Free! (TV series)

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Free!
Free! promotional image 1.jpg
Promotional poster of the Free! anime series.
GenreSports (swimming)[1]
Anime television series
Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
Directed byHiroko Utsumi
Produced byShinichiro Hatta
Shinichi Nakamura
Shigeru Saito
Masayuki Nishide
Written byMasahiro Yokotani
Music byTatsuya Kato
Studio
Licensed by
Original networkTokyo MX, TVA, ABC, BS11, AT-X
Original run July 4, 2013 September 26, 2013
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Light novel
High Speed!
Written byKōji Ōji
Illustrated byFutoshi Nishiya
Published byKyoto Animation
ImprintKA Esuma Bunko
Original runJuly 8, 2013July 2, 2014
Volumes2
Anime television series
Free! - Eternal Summer
Directed byHiroko Utsumi
Produced byShinichiro Hatta
Shinichi Nakamura
Shigeru Saito
Masayuki Nishide
Written byMasahiro Yokotani
Music byTatsuya Kato
Studio
  • Kyoto Animation
  • Animation Do
Licensed by
Original networkTokyo MX, TVA, ABC, BS11, AT-X, NHK G Tottori
Original run July 2, 2014 September 24, 2014
Episodes13 + OVA (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Free! - Dive to the Future
Directed byEisaku Kawanami
Written byMasahiro Yokotani
Music byTatsuya Kato
Studio
Licensed by
Funimation
Original networkABC, Tokyo MX, TVA, BS11, AT-X
Original run July 11, 2018 September 26, 2018
Episodes12 + OVA (List of episodes)
Films
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Free! is a Japanese anime television series produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do. The anime is a sequel to the light novel, High Speed! (Japanese: ハイ☆スピード!, Hepburn: Hai Supīdo!), written by Kōji Ōji, which received an honorable mention in the second Kyoto Animation Award contest in 2011 and was published in July 2013. The first season, titled Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club for international distribution, aired in Japan in 2013; and the second season, titled Free! - Eternal Summer, aired in 2014. A third season of the anime series titled Free! - Dive to the Future aired in 2018. Hiroko Utsumi directed the first two seasons, while season three was directed by Eisaku Kawanami. A new project has been announced for release in 2020.

An animated film adapting the second volume of the original novel, High Speed! Free! Starting Days, was released in December 2015. A film trilogy was released in 2017 with the first two films being compilations of both seasons of the anime series titled Free! Timeless Medley: The Bond and Free! Timeless Medley: The Promise. The third film in the trilogy titled Free! Take Your Marks featured a new story.

Plot[edit]

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is set in the town of Iwatobi, Japan, which is based on Iwami, Tottori.[2][3] The story is centered on high school student Haruka Nanase, a former competitive swimmer. After encountering his childhood rival, Rin Matsuoka from Samezuka Academy, he and his friends revitalize Iwatobi High School's swim team. In addition to his childhood friends, Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa Hazuki, Rei Ryugazaki is recruited onto the team. While the team trains for tournaments, Haruka and Rin's rivalry continues to sour from Rin facing setbacks in improvement, though his desire to swim competitively escalates. However, during the prefectural tournament, Iwatobi's swim team reminds Rin of their friendship through a medley relay. Despite being disqualified, the swim team's relationships with each other improves.

In Free! Eternal Summer, Haruka, now in his final year in high school, has not decided on what to do after graduating. Meanwhile, Rin's childhood friend, Sosuke Yamazaki, transfers to Samezuka Academy. Rin hopes to swim competitively with Sosuke, but unbeknownst to him, Sosuke has injured his shoulder from overuse. During the regionals, Haruka becomes overwhelmed from the pressure of performing in front of scouts and becomes lost on what to do for the future. However, with help from his friends, he decides to continue his swim career and compete on a global level.

In Free! Dive to the Future, Haruka attends Hidaka University and reconnects with his friends from middle school, with the exception of Ikuya Kirishima, who is still bitter about their middle school's swim team breaking up. In order to get closer to Ikuya, Haruka begins training in other strokes besides freestyle to compete in individual medleys. Although he eventually rebuilds his friendship with Ikuya, he is faced with the reality that he will be competing against swimmers at his level and higher.

