Ending Summer With a Splash! || “Free!” Collab w/LitaKino

Lita (LitaKino Anime Corner) and I have been planning this thing for SUCH a long time now, and I’m so excited to finally see it happen!

Welcome to my first aniblogger collab of 2019! As the title suggests, joining me on this little adventure is the spunky and out-going Lita! Lita and I go way back as blogger buddies. Ever since I first started, she was there, and I’ve never forgotten about her presence (I mean, just how could you?).

So, when she approached me with a collab proposition, of course I couldn’t refuse this dear friend of mine! In fact, it had me thinking that except for being members of OWLS, Lita and I had never actually done a collaboration effort of any kind together. Kinda crazy, I know, and I’m thankful that she reached out to me.

nagisa shouting.jpg

If there’s one thing that bonds Lita and I aside from our history as bloggers, it’s that we both love anime with a focus on one of these unique factors: mecha and seaside. So, when the idea for a collab was pitched, naturally there were several worthy candidates for discussion. Perhaps we will return in the [near] future with a post over, say, Space Battleship Yamato, Gargantia, or A Lull in the Sea. But for now, we settled on a title perfect for rounding out this summer.

On today’s plate is a special aquatic title that means a lot to both of us, and what with the summer heat finally starting to wind down, I thought it’d only be appropriate that we end summer with a splash.

It’s no surprise that Lita and I both love Free!, for some reasons similar, others vastly different. Challenged with inquiring one another about anything we’d like about the franchise, I sent Lita seven questions, and below are the seven that she sent me. Let’s check out what she asked!

Related image


The Free! OST for every season is phenomenal. There’s a variety of music mixes from high-pump, urban trance to subtle softness. Alongside the music, the series encompasses that aquatic factor. Do you feel the music elevates the series in its entirety? What are some of your favourite tracks from the OST?


I firmly believe that without Tatsuya Katou’s music work on Free!, there simply wouldn’t be a “Free!” (or, at least the one we all know and love). Music adds motion to a series, breathes life into a space that is otherwise just pretty visuals and characters. For Free!, and I’ve expressed this numerous times, the show likely wouldn’t be nearly as impactful were it not for Katou’s OST.

Unforgettable tracks like “A Boy in the Water” and “Innocent Boy” cue us in to the mindset of the main character, Haru: passionate, yet perhaps searching for a larger purpose in life. “Rhythm of Port Town” introduce us to the fresh, family-oriented landscape of the fictional seaside town of Iwatobi. “Revelry of Student” brings out the sweet flavor of Nagisa, as well as shows that high school life can still be fun even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing and where you want to end up. “Old Days” allows us to relax and come to know Makoto, Haru’s best friend since childhood, as well as the sort of refreshing life they live together.

In “I Need You,” all of the tension in Haru’s life starts to break down, despite his carefully plotted attempts at living a calm and collected lifestyle. Then comes along “Night Sky & Ever Blue,” which relieves the air and gives us a hint at the score’s main theme through vibrant strings and a slow-grooving percussive rhythm. Lastly, we rejoice as “Melody of Ever Blue” chimes with celebration and finale, marking the end of this first season.

Free_Original_Soundtrack_Ever_Blue_Sounds_Bande_Originale

I skipped over so many tracks, not to mention only covered the FIRST season of three. Each has their own OST that continues with these themes and goes in their own directions, which is wonderful as a devoted listener. I actually own physical CDs of the first two soundtracks (dinosaur tech, I know), which is why these particular tracks instantly jumped into my mind. This first album, “Ever Blue Sounds,” is my personal favorite, as I believe it encompasses everything Free! has been about: youth, memories, and the future.


No one thought KyoAni’s choice direction of how swimmer boys are portrayed would earn such massive popularity. The intended audience seemed to be for females, but as one of few dudes I know that actually likes the series, give us your perspective on why you love Free! as much as you do.


