m Kimi! o/ This is my first round table discussion as well. I’m not quite the veteran when it comes to anime. I’ve only been watching for a few years, but I’m really excited to be a part of this! I hope you have fun reading.
AJ: OK, without further ado, let’s kick this off with a more general question. Now that Free! has finished airing, what was everyone’s overall feel of the anime? What were some of the highlights of the season for you? What were some of the things you didn’t quite like as much?
Stella: I’m a bit sad that it’s over because it was a fun anime that didn’t take itself too serious. I think they could’ve built a bit more character development. I mean I understood why Haruka was so intent on swimming against Rin but I just didn’t get the whole obsession? But my highlights were: Haru always trying to get into any type of water and Rei’s antics!
AJ: I agree. There was a lack of character development overall. I felt like the whole anime was focused entirely on Haruka and Rin’s rivalry and relationship, so everyone else didn’t get much screentime.
Jason: I think the anime could have definitely had more “swimming.” Honestly, that’s what sold me to watch Free! in the first place. For what little swimming competition or training sequence they had, I enjoyed the accuracy of the sport. I used to swim for my high school so any episode that featured competition got me on the edge of my seat.
But going back to what I said, the anime should have focused a little more on the sport. More than half the time, it was way too focused on Rin’s and Haruka’s broken relationship and the mystery of Rin.
Yes! Fully agree with Stella’s comment. It needed more character development! Almost all the characters were quite shallow.
Kimi: I initially started watching because I liked many KyoAni series in the past. I was pleased with all the silliness and how (half) warm-hearted the story was. However, I was put off by the “need for redemption” that Rin’s character revolved around.
AJ: I personally think that Free! is one of those anime that is just fun and enjoyable to watch. I can’t say its even close to one of my favorites, but I would recommend it to people who are down to watch a short, light-hearted series. The most memorable moment to me was the scene in which the characters swam in the relay together in the last episode. It had a little too much cheese, but I enjoyed seeing everything resolve itself out.
Kimi: I especially didn’t like how Rei was such an important character in helping to resolve the issues between Rin and the trio, and yet he was kinda excluded from the happy ending. It makes him almost feel /too/ much like a side character, rather than a main one.
Jason: I guess “light-hearted” & “warm-hearted” would be the best way to describe the anime. Like Stella said, it “didn’t take itself too seriously.” But still, I felt like it could incorporate more swimming while retaining the amount of fanservice it had.
Yes! Poor Rei… Perhaps in season 2 (if there will be one) he will play a more vital role. It was sad to see that he got down one of the hardest swim strokes for him NOT to swim at the end. It’s like the writers built us up for it and then boom, they gave the ending to Rin. It was a disappointment for me.
AJ: I agree, Kimi. It was pretty sad how his story about feeling like the 5th wheel was covered in the episodes leading to the finale, but then in the finale, he just got pushed to the side, confirming his position as the 5th wheel. And the worst part is that EVERYONE was alright with it.
Jason: That’s the thing… I think whenever there’s a conflict, it’s too quickly and poorly resolved.
And the writers took the easy way out and just had all the guys essentially “be okay” about the problems and move on.
Stella: Yes! I mean I get that Rin was important to all of them but they practically begged Rei to join their team and then they just left him out to dry! But I like how critical Rei was of Rin at least that made me happy.
And just as Jason said they made him “be okay” with it, but Rei was the one who was pursuing the reason why Rin was so important to them all and it bugged him. Yet in the end he was all right with Rin taking his spot next to his team? It just felt wrong.
AJ: I wish there was more of a unified plot where all the characters had more of a stake in it. While the swimming tournament was a plot point, it clearly played second fiddle to the whole Haruka and Rin drama.
Stella: KyoAni was trying really hard to get the female fans on board with this anime and they did. Most fans want that whole “oh my god they touched!” or “oh my god look how close they are together!”. I’m totally generalizing and that’s wrong but they knew this would be a female orientated show and they gave us what we wanted.
AJ: Right, Stella. You brought up a good point. I’m not criticising this show as harshly because I knew what their target audience was, but its just personal taste. I knew what I was getting into, but I felt like some moments just weren’t necessary. Now that segues perfectly into my next question.
It’s no secret that Free! is an anime aimed at drawing in the female audience. In addition to Free, there seems to be a surge of anime that cater more specifically to the female audiences recently such as Uta no Prince Sama. What do you think about that?
AJ: I personally think its nice that females have anime that is more catered to their tastes now. In the past, its always been fan service for the guys, so its a refreshing change. I enjoy the occasional chuckle and laughs I get from these anime that I don’t get from other types of anime, so I welcome them. I find it interesting to see how anime are becoming increasingly polar in audience appeal.
Stella: Personally, I like the whole idea of anime being catered to the female audience. I mean, I love female characters, but I’m tired of the studios ignoring the existence of the female fan. We like to watch cute boys on the screen! We like to watch their antics and we just have fun watching anime with good looking boys. And also if you are going to give us gay undertones, just give us the couple. I mean Tamako Market handled this beautifully. The animation studios shouldn’t be scared of giving us males that are gay.
Jason: I honestly don’t have anything to say since I’m not familiar with this topic. I would say it’s a good thing? Just to balance out the fan service us guys get from other anime.
Kimi: I think it’s good to have series being aimed towards the female audience. Variety is always good, especially if either that’s the sort of thing you are looking for or if you just want something different.
