Splash Free: KyoAni and Sports Anime
Enough will be written about what Kyoto Animation will be most noted for like Haruhi Suzumiya and K-ON. I’m here to talk about two sports anime, one famous and one not so famous, that KyoAni has did. Both series made an impact on me both as a writer and the beauty of the animation. Let’s talk about the more famous one first.
By now, most anime fans know the story of Free!: Two childhood friends, both swimming prodigies with long term career potential, meet up again in high school after being separated in their childhood and for the most part, engage in rivalry against each other. I had seen K-ON, Haruhi Suzumiya and Air before, but this series was probably the first time that I realized that KyoAni existed and had their own distinct style.
Overall, this show’s an excellent look at how we sometimes can put too much expectations on ourselves, but also that everyone is an individual in their own right, like how Haru’s swimming style is freestyle. Contrary to what everyone says, it’s not yaoi. It’s a franchise that so far has spawned three seasons (the most recent with Haru, Rin and Makoto now in college) and movies as well (including a prequel movie, which gives context to some of the characters that appear in season three, including another childhood member of the same group of friends that Makoto, Rin and Haru belonged to). There is also a new movie that is supposed to come out next year; the trailer was supposed to have dropped Friday. However, understandably ...who knows when it’ll come out now.
Oh, and if anything else, at least watch for the pool/underwater animation. It’s sublime. And the boys themselves are cute.
Tsurune is a series that is about kyudo (aka archery) that falls into the same vein that Free does: a main character who was once a prodigy in his youth, but an event changes them to where they most regain their drive back. For Haru, it’s the hope of reuniting with his childhood best friend so they can swim together again. For Minato, it’s regaining his gift for archery back. An incident back in middle school caused him to quit archery. Years later, when Minato is a high school student, he meets a mysterious man one evening at a shrine/archery range whom inspires Minato to perhaps try archery again after all. Later on, when the advisor of the archery club announces that he’s leaving, the man that Minato met, Masaki Takigawa, becomes the club’s coach. Like all good sports anime, there’s a tournament that reunites Minato with a close friend from middle school.
My favorite scenes where I think this series shines is in the animation where we see shots of arrows trying to hit their target. And the night scenes in the beginning where Minato first comes across Masaki. As someone who was going through a rough time with family, Minato early scenes hit home for me personally. I liked it because I really grew to love the characters, especially Mikaido and Masaki. Watching this during a rough time during my personal life, I sort of related to Minato and how he had suffered from ‘target anxiety’ every time he tried to shoot. I
Sadly, as I write this, three people involved with aspects of production for both Tsurune and the prequel movie for Free(High Speed), have been confirmed as victims of the fire
Rest in peace,and thank you for your work.