More Information for High Speed! Free! Starting Days Film and Manga

The teaser website for the forthcoming High Speed! -Free! Starting Days- anime film has announced that Nobunaga Shimazaki, the voice of Haruka Nanase, is returning from the Free! television anime.

Kyoto Animation has also announced that a manga adaptation of High Speed!, Koji Oji and Futoshi Nishiya’s light novel project that inspired the Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club television anime, has been green-lit. Shiori Teshirogi is drawing the manga.

While the Free! anime centers on Haruka and the other swimmers during high school, High Speed! follows them during middle school.

The first Free! anime from Kyoto Animation premiered in July 2013, and Crunchyroll simulcast the anime as it aired in Japan. Discotek will release the first season on DVD in North America. Free! Eternal Summer, the second television anime season, premiered in July 2014, and FUNimation licensed the second season for streaming and home video in North America.

Source: ANN

Discotek Media Acquires the DVD Rights for Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

Discotek Media has struck a deal with Crunchyroll to work on several properties that it has the streaming and home video rights for, but have no direct interest in producing the home video releases themselves.

The first series announced as part of this deal is the first season of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. No release date has been set yet, but it has been revealed that the release will have the Japanese language version with English subtitles. Discotek says an English version may be released in the future after the subtitled version. There are no details at this time on a possible English version or who would release it.

FUNimation has the rights for the second season with it coming out this year on bilingual DVD/BD combo form.

Source: The Fandom Post

New Cast Member for Free! Eternal Summer

The official website for Free! Eternal Summer that a new cast member has been added.

Yoshimasa Hosoya is providing the voice for Sosuke Yamazaki, one of Rin’s best friends from elementary school. He has a strong personality, and never gets irritated by anything. He takes a dry and harsh position on swimming toward himself and those around him.

Source: ANN

Information on the Second Season of Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club

It has been announced that the second season of Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, which is called, Free! Eternal Summer, will begin airing on Japan’s ABC, Tokyo MX TV, TV Aichi, and BS11 stations in July 2014.

A promotional video was screened on the Akihabara UDX Vision screen in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, and the video includes footage of the characters wearing winter clothes, as well as an apparently previously unseen character.

Source: ANN

Anime Spotlight: Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime based on a light novel series written by Koji Oji. The anime was produced by Kyoto Animation, and it was directed by Hiroko Utsumi. The series aired on Japanese television from July 4-September 26, 2013. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American rights for this series, and FUNimation Entertainment has the home video distribution rights.

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime about a group of four boys who swam competitively when they were younger: Nanase Haruka, Tachibana Makoto, Matsuoka Rin, and Hazuki Nagisa. However, Rin moved to Australia to go to school to become an Olympic swimmer. Haruka loves to swim, but he gave up swimming competitively during middle school.

Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa end up attending the same high school. Their school used to have a swim club, but it disbanded. Nagisa gets the idea to try to start the swim club back up, and he receives help from Haruka and Makoto.

Rin’s younger sister, Gou, also attends their high school. They learn through her that Rin has returned from Australia and is now attending a boarding school that’s a major swimming school. Gou ends up becoming the manager for the new swim club.

They need a fourth member in order to officially be recognized by the school. After much persistence from Nagisa, a young man named Ryugazaki Rei joins the group. He’s not a swimmer when he first joins, but with some help, he learns to swim well enough in order to compete.

Over the course of the series, the Iwatobi swim team keeps running into Rin, and this becomes a major source of drama for the series.

When I finished the first episode of the series, I thought the pacing was a little on the slow side. However, I was willing to chalk that up to having to establish the characters and their world. However, by the end of the second episode, I became so interested in the characters and their story that I wanted to watch more.

The early episodes of the series focus on establishing Rin’s relationship with his former teammates, as well as on the others’ attempt to get the swim club going at their school. After Rei is introduced and becomes a member of the group, the series started taking the logical steps of seeing the club train and competing in tournaments. Overall, I thought the pacing and progression of the story felt very logical.