I actually wrote an entire post just about my love for the series, which you can read right here! Basically, it boils down to being one of those shows that aired at the right place, right time. I came across an ad for the series on YouTube back in 2013, and came back each week to watch the entire thing there too. The series aired in the summer right before my freshman year of high school, which eventually inspired me to pursue the sport that fall.

I love Free! for the relatable characters, the gorgeously animated water effects, the heartwarming score, and of course, the story. But perhaps I love it even more because I was also able to fall in love with the water as these boys did, which has gone on to influence four more years of my life and now through college even!

Free! gave me an entire new world to express myself in and meet new people through, and I think it’s that unique combination of personal history and actually appreciating the series as more than a character drama (but as an actual sports anime) that has made me love Free! more than most people I know.

Iwatobi_Reunited.jpg


Now, apart from the hot swimmer boys, Free! has a good swimming focus. As I know you were or still are an active swimmer part of a team, did you feel Free!‘s representation of life was portrayed to an extent that you can relate to?


As an anime, Free! glorifies the sport far more than it probably should. In fact, you could argue that swimming is just a vehicle for larger themes the series presents, such as life in the adult world or having the ambition to go beyond one’s personal limits.

But yeah, swimming is still a sport. And a hard one, too. The first season focuses a lot on basics, from understanding the different strokes to the logistics of swimming in a relay. I like that part about it a lot. Of course, that won’t stop the series from including a somewhat unrealistic beach training episode.

Even as a surface level exposition, Free! isn’t like Yuri!!! On ICE or Haikyuu!! where it’d tell you how scoring works, technique, etc. Instead, the technicalities of the sport take a back seat role to add in that pleasant mix of slice-of-life and dramatic rivalry, which works far better in Free!‘s case for sustaining audience attention in my humble opinion.

relay start.jpg

So, can I relate to it as a swimmer? For the few swimming-specific training moments that are in it, as well as the heart-pumping pre-race anxiety, absolutely. I still get PTSD stomach jitters whenever they dive off the blocks. However, I would hope that at least foreigners to the sport would relate to the stress and emotional tension of swimming in a relay—that part Free! got right.


You’re a water baby Taku, as am I, so have to ask the question . . . Did watching Free! make you want to go swimming immediately? I ask because it did for me after watching first few episodes—I hit the pool the next day! ūüėā


Technically speaking, I joined the swim team right after I finished watching the first season, so, umm, yes. Haha! But I know what you mean. Cooking anime make me want to eat food. Naturally, swimming anime want me to swim. Even the airing of the third season during my freshman year of college had me wanting to get back to the pool. My career as a lifeguard throughout high school up to now is my only other link to the water, so I guess you could say that each time I rewatch old parts of the series or get to see new content, I dig out my goggles and jammers just in case the need arises. ūüėČ

free bath tub sadness.PNG

The bath tub just really isn’t the same :/


I feel the series was cruel in the moments where Makoto and Haru have ‚Äúclose encounters” (you know, the whole queer-baiting thing). Did that ever bother you, make you squirm a bit? Or maybe make you think, “Oh, I can see them as a couple.” Because Lita over here did (my mind went there).


At first (so we’re talking, like, 2013), the series definitely gave off a fanservice vibe more than anything else. Yet for some reason, I always saw Haru and Makoto’s relationship as too platonic to function. They walk together, train together, and even sometimes share a meal with each other. But it makes sense—after all, they’re neighbors, and family friends at that. Heck, I’m sure we all wish we had a friend like Makoto!

makoto cooking in the morning

Seriously though—and maybe this is just me, but I wonder if it applies to other sports players and their corresponding sports anime—by this point, I’ve seen so many dudes in jammers and speedos (cause of swimming) that I’m pretty desensitized to it all. I find their emotional connection much more wholesome than their physical one (if such thing did/does exist). Now, I don’t play volleyball, so in the case of Hai—


The main characters of Free! always get talked about, but did you have a favourite side character from any of the other teams?


