The Free! series was one of the series that swept the anime community up in a rather large wave since its premiere back in 2013. Being the first female audience-oriented series from Kyoto Animation, Free! was a huge success that retained its fandom activity enough to still have a very active fanbase even now in 2018, with only periodic movies released after ending its second season in 2014. Its newest movie, Take Your Marks, was out last year in Japan much to the fans’ delight, and with it brought a promise of the third season, coming this summer 2018!
For a series largely aiming to please their audience through fine animation, storytelling, and of course, beautiful boys, the series itself is rife of fanservices. Not to mention that it already has two seasons plus four movies! With so many resources, we will be trying to choose the Top 10 Manservice scenes in the Free! series that are extremely memorable for the fandom. Here they are!
10. [S1E4] Rei’s Beautiful Stretching
Having Rei finally join the rest of our boys in Iwatobi Swimming Club at the end of episode three was great, wasn’t it? A new boy, trying out swimming because he admired Haru’s swimming, all proper-looking and ready to impress with his perfect logic approach to everything. And of course, episode 4 didn’t waste this chance to lay out some very nice fanservice in order to introduce us to how Rei does things, which is simultaneously amusing and yet very pleasing to the eyes!
Episode 4 opened by giving the audience a very beautiful, very precise way of stretching by having Rei demonstrate it perfectly. We got Rei sprawled on the floor, limbs all stretching properly as he bent his upper body and touched his toes, muttering the precise angles of how he bent his limbs and body, and the camera shamelessly panning and taking all his curves and following the long lines of his body. Add to that, Rei was clad only in the speedo that Nagisa had lent him, which meant we got to see a lot more skin from Rei than from Haru, Makoto, and Nagisa—all of whom were wearing legskins. These very pleasing visuals in themselves are already great fanservice, but the fact that Rei was hilariously muttering all the precisions that mattered in his beautiful stretching routines only added to the amusing element of the fanservice!
9. [S1E8] Makoto’s Back Muscles
One of the reasons why Makoto is one of the most popular characters in the series is because he’s got a very good body—bigger and more muscular than his peers, which contrasted his kind and gentle personality. And while we’ve gotten to see so much of his fine abs, pecs, and muscles over the course of the series, there is a particular scene that would send fans of Tachibana Makoto straight to the path of getting nosebleeds: Makoto stretching before his race in episode 8.
The audience really ought to thank the animators for this scene; Makoto’s back muscles, originally very defined thanks to his backstroke specialty, was beautifully animated as they tensed, pulled, and bunched, following Makoto’s stretching movements. Yes, this is how you do fanservice. It’s an almost ten-second long of enjoyment focused solely on Makoto’s back muscles. Gou-chan never lied to you when she dictated that Makoto’s charm point was his back muscles!
8. [S1E4] Legskins Fashion Show?
The thing about Free! is that it’s not simply a sports anime—it’s a sports anime presented in slice-of-life style of storytelling. And so it gives its audience not only the heat and determination of youth, but also silly things that belong more to the slice-of-life genre. An example of this being a short legskin fashion show scene!
Episode 3 showed us that while Rei was extremely athletic, he couldn’t actually swim, which was a problem because he’d joined Iwatobi swimming club after all of Nagisa’s nagging. In a desperate attempt to figure out why he hadn’t even managed to float properly, Rei maintained that he definitely needed better legskins, and everyone agreed to go shopping.
Honestly, this was perhaps one of the most fun and amusing scenes in the series, because it really was just a string of Iwatobi swim club members trying out legskins in different styles and patterns, one after another. Gou, our manager who is also the spirit representation of the audience when it comes to admiring the boys’ muscles, had been so excited to watch over everyone’s impromptu legskins fashion show. From Rei’s perfectly-calculated rainbow legskins, Haru’s completely similar legskins, Nagisa’s adorable speedo, Either you enjoyed all these silly fanservice scenes or followed Gou’s lead: a half-exasperated sigh at the silliness of al the boys!
7. [Movie: Take Your Marks] Sousuke and Nitori Onsen Scene
After years and years of waiting as fans of the Free! Series, we were finally given an onsen scene! Sadly, we didn’t get to see all of our boys hanging out in the onsen together, but maybe that means we might still get a pleasant surprise of onsen scene in the third season? We all can hope!
This onsen scene in Take Your Marks is not disappointing at all, either! Thanks to Momo and Nitori accidentally winning a trip to the onsen for two, and Rin’s mother generously giving them two more free tickets to the same onsen, the Samezuka relay team had a trip to an onsen town. After tiring themselves out from walking around the town, they all went back to their ryokan to relax in the onsen. Rin and Sousuke had gone to the onsen, but Rin had gotten out first, leaving Sousuke alone in the onsen when Nitori came in to join his senpai.
