Anime Spotlight: Free! Eternal Summer

Free! Eternal Summer is the second season of the Free! Iwatobi Swim Club television anime series. The series was produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do and was directed by Hiroko Utsumi. The series aired on Japanese television from July 2-September 24, 2014. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American home video license for Free! Eternal Summer.

This series continues to follow the four members of the Iwatobi Swim Club: Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei. They have also repaired their friendship with Rin, who swims for Samezuka Academy. Rin’s sister Gou continues to serve as the manager for the Iwatobi team.

Free! Eternal Summer introduces a new character named Sousuke Yamazaki, Rin’s childhood best friend from elementary school. He transfers to Samezuka so he can spend his last year of high school swimming with Rin. Sousuke is a talented butterfly swimmer, but he also has a rather aloof personality.

With several of the main characters now being third-year high school students, there’s a strong focus on the characters trying to figure out their post-high school plans. Rin knows exactly what he wants to do, but Makoto and Haruka aren’t sure of what it is they want to do. Near the end of the series, Haruka’s confusion nearly causes him to break; fortunately, Rin comes up with a way to help Haruka find his sense of direction.

When it comes to the swimming aspect, Iwatobi’s team makes it to nationals for the relay, while Samezuka sends swimmers for both individual races and the relay. But Haruka’s issues almost destroy Iwatobi’s team and their chance to compete in the relay at nationals.

When I watched the first episode of Free! Eternal Summer, I saw much more blatant “fanservice” included in it than I had in the previous season of Free! I found myself fearing that Free! Eternal Summer was going to try to focus more on the fanservice than on the story. Fortunately, the fanservice was toned down tremendously after Episode One and that there was more of an emphasis placed on the story. Not only did Episode Two tone down the fanservice, it also did a great job of setting up the new elements that were being introduced to the series.

With Episode Five, I was very happy to see Nagisa get a character development episode. While most of the other characters had received character development episodes in the first season, Nagisa was the only one who hadn’t. After watching Episode Five, I felt I understood where Nagisa was coming from a lot better than I had previously.

With how the prefecturals progressed in Episode Six, it allowed Free! Eternal Summer to differentiate itself from the first season, since there would be a story that focuses on the Iwatobi team going to nationals.

I also appreciated seeing the way that Free! Eternal Summer came to an end, which is with a montage that shows what happens to the various characters during the next school year. But from seeing this montage, it leads me to believe that there more than likely won’t be another season of the Free! anime. While I do enjoy this series quite a bit, I really can’t see where they could take the story, especially with Makoto and Haruka no longer being on the school’s swim team. It just wouldn’t be the same without all four of them.

In the end, I enjoyed Free! Eternal Summer just as much as I enjoyed watching Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club.

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