When my friends and I first heard of "that swimming anime" called Free!, this is pretty much what we expected:
Not that there's anything wrong with that hahah, but all we were expecting was to be able to laugh at how exploitable and full of fanservice this show could be because swimming would require everyone to be half-naked. Although it started out that way, the more episodes we watched, the more we realized...
We were wrong. So wrong.
What we got was a heartwarming coming-of-age story with endearing characters and interesting dynamics. It spoke of friendship and learning your self-worth and figuring out what drives you forward.
I'd write more about how I feel about it but it would take up too much time and space over here, so here are a couple of posts that have already done the job well:
1. A detailed literary analysis and trope driven deconstruction of Haruka's progress throughout the story
- A long read, but well worth it. Full of spoilers if you haven't seen the anime!
2. Lessons learned in Free!
- Short and sweet, and also full of spoilers. Watch first!
As some of you might know, when my friends and I love a series, we feel a great need to cosplay it. So this happened:
Jin - Haruka "They Made Me Do It" Nanase
Miguel - Makoto "Guess Where My Other Hand Is" Tachibana
Cat - Nagisa "Totally The Pimp Of This Club" Hazuki
Dom - Rei "Uncomfortable" Ryugazaki
and some were taken by me on my phone
Iwatobi summer uniform shirts from our friends at DenDen Style!
Another thing about my friends is that our shoots are 90% outtakes. And that's what this journal post is for. Hahah!
Some of the crack related to this shoot started days before we had it.
A day before the shoot, I was walking around the mall on the way to a meeting and a guy picks me out of a crowd of people to give me this. He said, "You look like the kind of person who suits this." and I'm just like WHAT HARU STOP CONSUMING MY SOUL
This was a funny photo session before the real shoot, which started with Miguel asking me for permission to change clothes in another room. I was like "Yeah, I'll lead you there." Our fujoshi friends (who happened to be two of the photogs for the day) perked up and were like, "Change? Room? Can we go with you guys? With our cameras?" Hilarity ensued.
Best friends know just what to say
to make things really awkward
Miguel was my headcanon for Makoto since I started watching the anime, so it made me happy when he said that Mako was his favorite. Also that a lot of you have also been commenting on how much he looks like a real-life Makoto. (That's how he acts towards me so I can't help my perception being a little biased, hahah)
It's funny how we weren't even fully dressed yet but when I started working on his wig, we could hear our friends snapping away with their cameras already. Miguel was like, "What a nostalgic feeling, eh?"
Angles are important. Our friends are true fujoshi photographers. Fujographers, even.
When I saw this top shot I was like "WHEN DID WE-" Then after I saw the pictures that followed, I realized it was from the time I was fixing Miguel's wig.
This is what actually happened.
Kat and Charmie got "inspired" when we were doing the wig-styling and composed this shot.
I started posting some pictures on my Facebook page
(Feel free to follow if you want more instant and frequent updates!) and this thread happened on one of the photos
My friends and their unintentional(?) innuendos o h m y g o d
But see it's really quite innocent
(Also featuring Haru's rare small smile)
I kept breaking out of character and laughing because Miguel's hand was pushing against mine too hard and turning the heart into a lopsided tomato
Makoto tries to teach Haru to use his cellphone more often
(My phone isn't a SoftBank Pantone Slider like Haru's, but the case I use for mine happened to be a similar color to Haru's phone)
"Hear that? I downloaded ocean sounds for you"
"See, it has a camera you can use to take pictures of things you want to remember"
"Haru..! You want a picture of us?"
"You should try smiling for pictures every now and then, but at least you're looking at the camera
Send it to me, okay?"
Haru discovers game apps
"Haru... You stayed up all night playing that dolphin game, didn't you?"
"Sorry to wake you, but we need to get to school"
"If you don't get up for school RIGHT NOW I'm going to make you smile!"
Makoto is bad at making threats, you guys
This is Charmie's concept of a "see you next water time..." end card
We were trying to do a joke dakimakura photo but I was like HELP, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOOK SEDUCTIVE
Rei-chan metamorphosing into a beautiful butterfly while surrounded by dorks
Erving was trying to teach me to do dynamic selfies and this is what happened
Can we take a moment to notice that Rei's glasses are doing the anime glare
(We had to get a sub for Nagisa as he was still dressing up. Thug life pimp kawaii shota penguin is pretty accurate IMHO)
"Let's try doing something different", they said
Haru rode the bike into a pool
Iwatobi Swim Club joint meeting with the Fujography Club
"Trust me, Rei-chan!! I've only gotten arrested on a bike like, three times!"
Rei took 5 minutes to read up on how to ride a bike and thankfully the police didn't need to get involved
Thug Seme Nagisa lives for another water time
Iwatobi Swim Club commemorative photo after breaking into a water storage facility for Haru's birthday. Haru's friends have to put up with a lot.
Captain Dolphin drink for Vice-Captain Dolphin
Putting the gay in Gatorade jk
Don't think we forgot about Rin because we didn't
At our local konbini, where the cashier guys have become immune to our shenanigans
Mackerel for Haru. This is not brand new information.
It's easy to tell when Rei is enjoying his food. The sparkles give it away.
Nagisa teaches Haru about Instagram.
(It's full of pictures of mackerel. If you are surprised then you are doing it wrong.)
Went to a bubble tea place for some sweets after dinner.
Rei with his green apple soda, which was the same color as his quadruple strapped neon green backpack. Also photobombed by Rei's biggest fangirl.
The real reason we went here was so that we could be...
And now for some previews of future shoots
I attended a convention last month in which I was tremendously spoiled by shops with Free! merchandise
gave me this awesome Iwatobi Swim Club shirt (Iwatobi-chan Secret Version!) and also this Iwatobi-chan hat!
That is Haru's game face don't laugh
And then Cotton Candy Shirts
gave me and my friends the shirts they were wearing in the Splash Free ED! We'll definitely be doing those versions now!
Free! may have ended and we'll have to make our own "water time" for now, but I'm really thankful for that anime and the people who watched it and drowned in the tsunami of Free!lings and emoceans with me. I know the series hit me hard because I have bonds that made me identify so much with the characters. What swimming is for them, cosplay is to us. It's something that brought us together and we continue to share because it's something we enjoy with each other. Even though cosplay is by nature something fun and silly, it's able to inspire and cause a lot of emotions, it leads to us meeting friends we will come to treasure, it gives us chances to learn things about ourselves, and sometimes our bonds are tested but with the right people it ultimately brings you closer together no matter what.
To end this on a funnier note, I was laughing so much at people on Facebook shipping me and Miguel as Haru and Makoto and calling it their cosplay OTP. It got me imagining us saying Makoto and Haru's lines like
"Cosplay is meaningless without you!"
"That was how I remembered how it felt to cosplay the same series together... It made me... just as happy!!"
HAHAHA I am so done ｡ﾟ(TヮT)ﾟ｡
Okay no I'm not
Here I am trying to get over the Free! finale, and I look outside and see that the sky is perfectly...
Now I'm done