|Ain't that an inspiring phrase? It's from episode 12. I took more|
screen shots in that episode than in others... but not because it
My experiences watching Olympic swimming with Dad did help Free! a little. I soon forgot about the skin-showing part of the fan service, since the characters' swim gear made me remember watching the pre- and post-race Olympic coverage. I also understood a little bit about each stroke, so I could imagine how the characters strategized breathing, stroke length, and muscle strengthening. That actually helped my interest in the show increase--Free! contained very few details on training or strategy. There weren't even any annoying journalists or ignorant spectators to help explain the sport, so I had to fill in the gaps myself.
Despite the training camp and the many pool scenes, it seemed that Free! Iwatobi Swim Club was not actually about swimming. Or competition. Or determination, or diligence, or respect.
Free! was all about the drama. Basically, four guys used to be friends. One of them, Rin, aspired to be an Olympic swimmer. Back in grade school, he knew the importance of camradarie, and he convinced the other three kids to be in a medley relay with him. Then he went off to Australia for middle school, to study at some academy with a great swimming program. He finally came back during the second year of high school... but not to the same team, or even the same school, as the other three boys.
So, Rin was back in Japan, but he was kinda a callous jerk to his old buddies. He eventually joined one of their rival swimming teams, but he was still obsessed with being on the same team as his old friends. It was kinda like in TV shows where the girl is still totally in love with her ex, but gets a new boyfriend anyway, only to cheat on him with the ex... who also has a new significant other, so he's cheating, too.
[big spoiler ahead]
No, really. That's basically what happens in the season finale. Rin says he's quitting swimming. Then he cries about how he actually wants to be on a team with Haruka, Makato, and Nagisa again. They already have a fourth teammate, named Rei, and they're planning to swim the medley relay together. But Rei, being an understanding, enabling kohai, backs out and says that Rin can take his place in the butterfly portion of the relay. Rei was really looking forward to this race, too.
Rin takes advantage of Rei's selfless gesture, and the original four compete in the relay and win... Of course, they're disqualified afterward, because Rin is from a different school, but that's okay because they all got to swim together, and it creates a warm fuzzy feeling for fans
|Rei looks on as Rin, Makoto, Haruka, and Nagisa celebrate their|
victorious race. Poor guy.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting there thinking that they have terrible sportsmanship.
I wrote out my thoughts when I first finished the 12th episode:
This is overdramatic, and I'm laughing. If I take these dudes seriously, I'll get annoyed at Rin for being a drama queen. I'll also scold the others for enabling him... and being mini drama queens themselves. Guys, get over yourselves! Rin, if you wanted to swim with your friends, you should have enrolled in Iwatobi to begin with. Duh. If you're going to be as emotional as a stereotypical, hormonal teenage girl, then at least be honest with your feelings. Don't pull selfish, irrational stunts like this as tournaments. Sheesh. Go watch some real sports anime.
[end of big spoiler]
Obviously, I have little patience for drama queens. I prefer to save that patience for any drama I encounter in real life. I mean, I do want to love these characters. I'm pretty fond of Makoto and Nagisa. I sort of like Haruka and Rei. And, if I think of him as a child going through a dramatic phase, I can care about Rin.
It's not like I disliked the first season of Free!. But I didn't particularly like it either... Although I did enjoy the ending sequence. It was like a music video, with each character acting a part, the way members of a real band would.
I suppose I can understand why some people like Free! so much. I might watch the second season, Free! Eternal Summer. It's not exactly a priority for me, though. I have plenty of other anime to keep me busy during my precious free time.