First Reactions: Free! Episode 4

Training-based interlude that it was, this episode did come across as extremely well-researched. It found ways outline some of the key concepts and terminology behind different swimming exercises and strokes. It also happened to include different ways people can learn how to swim. For example, I never encountered the “turtle float” method when I was learning to swim. It was a neat new angle on an old bit of knowledge.

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The relationship between Rin and his underclassman reminds me a lot of the one between Tatsuya and Yoshida in Touch. The better, older one keeps telling the other one to be his own man, while the younger one just kind of stays there nonplussed. It’s a shame we’ll never see Nitori [Touch spoilers redacted], since this is only a 12-episode anime, but it’s still going to be enlightening exactly how that relationship evolves over the course of the series.

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The comedy this time around was a bit more of a mixed bag. In particular, Rei being colossally untalented at staying afloat (not to mention the cameraman’s attraction to his flashy yellow speedo) got predictable really quickly, and that was unfortunately one of the the main points of the episode. I was initially mad that we didn’t actually end up hearing Haru’s final words to Rei; they could have made a great quotable moment there. It took away from the sporting side of the show a bit. But that particular punchline, and the level of elaborate inspirational fakeout behind it, was well worth the sacrifice.

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I did still enjoy a lot of the material, particularly the one bit with Amakata stalling to avoid giving advice until the commercial break*, Haruka’s lineup of seemingly-identical speedos, and the fact that the guys ordered pizza to talk to the delivery guy who happens to be their old coach. The humor is a pretty good mix between clever stuff like the former and colloquial stuff like the latter, and stands next to no chance of getting tired anytime soon.

*Something that probably seemed pretty weird to anyone watching the ordinarily cleaned-up cut of the episode fansubbers use.

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One thought on “First Reactions: Free! Episode 4

  1. All my love for Haru – he’s such an unintentional goofball. XD One of the reasons that the comedy in this series works so well is that it’s played straight; I think a lot of it is KyoAni poking fun at themselves while still managing to bring something new to the very genre that they’re obviously parodying. They’ve certainly got the comedic timing down pat!

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