I have been waiting for Free! Take Your Marks for almost a year. When I found out that Funimation would be holding a one-night only screening event in various theaters around the US, I was ecstatic. Ever since this movie came out in Japan last October, I couldn’t wait to see my Iwatobi boys in an all-new adventure. And of course, the reveal at the end of the film that a new season would be coming in summer 2018 got a huge reaction from my theater.
Free! Take Your Marks could not have been a more satisfying film. Told in four separate but interconnected stories, it would have already been a great conclusion to everyone’s story, but it also serves as a great introduction to the upcoming season 3. There was a lot of stuff that was brought up in this film that was both fan service and setting up future plotlines. Aside from Haru and Rin’s competitive swimming futures, there were hints of Makoto’s schooling in Tokyo and Sosuke’s shoulder woes, as well as an indication that we’ll see Rei and Nagisa with new members for the Iwatobi swim club.
Those of you who watched the prequel film High Speed! Free! Starting Days may recognize some of the characters who made cameo appearances. Kisumi, of course, was in season 2, but Asahi, Ikuya, Natsuya, and Nao are all there in some capacity. I won’t reveal how they all fit into the stories, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but based on their scenes, it’s reasonable to assume some or even all of them will show up in season 3.
For all that Free! Take Your Marks was fan service (and it was glorious, glorious fan service – including a canon scene featuring the Iwatobi boys in their outfits from the season 1 ED), it also hit home in a variety of unexpected ways. As the film takes place at the end of Haru and Makoto’s final year of high school, a lot of the film deals with facing the unknown. The movie opens with Makoto having a dream about Haru leaving him behind, and even though the first story deals with Haru’s apartment search, it’s also about the two of them hoping they’ll be able to fit in to their new lives in Tokyo. Rei has a nightmare that no new members join the swim club, and he and Nagisa worry that everything they worked so hard for will end once Haru and Makoto leave. Meanwhile, Sosuke wonders if his decision to give up competitive swimming was the right one.
It was also funny! The humor from the show seemed amplified in the film, although that could have just been the experience of watching it with a crowd. Haru’s deadpan delivery remains a thing of beauty, and Rin being shunned by multiple cats was a sight to behold. But undoubtedly the most laughs were had in the final story; the gang attempts to plan a surprise going away party for Rin, and somehow Rin gets it in his head that Momo and Gou are dating. What follows is a comedy of errors as each character’s understanding of the situation spirals further and further out of control.
Free! Take Your Marks is a must-see for any and all Free! fans. It has all the charm and humor of the anime, and it feels like no time has passed at all. It’s the perfect lead-in to season 3, which I am now doubly excited for. I cannot wait until this summer!
Were any of you guys able to watch Free! Take Your Marks? What did you think?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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