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Catching Up With Free!




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BlueOla



Joined: 08 Feb 2016
Posts: 90
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:19 pm Reply with quote
Can we stop pedalling this idea that Free! became a TV anime because of the short PV that came out a few months earlier? First of all it's impossible to make an anime that quickly and second of all, I don't think yelling loud enough is enough to get a studio to make you an anime. It was both an animation showcase and the first PV for Free!, not some beginning of a kick-starter.

I also find the lack of the summary for the movie High Speed! Free! Starting Days a problem because THIS is the part of the anime that will really matter for Dive to the Future, I mean half the characters in the current cast come from Starting Days and I'm sure people who missed it will he scratching their head at all these "new" characters that we actually already know. I know the movie was never legally released in the US, but that's exactly why a detailed synopsis would be really appreciated - then the fans who don't want to pirate can get the full story (and also new fans to the series). Otherwise they'll just struggle with all these new characters who have old relationships they know nothing about.

Free Starting Days was legally released in Japan and Germany so you can just say that's where you got a legal copy from if anyone asks. But a Starting Days synopsis is necessary.
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kogamisdad



Joined: 02 Aug 2017
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:28 pm Reply with quote
Yeah, Starting Days is absolutely necessary and should have been included. A large majority of the first episode is referencing things that happen in that movie that you wouldn't get if you haven't seen it, and I assume it's going to get even worse as it goes on with more of those guys showing up and delving into Ikuya. Acting like it doesn't exist is a huge detriment. I've already seen so many people thinking these characters were only just introduced this episode, wondering what was going on and being completely confused by not knowing High Speed! exists. (Heck, the Timeless Medley movies are much more important than just the "recap" movies they're written off as. New characters are even first introduced in those that are important now!)
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Mr. Nescio



Joined: 13 Jul 2011
Posts: 149
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:33 pm Reply with quote
BlueOla wrote:
Can we stop pedalling this idea that Free! became a TV anime because of the short PV that came out a few months earlier? First of all it's impossible to make an anime that quickly and second of all, I don't think yelling loud enough is enough to get a studio to make you an anime. It was both an animation showcase and the first PV for Free!, not some beginning of a kick-starter.
Yes, it seems that the article is simply wrong about the timeline. Quoting the article: "It worked, and the full anime project was announced a year later." However, the 30-second commercial was released in March 2013 and the first season started airing in July 2013.
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ultimatemegax



Joined: 26 Jan 2010
Posts: 410
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:43 pm Reply with quote
Edit: The original story has been corrected to remove the incorrect assumptions provided below thanks to Zac. The history section no longer applies.

Quote:
The very existence of Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club is a testament to the power of anime fandom. It started life as a 30-second TV advertisement intended to advertise Kyoto Animation and sub-studio Animation DO. The commercial, consisting of four muscular young men cavorting around a pool in jackets and skintight swimsuits captured the imaginations of female fans all over the world… along with a whole lot of complaining from certain segments of Kyoto Animation's fanbase, but the positive reaction was overwhelming. The characters, who had previously been pretty faces with no personality or story behind them, received elaborate backstories, relationships, and story arcs at the hands of women fans. Crunchyroll even created a petition to get it converted into a full series.

It worked, and the full anime project was announced a year later. While some people believe the TV spot was a calculated marketing move to build hype for a series they were planning on making anyway, it still never would have happened without an enthusiastic and vocal fan reaction.


This is objectively false. The commercial first aired during episode 9 of Tamako Market, effectively at around 00:45 on March 8, 2013 (JST). The first season of the series itself debuted at 00:30 on July 5, 2013 (JST). There is no way that a full-length production could rush from commercial to planning to production in under 4 months. It cannot happen.

Beyond that, this post ignores many other important aspects of the franchise including the original novel the series was based from (High Speed!), its sequel, and the movie by the same name. The series was made to promote the novel as former director Hiroko Utsumi stated
Quote:
"To start, I was asked if I wanted to make High Speed!, one of the Encouragement award winners in the second Kyoto Animation Award, into an anime by the producers."
(source)

Utsumi then drafted a project proposal back in 2011 that detailed her original plot for the series:
Quote:
Storyline:

(Beginning)

In elementary school, Haruka, Makoto, Tadashi(*1), and their friend from a year below, Nagisa, all go to the same swimming club.
Besides swimming, they all have girlish names.
After being eliminated in the medley relay at the end of 6th year, they each go their own ways.

