Free! Why I will go down with this ship

It was the Summer of 2013 and a younger Elen was studying to get her bachelor degree. If you think that studying during the Summer sucks, you never had to study during the Summer in southern Italy. It’s agonizing. It’s hot, you could get to the most beautiful beach in the world in 20 minutes, and you can’t, because you have to study.

And then Kyoto Animation serves you a cocktail of hot, half-naked, 2D, swimming high school boys who are positively in love with each other.

Free! was awesome.

  • Was it full of fanservice? yes.
  • Were most characters really cliché? yes.
  • Was it enjoyable anyway? absolutely.

Some people would probably disagree with me, but Free! did have a plot, and the director did a good job in developing it from the first to the last episode. To put it simply, it was the story of two friends and rivals who thought so highly of each other’s opinion and feelings that they ended up dragging themselves in and out of a slump, only to understand in the end that their bond was stronger than the bitterness separating the winner from the loser, and that it was what could push them forward toward their dreams instead.

Free! was the story of Haruka and Rin crashing, fighting and longing to be accepted by the other. This was the real Free!, stripped of all the fanservice and the multi-ships.

Was it a love story? For me, yes. I’m a big Harurin fan.

But let’s be honest. Free! isn’t a yaoi anime. It teases, it hints, it aims at generating multi-ships, but nobody is going to kiss or sleep together here. I ship Harurin because their bond was real even if I cut off the fanservice, but… it was sort of ruined by the sequels, for me.

Movies, second season, third season… in my opinion, unlike the first season, they are all missing a genuine basic storyline. There is some sort of plot – also in season 3, airing now – but it feels like this time the plot serves as an excuse to display fanservice and not the other way around.

I watch it, but I don’t love it. Not anymore. 5 years ago I waited for the “water day” with great excitement. The other day I found myself thinking, “yeah, this would make so much more sense if you just switched the word swimming with fucking.

It’s a pity and a waste of potential, but I will watch it until the end. And I will watch movies, future series and whatever they’ll do next. If Free! it’s going down, I’ll go down with it.


I call it the “Pirates of the Caribbean” syndrome. The first was so good that no matter how shitty the sequels are, you keep watching them hoping the next one will be even just half as good as the first. Maybe one day, one of them will.

2 Replies to “Free! Why I will go down with this ship”

  1. The first season of Free was totally solid! It didn’t need an epic plot to tell the story it was trying to tell. I wanted to like the subsequent seasons but they mostly just felt a little unnecessary for me, a sort of diluted attempt at recreating the vibe of the original season. They’re not quite boring and they’re still enjoyable, just kind of stale by comparison, in my opinion. Honestly, making one of the ships canon would probably be the most interesting thing they could do to jumpstart the plot. But then again, I’m biased, haha.

Leave a Reply