YES, and his name is Momotarou Mikoshiba!! Nobody talks about my sweet otter boy, and that makes me sad. He’s a weird one, not gonna lie. I find Momo’s enthusiasm and innocence to be so goofy and contagious. His loud, cat-like personality is also a plus. Add in his mad backstroke skills, flaming orange hair, and odd love for beetles, and you’ve got chaos incarnated. IDK why I like him so much, I just think he’s a fun character, plain and simple. Underrated, too.

momotarou.jpg


Finally . . . hehe a cruel question. If you were a girl, which swimmer boy would you date? (ūüėāūüėā coZ there all soooo pretty ya know ūüėČūüėŹ)


Aww man, she just had to ask The Question ūüėČ

Ok, so logically speaking, Haru might have the prettiest face, but he’d be awkward as heck on a date. Rei’s too good for me. Nagisa sounds like a fun time, but he does seem young, doesn’t he? Sousuke is too much of a man (he’d crush me between those biceps, let’s be honest). Rin is . . . just not my type, too extreme. Same for Asahi, though I would prefer him. Ai is too innocent. Momo is a cool cat, maybe him . . . ? Ikuya is much too emo for my liking (lol), same for Shizuru, that new Iwatobi swimmer. Ikuya’s bro Natsuya seems like quite the charmer, so there’s a possibility . . . Hiyori is an ass, so he’s out. I don’t know much about Nao, but idk he seems too pure for this world.

Who does that leave us with? Well, if it were younger me, I’d pick Romio, one of the new Iwatobi swimmers. He seems like a good and honest kid that I’d want to know more about, and he’s Nagisa and Rei-approved, so there you go! He also looks like Tom Holland so there’s that.

Really though, there’s only one true choice for me. You should be able to figure it out—after all, he’s the only one I didn’t name! #TeamMom

makoto splash.PNG



And that’s all I got for our collab. Getting to reflect on Free! is always a fun time, and I’m glad I was able to do it with a friend! Speaking of, be sure to check out MY questions for Lita over on her side of things! I think both of us did a fair job at posing each other those Qs, and I hope we get to do it again in the near future. In the meantime, be sure to give Lita a follow—she’s one hardworking gal, and her content is always fun to read!

The world of Free! is only expanding. Although KyoAni has likely put their 2020 project on hold (and for understandable reasons, my goodness), I’ll look forward to whatever comes next—whenever it comes—with the same hope and excitement as I have for every installment thus far.

free end card season 3.PNG

Thoughts on any of our questions or answers? Be sure to let us know in the comments! Oh, and feel free to answer any of the questions yourself if you’d like! Thank you again Lita for reaching out to me for this collab! Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Thank You & Happy Birthday! | Nagisa Hazuki Appreciation Post

Hello!

It’s officially August 1st. I never really do these character appreciation post things, but I make exceptions for those anime characters that hold a soft spot in my heart. And so, I just wanted to say:

Happy Birthday, Nagisa!!

You’re the one that dragged me into the Iwatobi swim club nearly six years ago, back during that fateful summer of 2013, and I still haven’t forgotten ya! Heck, how could I? You’re a sparkling ray of pure sunshine and a little ball of literal sugar cancer for the Iwatobi team, too sweet for everyone’s own good.

In fact, you’re the one that brought the whole team back together and restarted the club, so you’ve got that going for you, too!

You may be the smallest and youngest one of the original team, but you’re never afraid to voice your opinions to your senpai teammates, and that willingness to be straightforward and honest has helped out your friends on more occasions than you can count, trust me!

You’re easy to relax with, but also fun to get fired up with. You can take a joke easily, and also know exactly when and how to lighten the mood when one of your teammates is stuck in a rut. Really, you’re the epitome of playfulness, and that natural enthusiasm will continue to help you and your friends out for the rest of your life!

Sure, you use that baby face of yours to pout when things don’t go your way. And yeah, you could dedicate yourself a bit more to your studies, but you’ve never stopped trying to improve yourself despite just chilling with that awesome breaststroke of yours. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the underrated MVP here! Free! just wouldn’t be the same without ya.

