Free! Eternal Summer Episode 1 Review
Free! Season 2 Episode 1 Review
“Arashi no Daibu Dasshu!”
It’s been almost exactly one year, and it returns. The fabulousness, the muscles, the triceps, the biceps, the deltoids, the sea creatures, the shark teeth, the bitchplsIdon’tgiveashit Haru attitude, and all the glorious aspects of the first season are back. The question is, can it¬†deliver a season like the last one where it wasn’t just about the muscular fabulousness?
Free! Eternal Summer Episode 1 Impressions
The first season was surprisingly something more than just muscular fanservice full of fabulousness. It actually had some worthwhile character conflicts that built up the major characters decently. The struggles of Rin, his realization that it’s about competing in a sport with the people he loves to compete with and not just winning, and the reconciliation that brought Rin and Haruka together were all parts that surprised me in terms of quality. Sure, there were aspects to the previous season that weren’t well done such as how dramatic it got at times, the presentation of some scenes that felt a bit cliche (like what happened in the last episode with all the animals appearing), and so on. But for the most part, it was written far better than I thought it’d be because of how the anime was originally brought about. There’s no denying that this anime and its predecessor is fujoshi bait with all the masculinity that the series exudes. People wanted to see more muscular fabulousness, and KyoAni delivered something more than just that which made me quite happy following it week to week as the summer of 2013 wasn’t particularly good.
Now, one year later, we have a sequel. The first question that crossed my mind when it was announced was, “Does it really need a sequel?” I would definitely say that the addition of another season makes far more sense in this anime’s case compared to something like Chuunibyou which wrapped up everything nicely in its first season. However, when you think about the question of whether a series really needs a sequel or not when it is a slice of life type of anime, you probably shouldn’t ask only this question. There are many series with a clear beginning, middle, and end that conclude the work extremely well. When the story¬†reaches a clean, clear, and definitive end, it is often unnecessary, and sometimes¬†even harmful to the original work, for there to be a continuation. For shows like Free!, and Chuunibyou, (much more so for Chuunibyou as Free! could have a conclusive end when Rin realizes his goals or something along those lines) however, the definitive end is much more vague. As such, to viewers, it seems like it has ended when in fact the¬†part we have seen could be a single arc of the bigger story which means that it could very well continue smoothly. Therefore, we shouldn’t exactly ask, “Does it really need a sequel?” Instead, we should ask questions such as, “Can the people behind this really pull off a continuation well? What will it need to pull off a sequel well? What would not be a good way to continue the series?”
Although I haven’t finished the second season of Chuunibyou and don’t intend to do so any time soon, I have seen a lot of negativity surrounding this series. The lack of character progression among other things are the reasons why people view it the way they do. As bad as the sequel appears to be, it’s not the fault of it being a sequel that made it this way. It’s just that the people behind it don’t know how to develop anything beyond the first season when it is very much possible to progress the romantic relationship between the characters, and improve upon the previous season in other ways. They just didn’t have the ability to do so. Now we have to wonder if the same will happen to Free!. So, what does this anime need to do in order to avoid the mistakes of the previous KyoAni show? Well, Free! has never been an anime about the random daily activities of a certain group of people. It’s been an anime with some kind of overarching story that drive the developments in the show. In the previous season, that was Rin’s¬†animosity towards Haru, and the rekindling of the bonds of old friends. These two avenues of development have since been used up. New ones must substitute these old ones if I am to have some hope that this season will progress at least somewhat smoothly. Thankfully, in this first episode, Rin speaks of his goals to become a world-class swimmer, asks Haru and Makoto what they’ll do in the future, which may be a good source¬†of character development, and a character from Rin’s past shows up that will probably contribute to Rin’s goals as a swimmer. From this, we can see that the writers have at least given some kind of direction to the show in the very first episode which is good.
Some of you may ask, “Why can you only have hope when there’s an overarching story? The comedy wasn’t bad in the previous season, so can’t the show still do well if just sticks to the comedy regarding the muscular nonsense among other things?” It’s true that this anime may still end up being surprisingly enjoyable if it does this, but the comedy and the nonsensical things that happened in the first season weren’t the major things that made the first season as good as it is. They were simply nice supplemental factors. The core of the show was the drama and what I previously mentioned. The previous season proved that the people behind it are capable of doing at least those things decently, so seeing that this first episode is adhering to the style of the first season gives me more reason to believe that things have a greater chance of turning out well. If it suddenly did something different from the previous season like episodes full of gags or something similar, I’d be far more worried because¬†that would make the second season very different from the first which in turn creates a lot of uncertainty as to how things will turn out. That’s not to say that things cannot go badly. It very well could. In fact, I’m still very apprehensive about how this second season will turn out given what KyoAni has done in the past year.
Anyways, I don’t plan on reviewing every single episode like I did for the first season because¬†I simply cannot write 1000+ words every single episode about a show like this nor do I have the time to do so. I’m not satisfied with doing those less comprehensive reviews¬†anymore, so I’m definitely not downgrading the quality of my posts in favor of quantity. I want to make every post as worthwhile as possible for all you readers even though these reviews are still not nearly as good as I want them to be. But when important things do happen, there is a good chance that I will do a review provided I’m not too busy. I will also almost certainly do a final episode review, so you can at least expect at minimum one more review from me for this anime. Hopefully, by the last time I review it, I will not be mostly expressing disappointment. Hopefully, the muscular fabulousness can pull through.