Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

Free! is a popular anime that is seemingly designed to cater to the fans of the male-to-male anime genre because of how attractive and well-chiseled its male characters are. However, there are more things than just chiseled male physiques in this anime because it is actually a pretty good show that gives you a different perspective on life.

While most anime series usually just release the episodes and seasons in chronological order, the thing about Free! is that it isn’t exactly arranged chronologically when it came to when the episodes and the movies were released. As such, we are here to give you the complete watch order of Free! so that it would be easier for you to understand.

How Many Seasons And Episodes Does Free! Anime Have?

Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

Free! is one of the anime series that is quite popular among certain circles in the anime world because of how it caters to a specific type of market. While Free! may be a sports anime that belongs to a genre that is quite beloved in the anime industry, the thing you need to know about this anime is that it caters more to male-loving anime watchers.

After all, Free! does have a host of attractive male characters with chiseled physiques. On top of that, the romance between the male characters is hinted at in this anime, although it never happens.

While Free! may be an anime with a niche market and isn’t something that is entirely going to be entertaining to watch for any kind of anime lover out there, it still is a pretty deep series that will give you a different perspective on life, especially if you try to dissect the anime well enough.

And that is why Free! has so many seasons and episodes in an industry that can be tough to anime series that don’t cater to everyone’s tastes.

That said, how many seasons and episodes does Free! have? Right now, there are three seasons of the Free! anime. The first season has 12 episodes, while the second season has 13 episodes plus an OVA (original video animation). Meanwhile, the third season has 12 episodes.

For you to get a better picture of what this anime is about, let’s look at each season’s synopsis.

Free!: Iwatobi Swim Club

Free!: Iwatobi Swim Club is the first season of the Free! anime. It consisted of a total of 12 episodes and was released in 2013.

The first season of Free! explores Haruka Nanase, who loves water and has a passion for swimming. Ever since he was in elementary school, he was a competitive swimmer and went on to win a relay race with his friends Rin Matsuoka, Nagisa Hazuki, and Makoto Tachibana. However, the four friends went their separate ways after that victory.

It was in high school that the four friends finally reunited, but the problem is that Rin isn’t interested in going back to the way things were when they were competing together. He attends a different school and is now more focused on proving that he is better than Haruka as a swimmer.

Despite not having Rin in the mix, Haruka, Nagisa, and Makoto decide to form the Iwatobi High School Swim Club. As they needed a fourth member to join the upcoming tournament, Rei Ryuugazaki, a former member of the track team, decided to join them. The four develop a close bond with one another as they train together for the upcoming tournament. 

Free!: Eternal Summer

Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

Free!: Eternal Summer is the second season of the Free! anime and follows where things left off in the first season. It premiered in 2014, one year after the release of the first season.

In the chronological timeline of events, Eternal Summer happens a year after the Iwatobi High School Swim Club was formed. However, new members were yet to join the club, and how it is up to Haruka Nanase and Makoto Tachibana, the senior members of the club, to find a way to attract new members with the help of their younger friends Nagisa Hazuki and Rei Ryuugazaki. If not, the club will be forced to close the next year due to the lack of members.

While the club members are looking for new recruits, graduation is looming for the club’s senior members, and they are also deciding what they want to do for the future. Unlike their friend Rin Matsuoka, who has decided that he would pursue a career as a professional swimmer, Haruka and Makoto are still undecided about what they want to pursue in their own futures.

On top of that, another problem arises when Sousuke Yamazaki, an old friend of Rin’s, studies in the same school that Rin attends. This swimmer’s arrival causes tensions between the different main characters of the story.

Free!: Dive to the Future

Free!: Dive to the Future is the third and the latest season of Free!, and it premiered in 2018, four years after the release of Eternal Summer.

In this season, the senior members of the Swim Club have already graduated and are ready to take on the futures that they have decided for themselves.

Haruka, who is now studying at Hidaka University in Tokyo, runs into Shiina Asahi, who used to be a teammate of his back when he was in middle school. However, this led to the troublesome years he had with his middle school team to resurface, as Haruka is forced to relive the memories of why he decided to quit the team back then.

Despite that, Haruka reconnects with his other middle school classmates and teammates, except for Ikuya Kirishima, who still hates him for quitting the team, which eventually causes the team to disband. Haruka now seeks to resolve and improve his relationship with Ikuya. He then realizes that this would be a tough task to do so, as this isn’t the only obstacle in his way.

Now in college, Haruka now has to work harder than ever because he realizes that the challenges ahead of him and the competition in front are now better than they ever were. He now has to become better than he was in high school if he wants to compete at the international level.

How Many Free! Movies Are There?

Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

While there may only be three seasons of Free!, what you need to know is that there are several movies that are all part of the main timeline. The seasons follow a chronological timeline, but the movies happen somewhere in between or before the different seasons. This is why we are here to talk more about the many Free! movies that you can watch.

Free!: Starting Days (2015)

High☆Speed!: Free!: Starting Days or Free!: Starting Days, for short, gives us a look at the literal starting days of what would soon become the Iwatobi Swim Club. Of course, it not only focuses on the main characters but their fellow competitors as well.

In this movie, we see Haruka Nanase and Makoto Tachibana starting middle school and are forced to adjust to the difficulties that are sure to come as they grow up. Makoto fits in well with his classmates and is still very positive about his career as a swimmer. On the other hand, Haruka struggles to make friends or even join his school’s swim club because of the fact that he had previous issues with swimming.

Haruka decides to distance himself from his classmates and the swimming club and has difficulties in deciding which club to join. However, an argument forces him to join the swimming club, and he and his friends decide to work hard to hone their skills and learn each other’s styles as they all discover themselves in the process.

