Note that this review contains spoilers for the first free! final stroke Movie.
the first free! final stroke The film ends with Haru and Rin symbolically parting ways, as they struggle to reconcile their dreams of world-class swimming with their humble desires as friends. After losing to Albert in Sydney, Haru in particular has been distancing himself from others in order to rise to the level of his rival – relying on loneliness in the process. The second movie gives a closure to the lingering plot threads and angst of the first movie. There’s nothing surprising in the plot, but the best part is that it seems merciful: it doesn’t get caught up in boring drama long before you start wrapping things up.
Before we can get to that nice conclusion, the movie starts with a synopsis of about 15 minutes. Even if you don’t desperately need a refresher, he makes sure to grab your attention by booking himself with original scenes that brilliantly depict Haru’s mental state. These scenes introduce some of the film’s major visual elements, such as Haru’s physical inability to confront the ghost of his past and characters who see themselves in cinema as a way to illustrate the desperate experience of being a passive observer of others’ lives.
Once the movie gets off to a good start, the good news is that there’s no doubt that Haru and Rin won’t make things right. In fact, their friendship is the first among the plot threads to be resolved, in a beautiful and wonderful sight in the hotel pool. Although the movie isn’t very dangerous, the rest of the movie builds its struggle around typical sports drama clichés, such as the character hiding the debilitating effects of their “special movement” in a way that ultimately ends up in sacrifice. Given how emotionally grounded the rest of the story is, these plot rhythms feel like pure invention, yanking the narrative without art in order to wrap it up in the most traditional way possible.
It’s not completely out of the blue. eternal summerAfter all, she went through the same suggestions with Sousuke’s subplot. But I always found the dramatic side of free! Boring rather than swaying. It also does not help in excessively lengthening this particular arc; between Diving into the future and the Final Half movies, which is equivalent to two seasons of anime. Watching the same narrative tool used in an already inflated story almost completely kills its effect.
The shutdown almost makes the frustration worth it. Healthy competitions and friendships inevitably culminate in the form of central swimming free!: relay race. On an objective level, it might be the least surprising ending imaginable, but it’s still satisfying to see on the Olympic stage. The real significance of high speed! Characters are shown here too, which is a sensible way to tie all the dangling character arcs together via an extension Franchisegenerations.
However, it must be said: It’s not quite the same feeling as watching Haru swim with his buddies at the Iwatobi Swimming Club. Even if this movie makes the argument that camaraderie shines as brightly as ever, I left the show completely unimpressed by it. You can’t just demote the boys of Iwatobi to fan leaders and expect their roles to have the same effect. You can’t just increase the lifespan of characters from a prequel, who were never mentioned in the first two seasons of the anime, and expect them to come in easily. It’s no surprise that this movie focuses primarily on Haru and Rin’s relationship, as it’s the only movie that works exactly as planned.
In the end, this bow was a mixed bag. It’s littered with moments of artistic and narrative brilliance, and the closing should be satisfying for everyone who stuck with the series through its highs and lows. But even in the end, I don’t think she was able to fully justify her existence. The closing words also left a strange note: “It’s good not to be special, but I will be special for a little while longer.” when? The characters went through an existential crisis as a young adult, and those are the words that this movie decides to end? I can’t help but feel that the themes of this arc are undermined by the follow-up to the traditional fantasy ending. Most of the characters have had a good farewell, but my lasting impression of this arc is that it’s story after story that you never really thought about what you wanted to achieve.