The most powerful portion of the series comes in the last few episodes. As the team is getting ready for regionals, the first three members of the Iwatobi swim team focus a lot on Rin and the fact that he’s going to be swimming in the relay against them. Rei, meanwhile, doesn’t understand what the fuss is, since he doesn’t have the history with Rin that the rest of them do. Rei goes through some turmoil and character development during the last three episodes.

However, the character that went through the most change over the course of the series was Rin. He gets a major redemption scene in the final episode; it was a touching scene, but there were times when I felt that Rin was being a little “over the top.” But this scene is very crucial for bringing the episode to its conclusion.

After finishing the series, I can safely say Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club would have to be one of my favorite anime of the Summer 2013 season. I also liked how the final episode ended where it’s possible for it to both be a satisfying ending and still have potential to continue the story if the animation studio were to decide to produce a second season of the series.

I also have to say that I thought the animation for this series was rather impressive. I especially thought the swimming scenes were animated beautifully.

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is, in my opinion, one of the better sports anime that I’ve personally seen. While the sport of swimming plays a major role in the series, the lives and personalities of the characters plays just as important of a role.

If you enjoy sports anime that also has a strong focus on characters and drama, then you’ll probably enjoy Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club.

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Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club: Episode 12 – “Distant Free!”

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime about a group of four boys who swam competitively when they were younger, but one of the friends went to Australia to go to school to become an Olympic swimmer. Now in high school, three of the boys have started a swim club at their school, and the fourth boy has returned from Australia but goes to a different school.

The high school team acquires four members after Ryugazaki, a non-swimmer, joins the team; they have worked with him enough so he is now a beginning swimmer. Gou, the younger sister of the friend who went to Australia, serves as the team’s manager.

Episode 12 opens with Haruka having a flashback at the elementary school, where he, Rin, Makoto, and Nagisa are looking up at the tree. Nagisa notices the bricks around the tree having writing on them, and Makoto explains that for graduation, they put the garden together and wrote their favorite phrases on the bricks. Makoto’s says “I Swim,” Rin’s says “For the team,” and Haruka’s says “Free.” At the end of the flashback, Haruka kneels down and uses a small branch to write something in the dirt before he leaves.

Rin, meanwhile, is sulking on his team’s bus, because his team’s captain removed him from the relay. Nitori tries to cheer him up, but Rin yells at him to shut up and storms off.

Rin’s 100 m free race is shown, and he’s so distracted by everything that’s been going on that he has a poor showing. Haruka and the others try to get to him to talk to him. Nitori reaches Rin first, and Rin once again yells at Nitori. Rin says he’s no better than this and that’s why he was taken off the relay. Rin then declares that he’ll never swim again, kicks a garbage can over, and runs off. The Iwatobi team arrived just in time to hear that Rin had been removed from the relay and will quit swimming.

The Iwatobi team has to decide what to do. It’s actually Rei who tells the others that they know what they have to do in regards to Rin. Haruka asks if Rei is OK with this, and Rei says he is. They look for Rin.

Haruka is the one who finds him by the tree we saw at the beginning of the episode. A very important confrontation takes place between Rin and Haruka in this scene, which also features what it was that Haruka wrote in the dirt at the beginning of the episode. This particular scene finally got to the heart of the matter for Rin. It was a touching scene, but there were times when I felt that Rin was being a little “over the top.”  But this scene is very crucial for bringing the episode to its conclusion. The Iwatobi teams surprises everyone at the medley relay by what they do; I’m not going to say what it is in order to avoid providing “spoilers” to a reader that hasn’t seen this episode yet.

Now that the series is over, I can safely say that Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club would have to be one of my favorite anime of the Summer 2013 season. I thought the ending was realistic and worked well. This episode ends in a way that it would work well as a final episode of a series, but it also leaves open the possibility for another season. As a writer, I can see ways that the story could be continued for a second season, and I would gladly watch another season if one is produced. However, even if this is all that there is for Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club, I’d also be happy. I’m really hoping that a North American distributor will get the home video rights for this series, because this one I would happily add to my anime home video collection.

Additional posts about Free!:

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club: Episode 11 – “Furious All-out!”