Free! Movie 1: Timeless Medley – Kizuna (2017)

In Timeless Medley – Kizuna, Haruka, and Rin had already reconciled with one another following the events that happened in the first season of Free!, as the two re-establish their friendship and are once again determined to compete against one another. Haruka, along with Makoto, Rei, and Nagisa, is now preparing for their upcoming tournaments as a team so that they can achieve victory together. Meanwhile, Rin decides to do the same in his own school.

Moreover, because the seniors are nearing graduation, Rin had already decided to become a pro. On the other hand, Haruka and Makoto are still unsure about what they want to do in the future and are pressured to choose their own paths.

Free! Movie 2: Timeless Medley – Yakusoku (2017)

In Timeless Medley – Yakusoku, Rin’s childhood friend, Sousuke Yamazaki, has transferred to the same school as his. The two reunite and reminisce about their childhood days swimming together. The childhood friends decide that they want to swim together once more.

Meanwhile, Rin, Sousuke, Aiichirou, and Captain Mikoshiba’s younger brother Momotarou form the school’s own relay team, as the friendship between the teammates grows. However, Rin notices that there is something wrong with Sousuke, as he realizes that his childhood friend seems bothered. Rin now seeks to uncover what is holding his friend back so that they can once again race together with no regrets.

Free!: Take Your Marks (2017)

Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

Free!: Take Your Marks happens right between the second and third seasons of Free!. What happens here is that the seniors are playing out their final summer together. As such, the movie shows us four different stories.

Unmei no Choice! Follows the recently graduated Haruka Nanase and Makoto Tachibana searching for a new apartment for Haruka as he settles in his new school in Tokyo.

Hitou no Cooling Down! follows Aiichiro Nitori as he chooses a graduation gift for Rin Matsuoka and Sousuke Yamazaki. Meanwhile, Momotaro Mikoshiba wins tickets to the Anago Hot Springs. He decides to invite Rin and Sousuke over to the hot springs. 

Kessoku no Batafurai! follows Rei, Nagisa, and Gou, who are now creating a recruitment video so that they can attract new members to the swim club following the graduation of their senior members.

Finally, Tabidachi no Etanaru Buru! follows the Iwatobi and Samezuka swim teams’ plans for Rin’s surprise going-away party, as the talented swimmer is on his way to Australia for his future as a competitive swimmer.

Free! Movie 3: Road to the World – Yume (2019)

Free! Movie 3: Road to the World – Yume is simply a quick recap of the things that happened during the first three seasons of Free!, while showing entirely new scenes as well. You can skip this part if you have seen the first three seasons already, but it should still be a joy to watch if you want to remember what happened.

Free!: The Final Stroke – The First Volume (2021)

Free!: The Final Stroke – The First Volume is the first part of a two-part Free! movie that is set to be the finale of the entire story.

In this movie, Haruka Nanase is set to go to Sydney, which is the place of his dreams. But before he departs for Sydney, Haruka bumps into a fellow athlete from the All-Japan Invitational.

After that, an emotional Haruka carries all the feelings he has for swimming in his heart and decides to take the first step to Sydney, which is the place where the champion named Albert Volandel is waiting for him.

For Haruka, competing against the champion was his dream, but he now attempts to boost his morale as a way to make sure that he is ready to compete at the highest level against one of the best swimmers the world has to offer.

Free!: The Final Stroke – Kouhen (2022)

Free!: The Final Stroke – Kouhen is the second part of this two-part movie. Not much has been revealed about this film. However, it is set to be released in Japan in April of 2022.

Free! Anime Watch Order

Free! Anime Watch Order: The Complete Episode Guide

Now that you know more about the different Free! seasons and movies, you might want to binge all of them. However, what you should know is that there is a chronological order that you may want to follow if you want to keep up with the story from start to finish.

Free!: Starting Days

While Starting Days was released after the second season of Free!, it should still be a delight to start with this because it explores the main characters’ early days before they went to high school.

Season 1: Free!

After Starting Days, that is when you should be watching season 1 of Free!, as it explores the beginning of the Iwatobi High School Swim Club.

Free! Movie 1: Timeless Medley – Kizuna

Timeless Medley – Kizuna is basically a movie about how Haruka and Rin reconciled as friends and how the senior members are now looking to find their own respective paths for the future.

Season 2: Free! Eternal Summer

Season 2 of Free! is basically the combination of Kizuna and Yakusoku, as it explores the senior members’ own decisions for their future while looking at Rin’s side of things when a childhood friend joins his high school’s swim club.

Free! Movie 2: Timeless Medley – Yakusoku

Timeless Medley – Yakusoku focuses on Rin as the main character, as he reunites with an old friend, who seems to be troubled and has some problems that are holding back his swimming.

Free!: Take Your Marks

Free!: Take Your Marks happens right between the second and third seasons of Free and follows the different stories that happen to the main characters right before Dive to the Future.

Season 3: Free!: Dive to the Future

Of course, Dive to the Future explores the main characters following the graduation of the senior members from high school. It also focuses on Haruka’s college life and how he has to become better in a playing field that is more competitive than it ever was.

Free! Movie 3: Road to the World – Yume

Road to the World – Yume is a quick recap of all of the events that happened in the first three seasons of Free!

Free!: The Final Stroke

Free!: The Final Stroke is set to become the finale of the entire Free! series.

  • Hrvoje Milakovic

    Hrvoje, based in Osijek, Croatia, with a Master's degree from the Zagreb University of Applied Sciences, is a co-founder of Incomera, a media company that has launched several entertainment sites including Fiction Horizon, Game Horizon, and Anime Horizon. He is also a co-owner of...