Part one of Free! The Final Stroke—what’s shaping up to be the final act for the boys of the Iwatobi Swim Club—released just a few weeks ago in Japan. While we don’t yet have any word on an English dub or North American release, we can watch the first 11 minutes of the film on Kyoto Animation’s YouTube channel.
While not subbed, there’s a lot that has me even more excited than I already was to watch The Final Stroke when it inevitably makes its way here. The film opens with a flashback to that picture-perfect moment Haru, Rin, Makoto, and Nagisa won their first relay together before jumping to a camera-footage montage of the cast making a video either for or about Haru.
The pool has never looked so good in Free. KyoAni’s CG has gotten better by leaps and bounds in recent years and one particular shot of Haru getting out of the pool really shows it off. Hundreds of tiny drops of water flung off Haru’s hair catch a sunbeam and shine like glitter. But that’s not even emphasized, this is just what they can do now. And so we continue on as Makoto pulls Haru out of the pool like in every opener to a new arc of Free!
Then we get a new look at season 3’s rising antagonist, Kaede Kinjuo, who was apparently childhood friends with… Hiyori? That’s right, and he sure looks angsty about it when they confront each other as adults in the foreboding end to this preview.
But before that, we do get to see all the main cast of boys being themselves and wearing cute costumes at what looks like a school festival. Ikuya is being moody (everything normal on that front), Seijuro is wearing a speedo for some reason while competing in a heated but friendly bake-off with rival university Shimogami’s swim team captain Tsubasa Hoshikawa. Then Rin shows up to butt heads with Ikuya and almost kiss, I swear.
Free! The Final Stroke is directed by series veteran Eisaku Kawanami and was produced by KoyAni and Animation Do. The second part of the final film is expected to release April 22nd, 2022.