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime about a group of four boys who swam competitively when they were younger, but one of the friends went to Australia to go to school to become an Olympic swimmer. Now in high school, three of the boys have started a swim club at their school, and the fourth boy has returned from Australia but goes to a different school.

The high school team acquires four members after Ryugazaki, a non-swimmer, joins the team; they have worked with him enough so he is now a beginning swimmer. Gou, the younger sister of the friend who went to Australia, serves as the team’s manager.

Episode 11 picks up exactly where the last episode ended, with Rei getting into a confrontation with Rin. During this scene, Rei wants the answers to two questions. First, why did Rin suddenly decide to swim the relay? The second is, how do you feel about Haruka? Rin asks why he needs to justify himself to Rei, and Rei’s response is that he’s a victim and explains how he became involved with the Iwatobi team and how all the others seem to talk about is Rin. This actually ends up escalating into a very dramatic and intense scene, and I thought the intensity worked well.

Coach Sasabe asks the other team members to go check on Rei, since he’s been missing practice. They go to Rei’s place, and Rei finds out that everyone was worried about him and that Nagisa told the others about Rei going to see Rin. Rei admits that he did, and that it was through his own reasons why he went. Rei then adds that everything is OK now, that he’s done worrying about Rin, and that it’s not his problem. Haruka declares that the four of them are now a team, and Nagisa adds that every member is irreplaceable.

Meanwhile Rin is practicing, but he’s distracted by flashbacks. When Nitori, the underclassman who tries to hang out with Rin, comments on his performance, the team captain asks if Rin has said anything to him. Nitori replies Rin never tells him anything.

This episode also sees both the Iwatobi team and Rin’s team heading to the location where the regionals will be held. That night, after Rin gets Rei’s number from Gou, Rin messages Rei and asks for the two of them to meet. Rin decides that he needs to answer Rei’s questions, and both Rei and the audience get some insight into some of Rin’s motivations at the beginning of the series. The episode ends with Rin receiving a nasty surprise from his team captain.

Episode 11 ends up serving three purposes. The first is that it allows Rei’s subplot to finally be resolved. Secondly, it provides some more insight into Rin. Third, it’s getting everything set up for regionals. Since the competition didn’t begin in episode 11, I feel pretty safe in saying that episode 12 will focus exclusively on regionals. With only one episode left in this season, it will be interesting to see how the two teams fare. Will our characters be able to make it to nationals, which would then open up the potential for a second season? Or will our characters not make it past regionals, which could also potentially open the door for a second season to see these characters try to get better the following year and aiming to get to nationals?

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club has been a very enjoyable anime series to watch during the Summer 2013 season. I really hope someone in North America will acquire the license for this series and release it on home video at some point in the future.

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Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club: Episode 10 – “Irritated Heart Rate!”

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime about a group of four boys who swam competitively when they were younger, but one of the friends went to Australia to go to school to become an Olympic swimmer. Now in high school, three of the boys have started a swim club at their school, and the fourth boy has returned from Australia but goes to a different school.

The high school team acquires four members after Ryugazaki, a non-swimmer, joins the team; they have worked with him enough so he is now a beginning swimmer. Gou, the younger sister of the friend who went to Australia, serves as the team’s manager.

Episode 10 opens with a flashback sequence that shows how the relay team of Rin, Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa came together when they were kids. This flashback ends before the relay, and the last shot is of the already seen flashback of Rin telling Haruka and Makoto that he’ll be moving to Australia. At the end of the sequence, we see that it’s Rin having the flashback.

Goro, the boys’ coach when they were kids, is working with the Iwatobi team to get them ready for regionals. During their time together, it’s obvious Rei is feeling left out since everyone else has a history together. Haruka seems to pick up on this, but doesn’t say or do anything. Later, Rei shares some of his frustration with Nagisa, saying he doesn’t understand why it’s so important that Rin is also swimming in the relay, and that he thought their goal was to make it to the nationals as the Iwatobi Swim Club.

Later, Goro invites the team, Gou, and the advisor to his place for a hot pot. While they are there, both the audience and Goro learn what the advisor’s previous job regarding swimsuits was. I have to say that I saw this one coming from a mile away, so it didn’t surprise me. Gou also produces a photo album that shows Haruka, Nagisa, Makoto, and Rin as kids. Rei watches them from the sidelines as they relive memories.

