Will the Free! Season 4 anime TV series allow the boys of the Iwatobi Swim Club to see their 2021 Olympic dreams take flight in the water?
The Free! 2021 movie release date has finally been announced! And it seems like the two-part Free! The Final Stroke movie could provide an ending to the entire story.
Years after the last season, Kyoto Animation brought the 2018 Free! Dive to the Future anime to our TV screens. Thankfully, Episode 12 of the third season made it plainly clear that there is more to the story by proclaiming, “See you in 2020!”
It turns out the “Road To 2021” was paved by a 2019 compilation film based on the story events of Free! Season 3: Dive To The Future. The new film extended the “reconstruction” of the story by offering a “new episode” according to an official teaser video released in January 2019.
Titled Free! Road to the World – the Dream, the release date for the recap movie occurred on July 5, 2019.
The bad news is that the 2020 Summer Olympics was postponed due to the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus pandemic. Worse, the KyoAni arson attack caused the Free! 2020 anime movie, as it was originally called, to be postponed for an entire year.
Besides delaying the Free! 2020 movie, the attack on KyoAni caused the company to delay the Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Season 2 anime. It wasn’t until August 2020 that Kyoto Animation announced that Dragon Maid Season 2 would be coming out in 2021.
The Violet Evergarden movie release date was initially scheduled for January 2020, but the film was pushed back to September 2020.
For a complete list of the Kyoto Animation fire victims, please see the article by Crunchyroll.
The good news is that a direct Free! 2021 movie sequel with an original story will be released during the time frame of the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics begins on July 23, 2021, and ends on August 8, 2021.
In August 2020, Kyoto Animation released a new teaser trailer stating, “Haruka Nanase: his challenge on the world begins….”
The exact title for the Free! 2021 movie was announced in April 2021 as Free! The Final Stroke along with a new trailer video. One of the earlier teaser visuals showed one of the characters.
The director and the rest of the staff at Kyoto Animation released a message stating that they are working hard to produce a movie that meets the expectations of anime fans.
The Free! The Final Stroke movie will feature returning director Eisaku Kawanami.
As for the Japanese cast, it’s been confirmed that voice actor Nobunaga Shimazaki will return to play Haruka Nanase.
Updated April 27, 2021: Free! The Final Stroke release date confirmed! Adjusted Free! Season 4 analysis.
Updated August 17, 2020: Added news of Free! 2021 and other KyoAni developments.
Updated January 14, 2019: Added 2020 movie announcement, 2019 recap film, teaser video, and key visual.
This article provides everything that is known about Free! Season 4 and all related news. As such, this article will be updated over time with news, rumors, and analysis. Meanwhile, let’s delve down into what is known for certain.
The future of the Free! Iwatobi Swim Club anime
The Free! Iwatobi Swim Club anime was originally based on light novels written by Koji Oji. In 2011, the author received an honorable mention in the Kyoto Animation Award contest. Published back in 2013, there were only two novels and a book sequel was never written.
That did not stop the anime studio, which is well known for expanding on the premise of a book and creating rich anime-original stories (Violet Evergarden Season 2 is very likely for this very reason).
Kyoto Animation followed up the first 2013 season with the 2014 Free! Eternal Summer. If you haven’t already watched the first two seasons, you should watch Free! Timeless Medley since the two-part movie series is simply a compilation of the first two seasons.
The 2017 movie Free! Take Your Marks! told four original stories set in early spring. It’s designed to lead up to the events of Free! Dive to the Future, the third season.
More of a slice of life anime, it told the story of Haruka and Makoto’s high school graduation. Rin continued his training in Australia while everyone else was trying to figure out what to do with their futures.
So far, the third season has left plenty of room for Free! Season 4. The boys are reuniting in college and dealing with lingering fears from middle school.
New members are being added to the Iwatobi swim team. The third season is more about setting up their future rather than meeting it head-on, so it appears anime fans might look forward to Olympic swimming with the new Free! movie.
The only question mark is whether the new film will set up Free! Season 4 to end the story or if it’ll dive right in to the meat of the plot. The tagline for the Free! The Final Stroke movie states, “Let’s go, to the stage of glory,” which seems to be teasing the boys diving into a Tokyo Olympics future.
Similar to how the 2017 movie Free! Take Your Marks! lead up to the events of Free! Season 3: Dive To The Future, the Free! 2021 movie could have set up the conditions for Free! Season 4. But that does not seem to be the plan at this point.
Instead, the movie description describes the Free! The Final Stroke movie as the “final chapter” in the anime series, which probably means that there won’t be a Free! Season 4 anime TV series as an ending to the Iwatobi Swim Club anime.
Free! Season 4 release date – Can history be a guide to the future?
As of the last update, Kyoto Animation or any company related to the production of the anime has not officially confirmed the Free! Season 4 release date. Nor has the production of a TV anime sequel been announced.
Once the news is officially confirmed this article will be updated with the relevant information.
In the meantime, it’s possible to speculate about when, or if, the Free! Season 4 premiere date will occur in the future.
As previously mentioned, based on the way the Free! 2021 movie is being advertised it seems very unlikely that a fourth season will be produced. After all, the Tokyo Olympics is the biggest stage the swim team can possibly stand on.
On the other hand, Kyoto Animation may decide to return to the franchise to show what happened to the boys after they achieved their dreams. If that’s the case, the ending of the film may tease a future beyond Free! The Final Stroke Part 2.
Starting with the first season, Kyoto Animation started teasing fans about what to expect. The end card proclaimed, “See You Next Summer,” and sure enough the second season was about a summer.
That season ended with a with Rin and Haruka on the world stage and the words, “For the Future,” and the third season included the word “future” in the title. Similarly, the most recent film, the movie Free! Take Your Marks!, ended with the message “See You Next Stage.”
The older video trailers for the new movie reference “Free! Road To 2020” so it seems Kyoto Animation is trying to capitalize on the timing of the 2020 Summer Olympics in real life. If they plan on making a continuation, the ending of the new film will likely reference the next development in the story.
Perhaps Free! Season 4 will be about the road beyond Olympic glory? Let’s just hope the wait for the fourth season is not too long. Stay tuned!