Characters[edit]

Iwatobi High School[edit]

Haruka Nanase (七瀬 遙, Nanase Haruka)
Voiced by: Nobunaga Shimazaki[4] (Japanese); Todd Haberkorn[5] (English)
Haruka specializes in freestyle. His swimming style captivates others, and he idolizes water. He is a strong, quiet person who displays limited facial expressions and has a hard time communicating his feelings.[4] Due to his feminine name, he asks to be called Haru (ハル). Haruka lived with his grandmother until she passed away, while his parents live and work in Tokyo. He initially quits competitive swimming after a falling out with Rin, but he regains his passion upon Rin's return and rediscovers the joy of teamwork with his friends. In Eternal Summer, Haruka faces uncertainty about making future plans, but with support from his friends, he realizes he wants to swim competitively on a global scale. In Dive to the Future, he continues developing as a competitive swimmer at Hidaka University, competing in the All-Japan Invitational.
Makoto Tachibana (橘 真琴, Tachibana Makoto)
Voiced by: Tatsuhisa Suzuki[4] (Japanese); Johnny Yong Bosch[6] (English)
Makoto specializes in backstroke. He is Haruka's classmate and best friend since childhood. Unlike Haruka, he is outgoing and often speaks up for him, understanding his behaviors and knowing him extremely well. He is also sensitive and scares easily.[4] He develops Thalassophobia due to a traumatic childhood incident in which an old fisherman, whom Makoto idolized, drowns in a typhoon. In Eternal Summer, he becomes a part-time swim coach at Iwatobi SC and decides to pursue it professionally. In Dive to the Future, Makoto revises his goal of teaching children how to swim to also train professional swimmers, including Haruka and Rin.
Nagisa Hazuki (葉月 渚, Hazuki Nagisa)
Voiced by: Tsubasa Yonaga[4] (Japanese); Greg Ayres[7] (English)
Nagisa specializes in breaststroke. He is cheerful, spirited and outspoken. He has admired Haruka's swimming since elementary school and enrolls at Iwatobi High School hoping to swim with him again.[4] In Dive to the Future, he continues to be a vital member of the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club after Haruka and Makoto graduate.
Rei Ryugazaki (竜ヶ崎 怜, Ryūgazaki Rei)
Voiced by: Daisuke Hirakawa[4] (Japanese); J. Michael Tatum[8] (English)
Rei is a first-year student at Iwatobi High School specializing in butterfly. He is logical and intelligent,[4] but easily manipulated by his classmate, Nagisa.[9] He is attracted to all things beautiful and will do everything in his power to avoid things he claims "unattractive." He used to be on the track team as a pole vaulter, but could not perform well because he constantly over-analyzed his jumps. He initially refuses to join the swim club because he finds swimming inelegant, but he eventually joins after seeing Haruka's swimming. In Dive to the Future, he is the captain of the Iwatobi team after Makoto graduates.

Samezuka Academy[edit]

Rin Matsuoka (松岡 凛, Matsuoka Rin)
Voiced by: Mamoru Miyano[4] (Japanese); Vic Mignogna[10] (English)
Rin specializes in butterfly and freestyle. After transferring to Iwatobi Elementary School, he ends up in the same swim club as Haruka, Makoto and Nagisa, eventually leading them to victory in a medley relay. Rin goes to Australia to study and train, returning to Japan and enrolling at Samezuka Academy as a second-year, but only joining the swim team after a reunion race against Haruka, who he now views as his rival. In Eternal Summer, Rin becomes Samezuka's swim team captain. In Dive to the Future, Rin returns to Australia but revisits to Japan to swim in the All-Japan Invitational.
Sosuke Yamazaki (山崎 宗介, Yamazaki Sōsuke)
Voiced by: Yoshimasa Hosoya[11] (Japanese); Ian Sinclair[12] (English)
Sosuke is Rin's childhood friend who specializes in butterfly. In Eternal Summer, he transfers to Samezuka Academy to swim his last year of high school in his hometown. Due to over-training in his first year of high school, however, he severely injures his shoulder, ruining his chances of entering the professional world. Sosuke dislikes Haruka but tolerates his ability to motivate Rin. In Dive to the Future, Sosuke's shoulder surgery is seen to be successful.
Aiichiro Nitori (似鳥 愛一郎, Nitori Aiichirō)
Voiced by: Kōki Miyata[13] (Japanese); Josh Grelle[14] (English)
Aiichiro is a member of the Samezuka Academy swim team. He swims long distance freestyle, but also breaststroke in the second season. With coaching from Sosuke, Aiichiro's swimming improves to the point that Rin allows him to compete in relay. He is eventually appointed as Samezuka's new captain.
Seijuro Mikoshiba (御子柴 清十郎, Mikoshiba Seijūrō)
Voiced by: Kenjiro Tsuda (Japanese); Robert McCollum[12] (English)
Seijuro was the captain of the Samezuka Academy swim team. He is an enthusiastic person and a skilled swimmer. He shows strong interest in Gou Matsuoka. In Dive to the Future, he attends Hidaka University and is a third-year swim team member.
Momotaro Mikoshiba (御子柴 百太郎, Mikoshiba Momotarō)
Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura[13] (Japanese); Jerry Jewell[14] (English)
Momotaro is Seijuro's younger brother is a student at Samezuka Academy. Initially he doesn't join the swim team, but does so later on at Rin's insistence. Like his brother, he has a crush on Gou and is an enthusiastic person. He is a skilled backstroke swimmer with the given nickname, "The Sea of Japan's Sea Otter."

