Alright you fucks it’s time for Free. It’s been a love-hate-tolerate-resent relationship for me and this show – the novelty lasted about 2.5 episodes, so when it’s not being funny it’s either K-On with abs or Girls und Panzer minus the girls, the panzer, and the actually kinda good writing. Even the animation and direction can be somewhat inconsistent – Yamada’s episode was great, but outside of that it doesn’t really feel like KyoAni have been applying their A-game to this one. Which is honestly fine by me, because if their A-game isn’t here, it’s probably busy over here, which is an arrangement I am perfectly comfortable with.
But anyway. Free. Yeah, this is a kinda crappy show, I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. And yes, it lacks Crime Edge’s gift for the whimsically absurd that made even mocking that show a kind of friendly gesture. But hey, at least it’s got… well, upper bodies. It’s got plenty of upper bodies. And I guess that’s something we can all be thankful for.
0:32 – But I do love the girls being silly
0:55 – One more time!
1:28 – Well this episode isn’t wasting any time
3:06 – I am extremely uncomfortable with this episode title
3:58 – And occasionally this show is really great. This song is fantastic for the job here – upbeat and mid-tempo and nostalgic. The heavy filter obviously implies the meaning for Haru. Looking out the window to reflect on memories is a cliche, but it’s a fine one if used effectively. And this pushes Haru into a new plot arc, where he actually enjoys the full experience of swimming with his friends (I’m guessing), without having to over-explain anything. Nice sequence
4:24 – Well I guess remembering he has teammates is still a work in progress
4:45 – Fuckin’ Gou doesn’t even realize this is 1-cour
4:59 – Oh my god every
5:00 – frame
5:01 – is a gem . Gah, works better in motion. Rei you are ridiculous
5:32 – Oh, don’t mind me
But what did it matter if they knew, anymore? The tournament had been a failure, an unmitigated disaster. Rin-chan had… changed.
No, that’s a damned excuse of a lie.
Rin hadn’t changed – Rin had standards. And I had failed them. I had failed him. The truth hung heavy in my throat, not even the rich chlorine musk clouding my nausea. My presumption. Like I had earned him. Like he was something to be won. What did it matter if they knew? I deserved to fail.
6:11 – Gou asked the obvious question, but then, suddenly, Makoto covered for me. He knew – of course he knew, how could I have hid my obsession, my love, from eyes as sharp and good-naturedly half-open as his? But what did he have to gain from protecting my secrets?
6:22 – What did he want from me? I gazed intently at the water, as if one more entreaty would reveal its wisdom. But in truth, the water in my eyes held no chlorine. Why wouldn’t he just let me be shamed?
6:29 – Stupid stupid gah why are you such an insensitive PRICK? Why would I push him away?!?
6:33 – Oh god it’s him. Of course the coach would bunk me with the most emotionally fragile child in the school. Guh, fine, time to act aloof and senpai-ish
6:42 – Look, I get it, you’re pissy because you lack any and all talent. Kind of having a moment here, guy
6:47 – Great. What a relief
6:57 – The kid may have the grace of a manatee , but he’s not stupid
7:14 – Move on? But… but…
7:28 – Really? We’re actually getting a festival episode? KyoAni you’ve outdone yourselves
7:46 – That was the moment I resolved to never, ever have children
8:06 – I was seriously about to make this joke . Can’t even believe this show sometimes
8:13 – And Nagisa even catches it. Brilliant work, Free
8:42 – All flavors are but ash to Rin now. Even candy apples
9:05 – Rei’s acting clingy again. Lucky for him I’ve tired of hating him
9:49 – I just now realized Nagisa and Rei are wearing yukata, but Haru and Makoto aren’t . Yeah, I’m sure that was an accident
I really hope someone writes the article discussing gender roles in shows like this or UtaPri or whatever versus classic moe shows. Personally I generally only find these shows interesting on a cultural/psychological level, so if someone else wants to do the work…
11:23 – Oh no our brilliant plan
12:02 – Wow they just ripped this wholesale from a crappy romcom . This may be the best/worst episode yet
12:42 – This is amazing . I guess I’m a sucker for stupid, self-aware genre tricks
13:00 – YEEEEESssssss
13:06 – Ermahgerd he even did the sasasasasa
13:33 – Jeez, this episode’s doing ALL the romcom cliches
13:44 – Yeah no question this is the best episode yet . As I said initially, this show can really stick a comedic landing when it wants to
14:26 – Again, brilliant . Rei is kind of becoming a breakout character at the moment
16:21 – Good scene. Using the chain as a kind of visual/aural percussion works to both highlight the contrast between the two scenes and is obviously a pretty on-the-nose but effective visual marker of Rin’s attempts to reclaim what cannot be reclaimed. Someone should get a bonus for this one
17:51 – Finally, the men get a moment alone
18:49 – Very lovely. Also once again a great song choice for this moment. This episode has been less impressive on a direction level than Yamada’s one, but likely more effective on a composition/storytelling level. I like how focused the story really is on Haru, Makoto, and Rin – Nagisa and Rei are essentially both comic relief, so whenever a big emotional moment strikes, they pare it down to the critical group. This has been quite a good episode
20:08 – This moment is pretty damn cute. Maybe it’s just the beer, but I think they’re nailing this one
20:55 – Aw man, they even underscore the character turn by bringing back the goldfish? Jeez, Free, ya shouldn’t have
21:34 – Oh jeez, who could have predicted this WaCkY PlOt TwIsT??? Not that I’m complaining, I mean, what else was the show gonna do?
Damn! Satisfying episode! One of the very funniest and also one of the most polished on an actual dramatic level. Really didn’t see that coming! I’m certainly happy to see what comes next, though, and how they’re gonna characterize Haru beyond “dude loves swimming” now that he’s experienced his big turn and everything. Exciting times!