Free! Iwatobi Swim Club (2013) Anime Series Review

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club 2013 anime series

DirectorHiroko Utsumi

Anime News Network OverviewFour boys named Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin all participated in a swimming tournament shortly before graduating elementary school and later parted ways. Years later, they reunite when Rin challenges Haruka to a race and wins. Not wanting to be defeated so easily, Haruka gathers Makoto and Nagisa and a new recruit named Rei to form the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club.

Genre: Slife of Life, Bishonen, Sports, Friendship, Swimming, Fanservice


Free! Iwatobi Swim Club Anime Review

Free! Episode Count: 12 episodes

Animation Production:Animation DOKyoto Animation

Main Characters

Nobunaga Shimazaki as Haruka Nanase
Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Makoto Tachibana

Daisuke Hirakawa as Rei Ryugazaki

Mamoru Miyano as Rin Matsuoka
Tsubasa Yonaga as Nagisa Hazuki


Rage On” by OLDCODEX

Free! OP Theme Song
Free! ED Theme Song


Splash Free” by Style Five (Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Mamoru Miyano, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa) #2 Ending Theme Song (Episode 12)-“Ever Blue” by Style Five (Nobunaga Shimazaki, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Mamoru Miyano, Tsubasa Yonaga, Daisuke Hirakawa)

Summer 2013 promo poster of Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club
Summer 2013 promo poster of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is one of the 2013 anime series that can’t help but adore and express how much real hype felt as I watched this series as it aired in Japan. Before the series officially released a lot of the fanbase seemed already very established. Many people were making a lot of hype around it which reminded me a lot of the hype surrounding Attack on Titan and Diabolik Lovers.

Free!-Iwatobi Swim Club, Haruka showing off his swimming talent

Seeing as blog extensively about anime and sometimes about manga it is a big job of the territory to go around on a massive amounts of websites to see what is releasing in new anime, what fans are thinking, and also all the latest websites around anime which include Anime News Network,, Anime’s forums, Viz Media’s Facebook, Sentai Filmworks Facebook and Tumblr, FUNimation’s Facebook and official blog, Youtube channels and basically various online communities where a lot of the anime fanbase is around. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club was a series actually first saw on Anime News Network through an article, then I proceeded to follow that lead to the promotional video on Youtube, and finally that is where I absolutely got a feel for the anime series. The animation by Animation DO and Kyoto Animation is the type of animation that love which is fluid and beautiful that screams with innovation.

I knew I had to see this series to the end! I began the series during the summer of last year. Although since I was unfortunately busy during the summer didn’t exactly finish it and left it at Episode 6 or 7. I finished watching it from where left off and finally finished late January of this year. The friendship and level of so human relationships between the characters is what made me think this is one of those series that achieves its unique level of epic-ness because it brings a simple story but it is made all that more grander because of the character development. A character development brought to life by the voice actors. I am one of those anime fans that likes to see anime in its subbed version and also in its dubbed version. Both languages are fine by me. When I saw the subbed anime series have to say the voice acting is one of those that really stuck with me. I gained a respect for voice actors more so than in the past.

Haruka is a very aloof guy. His best friend is Makoto an outgoing type of guy. They both go to the same high school. Haruka is obsessed with swimming and being around water. His obsession with water is used as a source of fun comedic relief throughout the series which makes this a series that is fun and relaxing. Makoto usually sticks by Haruka’s side closely trying to predict Haruka’s mood. Makoto seemingly probably always having been looked after Haruka in turn since they were kids. The anime series begins very calm and placid on the surface. The boys are friends with another guy, Nagisa, who is close to them as well. They all seem content enough.  That is all fine until an old friend named Rin who had withdrawn from them returns. They miss him especially Haruka. Haruka having the personality he has though doesn’t know how to express how his deepest wish is for them: Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa, and Rin to all be friends again.

Swimming and a new friend that Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa make slowly brings them together again to right some unfortunate misunderstandings of the past. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club never once had any major ups or downs in story progression. Each episode was filled with development. It wasn’t like Tokyo Ravens | Fall 2013 Anime Season anime series which absolutely love but sometimes began thinking that really wished the scriptwriters would move the story along for more reveals or something more interesting. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club had two extremes where episodes were either very intense in moving moments where storytelling was so precious or it was seriously full of silliness attributed to all the comedy present.

For a series to make a splash for me at times theme music to an anime series also has to be really memorable or at the very least pleasing. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club’s opening theme song and ending theme songs have to have been the coolest pieces of theme song music have heard. 2013 was a year filled with so many anime series and their theme songs that included their openings and endings. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club stood out strongly. “Rage On” by OLDCODEX was one of the songs that holds a place in my memory. It can actually be judged as very, very addicting. Then there is the Ending Theme Song known as “Splash Free” by Style Five. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club’s Episode 12 also happens to have a new ending theme song that was “Ever Blue” by Style Five which was also a nice addition.

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is one of the anime series that holds a very nice place when think anime. It managed to be a slice of life, sports themed anime that surprisingly enjoyed. It was surprising since with anime mostly Fantasy and Science Fiction are usually the ones with a big bang and phenomenal animation. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club toppled that stereotype.