Iwatobi Middle School/Tokyo[edit]

Kisumi Shigino (鴫野 貴澄, Shigino Kisumi)
Voiced by: Chihiro Suzuki (Japanese); Eric Vale (English)
Kisumi is classmates with the members of the Iwatobi Middle School's swim team and was part of the basketball team. Although they ultimately attend different high schools, Kisumi works with Makoto to help his younger brother, Hayato, learn to swim. In Dive to the Future, Kisumi attends Hidaka University along with Haruka and Asahi, while working part-time at his uncle's real estate agency.
Asahi Shiina (椎名 旭, Shīna Asahi)
Voiced by: Toshiyuki Toyonaga (Japanese); Christopher Llewyn Ramirez (English)
Asahi was a member of Iwatobi Middle School's swim team and specializes in butterfly. After his first year, he moves to Kyushu and becomes the captain of Kazami High School's swim team. In Dive to the Future, he comes to Tokyo as a freshman at Hidaka University, where he joins the swim team with Haruka.
Ikuya Kirishima (桐嶋 郁弥, Kirishima Ikuya)
Voiced by: Kouki Uchiyama (Japanese); Lee George (English)
Ikuya was a member of the Iwatobi Middle School's swim team and specializes in breaststroke. He also possesses an elegant crawl, similar in speed and style to Haruka's. After the middle school team breaks up, he follows Natsuya to America where he attends high school, focusing on developing all four swim strokes to become an individual medley competitor. In "Dive to the Future", he attends Shimogami University, where he joins their swim team. Though his personal struggles affect his swimming and his friendships, they are later resolved with help from Haruka.
Natsuya Kirishima (桐嶋 夏也, Kirishima Natsuya)
Voiced by: Kenji Nojima (Japanese); Ricco Fajardo (English)
Natsuya is Ikuya's older brother. He was the captain of the Iwatobi Middle School Swim team. The brothers have a strained relationship until they come to terms. After high school, Natsuya swims competitively, but independently, entering contests and winning prize money around the world. He eventually returns to Japan to look after Ikuya and compete alongside him.
Nao Serizawa (芹沢 尚, Serizawa Nao)
Voiced by: Satoshi Hino (Japanese); Oscar Seung (English)
Nao was a member of the Iwatobi Middle School Swim team who is temporarily sidelined by an eye injury. He is close friends with Natsuya Kirishima and is instrumental in guiding Makoto towards his new career path.
Hiyori Toono (遠野 日和, Tōno Hiyori)
Voiced by: Ryōhei Kimura (Japanese); Jason Liebrecht (English)
Hiyori is a first-year student at Shimogami University and specializes in backstroke. He is Ikuya's friend and top supporter. Natsuya tasks Hiyori with watching over Ikuya while he travels, a role which overburdens Hiyori. Their friendship is later restored during the College Championships.[15]

Others[edit]

