The Best Anime Like Free!

Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Anime Like Free!
Voting Rules
Vote up the best anime recommendations for fans of Free! to watch next.

Free!, also known as the swimming anime, made a huge splash when it first came out in 2013. Since the the first season, which dealt with a group of high school boys struggling to establish a swim club, there have been two more seasons that have seen the protagonists move from aimless high schoolers to college students on the verge of adult careers. It blends the trappings of sports anime with a focus on the bonds between the members of the team and their rivals. It also features plenty of man service. If you enjoyed this offering from Kyoto Animation, you're probably looking for anime similar to Free! 

Though it is in some ways a singular show, there's plenty of anime like Free! out there. Some is similar because of its subject matter, as anime like Dive!! also features the adventures of kids on a swim team. Other examples are a little more abstract; Kimi to Boku doesn't feature a swim team, but it does deal with the relationships between teenage boys. If you like what Free! brings to the table, add some of these recommendations to your to-watch list. If you've seen any of the similar shows below, be sure to vote accordingly so fellow fans know what to watch next.

  • Kuroko no Basket is more of a classic sports anime than Free! is. While the characters are important, there is a clear focus on the sport itself. Techniques and outcomes matter just as much, if not more than emotional revelations. Despite this difference, the two shows still have a lot in common. The protagonists both have quiet, subdued personalities, and both must take on their childhood friends as a rival. 

  • 2
    209 votes
    Yuri!!! on Ice
    Photo: Yuri!!! on Ice

    Yuri!!! on Ice is what you get when you take the close friendships that exist in Free! and make them canonically queer. If you were disappointed that Free! was more about queer baiting than it was about representation, watch Yuri!!! on Ice. It has the same level of visual appeal and emotional resonance that made Free! great, but it takes its characters' bonds to a level that Free! doesn't.

  • Prince Of Stride
    Photo: Madhouse

    The sport featured in Prince of Stride - stride - is a lot more complicated than the one in Free! But despite the fact that one of them is about a sport that combines parkour with sprinting, relay, and free running, and the other is about swimming, the two shows have a lot in common. Both focus on the difficulty of starting a club with no resources, the importance of team bonding, and the attractiveness of the sports' participants. 

  • 4
    34 votes

    Big Windup! tells the story of Ren Mihashi, a baseball player who is traumatized by his middle school experience on a team, and must battle his resulting anxiety. It takes not only improving his skills as a pitcher, but also bonding with his teammates to heal from the past. Free! also features characters dealing with various emotional issues through their bonds with their fellow swimmers, including Haru's existential issues, Makoto's fear of the ocean, and Rin's grief over his father's death. 

  • 5
    16 votes
    	 Kimi To Boku
    Photo: J.C.Staff

    Kimi to Boku doesn't have a sports team to anchor the story the way that Free! does, but it does share its focus on the friendships between high school boys. What's more, both groups of boys are brought together through the efforts of a short, peppy and energetic blonde. Kimi to Boku's Chizuru is basically Nagisa in a different story.

  • 6
    30 votes
    Photo: Madhouse

    Chihayafuru and Free! focus on characters pursuing different club activities: swimming in the case of Free! and karuta; a card game based on the Japanese anthology of Hundred Poets in the case of Chihayafuru. Haruka and Chihaya have different personalities on the outside, but both of them are passionate about their hobby, which resonates with them on a much deeper level than they can explain. Also, both have childhood friends who they're estranged from, and part of each series is about repairing that relationship.