Eden of the East: Takes a look at Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of stuff on my Tumblr dashboard about this new anime called Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. It’s anime about an all boy’s swim team. That’s right, an anime about swimming. Which is why it is all over my dashboard. The show features a bunch of pretty boys in racing speedos. 

[Eden of the East is an ongoing series showcasing the best from the Land of the East.]

Free! is brought to us by Kyoto Animation and Animation DO. For those of us who don’t pay attention to the studios that bring us our anime, they also brought us K-On! and Lucky Star. They are mostly known for being prominent in the moe, or cute, genre.

The set up for Free! is as such; Haruka Nanase is really into being in the water. So much so that he will spend time just soaking in the tub. As a kid, Haruka was interested in competitive swimming. However, as a high school student he is no longer competitive swimming. The first episode sets up some of the main cast and introduces Haruka’s rival, Rin Matsuoka.

Alright, I’ll stop there. I am not going to lie, I am HORRIBLE at writing a synopsis. So, I am going to quit while I am ahead and instead break things down in the same way I do my reviews. Sound good?


Free! interior a

Okay, I am one episode in. We’ve been introduced to 4 of the 5 principle characters in some sense. Haruka is kind of punk. I don’t particularly like him too much, even if I am also passionate about being in the water also. He’s the one to the far right. Going to the left, we have Makoto Tachibana. He seems to be the level-headed worry wort character. Rin Matsuoka is the guy who started off everyone’s friend, but returns as a total douche and we don’t know how he changed. Next is Nagisa Hazuki. He’s younger than everyone else and is the most carefree. We haven’t been properly introduced to Rei Ryūgazaki.

The cast seems fun enough and I can’t wait to watch how the relationships develop and watch their personalities get fleshed out more.

The Art Style

Free! interior c

This show is really gorgeous to look at. One of the things I’ve come to expect from both Kyoto Animation and Animation DO is wonderfully animated shows. There have been complaints about the “gratuitous fan service.” Apparently, it’s not okay for a show to be about pretty boys in racing trunks. Haruka must have known Jacob from Twilight because he is prone to taking of his shirt. And even though the boys package is never shown off, the camera is focused on their amazing six-pack abs and pelvic lines.

While this has some Otaku and fan boys up in arms, I couldn’t be happier. The characters fit the look I picture when I think of male competitive swimmers. And you know what? Let the girls have their fan service. Every season, in almost every anime, we are pelted with male targeted fan service. Upskirt shots, women with impossible breast physics, and poorly conceived outfits. I think we’ll survive one show like Free!, especially since it is starting off so strong.

Final Word

I am pretty stoked for this show. A secret people don’t know about me is that I love sports anime and manga. I love Giant Killing (soccer), Eyeshield 21 (football), and Kuroku no Basket (basketball). So, to know there is an anime about swimming with no super powers makes me pretty stoked. Add in the great art style and fun looking cast? It seems like Free! Iwatobi Swim Club has all the great ingredients for a great summer show.

Amanda is the Tabletop Games Expert and Anime/Manga Correspondent for Girl Gamer Vogue. She can be found on  TwitterTumblr, TappedOut, and Facebook.


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