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Free! is a Japanese anime television series produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do. It's actually a sequel to the light novel High Speed! (Japanese: ハイ☆スピード! Hepburn: Hai Supīdo!), written by Kōji Ōji, published in July 2013. It has three TV anime seasons: Iwatobi Swim Club (2013), Eternal Summer (2014) and Dive to the Future (2018); plus three movies - High Speed! Free! Starting Days (2015), Free! Timeless Medley (2017) and Free! Take Your Marks (also from 2017)
The story happens in the fictional city of Iwatobi, based on the city of Iwami (Tottori Prefecture). The protagonist is the highschool student and once swimming prodigy Haruka Nanase; after a bitter encounter with his former friend Rin Matsuoka, who lived abroads for years, he and his other two childhood friends, Makoto Tachibana and Nagisa Hazuki, decide to revive the swimming club of their highschool. They also recruit a newbie named Rei Ryuugazaki and Rin's younger sister Gou, who not only has a thing for muscled guys but hopes that they can help Rin, who became a jerk after having gone through quite hard times. As other characters join in (Rin's kouhai Aiichirou Nitori, their captain Seijuuro Mikoshiba and his brother Momotarou, Rin's other childhood friend Sousuke Yamazaki, etc.), things get even more heated up and competitive...This page is under heavy construction!!!!
- Animal Motifs: Orcas (Makoto), dolphins (Haruka), sharks (Rin), butterflies (Rei), etc.
- Childhood Friends: Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin. It's later revealed that Shigino was also their friend, and Sousuke was one for Rin.
- Coming of Age Story: It follows a group of highschool students, developing them as sportsmen and as people.
- Female Gaze: Where to begin...?
- Ill Boy: In a sports variation, there are less ill boys and more "boys who get prospect Game-Breaking Injuries and may be unable to keep swimming". The biggest example is Sousuke Yamazaki.
- Japanese School Club: More exactly, the swim clubs of two schools: Iwatomi High and Samezuka Academy. The third series also focuses on Iwatomi Junior High and its swimming club, which Haruka and Makoto attended together.
- Japanese Honorifics: Nagisa tends to refer to his friends as "[insert name]-chan"
- Naive Newcomer: Out of the five main charas, Rei is a newbie to swimming. In fact, he doesn't even know how to swim.
- Real Place Background: As already stated, the existing city of Iwami is the basis for Iwatobi. The real Iwami has used this to promote itself.
- Tomboyish Name: Cleverly inverted: the first names of the protagonists are technically Gender Blender Names, but usually more associated with girls than guys.