Free! Eternal Summer is the second season to the Japanese anime, Free!, and is directed by Hiroko Utsumi. The anime, considered as a sports anime, follows on from the first season, bringing back familiar faces (and torsos).
Free! Eternal Summer is, much like the first season, about swimming and details the lives, joys and struggles of a small group of high school boys. Set a year after the first season, Haruka (a.k.a Haru), Makoto, Rin, Nagisa, Rei and newly introduced Sosuke are now in their final year of high school and are struggling with the idea of graduating, of the future, and of their dreams beyond the swim club.
The anime is slow, with swimming and being half naked the central point of the series. The first few episodes of the season sees the characters working new ways to entice other students to join the swim club. Watching these antics was tiresome and the dialogue boring. I could not understand what it was that this anime was trying to sell me, other than the tight, slick bodies of teenage male swimmers.
The episodes were rather stagnant with the plot seemingly going about in circles as each character goes through their own emotional dilemma. Each character had the potential to be much more interesting had there been any substantial drama that they had to work through together. Unfortunately, from what I saw, this was not the case. Instead what was made rather obvious to me was the hidden homoerotic undertones that existed between each character and their interaction with one another; from the deep, long gazes and the way in which they showed their caring for one another through emotional speeches; it was all slightly unnerving as it just didn’t seem like there was much testosterone going around for these athletes.
Whilst the plot didn’t excite me at all, the one thing that attracted me to this anime is the art style. The art in Free! Eternal Summer is incredibly detailed and visually striking. For an anime character to have such intricate and detailed muscles is quite an artistic feat. For someone like me who can’t even draw on paper, I thought this was rather awesome. To be honest, I’m in awe of most anime art and designs. However, there was just way too much skin in this anime. Again, it seemed like the creators were hoping to provide their female fans with an overkill of ‘fanservice’.
I have to admit, I gave up after episode 7. I just couldn’t bring myself to sit through the rest of this anime. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t fully invest myself in the characters and the story; or perhaps it’s because I prefer more depth and ‘character’ in the shows I watch.
If you’re a fan of sports anime with unsubtle fanservice and a plot that doesn’t require much thought, then maybe this is one anime for you. I, however, was not able to enjoy it, no matter how open minded I was. Apologies to any Free! fans out there.
If you’ve seen Free! and/or Free! Eternal Summer please let me know your thoughts below. I’d love to hear some other opinions. Perhaps there was something I missed.