Guest Author - Kelly Greene
Free! Ė Iwatobi Swim Club is an anime based off the light novel, High Speed! Written by Kōji Ōji.
It follows a group of high school students who decided to start up a Swim Club at their school. Haruka Nanase is a reserved guy who loves the water and refuses to swim any other style besides freestyle.
Makoto Tachibana is outspoken and gets made the captain of the Swim Club and he favors the backstroke. He is Harukaís best friend. Makoto struggles with swimming in the ocean, because an old fishermen he was close to when he was very young drowned when a typhoon struck the island.
Nagisa Hazuki is the most outspoken of the group and has been friends with Makota and Haruka since primary school. Itís his prompting that gets the others to agree to starting a Swim Club at the school and he favors the breaststroke. He is the one who ends up dragging Rei into the Swim Club after spying on him during track practice.
Rei Ryugazaki is a runner and pole-vaulter with perfect from. Despite that, his coach was never satisfied, claiming that he lacked the spirit and that excelling at sports took more than just technical precision. Nagisa does his absolute best to pull Rei into the Swim Club, failing at every turn until Rei sees Haruka swim and decides it is the most beautiful thing heís ever seen. Rei is obsessed with technical beauty and he agrees to join. The only problem with this is that he doesnít know how to swim! Eventually, he learns, and the stroke he favors is the butterfly.
Rin Matsuoka is a member of the Samezuka Academy Swim Club and there is a complicated rivalry between him and Haruka. The two of them, along with Makota and Nagisa, attended the same primary school as children. They even competed in a relay event together and won 1st place. Then Rin moved away to Australia to enroll in a swimming school to follow his dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer. One summer, he came back to visit and raced Haruka privately and he lost.
Rin is convinced that he canít move on with his life until he can prove that he is a better swimmer than Haruka and itís the rivalry between them that really drives this series. Rin is a complicated antagonist because he is an old friend-turned-enemy. There is a strong emotional connection between the characters that really draws you into the story.
All of the characters are pretty boys with feminine names, so it is geared towards a female audience. Itís appropriate for all ages and Iíd recommend it to those looking for a character-driven anime with an easy-to-follow plot. It is equal parts humorous and serious with a little bit of angst thrown in for good measure.
I wrote this review after watching the series on CrunchyRoll, where I pay for their premium services.