AJ: So at the end of the season finale of Free, the image at the end had the message, “See you next summer.” What do you think about that? Possible 2nd season? What are you expecting?
AJ: If it helps, heres the image:
AJ: It has also come to my attention that the seiyus of the show also hinted that there was more to come from the series, so what do you guys all think?
Kimi: I think it would be silly not to have a 2nd season.
Stella: What would the 2nd season be about though? Everything was resolved. At least it felt resolved. They would be crazy not to give us the second season. I just hope they give us more of the Captain and Gou romance! Or just Gou being cute.
AJ: I honestly can’t say what they have in store for the future of this series. Clearly this series has a huge following and it would certainly be wise for KyoAni to take advantage of it. I know Free! is based off a light novel, so perhaps there is still material that was not covered in this first season that they can cover for the second season, movie, OVA, etc
Jason: Oh yes, they will definitely do a season 2. They revealed the gray-haired character’s name. “Ai” So that COULD be like a stepping stone for something. And Rei needs redemption.
Season 2 could focus more on swimming. I know I say that a lot but seriously, it would be interesting and they could tie a story to the competitions!
AJ: So, onto a fun question. What are everyone’s favorite character, describe this character with one word and why you chose that word for this character?
Stella: Rei! One word to describe the character as is: dork. I chose this word because I was expecting him to be some awesome character who was always serious and then bam, he wears the speedo and sinks to the bottom of the pool in his first practice session! If that isn’t dorky I don’t know what is.
AJ: And his butterfly swimsuit he wanted to wear…
Jason: Since there were such a lack of character development in the show, it’s hard for me to have a favorite character. The captain character was coolest one to me just because he was always so understanding. Sorry if I stole your favorite character, AJ. Haha.
AJ: Similarly to Jason, my favorite would have to be Mikoshiba Seijuurou, the captain of the Samezuka swim team. If I had to describe him in one word, it would be “enthusiastic”. He seems to be a friendly and warm character who is usually in high spirits. Despite his usual cheerful disposition, he takes his position as captain seriously, so I respect that.
Kimi: Makoto is my favorite character. My word for him is: gentle. I think he is really sweet and compassionate. I love how loyal he is to his friends, and how he would do anything for them. He’s the type of guy who would eat the cookies you baked for him with a smile and pretend they were delicious even if they really weren’t.
Jason: Yes, Makoto is also a very likeable character as well. I like that he puts his teammate first especially the episode where they went to the islands and trained. Even though he was afraid of the ocean. However, it was a bit awkward for me to see him fumble when he was about to save Rei. I understood the writers were trying to convey his fear of the ocean by flashing back to his drowning father, but it was still awkward for me his phobia kicked in right then and there when there wasn’t much of a build up other than Haruka saying “Are you sure you’re okay?” prior to their trip to the islands.
AJ: And here’s another fun and random question! In Free, the five main characters (Haruka, Rin, Makoto, Nagisa, Rei) all have creatures that symbolize them? Why do you think these creatures were chosen for each character?
AJ: Haruka = dolphin because dolphins are FREE and eat mackerel
Makoto = killer whale because he is the largest of the group and he is
cuddly, even though killer whales are actually one of the most dangerous whales
Rin = shark because he is aggressive and has shark teeth
Nagisa = penguin because he just looks and acts like one
Rei = butterfly because he doesn’t belong with the rest, he can only do the butterfly stroke, and he likes butterflies
Stella: Nagisa = penguin because he’s social and cute!!
Haruka = dolphin because they are supposed to be the most social animals and Haru is anything but that.
I agree with your Makoto thing though.
Kimi: Rei is also a butterfly because he’s about dat beauty life
Stella: And that Makoto is cuddly and the biggest one of them. Rin is a shark most likely for his teeth and that is pretty lame/cop out!
I stand by my Nagisa one! And I agree with Kimi about Rei. He is a butterfly because of his beautiful life philosophy and didn’t he mention something about becoming a butterfly and showing Rin his beauty? At first he thought his swimming was anything but beautiful but he blossomed into a butterfly while training hard.
Jason: Haruka – dolphin because dolphins are friendly creatures and since he “hurt” Rin’s feelings, he shut everyone out until the last episode where he’s smiling with all his friends.
Nagisa – penguin because he’s… cute… I guess. And short. The least threatening one in the group.
Rei – butterfly because butterfly is a complicated stroke to master in swimming but if done correctly, could look beautiful and awesome so it really fits him.
Makoto – whale because he’s so nurturing and because he’s the tall one.
Rin – shark and it’s obvious. C’mon, the teeth? The aggressiveness? Yeah, that speaks for itself.
AJ: And with that question comes the end of the round table discussion/review of the anime, Free! We unfortunately didn’t have enough time for everyone to give their closing regards, but we all hope you sincerely enjoyed reading that. Let us know what you thought about the anime! Until next time, see ya space cowboys!
Some screen caps are from Subdued Fangirling
Kimi: off topic but i’ve been holding this since i wrote my last answer and i know i will not be able to properly be okay until i shared this
Kimi: I DIDN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WELL I’M REALLY SORRY LMFAO
Kimi: THE DAMN MACKEREL IN THE BOTTOM LEFT WEJRNGW4T6J
AJ: I should leave this up on the review
AJ: In the bloopers section
Kimi: LMFAO I AM STILL LAUGHING AT I NEED DEBRIEFING
Kimi: I’M NOT MAKING SENSE i need a few minutes
Stella: lol! Only Kimi would find stuff like that!