The internet is a powerful thing. More and more recently, we’ve seen fans come together online to make improbable things happen, and it seems like the trend is only gaining momentum. Today, for example, they willed an anime into existence.
Back in March, the Japanese animation studio Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), famous for series likes The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Lucky Star and K-on!, released a 30 second commercial to show off their animation skills. The commercial was styled as a promo for an anime about four glistening, young, male swimmers. Despite the fact that it wasn’t an actual promo for an actual anime, the internet promptly exploded and Swimming Anime was born.
As soon as the commercial aired, fans took to the internet and whipped up names for the characters, personalities and character types based on tried and true anime clichés (the prodigal, serious main character, the adorable shota boy, the cocky playboy and the kindhearted senpai). They churned out beautiful fanart, chapters of fanfiction, pages of role play and all the meta you could ever want to read. All from 30 seconds of footage. They dubbed their creation Swimming Anime for its standard high school sports genre feel and have been actively pressing for Kyoto Animation to recognize the phenomenon they inadvertently sparked and do something about it.
And they did.
Today it was announced by Kyoto Animation that Swimming Anime has officially been turned into a real anime. The studio has evidently decided to tap into the hype and give the fans what they want.
Swimming Anime has been officially named Free! and centers around five young men (they threw an extra one in as a bonus!) who are involved in the competitive world of swimming. KyoAni has hired five well known seiyuu to do the voice work and the character designs and preliminary animation looks top notch.
Amusingly enough, the preliminary personalities of the four previously-existing boys closely match their fan made descriptions.
You have Nanase Haruka (Shimazaki Nobunaga), the cool, attractive leader.
Tachibana Makoto (Suzuku Tatsuhisa), the pleasant “big brother” type.
Hazuki Nagisa (Yonaga Tsubasa), the energetic, baby-faced kohai.
Ryugazaki Rei (Hirakawa Daisuke), the stoic newcomer.
And Matsuoka Rin (Miyano Mamoru), the fiery rival character.
It could have been KyoAni’s intentions to make this anime the entire time, but I’m sure they didn’t expect that their 30 second ad would cause such a sensation. We’ll just have to wait and see if the real thing can live up to the fan made expectations. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Free! will make a splash (see what I did there?) when it airs in July.
But let’s face it, we’re all still gonna call it Swimming Anime.
Images and properties copyright Kyoto Animation
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