As I begin to watch Free! Dive to the Future, I can’t help but recall the conversation that I had with my nephew a long time ago.
At that time, I was recommending him to watch Yowamushi Pedal since we were going to watch Yowamushi Pedal movie in a few weeks time.
Just like me, he enjoyed watching Yowamushi Pedal after giving the first episode from the anime a try.
But what caught my attention wasn’t about his comment about Yowamushi Pedal. Rather, it was a comment about Free! anime.
He said that he didn’t like watching Free!. In fact, he found the anime to be boring.
Well, you can’t blame a middle school kid not enjoying watching a bunch of shirtless guys doing their own thing.
But the conversation that I had with my nephew at that time got me thinking. Why some people love watching Free! while some people just loathe it?
Sure, it has a lot to do with the anime taste since our taste in anime isn’t created equal.
But the thing is, Free! is a sports anime that isn’t much different than the rest of the sports anime out there.
Not all sports anime are created equal
At this point, it’s simple enough for me to conclude that not all sports anime are created equal.
But then again, the question still remains. Why Free! and also the recent Free! anime, Free! Dive to the Future isn’t like most sports anime?
If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I love sports anime. In fact, I even write a blog post recommending which sports anime that everyone should try even if they’re not a sports fan.
Even if you enjoy one of the sports anime that I recommend in the blog post, there’s a high chance that you may not enjoy watching Free! and the newest Free! anime, Free! Dive to the Future simply because it’s not your usual sports anime.
The different type of sports anime
If you take a look at the sports anime that have been around for the past few years, you realize that these sports anime tend to get us sucked into the conflict during the game.
The tournament and the game scenes itself make us feel like we’re watching the actual game. The difference is we get a closer look at how each character is thinking and behaving in that situation.
And the situation itself makes us feel so tense as if we’re also in the game as well.
Let’s not forget about the scene when the outcome is still yet to be determined but it ends abruptly, making us feeling dissatisfied and can’t wait for the next episode. You just want to know what’s going on.
These types of sports anime tend to be the plot-driven type since the anime or the manga itself is focusing more on the story and not so much on the main character’s development.
The story itself is action-packed. And in most situation, these characters are in a do-or-die situation.
You can say that the plot-driven sports anime isn’t that different with the typical shonen anime. That’s why some sports anime like Kuroko no Basket and Haikyuu!! feels like just another shonen anime but with the sports element in it.
For the better or worst, you can only see the plot-centric sports story in anime and manga.
In the publishing world, most sports novels don’t follow the same narrative. Most sports novel fall into the literary fiction category, where the story is focusing more on the main character’s development.
So, you won’t get an action-packed story like the one you see in the plot-driven sports anime.
And with not much going around, the story itself may feel blunt to some people. There will always be drama. But you don’t consider the drama to be a do-or-die situation.
Just take a look at Free! and also Free! Dive to the Future. Does the tournament scene feel like a battlefield to you?
That was the most relaxing sports scene I’ve ever watched if you ask me.
The origin of Free!
For those who don’t know, the anime Free! itself is loosely adapted from the light novel called High Speed!.
Rather than turning High Speed! as a series, we get Free! instead where the story takes place when Haru enters the high school.
Strangely enough, the light novel itself follows the literary fiction style of writing. So, it’s not surprising at all that Free! anime follows more or less the same narrative as the light novel.
This brings me to another question. Why does the sports light novel need to begin with a character who is in the middle school?
High Speed isn’t the only sports light novel with the characters who are in the middle school. Even Battery also has a main character who is the middle school.
I guess that it must be an industry standard that any sports light novel must begin with a character who is in the middle school.
But my sports novel, Twisted Destiny, doesn’t fit the mold at all. For one, the story itself is plot-driven just like reading Slam Dunk in the word form.
And not to mention, the main character, Takumi Ichirou is a high-schooler.
What a nice way to break the mold.
Can you guess what kind of sports anime is Free! Dive to the Future?
From the get-go, it’s clear that Free! and also the new Free! anime, Free! Dive to the Future is none other than the character-driven sports anime.
After all, the story revolves a lot more on the characters rather than the tournament itself.
If you’ve been following the story, you already realize that the story tends to focus quite a lot on Haru’s character development and the people around him.
There are some people who will enjoy this kind of storyline because of how drama-centric some parts of the story are.
But there some people who won’t enjoy this kind of anime for the same reason. This kind of drama-centric plot will only bore them to death.
As for me, I do enjoy watching Free! and also Free! Dive to the Future. But I won’t deny that Free! isn’t as enjoyable as watching plot-driven sports anime like Yowamushi Pedal, Ace of Diamond, Haikyuu!! and Kuroko no Basket.
If I ever want to recommend people to give sports anime a try, I won’t recommend them to watch Free!. It’s not because the story sucks.
It’s because an anime like this will give them the wrong impression about sports anime.
As someone who loves sports anime, that’s the last thing I want people to feel about it.