Kyoto Animation’s new anime FREE! has been one of the most polarizing recent subjects in the otaku universe. On one end, internet fujoshi have been drawing fanart, writing fanfiction, and otherwise absolutely losing their minds over Kyoani’s intimately animated, beautiful swimming boys since FREE! was nothing more than an untitled commercial for the studio. On the other, Kyoani has traditionally animated only beautiful girls with the same level of meticulous polish in titles like K-On and Clannad. As such, many moe otaku feel angry and betrayed over Kyoani’s attempt to do for female otaku what has been done for them exclusively for so many years. Otaku do have a flair for the melodramatic and theatrical, don’t they? Remember otaku burning copies of Kannagi? Oh, and as late as this week when otaku burned their copies of Oreimo?
Well, guys, put those matches and knives away and leave your mint condition $800 Clannad Blu-Ray collection on the shelf, because the official website has stated loud and proud that dammit, there will be girls in FREE!. Gou Matsuoka (Akeno Watanabe) is the little sister of bad-boy type Rin (note all the guys have girl names, and the little sister has a guy name). Hmm. Miho Amakata (Satsuki Yukino) is the homeroom teacher of two of the boys.
Now, let’s not get it twisted here: I sincerely doubt that this means FREE! will change formats and become a documentary about an adoring little sister and a classy older lady going out for tea and cake. But it can’t be overlooked that Kyoto Animation has revealed two very established male-directed moe character types to go along with a series already packed with guys specifically designed to set off the boy-love radar of the fujoshi. Sure, call them pandering: you won’t be the first. But don’t you dare say Kyoto Animation doesn’t play it smart.