Are you all ready for the end of an era? Everybody’s favorite swimming anime has an end date as the Free final chapter release dates have finally been announced.
In honor of the franchise’s 8th anniversary, Kyoto Animation livestreamed a video early this morning that revealed the featured image, title, and premiere dates of the Free final chapter – a two-part film project that will showcase Haru’s trip to the world stage. The last news we had about the film was last August, when they released a new teaser image and promotional video with a message of “see you in 2021”. Now we know that Free! The Final Stroke will be not one movie but two, with part 1 premiering in Japan on September 17, 2021, and part 2 on April 22, 2022.
The project was originally slated to premiere last year, to coincide with the 2020 Olympics. Its future was in doubt not only because of the worldwide pandemic that threw 2020 into a tailspin, delaying the Olympics one year and putting a lot of film projects in purgatory, but also because of the awful arson at the KyoAni studios in 2019, which killed dozens of people and devastated the anime community.
The PV that was released last year showed Haru, Rin, and Ikuya all wearing the jackets for the Japanese national swim team, so it’s reasonable to assume that all three of them will be featured in Free! The Final Stroke, though apparently right now, only Nobunaga Shimazaki (Haru) is confirmed to return. Eisaku Kawanami will also return to direct.
The new PV that dropped today doesn’t give us anything new, other than the image of Haru standing in the team jacket, and instead consists mostly of clips from the previous seasons and films. Still, I’d like to think that we’ll see everyone again, as surely all of their friends will want to show up to support Haru, Rin, and Ikuya as they strive for Olympic gold.
Given the focus on Haru and Rin and their rivalry, I’ve no doubt that we’ll finally get to see the culmination. In the last episode of season 3, during which Haru and the others were swimming in the Olympic trials, we only got to hear a commentator relay their race over the television, and we never learned the results.
Regardless, in just a few months, it’s the beginning of the end. Free! was one of the first anime that I truly fell in love with, and I’ll be sad to see it end. But I’m excited to see the Iwatobi boys one more time, and to see Haru and Rin take their rivalry to the world stage.
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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