Free! -Dive to the Future-

Free! -Dive to the Future-

In this all-new series of Free!, Haruka, who is attending college in Tokyo, meets Asahi, and reawakens his memories from his middle school years, including those of Ikuya, another friend he lost contact with. Meanwhile, Makoto is working toward a new dream of becoming a children’s swimming coach while he is in Tokyo together with Haruka. Rin has an unexpected meeting in Sydney. Nagisa, Rei and Gou are welcoming new members to the Iwatobi Swim Club. As they all await their new futures, will they see a new fight ahead? Or will they instead confront the past they left behind?

The cast of Free! is back and I’m so happy to see the Iwatobi swim club, though they might have grown a little and forced to go their separate ways, doing what they love best – namely swimming, being friends and all having rather feminine names.

Haru is at Hidaka University in Tokyo, training with the swim club and preparing for an upcoming tournament. He’s notas regimented about only swimming ‘free’ as he was when he was younger. He knows that strokes are best when practicing and in competition, but he knows deep-down that freestyle is still where his heart is at. When he meets an old middle school teammate Asahi, they get down to discussing their childhood friendship group – and their memories of their old school friend Ikuya, who also loved swimming. After their first race with each other in years, Haru and Asahi catch sight of Ikuya, but they lose sight of him…

This encounter brings Haru to think back of his memories of middle school, his love of swimming and his time with friends training to become the best swim relay team after being defeated by a neighbouring school. He remembers the quiet, reserved Ikuya (possibly even more so than Haru himself) and his mixed feelings about swimming. When Haru finally meets Ikuya after seeing him participate in an individual competition, Ikuya’s friend Hiyori is quick to pull him away before Ikuya can explain to Haru why he doesn’t compete in relays anymore, like they used to when they were younger.

There’s a lot more going on in this season due to all our lean, mean swimming machines being split up and doing their own thing. Not to mention the introduction of several other new characters to take into account. It’s not the easiest thing to keep track of, and the story does an okay job of keeping things ticking along. We see character development and drama with Haru and Rin and, back at Iwatobi, Gou and the new swim club are busy building a new squad. I’m not seeing as much of them I would have liked, to be honest – they seem like a bit of an afterthought between Haru, Rin and the new characters, so I’m hoping that they become endearing to me soon so I don’t feel like I’m missing the Iwatobi Swim Club too much.

As usual, the opening and ending credits are excellent. This time around OLDCODEX’s ‘Heading to Over’ is funky up-tempo song that is so catchy it will remain in your head for hours after watching a few episodes. ‘Gold Evolution’ by STYLE FIVE (which has all five of Free!s main characters’ voice actors teaming up to form a J-pop quintet) is even more catchy, if that’s even possible…

I’m looking forward to seeing if this season can bring the drama like it has done in the other seasons. The pace to this one seems a little slower, a little bit more reflective but I’m hoping that there’s something up the proverbial sleeve as I progress to the later episodes. I want to see those friendships develop, but I don’t want their rivalries to be toned down either. In particular, I want to see some development from Haru rather than him just being his stare-y deadpan self. I’ll also be interested to see more of Ikuya, as I hope that he doesn’t turn out to be another Haru-type character at this point… but only time will tell, and I’m looking forward to discovering more.