(Development)

Dreaming of swimming at the Olympics, Tadashi enrolls at a foreign elite swimming school.
As Haruka and Makoto go to a different district for middle school, they don’t meet Nagisa.
Since there was no real swimming club for them to join after middle school, Haruka and Makoto entered into ordinary school lives.

(Twists)

Tadashi returns from overseas, but he’s not the same Tadashi as before.
One night he meets Haruka and Makoto at a pool and overwhelms them with his ability.
Haruka and Makoto won’t let it end there. They begin to take swimming seriously again.
Nagisa enters their high school as they become second years. All the members (except Yui) are back together again.
With Nagisa’s friend, Kaede, the four begin to practice together.

Haruka has an accident in a river due to overtraining. Upon seeing his accident, Makoto has a flashback to a traumatic event during elementary school and becomes scared of the water.
Nagisa hits a wall in his training. Kaede wavers joining the track and field club, who invites him.
Starting with Nagisa overcoming his hall, everyone gets through their issues and appear at the summer tournament.

(Conclusion)

Despite it being a close race, Haruka’s team narrowly loses to Tadashi’s team and are eliminated in the second round. Everyone is satisfied with their efforts.
Haruka and Tadashi acknowledge each other’s skills. They prepare themselves with new effort for the next tournament in their third year. Their second summer as high schools end like this.

(Epilogue)

Tadashi transfers to Haruka’s school. He joins the swimming club and they become 5-strong. In order to achieve the dreams they couldn’t achieve when they were elementary schoolers, they jump into the pool again today.

*1: Tadashi was Rin’s name at the beginning.

*2: This was the basis of the character who became Rei. At that time, he was called “Kaede”.
(source)

Furthermore, the production history from Animation Do's own "Free! series creation notebook volume 1" doesn't list anything to do with international appeal, petitions, or anything similar with that.

Quote:
Free!’s beginning
In 2011, the original draft for the TV series Free! and Free! -Eternal Summer-, High Speed!, was awarded one of the “2nd Kyoto Animation Award Honorable Mention” prizes for its manuscript. At first, it met the conditions to be animated, but there were countless discussions about whether any animation planning could truly come to fruition given the characteristic atmosphere and expressions of the manuscript, the main characters’ ages, and foremost, the water motif. Also, from a producer’s point of view, it would take time to find the assumed target audience, medium form, and publicity form based on the characteristics of that manuscript.
At that moment, the woman with a passion for male characters and who had grown to excel at depicting subtleties, Hiroko Utsumi (director and genga staff member at Animation Do), presented a plan. By luck of encountering someone who swam in their high school days, the planning began to take a concrete form bit by bit.

Early Days of High Speed!
While the submitted manuscript for High Speed! was in consultation for being brushed up for publication by the KA Esuma Bunko, the animation planning team was formed. Centered around Hiroko Utsumi and scenario writer Masahiro Yokotani, the staff members would meet monthly to discuss how plans were being implemented.
The utmost worry of the planning meetings was the age of the main characters. If the anime were to have elementary school male characters as protagonists in a late night TV broadcast slot, it was thought that the target audience would be immensely small and it would be difficult to gain widespread reception for the show.
It was there that the High Speed! media mix plan was developed. High Speed! would be published as a novel from the KA Esuma Bunko while the animation would depict a story where the characters based on the novel would have advanced to high school. The project began to move on two sides to lively disseminate the appeal of the work using the novel, which held the profound nucleus, and the TV animation, which was able to widely disperse the universe to more people.
And then it was May 2012. As a way to see how “male high school swimmers” would be received, the temporary designs drawn by Hiroko Utsumi were published onto Animation Do’s corporate site unannounced. It was from the response that was received for these illustrations that the animation planning for High Speed! was formally decided to advance.


