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FREE! IWATOBI SWIM GLUB #1 - - Special Review

Swimming never looked this showy...

SHOGUN’S NOTE: The summer season is in swing, at last! I’ll be doing my best to watch most, if not all, of the new simulcasting pilots. As such, regular shows like ATTACK ON TITAN, ONE PIECE and, of course, DBZ will be getting a brief break in coverage to make room. Stay tuned, and don’t panic - - their eventual catch-ups will be spectacular!Well, it wasn’t only a matter of time before I came across a sports anime about a swim club, wasn’t it?

Well, it was only a matter of time before I came across a sports anime about the swim team, wasn’t it? I’ve probably seen every other after-school club get this treatment...

If this show’s only notable for one thing, it’s that a big chunk of its animation budget has been devoted to the realism of the swimming scenes. Why, it’s enough so that I can just picture the veins bulging in the animators’ bloodshot eyes as they laboriously work to replicate the frame-by-frame of the reference footage without having the jerky stiffness that usually comes with rotoscoping. The hyper-specificity of it all recalls the drumming scenes in KIDS ON THE SLOPE; which goes to show how particular all these shows can get. The effects on the water are quite brilliant , of course, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing some Hollywood production aping them in a few years (just as the ‘bullet time’ in GHOST IN THE SHELL, et al, were previous paid homage to).

As if the copious shots in skinny guys in skintight swim trunks weren’t enough of a tip-off already, I get the feeling I’m far from the intended audience for this show. Thus, I feel a little silly quibbling about the various contrivances needed to make this melodrama unfold (these stubborn upperclassman are seriously dense enough that they don’t notice how they’re angling to dive into an empty, concrete pool until somebody points it out to them? Really?)

Instead, I’ll take the rest of this space to compliment the show on the rather poignant theme expressed in the kid’s conversation with his grandma. We humans do have an odd tendency to blow smoke up the butts of our children, don’t we? Is it coddling? Is it necessary to balance out the self-doubt of adolescence? Are we all on a gradual slide away from uniqueness? These are pointed questions that come up pretty often for any young star athlete and, while I probably won’t be continuing the show, I do hope it continues exploring that theme.

Watch this episode, "Reunion at the Starting Block!” here and decide for yourself.

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  • sickVisionz moderator on July 26, 2013 at 7:56 p.m.

    I wonder how this compares to the awesomeness that is Kuroko's Basketball.

    AURON570on July 27, 2013 at 7:06 p.m.

    I dropped this after watching the second episode. Yeah the water was really pretty in the first episode, but after seeing more of the plot, it looks like more of the same.

    takashichea moderator on July 28, 2013 at 3:42 a.m.

    I enjoy the series. Yeah, the audience is generally female, but guys can enjoy it. I tried it because I wanted something different. Gou Matsuoka is your stereotypical fujioshi, fan girl when you see her in episode 2.

    zaldaron July 29, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.

    Hmm as someone who likes swimming I may try this out...swimming was the high school team I was on and the sport I did, so I suppose for me this would be like you watching an episode of an anime devoted to the wrestling team (and if that has't been done it should be I mean talk about shojo bait! - or I suppose it could go yaoi and tick a lot of people off I mean the one time I saw a wrestling match the way they set up after someone had been downed for reversals.....)

    takashichea moderator on July 29, 2013 at 10:55 p.m.

    @zaldar:

    Speaking of wrestling, there is a female wrestling anime series called Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! in the fall if you want to check out the trailer. A similar show that caters to Free's audience would be Meganebu.

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