First Impressions: Free! – Dive to the Future

Picking up where season two, Eternal Summer, left off, Free! Dive to the Future takes us from high school to university. Haru has opted to attend a large university with a swim team so he can pursue his swimming goals. There, he reunites with old rivals like Kisumi and a friend from his early swimming days, Asahi. Meanwhile, Makoto is studying sports academics at another university in order to become a swimming teacher, Rei and Nagisa have recruited new members to Iwatobi’s swim team, and Rin is studying abroad with a new coach. But perhaps most notably, Ikuya, a former teammate of Haru, Makoto, and Asahi is also introduced as a new rival. The episode hints at more reunions and rivalries as everyone swims to be the best!

Haru's first swim team
Haru and Makoto’s original swim team with Asahi and Ikuya.

Emdaisy1: I am super excited to continue this season. I’ve been a fan of Free! for a long time. While I initially watched it years ago because, well, cute guys… on a swim team… muscles… what actually drew me into the series was the story and characters. Watching Haruka as he swam purely for his love of being free in the water and seeing Rin push himself to challenge Haru, or even just cheering on the other characters grow in their own ways. Many of the struggles the team faces are ones that can be easily related to. Maybe you understand how it feels to always be second place, like Rin losing to Haru. Maybe you recognize the frustrations of being a “prodigy” or a “genius” and just wanted to be treated like a normal person, like Haru. Maybe you identify better with the excitement of a passion and a drive to share that with others, like Makoto. The diversity of the characters and their challenges makes it easy to find at least one moment if not person to relate to. I really grew to be invested in the show’s characters, and I’m glad that season three is a chance to continue following them as they grow up!

TWWK: Free! through two seasons, and now into the third, really feels like a series that has a pulse on what it’s like to grow up. We all have setbacks and challenges, and like Haru and Rin, we all make mistakes in our insecurities and pride, but the show demonstrates that we can move forward, in those two and in other characters like Makoto and Sousuke. I expect to see more of that this season, especially with Haru lookalike (both in physical looks and swim style), Ikuya, entering the scene. But my hope is that we get something terrific like season two, and for that to happen, we need a lot less reminders of what’s happening back with the high school team. I imagine we’ll only get small doses of them this year, but even that might distract from the story at hand.

stardf29: My swimbros are back! Free! Dive to the Future presents the next chapter of this swimming story, and poses a storytelling challenge as the main cast of previous seasons are now split into four different locations, so there’s a fair amount of jumping around. There’s also new characters, both completely new and characters that come from the middle school storyline that got animated in a movie I’ve yet to watch… Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like one needs to have seen said movie to get back into this story, with plenty of flashbacks to provide whatever backstory we need. Overall, while not much has actually happened in this episode, it sets things up well for later on, and I’m just glad to have these boys back.

Asahi declares war on Haru.
Asahi reminds Haru of his old promise to beat Haru in a race!

Free! Dive to the Future can be legally streamed at Crunchyroll.

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