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Free! The Final Stroke Part 2 - What We Know So Far

There's no doubt about it. "Free!" is one of the most important anime in the history of the medium. Ranked as the third best sports anime of all time by CBR, and maintaining a high level of popularity since the swimming-centric series debuted in 2013, "Free!" is one of the most long-lasting and successful sports anime of all time. However, it seems as if that long journey is coming to a close. The series' animation studio, Kyoto Animation, has announced two new movies in the franchise, and they are scheduled to be the last.

If you've kept your finger on the "Free!" pulse, then you probably already know that the first of these films, "Free! Final Stroke part 1" already released in September. This leaves just one film until the franchise dedicated to competitive swimming comes to a close. Unfortunately, Kyoto Animation hasn't revealed much regarding this film's plot, though the same can not be said for its release date and cast. With all of that in mind, here is what we know so far about "Free! The Final Stroke part 2."

What is the release date for Free! The Final Stroke part 2?

The world has known about "Free! The Final Stroke" for a good while now. According to Anime News Network, Kyoto Animation revealed the two-part film project along with specific release dates back in April. Unlike many other anime (and media in general), there was no secret as to when "The Final Stroke part 2" would debut. The release date has always been set for April 22, 2022.

Before you jump up and down for joy, however, there are some caveats to this release date. While it is exciting that the final entry in the "Free!" saga is coming in less than a year, that excitement is dampened knowing that April 22 is only the theatrical release date in Japan. Additionally, the fact that part 1 of the "Final Stroke" released September 17 with no immediate localization efforts pretty much ensures that Western fans of "Free!" will have to wait to see how this landmark sports anime comes to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, Kyoto Animation hasn't revealed when "The Final Stroke" might cross the Pacific to reach the rest of the wider world. However, it is likely to occur sometime within a year after the films come out. That being said, anime fans have never been especially patient when it comes to these things, and it wouldn't be surprising if the films appeared (illegally, of course) somewhere on the internet long before an official Western release.

What characters will be in Free! The Final Stroke part 2?

Though we don't know much about the plot of "The Final Stroke," fans can still expect to see all of the regular characters from the "Free!" franchise. The most important of these characters is, of course, protagonist Haruka Nanase, played by Nobunaga Shimazaki in Japanese and Todd Haberkorn in English (via Myanimelist). Haruka has been at the center of "Free!" from the very beginning, always pursuing his dream of becoming a professional swimmer.

Luckily, he is never alone in his pursuit, and always has companions to support him. This includes his main rival, Rin Matsuoka (Mamoru Miyano and Vic Mignogna). The importance of rivals in sports anime cannot be understated, but equally as important are the people Haruka isn't trying to beat all the time. Characters like Nagisa Hazuki (Tsubasa Yonaga and Greg Ayres), Makoto Tachibana (Tatsuhisa Suzuki and Johnny Young Bosch), and Rei Ryugazaki (Daisuke Hirakawa and J. Michael Tatum) all hold a special place as members of Haruka's high school team prior to his graduation, and they will all likely make an appearance in "The Final Stroke part 2."

What is the plot of Free! The Final Stroke part 2?

Unfortunately, the actual plot of "The Final Stroke part 2" is the biggest mystery surrounding the film. The movie's tagline, "Let's go, to the stage of glory!" indicates that Haruka and his friends are moving towards something big. What that thing is, however, has been kept under tight security.

Because the film was originally planned to debut alongside the original 2020 Olympics, but was delayed after an arson attack on the studio (via Crunchyroll), that "stage of glory" referenced by the tagline may very well be the Olympics. If so, that would be a monumental event for the characters of "Free!" However, it is merely speculation.

Regardless of what "The Final Stroke" is about, it's certain to cover Haruka's final ascent to becoming a global competitor in swimming. The character has chased that dream for almost eight years now, and it would be a shame for the saga to wrap up without seeing Haruka get the recognition he deserves as an athlete.