US Distributor: Funimation
Production Studio: Kyoto Animation
Was this provided by the publisher? No
More Info: Anime Planet

Free Take Your Marks Anime VisualFree! Take Your Marks is the third film in Kyoto Animation’s well-established Free! anime franchise. Because of this, I won’t spend too much time talking about the title’s cast members or plot. Instead, I’ll be focusing solely on what the fanbase is here to see.

I mean, let’s face it: if you’re reading this, then I’m assuming that you’re here for the ABS! Er… I mean the deep character development and gripping sports rivalries!

Before I get far ahead of myself, though, I want to give a quick warning that this review will be a bit different from the norm. Unlike my the typical situation, where I watch a show in the comfort of my living room, I caught this one in a darkened theater that was packed with fellow Free! fans. Because of this, I’ll also be doing my best to capture the general feelings of the folks I saw the film with.

With that said, lets snap those goggles back! It’s time to take your marks and get ready to splash free.

Free! Take Your Marks is a compilation of several smaller stories, which cover important topics such as

  • What happens when the third year swim team members graduate?
  • What does this mean for their respective swim clubs?
  • How will their current friendships change?
  • Where will they live?
  • Who can drive a car now?
  • Which ship is seems to be getting closer to its final form?

You know, the important questions that I’m sure the fan base has thought a lot about since Free! Eternal Summer first aired in 2014.

The film spends the majority of its time focusing on the way relationships change and grow over time. Rather than casting too harsh a light on how adulthood will separate the members of the Iwatobi Swim Club team, it instead attempts to celebrate the time they’ve spent together. It’s a light hearted approach, which works well for Free! And, for the most part, the film feels like a giant send-off party for the cast and thank you to its fanbase. The characters even provided a photo op at the beginning of the film!

From my position in the theater, it’s clear that this was appreciated. There were several in the crowd who could not contain how happy this film made them. Laughter and excitement where obvious on the faces of the other moviegoers, whether they were giggling at a scene that could be taken out of context or cheering for their favorite swimmers.

Free! Take Your Marks spends so much time on answering those it’s core questions that there really isn’t much time remaining for plot development. For some viewers, this will leave a sour taste in their mouths, as they realize that they paid for little more than a 90-minute epilogue. Personally, though, I don’t feel disappointed in the least. I received exactly what I hoped the film would provide: light and easy entertainment that wraps up a few remaining loose ends that remained at the end of the second season.

Overall, Free! Take Your Marks was a fun experience, which provided a meaningful resolution to the anime’s main story. It’s a chance to take that one last, carefree lap around the pool before moving on to those bigger and better things that await on the horizon.