Seeing two pretty boys in the onsen only in towels, who are we to complain? We definitely appreciate the sight of Sousuke sitting in the bath, skin glistening with water as he relaxes, and Nitori joining him politely. Not only was their conversation while relaxing in the onsen heartwarming and hopeful-sounding, it presented the possibility of Sousuke swimming together again with Rin, the audience got to enjoy ample bare skin, muscles, and the peaceful ambiance of the entire scene itself. Of course, the fact that Sousuke, Rin, Nitori and Momo (and for an additional surprise, Natsuya) were shown in onsen yukata right after was a really nice fanservice bonus!
6. [Movie: High Speed!] Natsuya taking off his shirt
The very existence of Kirishima Natsuya that comes with the release of High Speed! movie is honestly an attack to everyone who likes swimming boys. Why? Simply because he’s hot. Unfairly so, for a fifteen-year-old boy. And before this article starts sounding creepy, the audience really can’t deny that in High Speed!, where none of the four main characters (Haru, Makoto, Ikuya, and Asahi) can really provide fanservice for the fact that they are still twelve-year-olds with rather undeveloped bodies, Kirishima Natsuya is the fanservice fodder character.
Starting from the first time he made his appearance as the cool senpai from the swimming club, and later on in that one scene in the stairs where he saved Haru from falling down with one hand securing Haru’s and another snatching a fallen roll of poster out of mid-air, Natsuya managed to draw out gasps and baited breath every time he appeared on screen. Sure, we all sort of get used to him being handsome and cool in the course of the movie later, but in the meantime, it’s totally acceptable for you to utter a prayer of thanks every time we see him parade around only in his swimming legskins.
One of his best fanservice moments, however has got to be the scene where he seamlessly pulled off his black shirt and threw it away as he challenged Haru into a freestyle race. Haru, in his first act of deviance in the swimming club he’d just joined, refused to swim any style other than free, and Natsuya, being the captain, wouldn’t take that. He challenged Haru for a race, pulling off his shirt and revealing fine back muscles before throwing his shirt off and smirked in a true refreshing boy manner. God, thank you for Kirishima Natsuya’s existence. It’s even better that he retains his fanservice fodder status in the newest movie, Take Your Marks, as he’s grown up into a very fine, handsome, still hot, young man!
5. [S1E9] Yukata Time!
It’s not a sports anime if we don’t have the summer festival shenanigans! You bet Nagisa and Rei is ready to take up the role for this sort of shenanigans! After winning their relay race and qualified for the regionals, Nagisa and Rei dragged everyone out for a fun night at the festival. Of course, this is time for a long-awaited fanservice: yukata time!
Although we didn’t get to see Haru and Makoto in yukata, we did, however, get graced by the indescribably cute Nagisa in a simple light blue-colored yukata with a polkadot pattern, and an elegant Rei in really nice black yukata. The sight of bare arms peeking out from underneath yukata sleeves every time they raise their hands seems even more like a tease compared to their usual bare limbs! We also got to see the girls—Gou and Chigusa—being really pretty in their own yukata with their hair all done up!
The entire episode got even more amusing as Nagisa, Rei, and Makoto noticed that Rin had also come to the same festival, and the three of them, not wanting a confrontation between Haru and Rin for now, tried to distract Haru as best as they could and steer him away from where Rin was. Rei was saddled with the responsibility of stalking Rin, which he hilariously did by putting on a sentai mask, taking the stalking to a whole new level as he communicated with Nagisa like a detective would. All of this was done while both of them were still clad in yukata, which made it ten times more hilarious!
4. [S2E13] Samezuka Cultural Festival
If there’s an episode in the entire Free! series that could be called pure fanservice, then episode 13 in the second season would be the one! For once, the audience were brought all the way to Samezuka Gakuen with our Iwatobi boys who were visiting in order to see the school’s Cultural Festival, which had been teased several times in the drama CD as an event where the Samezuka Swimming Club traditionally has a Maid Café!
Does this means Rin was once dressed as a maid? Yes. Does this means we get to see him and Sousuke dressed as maids? Sadly, no, because they’re now third-years and the third-years don’t have to go through the maid uniforms anymore. We did, however, got to see a very pretty maid Nitori, a surprisingly adorable maid Momotarou who got his skirt flipped up by Nagisa, and the best surprise of all: butler Rin and servant Sousuke!
This entire episode is nothing but fanservice. Not only did we get to see Haru being the prince who helped out maid Nitori, we also had Sousuke feeding Rin for taste-testing the food, and most important of all, we had all the boys facing off in a mixed-group water gun fights! This also meant we got to see everyone drenched with water, their clothes clinging to their skin as they try to “kill” and “avenge” each other. There was even a surprise appearance from Kisumi, who also got wet because everyone kept shooting at him! And an even bigger surprise: Sousuke and Haru, working together closely for the first time and finally starting to call one another by their first name!
