Free! Eternal Summer Fanbook TL: Series Composer Masahiro Yokotani

This is the third and final interview I’ve translated from the Free! Eternal Summer fanbook released from Kyoto Animation. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these.

Series composer
Masuhiro Yokotani

Please, by all means, let me do it!!

– What was your impression when you first heard about the plans to do a second season?

It felt like “I’m ready! Please, let me do this!” I thought “There won’t be any of that antagonistic, depressing relationship between Haruka and Rin that we first saw,” so I said “Definitely let me do it! I want to write this one. Leave it to me Utsumi-san!” And then as I was writing this time, this season created its own difficulties. (laughs)

– Please tell us your feelings looking at the growth the boys made from the first season.

Haruka has really grown up, but keep at it Haruka! Grow more!
Rin has also grown as well. I’m pleased that he changed greatly from the depiction in the first season and become more manly in the second season.

– While you were creating the second season, what did you and the director discuss during your meetings?

While we have fun and refreshing conversations, we also had some deep and serious talks as well. (laughs) This time we had a lot of them with Sousuke’s tale, and the inescapable events that the third years tried to run from…..

– Was the decision to start when they’re in their third year (except Naigsa and Rei) inserted from the beginning?

We had already done the second year summer (or 1st year), so we had to go to the next year’s summer. This show lacks something if it’s not during the summer.

– What did you keep in mind while writing the scenario and what did you struggle with?

I recall an earth shattering amount of things I had problems with. (laughs) The first season was the first time I had written that type of show before, so I was able to write freely. This time, as I was thinking about how to improve on the first season, director Utsumi said “you overdid it.” (laughs) Also, there’s a lot of swimming in this season. Sports series are very enjoyable when there’s a lot of matches. However, there’s not a lot of variation in the ways to describe swimming, so I was a bit of a hindrance for the episode directors. For example, I would just say “swam with a violent stroke” and end with that.
Also I had some issues with the results of meets. I continued to worry about that during the scenario discussions. In swimming, even if you lose one heat, you can move on if your time is good enough. For example, you could lose to your rival, but both of you could move to the finals… Their feelings at that time would be complex. Also there’s 8 swimmers at once, so I constantly thought about how to draw out that match feeling. Swimming meets are quite difficult to write about.

– As you were writing the scenario, what scenes were easy to write and which characters were easy to depict?

Those would have to be Rei, Mikoshiba, Momotarou, and Nitori, right? Also, since Rin became re-invigorated, he was easier to write. He became a character who could say things you wanted to say.

 There’s lots of pauses!

– In Free! ES, you had to change how you wrote the scenario in response to the characters’ growth, correct?

Rin changed a lot, didn’t he? The first season took place in his second year’s summer while this season started in March of his second year. With that half a year blank, it’s like he became a different person. (laughs) I was receiving a request from director Utsumi to use some “!”s for Rin since he became cheerful. Isn’t that a bit different than last time? (laughs) I had written Rin like that during the drama CDs, so I wondered if I had made him a bit too happy….there wasn’t that same tension. It was difficult to gauge how cheerful to make him.
But, it was easier to write him becoming a more active character.
Haruka also has become a bit more cheerful himself, but he also has trouble spots himself. I noticed there were a lot of times he would be gloomy and become silent!
Makoto also has the same kind of troubles any third year would have alongside Haruka. This time Makoto’s trying his utter best. His emotions come out more. Nagisa and Rei also appear as second years.

Free! had a lot of comedy. Was it difficult to write the comedic (gag) portions for the sequel?

I had inserted various gags into the scenarios like the club introduction scene in episode, but the director commented that I had overdone it. (laughs) So we made the first episode full of gags and shaved off them in the rest of the story when they appeared in different places. (laughs)
With gags, if you don’t sell them well, they won’t be entertaining. So I have complete faith in director Utsumi with how they are spoken and how they are displayed on the screen.

– Please tell us about any memorable conversations you had with director Utsumi.

There’s a lot of works that are supported by women, but due to Utsumi-san’s precise directions, we were able to succeed alongside them. Our conversations about the visual presentation saved me many times.


 I had the toughest time with Sousuke

– With the new characters “Sousuke” and “Momotarou” appearing in this season, was there anything different that you paid attention to when writing?

I’d probably say I had the toughest time bringing Sousuke together into one character. I kept running into a lot of problems in the scenario. Sousuke has a lot of different sides to him, but it was also difficult to treat him like a key character as well. However, if Nitori wasn’t there anymore as the person Rin talked to most, then he’d work out. (laughs) He’s also not the type to tell jokes. With this season having Samezuka add characters, it was easier to increase their camera time. I ensued that their stories were just as deep as the Iwatobi side.

– How about when Momotarou appeared?

Momotarou is the younger brother of Mikoshiba, so he became that same kind of comedic character as well. However, as the person in charge of the comedy, I didn’t want to overdo it, so I made sure he wouldn’t act that way unless Gou was around. (laughs)

 Getting a “Is this necessary?” from director Utsumi (laughing)

– Did anything change for you regarding Free! from the first season until this one?

The first season was something completely different and out of my usual genre. Though there were a lot of portions where I had no experience with the topic, once I started writing, I started to think “this actually may fit me!” As a result, I started to gain some confidence in myself. But director Utsumi would gently cut out some of the gags and comedy, asking “Is this necessary?” (laughs)

 I’m bad at sports!

– How has Free! influenced you?

Though a lot of people are interested in different sports, I’m not one of them. I’m not even the type who’s good at them. When I was a child, I couldn’t even do a pull-up…. However, through depicting this series, I’ve started to study different areas and get some information about them.

– Please tell us about some interesting secret tales or hidden episodes.

I don’t know if it’s a secret tale, but I’m not the kind of person who can silently write in my own room. I go to a cafe to work. If I’m in a place no one can see me, I can’t concentrate….. (laughs) If I take a little break, then I get a little left behind…. (laughs)
When I’m working in the cafe, I see people watching videos on their laptops. Then you have me writing lines like “Swim for my sake!” I think people walking by and looking in may be startled with what’s going on my screen. (laughs)

– Please give a message to all the fans awaiting the second season.

Please enjoy Free! Eternal Summer! Thanks for watching!

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