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Episode Review: Free! Eternal Summer

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Joined: 18 Sep 2014
Posts: 75
PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 8:01 am Reply with quote
My main beef with Free! from this point is how shoddy and inconsistent the characters are being treated with the thrown conflicts. Makoto, spoiler[who has always been patient and supportive to Haru, suddenly received the brunt of Haru’s frustrations just because he decided to walk his own path. Are they fighting because he’s telling Haru to dream too or because he’s going away?] Rin, spoiler[who has always been determined and driven with his own ambitions, was portrayed to be so dependent on Haru that it was hinted, through Sousuke, that he would be lost and stop swimming if Haru won’t do it with him.] And Haru, spoiler[who for the entire season has struggled with looking for a dream that he lashed out in two episodes, suddenly found one because… he swam in a foreign pool?] Why and how, spoiler[considering his breakdown in episode 9]? Did I miss some subtle, significant and symbolic moment? Am I expecting too much coherence from a show whose top priority is fanservice (because they sure didn’t skimp on that one)?
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Joined: 24 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:41 pm Reply with quote
*dusts off old account*

Next to Hunter X Hunter (2011), Free! ES was the only other show ending in the Summer 2014 season that made me truly sad...
And almost made me cry.

Mainly because the other shows ending either already have a sequel/continuation in the works (Aldnoah.Zero) or are based off a manga that I can read later on (Gekkan Shoujo, Haikyuu!!, Barakamon, etc.)

So the fact that there will never be another "See you next Water time" (until March) made me realized how much I will miss this cheesy show.
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Joined: 29 May 2008
Posts: 503
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:11 pm Reply with quote
Actually, I think their 6th Place at Nationals ranking is a throwback to the first season when they find the old summer training regimen from the old Iwatobi High School Swim Club and that team had ranked 6th in a local Junior Tournament. Not a particularly good ranking for a local tournament, but certainly a decent showing for a national one.

This season was all about parallels with season 1, right down to the "sight" they see in their final relay. The relay "sight" from season 1 was lifted almost in its entirety directly from the relay description in the first High Speed novel, so they were kind of flying blind to do a new one for this season. It seemed like the theme was that each swimmer was "following" after the swimmer before him (with Makoto, who is first, following Haru, who is last), and each swimmer is represented by their "spirit animal" in the series (Haru - dolphin, Makoto - orca, Nagisa - penguin and Rei- butterfly). But when I say "following" after them, it's almost as if each swimmer is being pulled forward by the swimmer before him. They literally animated the metaphor, which in narrative will read better, but leads to some awkwardness in a visual medium.

Haru in this episode is the real gem. He says thank you to Rin, apologizes to Makoto, explains himself clearly to all his friends, and smiles and laughs like a whole person for quite possibly the first time in franchise history. A+ for growing up, dude.

In all, I think season 1 had more emotional impact and this season wallowed a little too much in nostalgia which affected the pacing in places. This last episode in particular seemed to drag early and then cram way too much into the end. But I enjoyed the ride and am looking forward to the bonus episode we're getting with the 7th home video release, as well as whatever comes of that seiyuu event coming up that fandom seems to think will have an announcement for future media.
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Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 47
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:49 pm Reply with quote
Great episode, and a great review.

Free! has, along the way, always been something other than the sum of its parts. Just because some elements seemed weird, or overwrought, it's almost impossible to come away from this not satisfied with what this episode presented. It ties things up with the neatest of bows, sure, but in the best of ways. For me, it confirmed things that I "knew" would happen, but they still affected me nonetheless. spoiler[What else would Makoto do after his coaching stint? Who else would take over as Samezuka's captain?] No matter how predictable they were, I think it was seeing the characters own those things and react to them that made it worthwhile. Haru's spoiler[entire thought process depicted in facial expressions alone during his apology] was almost worth the price of admission alone. This show has always been, for better or worse in terms of execution, aware of its characters and their arcs, and this finale definitely proves that. A little heavyhandedly, sure, but it still does.
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Joined: 18 Sep 2014
Posts: 75
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:50 pm Reply with quote
I still think they dragged on the drama for too long across the entire series (probably to showcase the array of emotions the characters are capable of) and I didn’t really grasp what made Haru change his mind during the trip, but the show wrapped up pretty well. Their conflicts were not that world-shattering or life-threatening to begin with, so a few sincere conversations would have understandably resolved them. Didn’t think I would be so emotionally invested in a swimming anime. I guess a huge credit should be given to KyoAni for having its viewers wrapped around its finger yet still knows how to please all of them in the end. Smile
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Joined: 16 Oct 2010
Posts: 1053
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:32 pm Reply with quote
Episode 13 was a great episode and Free! is a great show all around. I think they dragged on the recaps scene a little too long, but I'm not gonna lie, I cried today. A lot of us have grown attached to them and we're sad to see them go. My days will feel empty without those swimming babies. I really have grown to love them all. I can't remember the last time I was so emotionally attached to a show that I actually believe it brings light into my life haha;;

I know Haru said that spoiler[ he'd learn to start caring about times so that he could keep swimming, ] but I don't think so. I don't think Haru will spoiler[ start carrying about times until it actually jeopardizes his future. I'm not exactly sure how the Olympics work, but as long as he stays on top of his game (and keeps being a winner) I don't think he even has to think about times. ]

I think I'm going to have to rewatch the last few episodes again to fully grasp what happened during it all. I see such nice insightful posts on tumblr that I wish I saw all those details the first time I watched them.
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Joined: 30 May 2013
Posts: 12
PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 6:07 pm Reply with quote
Ragga Ragga wrote:
It's clear that Free! wasn't really equipped to deal with such heavy emotions in the first place. This is most visible at the very end of the show, when we segue directly from Sousuke crying alone in the shower to Free!'s upbeat “Future Fish” ending theme.

This is so on point, I actually snorted on my drink after watching Sousuke crying on the floor to seeing the blue fish pops up and hearing "Gimme Gimme a Break!"

LOLs all around...

And why use this episode as budget saving episode, some of the animation was wack and undermined the emotional tone they were going for.

I'll have to disagree on that one. While the ending theme is certainly a contrast from the darker elements of this series, this tactic has become quite common. In example, Neon Genesis Evangelion's ending theme song, Fly me to the Moon is a popular love song, and is essentially the opposite emotion of what the series is attempting to present. Also, the opening theme for Madoka Magica, Connect, utilized this technique as well, making its viewers believe that it was a fun show about girls fighting for justice until the darker elements began to make an appearance (almost like how this was just supposed to be a show about fanservice and swimming boys, perhaps?). So, with this line of reasoning, categorizing a series and its goals based upon its theme songs is a definite fallacy. Now, maybe I wouldn't go so far as to call this series a deconstructionist work (like Madoka or EVA), I believe that critics often give it less credit than it deserves, and ignore the implied background of what this series is trying to accomplish.
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