[Take Your Marks!] The Starting Line of a New Future

It’s no secret that I’m a Free! fanatic. So it should be no surprise that when Free! Take Your Marks announced it’s North American release that I was probably one of the first in line waiting for theaters to be announced. And boy, did I luck out. The theater they decided to show it at was one exit off the freeway from where my office is (about like 5 minutes).

img_9281.jpgNow before I start to fangirl discuss/review the film, I’m just gonna keep it real with you. Not only was I counting down the days till the release (you probably saw my twitter feed) I was hyping myself up at work…

The day of the release I could hardly contain my excitement. Trying to be productive at work, I somehow managed to accomplish tasks by listening to Ever Blue and Clear Blue Departure while smiling like a total dork, and then getting really emotional/teary-eyed listening to Sousuke’s character song Just Wanna Know. That guy is…..just… so misunderstood, I can’t even begin to express my affinity for Sousuke Yamazaki.

But I digress, let’s get to the film.

Free! Take Your Marks consists of 4 “episodes” that takes place pretty much after Season 2 as the boys get ready to take on the next chapter of their lives:

  • #1: Unmei no Choice! (Destined Choice!)
  • #2: Hiyu no Cooling Down! (Secret Hot Spring Cooling Down!)
  • #3: Kessoku no Butterfly! (United Butterfly!)
  • #4: Tabitachi no Eternal Blue! (Departing Eternal Blue!)

I won’t go into the specifics of each of these episodes (avoiding spoilers, and for the life of me I can go on and on about these), but they were all inter-related to one another. There probably could’ve been a better way to transition the 4 together than a semi-abrupt ending and a blank screen that seemed to linger longer than necessary. But that’s my only gripe about the movie.

A Different Side

Surprisingly, the content was vastly different to what we’ve seen in Season 1 and Season 2. It was a long cry from the angst and melodrama we’ve grown accustomed to. While there were some tiny bits of angst, they were few and far between, and not drawn out longer than necessary. Granted some of those moments formed around Sousuke, but that’s understandable; we’re not sure what his future holds. He’s on the precipice of choosing between giving up swimming completely or considering rehabilitation in order for him to swim again. I hope Season 3 resolves what Sousuke decides to do. He deserves the world and more. There’s also a scene of Haru and Rin that was melodramatic, BUT it was done in a campy humorous way; definitely not meant to be taken seriously.

All the Characters!

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image via funimation

Ugh, seriously guys. All the boys were present in this one. Makoto and Haru’s previous relay teammates Asahi and Ikuya from Middle School and their beloved senpai’s Natsuya and Nao from High Speed were all present in some shape or form. Okay, so here…at least give me this section to fangirl about all the pretty boys! Please, please, please? It’s up to you if you wanna read about it, I’m still gonna do it. It’s my blog after all. 😛

Asahi Shiina

Free-TYM_1080-x-1920_AsahiAsahi shows up in the Light Novel High Speed, and in the movie Starting Days. He’s a rambunctious kid – the type to annoy you. He struggled with the feeling of inadequacy when he saw Haru swim in Starting Days, but with the help of a certain megane he crossed paths with that encouraged him to try “mental training” he was able to get over his slump. Years, later we see him roaming his hometown calling up his friend looking much much more mature. He’s still the same old energetic, loud kid with a bright personality, but from that scrawny kid in middle school, he sure grew up to be one of the pretty boys, puberty did him justice.

 

Ikuya Kishishima

Free-TYM_1080-x-1920_Ikuya.jpgBut, what I really loved about their appearances was exactly HOW they interwove all of their stories and timelines to coincide with the present. Firmly depicting this idea of “bonds” that connect them in their brotherhood that is swimming together. Their paths have crossed one another before and will continue to cross until they reach their goal: to see and swim together again. Fate led them to swim together to begin with, and fate will re-unite them. I know, it sounds cheesy, but that’s what Free! is all about, the depiction of friendships, how deeply these characters have connected and bonded together through swimming. The movie in a nutshell nicely sets up Season 3.

 

Natsuya Kishishima & Nao Serizawa

I decided to lump these two together just because their screentime was barely there in comparison to Ikuya and Asahi. The senpai’s of high speed are shown to still be in the swimming world, and actually I believe Makoto will probably run into Nao and some point. The way they tied Nao back into the fold was a bit of a stretch, because: cosmic intervention and destiny, but hey I’ll take it! As for Natsuya, he had a bit of a melodramatic scene, who vents their frustrations to a stranger buying a drink at the vending machine? Also, how he appears was another cosmic intervention; he just happened to be there at the right time with the right people.

