More like: A Boy and His Water
Ah. Free. The revolutionary new anime from the the people who made K-On, and… uh. Haruhi. (Also, Nichijou. Nichijou was awesome.) has made the most controversial anime ever, by turning their back on the nerds. who previously turned their backs on them because they didn’t make Haruhi, or K-on season Infinitum, (and because they did make Endless Eight) and instead they wanted to make different shit, are hitting a new freshly untapped market. Women! Who like anime! Sounds unthinkable, but apparently these women exist, and KyoAni decides they want their money.
What’s the problem, KyoAni? Male Otaku dollars not good enough for you? You tacky plebi…
Free starts with narration of a kid telling us that Water is alive. This is a false statement, and this kid has clearly failed his science class, but it’s supposed to be dramatic, so I won’t ruin the moment. He gives us some instruction on how to swim, as to middle school kids who look way older than your typical school aged anime children tend to admire his swimming. Another kid, Rin, dives into the water as well, the two boys in the water meet up, and appear to spark an impromptu race against each other, without even having to say a word to each other, they just know.
We learn that the first boy is Haru-chan, called by his male friend, who failed to read the scrit that they’re all boys, and not infact girls (or perhaps so the disenfranchised Otaku, can still have some KyoAni character to call “-chan” this season). Haruka is fawned over by the confused boy, as he wishes he could swim just like him. Rin comes over and says that the rumors are true, fortunately they’re good rumors, and he means that he’s a really great swimmer. Rin recruits the living legend himself to do a relay with him. Haruka reacts as you’d expect and tells him to fuck off, he only does freestyle, because he just wants water all over him, in his face, in his eyes, in his hair, he wants water to let him know what it’s like to be a woman. Cool and refreshing, he just wants to be wet all over… *ahem* Well, the little boy is now a man… I mean teenager, as he’s three years until 20 (they really drew the characters to look like legit teenagers, and not tiny moppets. Feels weird, man.) and is sitting in a bathtub full of water, but he’s not taking a bath, because that would be normal. But since he can;t invest in a life-size fishtank, this is the best he can do.
After the Hard Rock OP, Makoto, chugs through town pets a kitty, all that nice guy stuff, and breaks and enters into his friend’s house. After telling Haru-chan that he’s going to be late for school, Haru begins grilling fish (but only enough for himself) as Makoto whines in his face. Because he’s a bit of a freak, he wears an apron over his swimsuit… and you know, his bare-exposed skin.
Haru-chan desu ne, hopes that it gets warm soon, because he’s gotta swim goddammit. Makoto takes note, and parrots what his single-minded friend was thinking, to get a reaction from him. In class the new teacher apparently mistakenly reads his name off as if he was a girl, which he appears to be used to by now. The teacher recoils and apologizes profusely for this fuck-up, she introduces herself as Frumpy McFrumpface, as later the students start gossiping about her, like cast members of The View. Haru-chan is perplexed at having to learn from a woman who only chose teaching as a back-up career plan, not realizing he’s been learning from people like that all his life, and just didn’t know it.
A girl is seen running outside, yelling at enough to hurry up, Gou doesn’t have quite the stamina has her friend and slowly huffs and puffs her way, while telling the other girl to not call her Gou, which is her name, and runs into another student. The cost of running with your eyes closed. We later discover that the boy she almost ran into was the sexually confused boy from earlier who kept referring to his friends as “-chan” despite being male. He’s stalke… uh, followed them to Iwatobi High. After being confused Mako-chan, and Haru-chan soon realize it’s their old buddy, who still doesn’t quite know the difference between the genders, Nagisa.
Nagisa went to a different school after the swimming facility closed, he then babbles about cherry blossom trees, asking twice in a row about them. Haru-chan askes him to stop calling him this which confuses the already confused young man, further. They explain that the place is closed, then Nagiza, who is confused how someone can have interests outside of swimming in dirty water asks just where do they swim. Haru drops a bomb on him that he quit swimming (competitively), Nagisa is crestfallen, he wanted to swim with the boys, again.
Haru has given up swimming, but he still has his object fetish with water itself. Nagisa’s tiny brain can’t comprehend that Haru has just moved on with his life, but does suggest a hot springs club, for some reason. He refuses then Nagisa starts pulling on his shirt and starts whining like a little girl. Makoto happens to notice the red-haired girl just kind of creepily staring at him, out o her peripheral vision. Nagisa who apparently hangs around the middle school like a weirdo heard that the old swim club they went to is closing down, and insists they visit it for some reason. He plans a breaking and entering, only the second of the episode. Haru-chan who likes to obey things like, “the law” refuses, while Nagisa plaintively whines at him again to do it. Mako-chan asks to humour him, Haru refuses because he’s not his goddamn girlfriend.
Mako knows exactly how to outsmart Haru, as he mentions the secret word (pool), and Haru’s pants scream real loud. After discussing it’s it’s OK to dig “it” up – and balking over Haruka’s fish (Fish comes from the water, so he likes it naturally) Flashback to child-like versions of themselves, when Lil’ Haruka could react to things other than water, their friend Lil’ Rin tells them he’s going to Australia, Lil’ Makoto isn’t too quick and asks if he’s going to a different country. The little boys are angry he didn’t tell them (he’s telling them right now) and he’s apparently leaving after the swim tournament.
