So! I’ll be blogging this season of Free, as I’ve previously indicated. Like before, I’ll be doing this in bullet points, broken down into sections for general comments and for comments specifically to do with swimming, and, yes, sometimes I’ll have a lot more to say about the swimming aspect than I will about the thing as a whole. I will probably also, honestly, end up repeating myself in regards to this since it has been about nine months since the first season wrapped up. So, hey, let’s dive in! (You see what I did there?)
- although I did quite enjoy the first season, the degree to which I was merrily grinning as this episode started up did take me by a bit of surprise, especially as Rin had put a damper on the end of the first series for me… but, hey, the OP sets a pretty strong tone, so how could I not? (and by good tone I mean, of course, that we get hilarious shots of gyrating high school boys in speedos)
- I think that the fanservice has been upped several degrees from the first season; I don’t recall having quite this many ass-shots, and while the boys were muscular the first time around, here it seems taken to a truly absurd level
- nothing will match how perfect the OP being titled “Rage On!” last season, but I liked this OP better on the whole, helped a huge amount by the lack of stupid screamo-style shrieking
- I’m leery of the fact that this is being set up as having four guys on Samezuka versus our Iwatobi boys, although I suspect this has a lot to do with my dislike of Rin
- luckily, Rin is a much more palatable character this time around, but I cry serious foul at having the guy who selfishly ruined Samezuka’s chances at the next level the season before end up being the captain, and I find it hard to believe that other boys on the team wouldn’t be protesting that particular decision…
- but, hey, maybe the new hot shot will be there to protest it, although this isn’t terribly satisfying, either – he’s new, so he wasn’t around for Rin’s stupid move, which means that he’d have less of a reason to be ticked off about Rin’s ascendance
- I’m reminded of how much I adore Kou, and how much I enjoy having her in this show, her reactions more or less what those of us in the audience are to the stripping moments
- I’m also reminded that Makoto is my favorite – sooooo moeeeeeee, I looooved watching him blush during the recruitment scene
- the recruitment scene was pretty funny, although its hard to understand how they wouldn’t’ve gotten in trouble for it and also why they would’ve thought it’d bring in anyone with any talent in the water
- the coach investing money from his grandfather’s tuna fishing vessel into re-building and re-opening the local swim club was a bizarre turn of events and felt kind of cheap; why on earth was he working as a pizza delivery boy if he had enough money to buy and refurbish a swim club? that isn’t an insignificant sum by any means
- Nitori is adorable and I’m thrilled that Rin is treating him a lot better this time around
- but, hey, one asshole out, guess we got to get a new one! could they have come up with a less villainous-sounding name than Sousuke Yamazaki? all I can think of is Sousuke Aizen (Bleach) and Mitsuo Yamaki (Digimon Tamers)
- the ED last season was better (its hard to top night club in an empty pool by the Taj Mahal), but I did quite like this one
- I can already feel the shipping warming up…
- alright, got a few bones to pick about the Iwatobi High pool – first off, why the hell does the damn thing not have a cover? Its an outdoor pool surrounded by trees, in real life a cover would’ve been purchased for the thing its first summer after having to deal with all the leaves trying their damnedest to clog up the filters. Hell, I worked at an indoor pool for a while and we always put a cover on the thing at night, and no leaves were ever going to get into that thing.
- also, as regards covers, while I realize that Japan is less lawsuit-happy than America, I still am sure that if someone wandered in there, fell in and drowned that the pool would get closed… and even if a person didn’t, its wicked gross to have to retrieve dead animals from outdoor pools, and those damn things can get into the filters and clog them like you wouldn’t believe (I’ve worked at outdoor pools in the past as well; mice are fucking bastards like that)
- and, finally, while the cherryblossoms in the pool look pretty, letting it get to that point would likely mean a filter has already jammed! I know, I know, I’m raining on everyone’s parade
- I am sure I mentioned last season that I liked the touch with slipping goggles, having witnessed it and experienced it myself quite a bit throughout my swimming career; its a pretty minor detail, but its one of those things that rings very true
- by the way, you may’ve noticed how the swimmers seem to all have different colored goggles – this is another minor detail that makes it feel as if KyoAni did a decent bit of research for this show, as there is a lot of variance in the goggles that competitive swimmers use and prefer, and it has much to do with the colors since that will affect your vision. I myself always preferred blue, but for outdoor swim meets I opted for grey polarized ones – and loathed the hell out of having to swim backstroke since that often means staring right into the sun! Generally, swimmers with poorer vision tended to prefer darker colored goggles, and this was true for me as well, since it somewhat masked how bad my vision was and so made it feel less disorienting when my head was above water (underwater during a race vision isn’t super hot anyway due to water turbulence).
- they referenced this anyway, but for freestyle events the swimmer can do any stroke, doesn’t have to be the front crawl (which, honestly, typically just gets called “freestyle” anyway); there also is no dedicated event for the front crawl. It isn’t terribly common to see folks opt for other strokes, though, during freestyle events, as for most swimmers freestyle is their fastest stroke
- trying to get an idea of the dimensions of the Iwatobi Swim Club pool, and I’m guessing its a short course pool – 25 meters instead of the 50 meters for Olympic pools (…well, sort of 50 meters – there has to be 50 meters between the touch-pads, so Olympic pools are typically slightly more than 50 meters long); that there are only six lanes supports the idea that this is most likely a short course pool
- I also want to draw attention to the outermost lane lines on either side of the pool – in an Olympic pool, the space between these lane lines and the wall would be the same size as the regular lanes, but they aren’t, by international competitive standards, used during meets because their purpose is to help cut turbulence. Here, with a smaller pool, they still have the additional lane lines to cut back on the water turbulence created when the swimmers’ wakes hit the wall. Lane lines first had their purpose as a means to mark the different lanes so that swimmers wouldn’t hit each other (although I’ve seen people in competition screw up their turn and end up in the next lane anyway), but their design in modern swimming is specifically to help keep the water calmer in each lane.
- one thing that did nag me – the hard-breathing from Haru and Rin during the race; this would be perfectly fine if they were running, but in a pool its silly since breathing like that would just end with mouths full of water. If anything, with skilled swimmers like these two there’d be very few breaths per lap.