Plus, we know you love studying history, so don’t even try to hide your academic passions!

Haru, Makoto, Rin, and Sousuke may feel like the leads here, but don’t ever give up on your teammates and yourself! Even if you feel forgotten at times, the fact that you always try to help those who are also struggling in the spotlight is proof of your character. I’m sure Rei-chan, Ai-chan, and now Romi-chan and Shizu-chan will be there to support you in all you do, especially considering how much you’ve given back to them!

So on this special day, go and enjoy a big cake with all your wonderful friends! You can even have as much Iwatobi Surprise Bread as you’d like, so eat up—just make sure you’re ready for practice again the next day!


To celebrate this day, I just finished watching Free! Timeless Medley – The Bond for the first time, and for a recap movie, I really liked it! The film reminded me of the great journey the Iwatobi team set out on, and all the precious moments the second season brought us. Excited to watch The Promise now to see the story from Samezuka’s perspective.

Thanks again for inviting me onto the team, Nagisa! And to Kyoto Animation, thank you for breathing life into such a beautiful, inspiring cast of characters, and for creating a very special anime for us swimmers. My gratitude is infinite, and I’ll continue to support this franchise for a long time to come!

– Takuto

2017: The Year of the SEASON 3 Announcements! | Blogmas 2017 Day 3

Hey everyone, welcome to day 3 of Blogmas!

If 2017 meant anything for some of the biggest anime franchises out there, it was THE YEAR of season three announcements. Many of my favorite franchises received surprising third season announcements, some of them being announced directly after the last episode of their second season (which would have aired, BTW, just this year), others miraculously being blessed despite years of pleading.

Without further ado, let’s into this appropriately labeled day 3 of season 3 announcements! Like with day 2’s “Top 10 Long-Awaited U.S. Anime Releases” (which you should totally check out if you haven’t yet!), I’ll be ordering these in least-to-most anticipated. (But know that I desperately want ALL OF THESE!)

blogmasday3.PNG

Top 6 Season Three Announcements Made This Year

#6  Sword Art Online: Alicization 

Airing in 2018

If one stuck around for the credits of the franchise’s first film in February,¬†Ordinal Scale, they would’ve seen an ominous message: “SAO will return.” Following the next arc in the hit light novel series, the¬†Alicization¬†arc covers volumes 9 through 18, which would make it¬†SAO‘s largest arc to date. Will the anime cover that much? Oh god I hope not. Well, unless this “third adaption” gets more cours. Length is unknown, but despite the negative press coverage and stereotypes,¬†SAO has always been entertaining to me, and I can’t wait to see what its arguably strongest arc holds in store for me! [link to official ANN article here]

***NOTE: Also recently announced was a SAO¬†spin-off series, which features a new cast of characters gaming in the second series’s¬†Gun Gale Online.¬†I’m also excited for that!

#5  Food Wars! The Third Plate

Airing now, in 2017 fall

This was one of those sequels announced following its second season’s run. I’m a little late to the¬†Food Wars!¬†game, but don’t get me wrong—THIS SHOW IS THE SHIT, YO. I can recall so many humbling memories of chatting with aniblogger Jamie, my¬†Food Wars!¬†buddy, about this crazy show. Advertised as the “Battle against the Council of Ten,”¬†The Third Plate will continue the trend of leaving off exactly where its predecessor left off. Now, J.C. Staff acts fast, as this announcement was made only with only ONE SUMMER between the two seasons. You know what that means—almost ALL of season three is already out, and we can only hope that we’ll hear about a fourth sometime soon!! [link to official ANN article here]

Related image

#4  My Hero Academia 3rd Season

Airing in 2018

TODOROKI, MY GUY, YOU GETTIN’ A THIRD SEASON BOI. While I found the first season to be “good” at best, season two turned up the freakin’ heat with a kickass TOURNAMENT ARC followed by one intense hero-killing act. Now I can’t stop watching this show, and I can’t wait to see what this fun, lovable, and creative cast does next! Forest school trip?? SIGN ME THE F*CK UP. [link to official ANN article here]

Image result

#3  Free! (subtitle TBD)

Airing in 2018 summer

Ok, ok, before I freak out, Free! has one ~wild~ franchise:

Free – Iwatobi Swim Club –¬† Aired¬†2013, first season, 12 episodes + some OVA shorts. Follows the rebirth of the Iwatobi swim club and its four main members, as well as their struggle against rival team Samezuka and their team’s leader.

