Can you hear that? In the distance? It’s the sound of millions of fangirls screaming… The boys of Free! are all grown up and ready to take the world by storm in the much anticipated third season, Free!: Dive to the Future! Fans of the franchise will notice some familiar faces popping up from all over the Free! canon, so it’s probably best to brush up on all the movies and anime seasons before diving into season three.
Haru, Makoto, and Rin have graduated and are taking their first steps into the future. Haru runs into a few old friends during swim practice, prompting a bit of reminiscing. Meanwhile, Nagisa and Rei welcome new recruits to the Iwatobi High Swim Club.
Haru opening monologue: It’s Episode 1 of a brand and spankin’ new season of Free! and with it comes another one of Haru’s trademark water-themed monologues. Every season kicks off with a fourth wall breaking speech from everyone’s favorite water child, Haru, and this season is no different. So expect a lot of sweet sweet water porn courtesy of a lovely indoor swimming pool!
English: Characters speaking in English in anime is a bit hit or miss in general. Some VAs are really great at it, while others… not so much… So, since Rin decided to go abroad again after High School, he and some of the characters he interacts with speak English and for some, I really needed the subtitles.
Dramatic Swimming Action Sequences: It’s all in the title with this one. Early on in the episode, Haru has to demonstrate his mad swimming skills for his new college team, but rather than just showing him swimming alone, they juxtapose it with scenes of Rin practice swimming. The way it’s set up, it almost looks like the two are racing each other despite being on completely different sides of the globe.
Fourth Wall Breaking: Makoto, Haru, Asahi, and Kisumi meet up to reminisce about their time together in junior high, and I kid you not, one of them goes and says ‘Wasn’t there a movie about that?’. I’m surprised he didn’t turn and face the camera and wink, it was that on the nose.
Themes & Trivia
High☆Speed!-Free! Starting Days: So, right off the bat, Season 3 introduces characters from the Free! prequel film, High☆Speed－Free! Starting Days. The film follows Haru and Makoto during their junior high days, as they prepare to compete in the medley relay with the members of the school’s swim club.
Sakura (Cherry Blossoms): The very first shots of Episode 1 are of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. For many, the blooming of the cherry blossoms are symbolic of springtime and new beginnings.
Childhood Friends: Asahi, Ikuya, and Kisumi were friends with Haru, Rin, and Makoto back during their junior high years and Dive to the Future serves as their official on-screen reunion.
Sunflowers: After losing the medley relay, Haru, Makoto, Ikuya, and Asahi meet in a field of sunflowers. Sunflowers symbolize longevity and loyalty, which is especially fitting seeing as the boys promise to train harder for next year’s tournament.
Omamori: They are Japanese amulets (charms) sold at shrines and temples that are said to provide luck and/or protection to the owner. Sousuke has one on his desk for ‘Certain Victory’, which he plans on sending to Rin.
Wash, rinse, repeat! I’m not much of a Free! fan to begin with, but, so far Episode 1 is shaping up to be a rehash of the same old same old from Season 1, except they’re in college and they swapped out some of the characters. Haru and Makoto, reunite with old friends from middle school: CHECK! One of the friends becomes a rival: DOUBLE CHECK! Fanservice: TRIPLE CHECK! And let’s not forget Makoto attempting to get Haru out of water (this time it’s an actual pool and not his bathtub): CHECK-A-RONI!
But, I will say that I liked that they finally made the events in the High Speed film canon, so that’s a plus! However, anyone who hasn’t seen the film or read the light novels will be just a smidge confused by all the new anime faces.
Side note, Rin’s English is sooooooo bad it hurts, and it’s only made worse by the fact that the series got actual native English speakers for the other English speaking characters!
Get Your Feet Wet
It’s Free! Everything you loved from the series’s previous iterations is back and in full form, but that also means there’s not much new this time around… yet. It’s only the first episode, so there is plenty of time for Free! Dive to the Future to offer a fresh take on the series’s premise and I will admit that I am even a little curious to see where the series takes the characters from here.
Free! – Dive to the Future-
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Season 1 Review