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Name: Free!
Abbreviation(s): Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club (English)
Creator: Kyoto Animation, Animation DO, Koji Oji
Date(s): July 4, 2013 (season one), July 2, 2014 (season two)
Medium: anime, novel
Country of Origin: Japan
External Links:
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Free! (Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club) is a sports anime by Kyoto Animation surrounding the lives of High School swimmers. It premiered on July 3, 2013 and it is based on High☆Speed!, a novel by Kouji Ouji. The show follows a group of four male swimmers, all in high school, who start a competitive swim club at their high-school.

The anime became a reality after a commercial garnered widespread attention on the internet, especially from yaoi fans on Tumblr.

The first season of the show started on July 4, 2013, and had a twelve episode run, ending on September 26. A second season, dubbed Eternal Summer! was later confirmed[1] and aired on July 2, 2014, completing the series in September.[2]

The show also has several extras/side stories, light novels, and a prequel film titled High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-' which aired on December 5, 2015.


The fandom for Free! sprung up literally overnight. In March 2013 a commercial by Kyoto Animation, which had been created to try out animating 2-D water, aired during episode 10 of Tamako Market.[3] It quickly spawned a fanbase on Tumblr, Pixiv and elsewhere within 48 hours of its release, due almost entirely to the attractive shirtless Bishōnen featured in it.[4][5] The fandom was quickly dubbed "Swimming Anime" before it was an official show and its actual name was revealed.[2]

Responses to the commercial, and show, have included role-playing blogs, fan art, videos, and fanfiction. Like many anime shows with a predominantly male cast, it has garnered a large following of yaoi fans. The series is know for it's fanservice focusing on male characters, which appeals to a female audience which technically being a shounen anime.

In Ocotber 2014, Free! reached 5,900 works on Archive of Our Own, becoming one of the top 5 most tagged Anime & Manga fandoms on the site when it surpassed Kuroko no Basuke. The fandom stayed in the top 5 until October 2015, when it was surpassed by Haikyuu!! reaching over 10,800 works.

Main Characters

Significant supporting characters:


The majority are slash (yaoi) pairings.[6] There was a major Ship War between the RinHaru and MakoHaru fandoms, however tensions have cooled over time.

Major Pairings

  • Makoto/Haruka - MakoHaru
  • Rin/Haruka - Also known as RinHaru.
  • Rei/Nagisa - Also known as Reigisa or NagiRei. They have around 2,000 works on Ao3.[7] This is a generally uncontroversial ship and is often featured as a background ship in fics for other pairings.
  • Sousuke/Rin - SouRin. Gained popularity during Season 2.

Other Common Pairings

  • Sousuke/Makoto - SouMako
  • Rin/Nitori - Rintori
  • Makoto/Rin - MakoRin
  • Sousuke/Haruka - SouHaru
  • Rin/Rei - RinRei
  • Haruka/Rei - ReiHaru/HaruRei
  • Haruka/Water - HaruH2O
  • Seijurou/Gou: SeiGou
  • Haruka/Gou - HaruGou
  • Seijurou/Makoto - SeiMako
  • Kisumi/Makoto - KisuMako
  • Kisumi/Haruka - KisuHaru
  • Haruka/Nagisa - Harugisa
  • Momotarou/Nitori - MomoTori
  • Ikuya/Haruka - IkuHaru
  • Hiyori/Ikuya - HiyoIku
  • Isuzu/Gou - IsuGou

Common OT3s

  • Makoto/Haruka/Rin - MakoHaruRin/Marinka
  • Sousuke/Makoto/Kisumi - SouMakoKisu

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.




Archives & Fannish Links


Further Reading


  1. [1], "Free!" 2nd Season Confirmed At Official Event
  2. 2.0 2.1 [2], Anime: Free! (TV Tropes Wiki)
  3. [3], Kyoto Animation: Suiei-hen on MAL
  4. The Daily Dot, "Fake Anime Series inspires real fans on Tumblr," March 11, 2013.
  5. The Mary Sue, "Tumblr Invented Entire Anime Based on Thirty Second Promo? Must Be Monday", March 11, 2013.
  6. [4], Most Favorite Free! Pairings
  7. Archive of Our Own, Works tagged Hazuki Nagisa/Ryuugazaki Rei.