Free! is a Japanese anime television series directed by Hiroko Utsumi and produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do. The anime is based on the light novel written by Kōji Ōji, High Speed! (ハイ☆スピード! Hai Supīdo!?), which received an honorable mention in the second Kyoto Animation Award contest in 2011 and was later published in July 2013. The first season, titled Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club for international distribution, aired in Japan between July and September 2013, and the second season, titled Free! - Eternal Summer, aired between July and September 2014. An animated film, High Speed! - Free! Starting Days, was released on December 5, 2015.
Iwatobi High School
Haruka Nanase (七瀬 遙 Nanase Haruka?)
Voiced by: Nobunaga Shimazaki (Japanese); Todd Haberkorn
Haruka is a second year high school student who loves swimming and being in the water. He is a strong and quiet person who displays limited facial expressions, and has a hard time communicating his feelings. His style captivates many and he has a strong fixation towards freestyle swimming. His love for water is so strong that he often strips down to his swimsuit at the sight of water and even considers encountering a waterfall to be a romantic experience. Due to his girlish name, he is often mistaken for a girl, so he is usually called Haru. After his first year in middle school, he quit competitive swimming after hurting Rin's feelings by beating him in a race, but Haruka regains his passion after racing Rin again when they reunite.
Makoto Tachibana (橘 真琴 Tachibana Makoto?)
Voiced by: Tatsuhisa Suzuki (Japanese); Johnny Yong Bosch
Makoto is Haruka's best friend, also a second year student and in the same class as Haruka. Unlike Haruka, he is more outgoing and often speaks up for Haruka. He is nice and considerate to others, putting others before himself. However, he is weak-hearted and gets scared easily (particularly Nagisa teases Makoto by scaring him). He developed a fear of the ocean due to a traumatic incident in which an old fisherman, whom Makoto greatly idolized, drowned in a typhoon alongside many others. He is captain of the swim club. His specialty is the backstroke.
Nagisa Hazuki (葉月 渚 Hazuki Nagisa?)
Voiced by: Tsubasa Yonaga (Japanese); Greg Ayres
Nagisa is a first year student who also goes to Iwatobi High School. He is very spirited and not afraid to speak his mind. He has admired Haruka's swimming since elementary school and enrolls at his high school hoping to swim with him again. He comes up with the idea to start the swim club at Iwatobi High School and is treasurer for the club. He has a strange fascination towards the school's mascot, Iwatobi-chan. His specialty is the breaststroke.
Rei Ryugazaki (竜ヶ崎 怜 Ryūgazaki Rei?)
Voiced by: Daisuke Hirakawa (Japanese); J. Michael Tatum
Rei is Nagisa's classmate and also a first year at Iwatobi High School. He is handsome and intelligent, but is often manipulated by Nagisa for some reason. He is heavily attracted to all things beautiful, both tangible and non-tangible, and will do everything in his power to avoid things he claims "unattractive". He used to be on the track team. He refuses several times to join the swim club, because he did not think swimming was beautiful enough. He joins the swim club because he admires Haruka's beautiful freestyle swimming. At first, he is unable to swim, but with some help from Haruka, he manages to learn. Out of all the swimming styles, Rei could only do the butterfly. In Free! Eternal Summer, Rin teaches Rei to swim the other three swimming styles.
Gou Matsuoka (松岡 江 Matsuoka Gō?)
Voiced by: Akeno Watanabe (Japanese); Jamie Marchi
Gou is Rin's younger sister. She is a first year at Iwatobi High School. She prefers to be known by the more typical reading of her name, "Kou", due to Gou being a boyish name, though she eventually gives up, mostly due to Nagisa insistently calling her Gou. She joins the swim club as the manager, in hopes that she can help change Rin back to his old self. She is very organized and determined, even going as far as using calligraphy to create a 60+ page calendar to increase the pressure on training. She has a muscle fetish (even if it is her own brother), and tends to blush around men when admiring their muscles.
Miho Amakata (天方 美帆 Amakata Miho?)
