Those who venture into the darker internet waters of tumblr may be familiar with a phenomenon known as swimming anime. It was an animation company’s promo clip. The thirty-two second long clip displayed their signature brand of animation, which in my opinion is gorgeous, no matter the subject. Granted the subject was a swim team, so there was an added bonus for my demographic (namely people who find individuals possessing XY chromosomes attractive).
It’s pretty cool, and unsurprisingly it got a (mostly) positive reaction. What’s weird is that people didn’t forget about it. Instead of a passing appreciation for the animation company people grabbed on to the idea and didn’t let go. The four swimmers were granted names, backgrounds, inner angst, relationships and personalities.
It moved past the promo fast. An onslaught of fanart and fanfiction flooded tumblr. The original Promo was joined by some well done AMVs. Soon there was Q&A with the characters, a petition to create a show, and even a DatingSim.
These things happened in the week after the promo aired. Oh the power of fans.
However, as with most good things, there was a backlash to the male-led promo. Kyoto Animation had a loyal following already. To quote ‘The Daily Dot’:
Kyoto Animation, or KyoAni for short, is an anime studio known for its gorgeous animation style and soft-featured female characters, designed to appeal to straight male viewers.
The accusations rolled in. YouTube comments screamed that KyoAni were selling out, that this pandered to gay agendas (wat?) and the usual homophobic reaction leveled at anything daring to show men in the way women are portrayed in anime.
Fans of the promo were not dissuaded of course, the petition grew as did the content on DeviantArt and Tumblr. And then something amazing happened:
A la Joss Whedon’s Serenity, a show was made. Cobbled together from fangirl’s dreams, homo-erotic fanficiton and the signatures of 18,946 fans, Kyoto Animation decided to toss the dice with something new. The website is already up and the show is set to air in July. It’s called Free!
I am excited. Thank you internet.