Free! Eternal Summer is the second season of the Free! Iwatobi Swim Club television anime series. This season begins in spring, when the new school year is getting underway. The focus of the series is still on the Iwatobi High swimmers (Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei), their manager Gou, and Rin from Samezuka Academy.
In this first episode, we learn that Rin will be the new captain of Samezuka Academy’s swim team. But as the baton is passed, the former captain warns that a new face will be joining the club and that they will be someone to be feared.
Meanwhile, the Iwatobi High club is trying to recruit new members, but they aren’t having any luck. The team believes they need their pool to be opened early so they can show off their swimming. They talk to Amakata, their advisor, about opening it. However, she thinks it’s still too cold to open their outdoor pool. She suggests talking to Coach Sasabe, because he has acquired the old Iwatobi Swimming Club and he’ll be reopening it soon. When they talk to him, he agrees to let them practice there before it officially reopens.
Most of the rest of the episode focuses on a public swim tournament. During this tournament, we get to see Haruka and Rin race against each other, and the result is a bit surprising. After the tournament, there’s a very touching scene at Iwatobi High that features the Iwatobi High team and Rin.
Right at the end of the episode, a new student named Sousuke Yamazaki transfers into Rin’s class, and the two of them appear to recognize each other.
I have to admit that when I started watching this episode, it took me a couple of minutes to remind myself of who the characters are. However, once I was caught back up on that, watching this episode made me feel like I was reuniting with an old friend. Since I already know the characters from the first season, I was able to jump into the story and action instead of being bogged down by lots of exposition.
Where the first season focused on Haruka and the others trying to get enough members to get the swim club recognized by the school, this season looks like it’s going to be focusing on the club trying to recruit new members. With two of the members now being third-year students, they’ll lose two members at the end of the year and not have enough members to continue being recognized.
One big difference I saw in this episode compared to the first season is the fact that there were definitely more blatant “fanservice” shots included. For me, this is the one thing I didn’t like about this episode. As a woman who’s pushing 40, I really can’t get into the fanservice in the episode, since it focuses on high school boys. With one of my children being in the same age range as the characters in this series, ogling these boys would be like ogling my child’s male peers; let’s just say that that would be really creepy. I’m starting to think I must have been one of the few viewers of the first season of Free! that watched the series for the story and not for the fanservice. I’m hoping that future episodes won’t be quite so fanservice heavy as this one was.
Outside of the fanservice, I think that Free! Eternal Summer is off to a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen to these characters, as well as getting to know more about Sousuke.
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