Friday, May 15, 2015

Summer Viewing: Free! Eternal Summer (ep 1)

Confession: I completely forgot to watch Free! Eternal Summer this past week. I'm starting to remember why it's so hard to mix being a bookworm with being an anime fan. So now, just one and a half hours before my personal deadline, I begin watching Eternal Summer. I'm writing this while the first episode plays on my TV.

Okay... refresher on names (yes, the main boys have names usually associated with girls):

Iwatobi is the school most of the main characters go to.

Haruka (Haru) is the water-obsessed guy who swims freestyle. He's often found in the bathtub, with his swimsuit on, especially if he doesn't have access to a pool. He'll happily cook breakfast wearing just his swimsuit and his apron because, ya'know, fanservice. Also, he's the vice president of the club. His passion for swimming may be unmatched, but he's not exactly president material.

Makato is the motherly best friend. Backstroke. Team captain and club president.

Nagisa is the youthful face. Breaststroke. Treasury.

Rei is the newer swimmer who only knows butterfly. Secretary.

Matsuoka Rin is the shark toothed guy who spent time in Australia, and who I vaguely remember being a jerk last season... Ah, yes. I summarized the first season after I watched it. Here's an excerpt:

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.
For more about the first season, see my post Rewind: Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. To see my reactions as Eternal Summer unfolds, stay tuned here. It looks like this season begins the year after the first one.

Back to ep 1 of ES:

The Iwatobi crew visits Rin's school and has an impromptu race—as usual, it pretty much starts with Haru taking off his clothes (he always wears his swimsuit underneath) and preparing to dive in. While they're there, we find out that Rin is future captain of his swim team. He doesn't look too thrilled about it. Remind me... why isn't he switching schools?

Oh, a character I forgot: Rin's little sister is the manager of the Iwatobi Swim club. I don't remember her first name, but I think it was boyish.

Hey, look. She's introducing the club members to the school at the beginning of the term. Aaaand there go their shirts, leaving them just in their swimsuits. They declare their name, specialty stroke, and their "charm point" muscles, then strike a pose.

I love the students' reactions when the boys pull off their jackets.
They're having trouble getting new members, of course. Might be partially because their pool is outside, and it's still too cold. The other reason? Dude, this is a club anime. We need the second years to worry about keeping the club next year, and we need Haru to feel sad about that lack of new swimmers (think Chihayafuru 2). Heighten the drama, folks.

Their coach is Sasabe... cool, he owns the indoor swimming pool where the gang first met.

There goes Haru's shirt again. And into the pool he dives... watched by a mysterious newbie whose face we don't get to see yet.

Wait... Sasabe's first name is Goro? That makes me think of another cheesy boy-filled anime... that Goro owns a bathhouse with water from a hot spring, but he spends all his time chopping wood... this Goro owns the pool... I prefer wood-chopping Goro (from Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!).

Anyway, it looks like they're already at a swim meet.

Okay, Rin and Haru race! ... Haru's teammates call encouragments while rather sweet-arcade-ish music plays and Rin looks pretty in the water... Aww, that's sweet. They tied, setting a new record together. Then they high five...

I'm sorry, after last season, I just can't take this seriously. I know, I know, I should try... but... but... the sappiness... the friendship... "oh"... cherry blossom pool... childhood dream... "you guys"...*emotional happy-tears*..."Rin-san, go ahead!"

Talking about future plans, dreams... and there's that faraway look in Haru's eyes.

Rin asks Haru and Makato what their plans are after graduation.
I know that look in Haru's eyes. I've seen it in countless anime characters
before. It means "I know my answer will disappoint you, so I'll
just keep quiet and look a little sad." We'll find out more later,
because drama.
We get a transfer-student and blast-from-Rin's-past, Sosuke. He joins Rin's class. There's no drama yet, but the look on their faces promises a backstory.

Yay! Ending theme! This was my favorite part last season. It's like a music video... thought not quite as fun this season.

I'm sorry, I just can't take this show seriously. I think TWWK wrote several posts about Eternal Summer over at Beneath the Tangles. Maybe I'll read those as I watch. It might help me stop scoffing during every dramatic part.


  1. Wow, sounds like this anime really is nothing but fanservice. I really didn't have much interest in seeing this, and from what you've written, it's probably one I should skip.

    1. Yeah, I don't think it would be your cup of tea. But you shouldn't judge it based solely on my opinion. I'm not a huge club anime fan in the first place (it has to be great in other ways). Sports anime usually have a different rhythm, something to them that really draws me in. Free! didn't, which made me view it twice as harshly. Thirteen episodes later, I'm rather biased about it. It clouds my perception, making it difficult for me to see its good qualities.

  2. It might be helpful to watch the last episode of last season. Part of what makes this season much better than the last is Rin's transformation. In this episode, most fans of the series are expecting the same old Rin, which would be common to anime - a supposed transformation moment is basically taken back so that we can continue to have more tension between characters (Naruto, DBZ, etc.), but what's thrilling about the first episode of ES is that Rin is a totally different person. He really seems to have changed - the corny love the guys poured out in the last episode of two of the first season has caused him to become a different person, and that itself is kind of unique and unexpected for a relatively one-tone show.

    1. I guffawed through last season's final episodes, so re-watching that would probably make my perception worse. Corny love doesn't go over well with me. Your description is helpful, though. Thanks. I'll keep Rin's change in mind as I watch the next episode.


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