Thursday, February 5, 2015

Free! Eternal Summer

I still remembered how excited I was when I saw "See You Next Summer" at the ending of Free! 2 years ago. Ironically, I still chose to have a delayed gratification and only finished watching Free! Eternal Summer in 2015. Lol.

Sequel is usually a disappointment and this time, I am quite disappointed. Unlike the first series which still has a story line (forming the swimming club, Rei's training, and the competition), the writer seems to be confused for the sequel. It will be boring to just repeat the same plot of swimming competition so to spice things up, let's add more eye candies. In addition, to make enough episodes, filler episodes such as Nagisa running away from home, Makoto teaching kids swimming class, are also included. The last few episodes makes Free! Eternal Summer feel more like a J-drama than an anime. It revolves mainly about future plans of Haru, Makoto, and Rin who are graduating soon. Gosh.. in fact the last few episodes are too draggy and wimpy.

To be fair, since this is marketed towards females, I should not be judging this based on shounen style. Swimming still takes a back seat. I don't really see any training but suddenly everyone improves on their timing and they even qualify for national competition for relay. That does not make sense considering Makoto, Nagisa, and Rei are not good enough in their individual events to qualify for national competition. 

They do put in a bit more shonen theme like how Rin needs rivals to boost his own desire to swim. Any sports anime/manga will not be complete without any rivalry but since this is targeted to girls, rivalry is also depicted as mushy mushy here. Lol. Seriously, we guys don't tell one another things like "I really admire your swimming". Haha.. And we are okay with sharing a queen or king-sized bed when going on a trip. There is nothing wrong about that. I believe that reaction is just to make all the fan girls go "kyaaa!".

Few new characters are introduced at the expense of reduced screen time for the old side characters. I find it quite a waste because Gou, Miss Amakata, and Coach Sasabe have more personality and make things more funny than the new characters. The main new character is Sousuke which is obviously meant to be Rin's yaoi-pairing. Lol. Unfortunately, there is nothing unique about his personality. In fact, he turns out to be quite an asshole. Mikoshiba is a new character which becomes the funny guy for this series. He is a bit over the top but I actually like him. He is even better than Sousuke. Even Kisumi (another side character who is Makoto and Haru's friend in junior high school) who has less screen time is more like-able than Sousuke.

Among the 5 main characters, Rin has the most change in personality. He seems to be an ass-hole in the first series. In this sequel, he seems to be back to his childhood personality. He becomes like-able. Rei and Nagisa lose their funny genes quite a bit here which I find to be quite a waste. Haru and Makoto remain flat and boring as ever. Haru does change a little bit at the ending which I think is too late. He should have that personality right from the start as that is a more believable personality as a "cool guy". His usual personality is more "antisocial" or "I can't be bothered about anything/anyone else" than being "cool" after all.

Overall, I feel that Free! Eternal Summer is quite underwhelming. It is much worse in all aspects (story, characters, comedy) and it does not touch my emotion as strongly as the first series. Too many things are re-used from the first series and those similar scenes lose their impact this time around. The new things introduced end up worsening instead of improving this sequel. Boo hoo.. Oh and one more thing that I miss out, the songs are quite terrible too. At least I love "Ever Blue" from the first series.

And just a little feel-good spoiler, Iwatobi relay team ended up with 6th placing in Sengoku Taikai. That made me tear a bit but not as bad as the final relay of the first series.

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