The commercial you praised as the start of the entire project was merely one early step in the designing process, but never intended as anything other than adjustments for designs and such. (from the same production history)
Quote:
Free! prototype

Various methods were needed to portray and produce the first production centered around male high schoolers produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do. One part of that was the “Kyoto Animation Business CM -Swimming Ver-” commercial which publicly engraved itself as “A New Challenge.” Following the broadcast of the prototype footage produced by Free!’s main staff, there was a greater than expected response with many, many, requests for it to be made into a TV series.
The CM’s character designs were brush-ups of the initial designs director Hiroko Usumi made for Free!. Together with Futoshi Nishiya, they tried many things such as adjusting head heights and adding fearless facial expressions. In order to get a female point of view of the characters, they thoroughly included a summary of opinions from the female staff members.


Therefore, your sentence in the second paragraph, "While some people believe the TV spot was a calculated marketing move to build hype for a series they were planning on making anyway, it still never would have happened without an enthusiastic and vocal fan reaction," is not only false, but misleads the international community into believing that their response was the reason why it was made. I hope that corrections can be made to this article before many use it as an incorrect source for the creation of Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club.

Additionally, a core point of this upcoming season will be the additional characters first introduced in High Speed!, Asahi and Ikuya, which are never mentioned in this article, yet play an important role in the very first episode in the new season. Perhaps additional research and reporting on them should be included in a post entitled "Everything you need to know" for the new season.
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Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
Posts: 7794
Location: Anime News Network Technodrome
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:18 pm Reply with quote
Hi, I edited this piece - apologies for the error, I wasn't personally familiar with the production history of Free!. I've edited the piece to remove all speculation.

Re: High Speed!, the film isn't available in English yet and the article was working with official sources only. We'll update this piece once Funimation releases it. I've added reference to the film in the intro, changed the title so the scope of the article is clearer and reworked the headers. Thanks for all your feedback, and again my apologies for the error.


Last edited by Zac on Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jyuchii



Joined: 13 Jul 2018
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:42 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
Hi, I edited this piece - apologies for the error, I wasn't personally familiar with the production history of Free!. I've edited the piece to remove all speculation.

Re: High Speed!, the film isn't available in English yet and the article was working with official sources only. We'll update this piece once Funimation releases it.


I still think it's very important to note this movie though as it introduces characters that are very important in season 3 and many people would be confused if they jumped into season 3 without seeing High Speed. I know you're looking for official english resources, I know, but High Speed is immensely crucial if you want to understand the new characters and references in season 3.

There are lots of people who are watching season 3 without knowing high speed even exists, so you could at least mention it or summarize it.
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kogamisdad



Joined: 02 Aug 2017
Posts: 5
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:52 pm Reply with quote
Agreed, something titled "Everything you need to know to catch up" leaving out the most important thing you actually need to know about to catch up is a pretty big issue. At least a passing reference to it at the bare minimum should have been made. (The fact that Funimation slipped up so bad that it's not available at all yet makes it even more important that it gets mentioned/summarized here for those who haven't seen it.)

Last edited by kogamisdad on Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jedijenchan



Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 13
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:53 pm Reply with quote
I think this is the right timeline?

The original light novel High Speed! was entered into a Kyoto Animation Award contest in 2011 and won honorable mention. It was published by Kyoto Animation on 7/8/2013, followed by a second one in 7/14/2014.

Kyoto Animation: Suiei-hen: March 7, 2013

An Internet Radio show, Iwatobi Channel started broadcasting on June 17, 2013

Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club (TV Anime Season 1) 2013-07-03

There were two drama CD's released between 8/21/2013 and 9/25/2013 titled Iwatobi High School Swimming Club Activity Journal.

Free! Eternal Summer (TV Anime Season two, sequel to season one) 2014-07-02

High Speed! -Free! Starting Days- (movie) (prequel) 2015-12-05

Free! -Timeless Medley- Kizuna (movie) (remix) 2017-04-22
Free! -Timeless Medley- Yakusoku (movie) (remix) 2017-07-01

Free! -Take Your Marks- (movie) (sequel to Season 2) 2017-10-28

Free! -Dive to the Future- (TV)(2018)
(sequel to Free! -Take Your Marks- film)


Last edited by jedijenchan on Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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BlueOla



Joined: 08 Feb 2016
Posts: 90
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:57 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:


Re: High Speed!, the film isn't available in English yet and the article was working with official sources only. We'll update this piece once Funimation releases it.


