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[Anime Review] Free! Eternal Summer (2014)

Official Website (Japanese)

Plot Summary: The boys of summer are back. Haru, Makoto, Nagisa, Rei, and Rin are reunited and the competition is about to get fierce. After the last swimming meet, the bonds of friendship have only gotten stronger, and with each passing day the boys continue to grow. This summer brings new rivals and new challenges.

Director: Hiroko Utsumi

Episode Runtime: 13 episodes

Genre: Sports, Swimming, Bishounen, Fanservice, School Life

Studio: Kyoto Animation, Animation Do

Internet Streaming: Crunchyroll, FUNimation Entertainment

Licensed by: FUNimation

Main Cast:

  • Daisuke Hirakawa as Rei Ryugazaki
  • Mamoru Miyano as Rin Matsuoka
  • Nobunaga Shimazaki as Haruka Nanase
  • Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Makoto Tachibana
  • Tsubasa Yonaga as Nagisa Hazuki
  • Yoshimasa Hosoya as Sōsuke Yamazaki

Review: by Nena

I was excited for the second season of Free!, especially after having waited almost an entire year since the end of the first season. Going into it, I pretty much expected more of the same level of fanservice, comedy, intense swimming action scenes, and subtle (sometimes not-so-subtle) homoeroticism that the first season had given us. I was not let down in that regard. What surprised me this time around was that KyoAni took it a step further and actually tried to give us a somewhat substantial plot in the form of each of the boys dealing with the inevitability of graduation and the uncertainty of the future.

What I Liked:

I liked the fact that they chose to actively and repeatedly address the all-too-real issue of the choices a person has to make in regards to what they’re going to do after high school. This is something that virtually everyone can relate to at that point in their life. The uncertainty, doubt, fear, and frustration about everything were clearly displayed by all of the main characters at one point or another, especially Haru.
Another standout change for this season was the fact that all of the main characters got a slightly more equal share of the spotlight. The first season was more Haru and Rin-centric than anything else, which was understandable seeing as Haru is technically the main protagonist and Rin had the most noticeable character development. This time around, Makoto wasn’t just Haru’s ever-smiling support system, he had his own dreams to pursue and his own burdens to bear. The climax of these realizations made for quite an emotional scene in episode 11. Rei pushed beyond his limitations to grow stronger and reaffirm his commitment to the team. Nagisa even got a bit of his own drama to deal with, although to be honest, it felt like they were forcing his storyline a little just to give him something to do since he was the most static character last season.
I also loved the interaction between Nitori and Momo. Nitori finally got a taste of his own medicine as the “mildly annoying but well-meaning kouhai” torch was quickly passed down to Momo, who was all too eager to take up the mantle.
One final well-deserved mention goes to KyoAni themselves for hiring what sounded like actual native English-speaking voice actors for episode 12. Most studios would have just had Japanese voice actors speaking English (badly) for the “Australian” characters’ lines. KyoAni went above and beyond for the sake of semi-authenticity and I commend them for their efforts.
What I Didn’t Like:
It took me quite a while to warm up to Sousuke. Before knowing his backstory and motivations, he came off as a jerk and his borderline obsession with Rin was off-putting. Also, I loved Momo about 90% of the time, but he did get a little annoying once in a while. I couldn’t really blame him for that though since the “hyperactive little brother” character type is literally him in a nutshell.

Images Courtesy of Random Curosity

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