Gou Matsuoka (松岡 江, Matsuoka Gō)
Voiced by: Akeno Watanabe (Japanese); Jamie Marchi[12] (English)
Gou is Rin's younger sister. She is student at Iwatobi High School. She joins the swim club as their manager in hopes that they can restore Rin's old personality. Gou is fascinated with muscles. She remains an active member of the Iwatobi Swim Club throughout the series.
Miho Amakata (天方 美帆, Amakata Miho)
Voiced by: Satsuki Yukino (Japanese); Caitlin Glass[12] (English)
Miho is Haruka and Makoto's homeroom teacher and teaches classical literature. The students nickname her "Miss A" (天ちゃん, Ama-chan), and she becomes the faculty advisor to the swim club. Miho used to be a gravure model under the name Marin Nishikujo (西九条まりん, Nishikujō Marin), which she takes extreme measures to hide.
Goro Sasabe (笹部 吾朗, Sasabe Gorō)
Voiced by: Hiroshi Yanaka (Japanese); Christopher R. Sabat[12] (English)
Goro was the swimming coach at the abandoned Iwatobi Swimming Club, having coached Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin while they were in elementary school. He begins re-coaching Haruka, Makoto and Nagisa, with the addition of Rei, upon seeing their enthusiasm. In Eternal Summer, he rebuilds the Iwatobi Swimming Club, renaming it "Iwatobi SC Returns", developing the space into a community recreation center and swim school. He continues to support the Iwatobi Swim Club and the graduates he formerly coached.
Isuzu Mikoshiba (御子柴 五十鈴, Mikoshiba Isuzu)
Voiced by: Rina Satou[16] (Japanese)
Isuzu is Seijuro and Momotaro's sister. She is captain of the Hidaka University High School Swim Team. Upon meeting Haruka Nanase, she expresses her admiration and her wish to compete against him. Upon meeting Gou Matsuoka, the two immediately bond as muscle-obsessed fangirls.
Ryuuji Azuma (東 龍司, Azuma Ryuuji)
Voiced by: Takeshi Kusao[17](Japanese)
Ryuuji is an alumnus of Iwatobi High School and a former competitive swimmer who currently coaches Haruka Nanase. Ryuuji was on a path to greatness when an event caused him to lose his competitive edge. Mikhail Makarovich, his long-time rival and fellow pro-coach, believes he now coaches Haruka to ensure that Haruka doesn't make the same mistake. He is respected by Haruka and accepted by Makoto, who Ryuuji encourages to work with professional athletes.
Mikhail Makarovich (ミハイル, Mihairu)
Voiced by: Hidenobu Kiuchi[18] (Japanese)
Mikhail is Nitori's uncle, a former Russian competitive swimmer and long-time rival of Ryuuji Azuma. He currently coaches Rin Matsuoka in Australia. He assesses whether or not he will coach a swimmer by their musculature, being someone who admires muscles, in general.
Ran Tachibana (橘 蘭, Tachibana Ran)
Voiced by: Miyuki Kobori (Japanese); Sarah Wiedenheft (English)
Ran is Makoto's younger sister. She and her twin brother, Ren, adore Makoto.
Ren Tachibana (橘 蓮, Tachibana Ren)
Voiced by: Yuka Maruyama (Japanese); Megan Vander Pluym (English)
Ren is Makoto's younger brother. He and his twin sister, Ran, adore Makoto.

Media[edit]

Anime series[edit]

Animation Do released a splash image for a new project in April 2012, which was followed by a television commercial for the project in March 2013.[19] The commercial quickly went viral despite only being 30 seconds long, and a wide variety of fan works expanding upon the nameless characters from the ad were created, including hypothetical biographies, art, and fan fiction, along with online petitions calling on the studio to turn it into a real series.[20]

Kyoto Animation announced an animated series during a live stream on Niconico on April 26, 2013.[21][22] The 12-episode anime television series, produced in collaboration with Animation Do, was directed by Hiroko Utsumi, written by Masahiro Yokotani, and featured character designs by Futoshi Nishiya and music by Tatsuya Katō. The series aired in Japan between July 4 and September 26, 2013 on Tokyo MX,[1] and was also streamed on the Japanese video-sharing website Niconico[23] and simulcast by Crunchyroll, who also possesses the home video rights to the series.[1][24][25] The series was released on six BD and DVD compilation volumes between September 11, 2013 and February 5, 2014, with certain volumes containing short bonus episodes.

A 13-episode second season, titled Free! Eternal Summer, aired between July 2[26] and September 24, 2014. Funimation has licensed the second season for streaming and home video in North America,[27] and they attempted to negotiate with Crunchyroll about releasing the first season on home video.[7] However, Discotek Media released the first season on behalf of Crunchyroll on DVD with English subtitles, but noted a dubbed release might come eventually.[28] The English dub of the first season is available on Crunchyroll, with the English voice cast reprising their roles.[29] Crunchyroll and Funimation released the first season on Blu-ray and DVD on May 9, 2017 with an English dub.[30][31] Madman Entertainment will import Funimation's release into Australia and New Zealand.[32]

A 12-episode third season titled Free! Dive to the Future aired between July 11 and September 26, 2018.[33] Eisaku Kawanami returned to direct the third season, while all the staff and cast reprised their roles.[34]

After the third season's finale, a new animated project slated for a 2020 release was announced.[35]

Films[edit]

An animated film based on the second volume of the original light novel, titled High Speed! Free! Starting Days, was released in Japan on December 5, 2015. The film was directed by Yasuhiro Takemoto and the screenplay was written by Maiko Nishioka. Yokotani worked on the story composition, and Nishiya served as character designer and chief animation director.[36]