Voiced by: Satsuki Yukino (Japanese); Caitlin Glass
Miho is Haruka and Makoto's homeroom teacher. She teaches classic literature. The students nicknamed her Ama-chan. Rumors among Iwatobi students suggest that she had gone to Tokyo to pursue her dream of being in a swimsuit company, but failed and became a teacher instead. Although she has a quirky and upbeat personality, sometimes she uses old, confusing literature phrases to make a point. She becomes the faculty advisor for the swim club after Nagisa finds out her work in Tokyo involved swimsuits. It is revealed she was once a swimsuit model working under the name of "Marin-chan". She appears to loathe her days as a model, and takes extreme measures to hide her previous career. When in conversation, she will emit evil auras if she feels the subject is going dangerously close to her modeling days.
Rin Matsuoka (松岡 凛 Matsuoka Rin?)
Voiced by: Mamoru Miyano (Japanese); Vic Mignogna
Rin is Haruka's rival. He transferred from Sano Elementary School to Iwatobi Elementary School so he could join the swim club with Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa, leading them to victory in the relay. His father had won the same competition and dreamed of becoming an Olympic swimmer but died in a typhoon. Rin went abroad to an Australian swimming middle school but experienced difficulties training and suffered a tough loss in a race against Haruka during his first winter vacation. His personality has changed by the time he comes back to Japan, estranged from his former teammates and enrolling in Samezuka Academy but not joining their swim team until his reunion with Haruka. Rin's conflicted feelings lead to him failing his individual events and he considers quitting swimming. Instead, he swims in a relay with Haruka, Makoto and Nagisa again and decides to follow his own dream. By the beginning of the second season, Rin has become Samezuka's swim team captain and is friendly with all the members of the Iwatobi Swim Club, even Rei. Rin is actually better at swimming butterfly, but chooses to focus on freestyle in order to compete with Haruka. Rin seems to be very protective of Gou, especially when Seijuro calls her by her first name and Momotaro coming closer to her.
Sosuke Yamazaki (山崎 宗介 Yamazaki Sōsuke?)
Voiced by: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Japanese); Ian Sinclair
Sosuke is Rin's childhood best friend from Sano Elementary School and is the person who understands Rin the most. He transfers to Samezuka Academy so he can spend his last year of high school swimming with Rin in his hometown. He is also good friends with Gou, since he spend holidays with her and Rin in their elementary days. Having a strong personality, he does not let anything irritate him. He takes a dry and harsh position on swimming toward himself and others around him. He is a very skilled butterfly swimmer, and was ranked in the top 10 in Japan. After Rin left for Australia, he set a goal for himself to one day become a professional swimmer alongside Rin. It's revealed that due to over training in his first year of high school, he severely injured his right shoulder, ruining his chances of ever entering the professional world. He appears in the second season.
Aiichiro Nitori (似鳥 愛一郎 Nitori Aiichirō?)
Voiced by: Kōki Miyata (Japanese); Josh Grelle
Aiichiro is a first year student and member of the Samezuka Academy swimming team, who idolizes Rin very much. He shares a dorm with Rin in the first season, and then Momotaro in the second season. He swims long distance freestyle, but begins to focus more on breaststroke in the second season. At the end of the series, Rin appoints him to be Samezuka's new captain.
Momotaro Mikoshiba (御子柴 百太郎 Mikoshiba Momotarō?)
Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura (Japanese); Jerry Jewell
Momotaro is Seijuro's younger brother and a first year student at Samezuka Academy. Initially he doesn't join the swim team, but does later on at Rin's request. Like his brother, he also has a crush on Gou and is a very enthusiastic person. He is a very skilled backstroke swimmer and was given the nickname "The Sea of Japan's Sea Otter" because of it. He appears in the second season.
Seijuro Mikoshiba (御子柴 清十郎 Mikoshiba Seijūrō?)
Voiced by: Kenjiro Tsuda (Japanese); Robert McCollum
Seijuro is the captain of the Samezuka Academy Swimming Team and a third year student. He seems to have a crush on Gou. He is a very enthusiastic person and a very skilled swimmer.
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