But I love how they were able to somehow tie these two dorks back in. Like I said earlier, I’ll buy into the whole ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ thing just because at the core of Free! I find that there’s something whimsical about their outlook on the future. Yes, fate plays a huge role in this series. It was fate that Haru, Nagisa and Makoto met Rin again. It was fate that Asahi met Rei at the bookstore in middle school. It was fate that Makoto found his calling to coaching so haphazardly.

Final Thoughts

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image via funimation

Bottom line is that this movie was full of fluffy happiness and tons and tons of laughter.  I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen EVERYONE smile like that for long periods of time. Lots of “aww” moments, the ‘ships were there, but they didn’t dominate or overwhelm the story that was being told. Their growth of angsty middle schoolers and teens is slowly ebbing away.

But that leaves the question. Is this the new phase of the boys? Will we see them grow confident as they pursue the next stage of their lives? Will we see the trials and tribulations of them trying to reach their dreams, and the angst that brings on? That would be more relatable than the angst they felt about their bonds with one another. I’m excited to see what Season 3 holds, and guys. I hope you’re ready, because I’ll be talking about Free! more this coming summer and obviously when the new season begins.

The Fluffy Cotton Candy Haired Prince: Kisumi Shigino

If there was ever an award for underrated fluffy character, Kisumi would win it. Kisumi Shigino is a minor character in the “sports” (read: slice of life) animes: Free! ~Iwatobi Swim Club and Free! Eternal Summer. His character first debuted in the light novel High Speed and is also featured in the prequel movie: High Speed Starting Days.

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image source

 

Kisumi’s character is very bright and bubbly much like his hair color: bubblegum pink. Although, there isn’t much for us to go on, but from what we know, he’s a charming prince-type boy who has 3 notable characteristics. Continue reading “The Fluffy Cotton Candy Haired Prince: Kisumi Shigino”

Orca & Dolphin: The Coequal Duality that is Makoto & Haruka

Hello my dear readers! It’s been a really long time since I’ve done one of these! It’s also amazing, that I’ve been using a prompt for this that should’ve ended back in July! I’m now one week away from completing the prompt. I’ll repost it when I’ve finished it as a refresher. But anyways,  another Monday has come and this week is a follow up to my last MCM’s post which was also a Boys Love theme featuring Doumeki & Yashiro. This time I’m featuring my favorite OTP (one true pairing) above all other non-canon ‘ships. I say non-canon because Free! is not a BL, although it can be interpreted as such by the fandom.

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image source

If you’ve been following me for quite some time, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve only mentioned Free! a couple of times. But if you’ve spoken to me outside of the blog, then you know I’m a pretty diehard fan of the series, especially for Makoto, Haruka and Sousuke. There’s a reason as to why I haven’t been so forthcoming with my love for this series. Put simply, my reasons for loving Free! is an unpopular opinion. I love the relationship dynamics depicted between all the characters and the melodrama they experience. To be honest, it was Takuto’s post that bolstered my confidence in that it’s okay to have an unpopular opinion and I shouldn’t be ashamed of the things I love (granted Taku does love the same kinds of shows I do it appears – it’s nice to find a comrade!). Free! is known to be the kind of eye-candy fanservice geared towards women with the amount of abs and pretty boys that are flaunted. But, as pointed out by Annie on AniFeminist, this show also offers emotional fanservice, which is what was my main draw from the series; pretty boys and abs are a plus. And, just to add another positive view on the series from a male perspective I recommend reading Gespenst’s Free! – The AniTAY Review on AniTay’s site.

But don’t get me wrong, while I am an absolute fan of this series and will speak volumes of how much I love this series in a positive light, I get it, it’s a series that’s often poked and prodded at and made fun of. I see where those views come from, and I can laugh about it with you, I’m not so blinded by my love for Free! that I’ll overlook how ridiculously silly the premise can be, or roll my eyes at how cheesy some scenes are. But some of those super cheesy scenes are exactly why I love this show so much!

Continue reading “Orca & Dolphin: The Coequal Duality that is Makoto & Haruka”

Top 10 Raven Haired Men 

Ah, the Monday Blues. Probably the worst day of the work week. But feat not! I’m back with Man Crush Monday!  What better way to keep away Monday blues than to have some eye-candy for a quick pick-me-up!