Lil’ Haruka still refuses, because he still only swims freestyle, but Lil’ Rin insists that this means he has to, because it’ll be their last time swimming together. Later in real time, the gang go to the old abandoned swim club to see that it’s old and abandoned. Nagisa offers the gang some of the cocaine he uses to stay so hyper, but calls it “Purifying salt” to shake off suspicion, then tells some bullshit story about the place being haunted. Nagisa having just taken a hit, begins throwing cocaine onto the other two because he’s confused, hyper and high. Haruka takes a taste and incorrectly calls it sugar, Nagisa knowing that the heat is off, drops the bullshit haunted story. The boys begin trespassing, and a scary shadow appears behind them. They’re not alone.
They make it to the lounge, unharmed and discover a bunch of pictures, that no one bothered to take when the place closed and fell into disrepair. It turns out despite only swimming freestyle, Lil’ Haruka took one for the team, and swam the relay. It turns out they won, but only recieved one trophy between the four of them, and therefore decided to bury it – assumedly the coach found out too late – so they can dig it up when they’re adults… and it’ll still only be one trophy between the four of them… they weren’t bright kids. Lil’ Rina calls this stupid meeting of the minds “romantic” clearly not knowing the proper definition of that word.
They continue to break into the place, and Makoto wishes to pick up the pace, despite trailing behind the most of all three. Suddenly they hear footsteps and a rap song starts playing as a guy in a baseball cap walks into view (a ghost of a dead baseball cap wearing swimmer?). But no, it’s not a ghost you see it’s Lil’ Rin, only he’s not so Lil’ anymore. And he’s somehow breaking and entering at the exact same time as the other three, what a coincidence, eh?
Nagisa under the influence of the cocaine, insists that fate randomly brought them all here. Rin ignores the drug addict’s delusions and asks why he still hangs out with them. Haru replies back then Rin challenges him to a race, because what the fuck else are they going to do? Haru knowing he has a chance to be near water again, follows Rin with no hesitation. They go to the pool room of the old abandoned swim club and begin stripping their clothes off. Haru has apparently been wearing his swimsuit all day (gross), and so has Rin.
The pair begin rushing off, and get to the diving board only to realize that the pool, that no one has attended to for years is empty. They’re not bright teenagers. The angry idiot Rin mumbles, then rushes off, but not before revealing that he dug the trophy back up (“when” is not made clear, as Lil’ Rin may have just dug it back up later that night, and took it to Australia with him) which makes the part where he say “I don’t need this anymore”, that much more telling.
He drops the trophy then walks off, killing Nagisa’s high for him to remark that he’s changed. Haru wakes up on a field the next day and thinks that maybe it was a dream, this is a stupid assessment of the situation, but it’s not as stupid as the forthcoming assessments that it was either a look-alike, or a ghost. The girl from earlier is continuing to just… stare… at the guys… creepy. The girl she was chasing the other day asks if she know’s these boys she’s creepily staring at. It turns out she knows them, she insults them by saying they have girlish names. She refuses to tell how she knows them. Her friend insists they have something in common, as she’s a girl with a boyish name.
Later that day the boys get read the riot act for breaking into the old abandoned swim club, Haruka avoided the discussion by skipping school o course. Frumpy McFrumpstick comes to the boys rescue by reciting some saying that has nothing to do with the situation. The remaining two, then hunt around for Rin’s locker (why?) They don’t find his however they find… his sisters? Yes, Gou is Rin’s sister Makoto finally realizes. Gou has somehow discovered where Haruka lives, and rings him, he doesn’t answer because fuck her.
Makoto and Nagisa intercept her before she leaves, and at some other location they shoot the shit Gou also explains that everybody calls her Kou (we’ll be calling her Gou), which as we’ve already seen is totally incorrect. Gou explains that she wanted to asked Haruka about her brother. They then gossip about Rin who’s going to a boarding school, it’s a huge swimming school – which is a very narrow subject field. They try to convince Haruka to go with them to see the school, but he isn’t having any of it… until Makoto says today’s secret word, “pool”. (AHHHHHHHHHHHH!) and so they’re off to trespass once again as an angry swim coach angrily gurgles words out of his mouth. The trespassers search for Rin, as Haru begins stripping for the ladies at home, however he’s still wearing his swim trunks :(.
After the Sun goes down, and the people in the pool area leave – they stayed there for a long time – Haruka strips again (apparently he put his clothes back on?) and they begin their illegal swim time fun time, Nagisa begins stripping as well except he goes full naked :(, then drags a fully clothed Mako-chan into the water as well and they begin having manly fun splashing each other in the water. Apparently Rin’s “someone’s swimming in my pool” senses tingle, and he arrives to bark at them what they’re doing there, he then roars at them with a shark-toothed growl to get out. Haruka arrives to name drop the show, in case you forgot what show you were watching. Dubstep plays as Haruka challenges Jaws to a race… and the episode ends.
So, that was episode one of Free! Not bad, I enjoy that the high school characters are drawn like actual high school characters, instead of tiny moppets. Maybe, KyoAni can enjoy this character designing for future anime? The episode was also very animated. You could see it in things like the water. The fanservice I could leave… but then again, I feel like that for most of your over the top female fanservice as well. All around good episode, I hope it stays strong.
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5