You have Japanese speakers on your team - just ask them for help? That's still an official source, I think High Speed is even on Japanese Netflix. And it's really necessary for this season, especially that many fans missed it because it hasn't been released in the US in the 3 years that it existed lol (Great job, Funimation! /s). Movies generally get less attention than TV series but in this case it can't just be skipped.
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rahzel rose
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:16 pm Reply with quote
There are couple issues with the review for Take Your Marks.

Quote:
Their old friend Kisumi - rather, Makoto's friend, since Haru never really cared for him - and his uncle. When they finally find a place, conveniently located right by a public pool, the camera lingers on his new neighbor, a silver-haired boy who will doubtless be important in the coming season.


I think there's part of the sentence missing in that bit about Kisumi. Also the silver-haired boy is not Haru's new neighbor, he's the person who just moved out of the apartment Haru is moving into.

Quote:
The final segment is a series of comedic misunderstandings, as the Samezuka team hopes to throw a goodbye party for Rin. Gou's roundabout questions make him think she's dating Momotaro, and he challenges Momotaro to a race for his little sister's virginity.


It's Rin's misunderstanding first when he catches a glimpse of Gou and Momo together at a restaurant (while they're waiting for Nagisa and Rei), although Gou trying to dodge Rin's questions don't help the situation. Also, Momo challenges Rin, not the other way around.
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quaton



Joined: 17 Nov 2014
Posts: 39
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:20 pm Reply with quote
The fact that nobody at Funimation thought that the High Speed! movie was important enough to license in the almost three(!!!) years of its existence tells me that they're run by incompetent and superficial people.
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BlueOla



Joined: 08 Feb 2016
Posts: 90
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:24 pm Reply with quote
Oh, I see they changed the title since it didn't actually cover "Everything You Need to Know About Free!" Laughing

What a cop-out, considering that this guide could have actually helped fans. Now it'll just add to the confusion since many people still don't know about Starting Days.
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jedijenchan



Joined: 29 Jun 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:13 pm Reply with quote
Writers are human and make mistakes from time to time...

I agree that High Speed! Free Starting days is essential watching to this franchise to tie everything together after Season 2, really.

I just don't understand what the harm is in just mentioning the actual timeline. I mean, sure many of those have not been officially released yet in many regions other than Japan, but they need to be included so that everything ties together.
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all-tsun-and-no-dere
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:14 am Reply with quote
Hi, I wrote the article.

First of all, I want to apologize for the errors I made in the timeline. I was in the middle of multiple major life changes when all that was going on, so I wasn't actively involved in anime fandom at the time. When researching the article, I had overworked myself and either misread something in my research or failed to properly vet my sources. Mea culpa.

I do want to go more in-depth about why I didn't talk about High Speed.

I wrote the article before the first episode of Dive to the Future came out. I only watch legally sourced anime, so I wasn't familiar with who Asahi was other than that he made a cameo in Take Your Marks. I knew some of the characters who appeared briefly in the movie were from the prequel, but I didn't know who or what role they would come to play. I had no way of knowing that familiarity with Haru's past relationship would be so essential to understanding Dive to the Future and thus made the decision not to include it when I would essentially be just parroting the wiki summary. I made the best decision I could with the knowledge I had; if I had known that their backstory were so pivotal to the new series, I probably would have handled it differently.
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sailorstarsun



Joined: 07 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:46 am Reply with quote
rahzel rose wrote:
There are couple issues with the review for Take Your Marks.

Quote:
Their old friend Kisumi - rather, Makoto's friend, since Haru never really cared for him - and his uncle. When they finally find a place, conveniently located right by a public pool, the camera lingers on his new neighbor, a silver-haired boy who will doubtless be important in the coming season.


I think there's part of the sentence missing in that bit about Kisumi. Also the silver-haired boy is not Haru's new neighbor, he's the person who just moved out of the apartment Haru is moving into.


And he's not just a person who may become important - he's Haru and Makoto's senpai from High Speed!. Another one of those characters who should be known to understand Dive to the Future, thus, as others have said, warranting a real inclusion of the prequel movie in this article.
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