This week’s list features my Top 10 Raven Black Haired males! 🙂 Gah, the Top 3 are repeat males for MCM, but I swear I’ll get back to my individual posts, and also why I opted for a top 10 since the top 3 are givens!

HONORABLE MENTION: TUXEDO MASK

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I had to include this guy. Forever the First Anime crush, and raven haired man I fawned over. You can read more about him here.

10. “MORI-SENPAI”  TAKASHI MORINOZUKA (OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB)

Kicking off the list we have Mori-senpai. The strong silent type; a man of little words. He’s my third favorite host from Music Room 3! I’m just bummed I couldn’t find a better quality screenshots of him! (Totally off topic- I finally got the box set of OHSHC and I plan on reading it soon!!!)

Continue reading “Top 10 Raven Haired Men “

Starting Days! | Weekend in LA 

OMG where did the weekend go?! I’m currently blogging here in LA. I’m supposed to be leaving for home already, but! We’re stuck for a little bit longer!

Some great news I found out to get me excited is: I found out Free! is coming out with 3 movies this year! And I’m super excited! So this week’s OP/ED is going to be from High Speed: Free! Starting Days. 

Title: Aching Horns | Artist: OLDCODEX | Movie: High Speed: Free! Starting Days 

ahhh and I just found out the lead singer of OLDCODEX is the voice actor of my favorite Makoto Tachibana!!

How was everyone’s weekends? I hope you guys had a good one! It’s nice and sunny here in LA!

Megane Monday!

This week’s MCM is a bit special; some of the following weeks may end up being a Top 5 list; because well it’s hard to choose one favorite. I may end up featuring each of these guys more in-depth but for now I shall list my top Megane’s! This also coincides with Naja‘s March Megane Madness theme. Ah, you gotta love alliteration. Be sure to check it out when you can: her first post is here.

top_10_megane Continue reading “Megane Monday!”

30 DAY ANIME CHALLENGE | 07

I had to debate a little bit with this prompt. Tuxedo Mask was my first crush. Then Vash – but he’s my ultimate favorite character  and I didn’t want to use him twice..then there was Shinya Kogami from Psycho-pass who is just overall super cool and a badass. BUT in the end, I decided to go with Makoto Tachibana from Free! because he’s definitely my biggest crush right now. Besides Makoto being incredibly hot handome; there are many other reasons as to why I’ve grown to love his character on this show. Also this post is just a few days shy of his birthday (11/17). LOL! Happy Belated Makoto!!

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Of the entire cast of Free! Makoto’s the more warm, friendly, reliable voice of reason who often worries about everyone. But I think that stems from the fact that he’s the older brother to twins. it’s clear that his family is important to him which is probably why I like him so much-I share the same sentiment in family values.

Also that leads into the next loveable trait: he’s great with kids! And his teaching experience in season 2 allows him to come to the conclusion what he wants to do with his future in life – be a swimming teacher. His gentle demeanor makes it easy for him to connect to kids and his tendencies to be a worrywort come in handy as he’s able to read moods fairly easily.  On top of being good with kids – he’s also got a soft spot for cats! As a fellow cat-lover it’s hard to overlook how cute Makoto is with the neighborhood cat.

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I just had to include this because he’s way too adorable as a kid!
(Spoiler Section from the Light Novels)
There are some things about Makoto that aren’t expressed wellin the both seasons of the anime as well as the movie – which I think is a huge discrepancy in his character and his character development. Aside from what we’ve seen from Makoto in the show – the lighthearted gentle giant – Makoto actually deals with a lot of internal struggles in the light novel. Although his best friend is Haru and they grew up together as neighbors; they actually went through some pretty traumatic experiences together as kids – Haru has a near death experience and Makoto has already had a long-held fear of the ocean. It was probably Haru’s accident that caused Makoto to be the way he is in the Free! series – incredibly overprotective of him. In the light novel Makoto seems to be very insecure and dependent on Haru. So much so that Makoto struggles in differentiating his own identity without Haru by his side. In the light novel he tries out doing other sports and avoids Haru as he tries to figure himself out.