When they head home from Goro’s place, Rei asks to know what happened between the other three and Rin. Haruka shares the story of what happened up until the relay. Rei is still confused; if they swam together in the relay and won, why is their relationship different now? Haruka shares the story of what happened between him and Rin in middle school when Rin came home from Australia on a break; Haruka beat Rin in a race, and Rin declared that he was done swimming. This is why Haruka also quit swimming competitively in middle school.

Unfortunately, Rei is still confused, because he thinks that since Rin beat Haruka at the last competition that this should be over now; he also says he’s confused as to why Rin is now in the relay. Haruka says he doesn’t know, either, but for some reason he’s looking forward to racing Rin again.

Right at the end of the episode, Rei goes to Rin’s school to talk to him. I’m very interested to see what comes out of this confrontation.

Admittedly, there’s quite a bit of time devoted to flashbacks, but this finally gives the viewers a fuller picture of what happened when the boys were younger. While we’d seen bits and pieces of some of these flashbacks, it was nice to see them as part of a bigger story and a more complete story.

I also found Rei’s actions in this episode to be believable. He’s been the one on the outside and has been going through the series up to this point without truly understanding what happened between Rin and the others. It can be hard being the newcomer among a group of people who already have a history together, and I think it was inevitable that Rei would reach the point of getting frustrated and wanting answers.

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club continues to be a series I look forward to watching every week, and now I’m curious as to how this will end since there’s only two episodes left.

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Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club: Episode 9 – “Hesitant Loosen Up!”

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime about a group of four boys who swam competitively when they were younger, but one of the friends went to Australia to go to school to become an Olympic swimmer. Now in high school, three of the boys have started a swim club at their school, and the fourth boy has returned from Australia but goes to a different school.

The high school team acquires four members after Ryugazaki, a non-swimmer, joins the team; they have worked with him enough so he is now a beginning swimmer. Gou, the younger sister of the friend who went to Australia, serves as the team’s manager.

Episode nine begins with Haruka jumping into the pool for the medley relay at the meet. Haruka and the other members of the team win the relay and can go on regionals. However, both Haruka and Rin end up going through reflections and doubts during this episode.

We end up getting a summer festival episode in Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club because Nagisa, Makoto, and Rin decide to take Haruka to the festival for Hachiman-sama; the temple hosting the festival also hosts a festival for the god of water. They hope that by taking Haruka there, they can help keep his mind off of swimming. Unfortunately, Rin and his team also go to the festival in order to pray for victory.

When Rei and Nagisa see Rin at the festival, they decide to try to keep Haruka from finding out. Nagisa sends Rei to follow Rin and to contact him about where Rin is going. When he follows Rin, Rei sees him going to Iwatobi Elementary School. Here, Rin has flashbacks to when he was still friends with the others and about the relay they swam in and won when they were kids. By the end of this scene, Rin looks pretty torn up emotionally.

Near the end of the episode, Haruka finally realizes what it is he wants out of swimming, and the Iwatobi High School team gets some very unexpected news.

Overall, this episode serves two purposes. The first is that this gives the characters of Haruka and Rin a chance to reflect and to try to sort out the mixed emotions that both of them are feeling. By allowing this to happen, it allows the plot to progress and their characters to develop. The second purpose is to give the series a light-hearted episode with what happens at the festival; this gives the audience a chance to catch their breath before the story moves on to the regional competition.

My favorite part of episode nine was when Rei was following Rin and just how methodical he was being about it. He did a great job grabbing the mask in order to hide his face before Rin could catch him.

I also would like to add that I appreciated seeing the struggles that both Haruka and Rin went through in this episode. I think this was especially true for Rin, because it showed that there’s more to him than the arrogant jerk the viewers had seen for most of the series up to this point. Between this and getting Rin’s backstory a couple of episodes back, Rin has started to become a more sympathetic character.

I’m looking forward to seeing the next episode of Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club in order to find out what will happen to all of the main characters as they move on to regionals.

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