Characters that made my year – Ryugazaki Rei (The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Six)
Yay Swimming Anime! Free! may have had plenty of problems (mainly Rin’s temper tantrums) but it was still great to get such a pretty, consistently well animated fujoshi-bait show – they are a fairly rare thing (although on the rise in recent years). Free! was KyoAni moving out to milk cash from new demographics – by turning out exactly the same show it usually produces, except with filled with the chiselled abs of bishies rather than shapeless moe-blobs. Although at least they delivered some wonderfully animated swimming rather than endless tea parties with this series.
My favourite character (rather predictably really) was the megane bishie Rei. Rei was my favourite from the fecking promo art – because I am just that shallow. However I was pleased that Rei turned out to be a rather interesting character to watch in show as well. From Nagisa’s relentless stalking and pestering of him to defect from track & field to swimming, to Rei’s obsession with the beauty of sports & singleminded determination to be the best at whatever he decides to do; Rei brought levity and humour to the show. I got annoyed that Rin’s angsty bitchiness started infecting the series, and that he ultimately usurped Rei’s hard won place on the relay team, because really Rei deserved better.
My favourite episode was Detective Rei-chan in the 9th episode, because that was just pure Rei – being so committed to his task even if it takes him away from the other three members of the team.