There’s one scene that really stuck on to me in the light novel. Makoto’s Mom calls Haru because Makoto hasn’t come home. Haru starts to feel panicked because it’s really unlike Makoto to be out alone to begin with especially to the point his Mother is concerned. Haru runs around trying to find Makoto and inadvertently finds himself at the coastline -he’s thinking it can’t be possible for Makoto to be here because he’s afraid of the ocean – but there he finds Makoto standing close to the edge so he calls out to him. Haru asks Makoto, “what are you doing here?” and Makoto’s response is, “I was thinking about going..someplace you weren’t around.” Haru freaks out wondering what Makoto meant -where was he trying to go, what had he been trying to do, what would’ve happened if Haru arrived later. Haru continues with, “Why?” Makoto  replies with, “I wanted to see if I’d be okay without you…would you be okay without me Haru?” Haru says, “I wouldn’t come looking for you if that were the case.”

Talk about heartbreaking scene! Although, there’s controversy on the scene itself. It alludes to self-harm on Makoto’s part; but on the other hand he could literally just wanted to put space between him and Haru – but to be at the place you’re most afraid of seems sketchy; the context alludes to that. But on Haru’s part he might be afraid of losing Makoto’s friendship due to the separation that Makoto had put between them, because Makoto could’ve made the decision to part ways with Haru if he chose to. Haru and Makoto’s friendship is a lot deeper than what we see in the anime – which makes me a bit sad to not see it.
(End spoiler section)

Last gif before I go to lighten the mood after that spoiler section:

makoto_cherry_blossoms

 

That’s all for this post! Till tomorrow!

30 Day Anime Challenge | 05

It was inevitable. Free! was bound to make an appearance on this list.

To be honest, I had avoided Free! on Crunchyroll at all costs. I kept thinking it’s about a bunch of bishounen’s in a swim club-how could the story actually be? But it kept popping up whenever I was looking around for a new anime to start, so I decided to give it a shot anyways. Watched 1 episode and thought it was cute. Before I knew it, it was done and I was completely fangirling for Free! But let’s be real, as much as this is advertised as a sport anime – it really isn’t. The focus is really on the friendships between the guys on this show.

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I learned the hard way not to judge an anime by its cover with Free!. I really enjoyed this anime for what it had to offer. It got me to care about the characters; even though the drama seemed to be a bit much. Each character was really loveable in their own way; even the ones I found annoying in my first watch of it, I quickly changed my mind later on. Also, surprisingly I found an interesting blog about Free! from a male viewer’s persepective. You should give it a read. The author, Gespenst goes a great job breaking down what’s good, okay, and terrible about the show. I agree with this review, and I also appreciate the section about the “genre-saavy fanservice” its a great small segment. But anyways, here’s the link: Free! – The AniTAY Review.

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But what really had me impressed was some of the animation. It was hard to believe some of the scenes were so high level, especially the water movement, and other background scenes. But what would one expect of Kyoto Animation. My favorite animated scene came from Season 2, when Haru’s conflicted with what he wants to do with his future and Makoto confronts him about it at the festival. They’re atop the hill that over looks the ocean and well they get into a fight. The following occurs: Makoto reveals his plans for his future which looks like it completely shatters Haru and in that silence the fireworks start. A few things, and not to be super insensitive because I really really do love this show but I actually laughed really hard at this dramatic scene because it felt so over the top. On top of that- why the fireworks! Typically a scene with fireworks in the background depicts a romantic scene. Okay, I admit I would ‘ship these two but still!! This is where the heavy undertones of BL of this show really kick in. But as ridiculous as this scene is, it is also my absolute favorite of the series because of how well the fireworks are animated and how well it illuminates the faces of the two childhood friends amidst their drama.

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Both scenes were taken from the HighSpeed movie – but I chose these because of the water animation. ^^

I’ve looked into Free! and the light novel it’s based on (High Speed) I wish they had made a true adaptation to the light novel.  From what I’ve read the character’s have a much deeper story and background to each of them.  I would go into detail about it, but I can forsee the opportunity coming up sometime soon on this 30 day challenge. It’s really mindblowing what they go through in the light novels – it almost makes the show seem superficial since it only scratches the surface in terms of character development.

Anyways, yes Free! is THE anime that I’m ashamed to have really enjoyed because it’s led me to be completely taken by the fandom T_T and introduced me to the world of ‘shipping characters within shows. I’ve also become an avid collector of all things Free! Because well everything that comes out is too damn cute to pass up! *sigh*

Anyways, that’s all for Day 5! Do you guys have a guilty pleasure anime?