For all the fanservice and fun shenanigans in this episode, it came to a heartwarming scene of both Iwatobi and Samezuka teams bonding by the fireworks—most of them with their clothes off and being dried off nearby, which in itself is also really nice fanservice. Watching these two teams being good friends and hanging out together is really the best kind of fanservice, wasn’t it?
3. [S1E6] Haru and Makoto’s almost CPR
As Makoto and Haru have been best friends since they were little kids, perhaps sometimes we sort of take their moments together for granted. After all, they’re capable of the silent, telepathic communication where Makoto could tell what Haru wants without Haru having to put it in words. While he seems to be nonchalant about most of things that are not water or mackerels, Haru actually does watch Makoto carefully, as we could see in this episode how he silently worries for Makoto, who has a fear of the ocean ever since the Iwatobi Swim Club decided to train in the ocean.
Things took a turn for the worse by the end of episode 5; in the middle of a storm, Makoto had jumped into the ocean trying to save Rei, who had been secretly practicing by himself and got swept up by the waves. His fear getting the better of him, Makoto couldn’t swim, and got swallowed whole by the waves as well. Thankfully by this time, Nagisa and Haru had woken up and jumped in to try and save them—Haru managed to drag the unconscious Makoto ashore, and the audience saw him internally panic for a moment before he leaned down to try giving Makoto CPR.
For Makoto/Haru fans, this is a scene that had them hold their breath for about three short seconds: the classic “almost a kiss” scene! Yes, it’s intended to be CPR, but their lips almost touched, although Makoto coughed up water and woke up before anything else could happen and the audience could finally let out a half-disappointed, half-hysterical shriek.
2. [S2E12] Haru and Rin sharing a bed
The entirety of episode 12 is dubbed as Haru and Rin’s adventure in Australia, and it comes with a bonus that sends Rin/Haru shippers into cloud nine; yep, the classic “incidentally, there is only one double bed so we have no choice but to share a bed together” scenario!
After his fight with Makoto, Haru was dragged all the way over to Australia by Rin, who showed him around and introduced him to his host family. The objective of the trip was for Rin to give Haru a push to find his own dream, after Makoto had called asking Rin for help. Everything went pretty smoothly—Rin brought Haru to the beach, took him to dinner with his host parents, Russell and Lori, and then off they went to the hotel where they were supposed to spend the night… only to find that their room only has one double bed, much to the audience’s delight!
After an argument that ended in vain with the receptionist, Rin and Haru resigned themselves to sharing the bed. Really, watching them softly talk before going to sleep is so sweet, even if it’s also amusing at how self-conscious they are for sleeping in the same bed. And the next day, the audience got to see Rin bringing Haru over to the pool facility where the Olympians train, and see how Haru found his own resolve and dream!
1. [S213] Swimming in cherry blossom pool
For a sports anime about beautiful boys who bonded through swimming, having an abundance of fanservice is of course not surprising. It was hard to choose which scenes to be included in this list, and even harder to choose which one should top it all, but we still have to decide on one. After a lot of hard consideration, we settled on this particular scene: the last scene of the second season, where everyone swam together in Samezuka’s cherry blossom pool.
Perhaps it had been a gesture of thanks to the Iwatobi boys, or simply a throwback to a precious childhood memory, or perhaps just the romantic in Matsuoka Rin, but he finally managed to turn the Samezuka indoor pool into a swimmable cherry blossom pool. One can only imagine how many buckets of cherry blossom petals he had to ask his team to carry and dump into their pool. Perks of being a captain! But thanks to that, we were given a really heartwarming scene to close the entire second season: Rin, opening the door to Samezuka pool with a proud flourish, and showing everyone the gorgeous pool covered in cherry blossom petals. Together, our five boys didn’t waste any time before throwing off their jerseys and diving into the pool! You could see Rei laughingly trying to evade Nagisa splashing him, and Rin, with his wide grin, splashing Makoto, who just laughed and accepted it, as well as Haru, floating peacefully on his back.
It’s the best kind of heartwarming fanservice for the end of the ride that was the second season, with everyone happy and grinning and enjoying their time swimming together!
Choosing only ten out of the countless fanservice moments in Free! series is extremely hard. There are so many others that were just as good—whether it’s visually-pleasing or heartwarmingly good. The movies that have been coming out had several scenes that were not in the TV series, which were also really good fanservice fodder, and the newest Take Your Marks movie was basically the peaceful, silly shenanigans Free! boys that you have always wanted, complete with fanservices and the existence of the now grown-up High Speed! boys and new characters. The excitement for the third season is unbearable!
Let us know more about which fanservice moment in Free! series that you noticed and loved in the comments!