An animated film trilogy was announced by Kyoto Animation.[37] The first two, titled Free! Timeless Medley: The Bond and Free! Timeless Medley: The Promise are compilations of the second season, Free! Eternal Summer with new scenes added. The Bond focuses on the five main members of the Iwatobi Swim Club, while The Promise focuses on Rin and Sousuke from the Samezuka Swim Club. Both films opened on April 22 and July 1, 2017, respectively. A third film, titled Free! Take Your Marks, is a new story taking place in the spring as Haruka deals with high school graduation and everyone's futures as they move forward in their lives and was released on October 28, 2017.[38] All three films were directed by Eisaku Kawanami, and much of the staff from the anime series and High Speed! film returned for the compilation films, including series composer Masahiro Yokotani, character designer Futoshi Nishiya and composer Tatsuya Katō.[39] Funimation acquired the film trilogy and the High Speed prequel film for home video release as well as screening the Take Your Marks film in US theaters on March 14, 2018, presented in Japanese with English subtitles.[40]

Music[edit]

For the first season, the opening theme is "Rage On" by Oldcodex and the ending theme is "Splash Free" by Style Five (Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Mamoru Miyano, Tsubasa Yonaga and Daisuke Hirakawa). The ending theme for episode 12 is "Ever Blue" by Style Five.[41] The single for "Rage On" was released on July 17, 2013 and sold over 24,281 copies.[42][43] The single for "Splash Free" was released on August 7, 2013 and sold over 47,646 copies.[44][45] For the second season, the opening theme is "Dried Up Youthful Fame" by Oldcodex,[46][47] and the ending theme is "Future Fish" by Style Five. The ending theme for episode 13 is "Clear Blue Departure" by Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa, Mamoru Miyano, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Kōki Miyata and Kenichi Suzumura.

Five character song singles were released sung by the voice actors of the main characters. The singles for Haruka Nanase (sung by Shimazaki) and Makoto Tachibana (sung by Suzuki) were released on August 7, 2013.[48][49] Makoto's single sold over 23,487 copies, while Haruka's single sold about 20,371 copies.[50] The singles for Rin Matsuoka (sung by Miyano), Nagisa Hazuki (sung by Yonaga) and Rei Ryūgazaki (sung by Hirakawa) were released on September 4, 2013.[51][52][53] Rin's single sold over 18,698 copies, while Rei's and Nagisa's sold over 15,021 and 14,283 copies, respectively.[54]

Four duet character song singles were released sung by the voice actors of the main characters.[55] The single with Haruka (sung by Shimazaki) and Makoto (sung by Suzuki) was released on December 18, 2013 and sold over 16,361 album copies.[56] The single with Nagisa (sung by Tsubasa Yonaga) and Rei (sung by Daisuke Hirakawa) was released on January 15, 2014 and sold over 11,980 copies.[57] The single with Rei (sung by Daisuke Hirakawa) and Rin (sung by Mamoru Miyano) was released on February 12, 2014 and sold over 13,389 copies.[58] The last single with Haruka (sung by Shimazaki) and Rin (sung by Mamoru Miyano) was released on March 19, 2014 and sold over 15,866 album copies.[59]

Other[edit]

The original light novel High Speed! (ハイ☆スピード, Hai Supīdo) is written by Kōji Ōji, with illustrations by Futoshi Nishiya. Ōji entered it into the second Kyoto Animation Award contest in 2011, and it won an honorable mention in the novel category.[60] It was published by Kyoto Animation on July 8, 2013.[61] A second volume was published on July 2, 2014, and the story takes place when Haruka and Makoto are in middle school.[62]

An Internet radio show to promote the anime called Iwatobi Channel (イワトビちゃんねる, Iwatobi Channeru) began broadcasting on June 17, 2013.[63] The show is streamed online every Monday, and is produced by the Japanese Internet radio stations Lantis Web Radio and Onsen. The show is hosted by Nobunaga Shimazaki and Tatsuhisa Suzuki, who voice Haruka Nanase and Makoto Tachibana from the anime, respectively.[64] Two CD compilation volumes were released between August 21 and September 25, 2013.[65][66]

Two volumes in a drama CDs series, titled Iwatobi High School Swimming Club Activity Journal (岩鳶高校水泳部活動日誌, Iwatobi Kōkō Suiei-bu Katsudō Nisshi), were released between August 21 and September 25, 2013.[67][68]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Dong, Bamboo (October 15, 2013). "Town of Iwami Offers Exclusive Free! Merchandise and Iwatobi-chan Scarecrow". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
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  38. ^ "Free! -Take Your Marks- Sequel Film to Open on October 28". Anime News Network. July 4, 2017. Retrieved July 4, 2017.
  39. ^ "Free! Anime Films Reveal Cast, Staff, Story Premise". Anime News Network. March 19, 2017. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
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