Natsu Reviews: Free!-Iwatobi Swim Club

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For my next series I decided to keep going with the sports genre anime. Mostly because my female friends kept telling me to watch it. I decided that while I had a FUNimation elite account I would watch Iwatobi Swim Club Free! The bad news for this series is that I didn’t know that season 2 was the only one they had on the FUNimation site and I started watching thinking I was watching from the beginning and it was a bit confusing. The good news is that Crunchyroll has both season 1 and 2 on their site so I was able to watch season 1 after I finished season 2. So I watched it in a very weird order. But thanks to this I was able to watch it both subbed and dubbed rather easily and compare the 2.

Free!-Iwatobi Swim Club

Click to watch on funimation.com for season 2.

Click to watch on funimation.com for season 2.

Click to watch on Crunchyroll.com

Click to watch on Crunchyroll.com

 

Synopsis: A group of friends decide to make a swim club at their high school and compete to raise money for their club so they can swim more during the winter.

This series is very character focus as opposed to focusing on the actual sport itself. I like character driven stories.

Story: Like I said earlier this is more character driven instead of focusing on the sport. While I do love a character driven story I don’t think it works as well if you focus primarily on the characters and ignore most of the sport in a sports series. This felt more like it was marketed to get girls to buy merchandise than it was about being a sports series. When I watch a sports themed anime I expect to know more about the sport after I have watched it then I did before I started. That didn’t happen with this series. I knew nothing about competitive swimming except for what little I had seen in passing when my mom was watching the summer olympics. Having people improve on an aspect of what they are trying to do for a tournament can also give you more insight into what they are like as a character. And that didn’t happen either. Sadly, I just wasn’t able to really dive into the characters like I could with other sports series. I finished the series with the impression that I had just watched 2 seasons of “eye candy.” And honestly, I can get that (with more character depth) from Gray Fullbuster.

Rating: Over all I give the story 3 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. I liked the overall plot, but I would have liked to have actually learned some things about competitive swimming. And delved deeper into the characters.

Art: This is where the series really shines. The art quality is amazing. From its use of color to the detailed and painstaking work that went into the characters design and anatomy, to the movement of the characters under water. It was breathtaking! The animation studio did an amazing job with this. It’s such a shame that the story and characters were so lacking. Just from the art alone I really wanted this series to do well. Also I just love how Rin’s teeth look. It really helps to sell him as the bad boy in season 1. But it does go against how he behaves in season 2 since he is more calm and mature.

Rating: I will give the art quality 5 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. It was just amazing! I don’t need to say anything more.

Sound: Again I didn’t listen/watch the OP and ED since they didn’t catch my attention. The bg music was good, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. I loved how well they did the underwater scenes though, the filters they used sounded great. The rest of the comments I have for sound will be addressed in the sub/dub portion of this review.

Rating: I give the sound for this series 3 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. Again, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really good either.

Characters: I wish I had more to say on this topic. While the characters do have personalities, again we didn’t really get a chance to learn more about them as the story progressed. Haru and Rin were the only ones you really got to get more of an in depth look at. The rest just stuck with their general personalities. I thought we were finally going to get some more insight into Nagisa when he ran away from home, but it was all resolved in one episode and he was back to the same way he had always been in the very next episode. Rin’s character gets more depth in the first season and I liked seeing him being more responsible and mature in season 2. He had the best character development of anyone in the show. Haru sadly on had a little development towards the end of season 2 and sadly it felt like too little too late.

Rating: I give the characters a 2 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars. More depth! Make me care more about who they are, not how they look!

Enjoyment: After reading my criticism about everything so far you might think that this show bored me to tears, but the truth is I really enjoyed watching it. The overall theme was pleasant and cute. But when comparing it to other anime in the same genre, this series kinda falls short. But I really like the characters and how they interact with each other and when it needs to be funny, it is. When it needs to get serious, it does. I think the overall story was good the music and sound were okay, the characters we decent but could have used more development, and the art was fantastic.

Rating: Again I really did enjoy this series. But sadly it felt like it was a crappy present disguised by amazing wrapping paper. Over all I give this series a 3 out of 5 Fire Dragon’s Roars.

Dub/Sub: Okay so again I watched these out of order, but I got to see both because of it. My verdict is… watch the dub. Firstly, the art is amazing and I felt like I lost that feeling when it came to watching season 1 cause I was focused more on reading the subtitles, and that really dragged the quality of the show down for me. Secondly, Greg Ayers goes such a good job as Nagisa. The Japanese voice sounds way too feminine. And Greg’s voice just doesn’t. He’s able to sound childish and masculine enough to really keep me feeling like this is a highschool boy who is basically just like a little kid most of the time. The Japanese version felt more like a girl shaped like a guy. Rin, I have to be honest guys. When I had to switch over to the sub I really missed hearing Vic’s voice for Rin. Considering how moody he was being in the 1st season I really wanted to see how Vic did with that, because in season 2 he is much more calm and composed. LET VIC BE MOODY!!! My first thought when I started watching the dub was “Hey! It’s the Ouran swim club!” Please tell me I wasn’t the only person had that thought. Essentially though I think it comes down to this. Whichever version you watched first will most likely be the one you prefer.
Overall: Overall I think this was a beautifully animated series that could have benefitted more from having 20+ episodes per season to actually draw out more from the characters. It was good, but I think it’s overhyped.

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