Free – Eternal Summer –¬† Aired¬†2014, second season, 13 episodes + one water-gun war OVA. Continues the story of the two swim clubs into their next year of high school—for some, their last. Resolves the relationships and rivalries between all of the boys, and opens us up to their possible futures.

High‚ėÜSpeed! – Free! Starting Days –¬† ¬†Aired 2015, film.¬†A prequel to the first season which is an adaptation of light novel High‚ėÜSpeed!.¬†It’s all about Haru and Makoto’s first relay, I believe.

Free! Movie 1 РTimeless Medley РKizuna (Bonds)   Aired 2017, film. Recap of the first season, focusing on the Iwatobi Swim Club.

Free! Movie 2 – Timeless Medley – Yakusoku (Promise)¬† ¬† Aired 2017, film. Recap of the second season, focusing on the Samezuka team and Rin and Sousuke’s relationship.

Free! – Take Your Marks –¬† ¬†Aired 2017, film divided into four episodes. A sequel to the second season (NEWEST MATERIAL), taking us to early spring time as Haruka prepares to graduate.

AND NOW . . .

[Untitled] Free! Season Three   Airing 2018. Unknown. Freaking stoked.

[link to official ANN article here]

Image result

#2  Attack on Titan Season 3

Airing in 2018 summer, after third compilation film in January

Announced first on Twitter directly following the final episode of the thrilling second season, this was one of the more unexpected announcements. Having already been truncated to half its length (from 24 episodes like season one to 12), many thought that the¬†Attack on Titan¬†anime had lost popularity with its fan base. It was disappointing, honestly. BUT NO, far from it, for just as if it had been secretly planned and intended from the start, the second season’s finale brought the hype back, and this season three announcement sealed the deal:¬†Attack on Titan¬†WILL be back, and when we do return, we’re heading seaward. WOAHHHH!!! [link to official ANN article here]

Image result

BEHOLD, the kinkiest¬†AoT poster I’ve ever seen.¬†But what does it all mean???

#1  A Certain Magical Index III

Airing in 2018

Like we were graced with license rescues including the long-awaited¬†Hyouka and¬†Gosick, 2017 was full of all sorts of surprising saves, this one arguably being the coolest!! This past spring, author Kazuma Kamachi and his editor Miki attempted to calm and reassure fans that a third season of the hit light novel series (which I just started reading—it’s good) was plausible, and that we just needed to “Wait a little longer.” WELL, the wait is FINALLY over, as J.C. Staff will be delivering the continuation of the highly anticipated¬†A Certain Magical Index, announced October 1st,¬†which will likely cover the events of WWIII (though it’s too soon to say for “certain”). But that’s not even the best part—the series was announced as part of¬† “A Certain Project 2018” (2018-Nen To Aru Project), which insinuates that the possibility of a¬†Railgun¬†3rd season is not too far off either. I’M PRACTICALLY SCREAMING. [link to official ANN article here]


And there you have it. BOOM. Season three coming soon. 2018 is sure going to be “magical,” and I can’t wait for it all. I guess I say that every year, though. ūüėõ Were there any second, third, or fourth season adaptions from this year that shocked you? What about films, or new adaptations of beloved novel series? Also, are you excited for any of these? Let me know!¬†This wraps up Blogmas Day Three of the 12 Days of Anime! Thanks for reading, and I‚Äôll catch you all tomorrow!

‚Äď Takuto, your host