Hello! Free Friends was my first editing project together with Mangagamer, and I’ll be happy to tell you a bit more about the various themes present throughout its many H-scenes.
Let’s make this clear: if you’re looking for a lighthearted story of warm, fluffy, feel-good romance, Free Friends is not that story. The very first H-scene—which is part of the common route, before the story splits into its two major routes—involves the main character taking advantage of Kurahashi’s naivety, inviting her to a love hotel to have sex with her when she expects it to only be a private place to talk.
If you’ve already watched the OVA adaptation by Pink Pineapple, then you have a basic idea of how things go in the darker route—taking advantage of her reputation and status as an honor student, the main character takes photos of the aftermath of their encounter and uses them to blackmail her into a sexual relationship with him. If this backdrop of coercion isn’t enough to satisfy your tastes, then don’t worry—several other fetishes get explored as he pushes her limits further and further. Personally, my favorites were the vibrator scenes, but if that’s not your cup of tea there are other avenues of deviancy for you to enjoy.
Perhaps the most important element to this route is the distinct theme of corruption present in each and every scene in this route. The main character isn’t satisfied to have Kurahashi service him at his beck and call–he adamantly chisels away at her morals and resistance even as he enjoys her service. His goal? The most complete and utter domination: to ultimately have her come to him willingly, spreading her legs with a wanton smile on her face.
If you choose not to follow up and ensure Kurahashi’s silence after the encounter, though, then things get more complicated. Despite his attempts to wash his hands of the matter, she is a student at the school he teaches at, after all. Against his better interests, he can’t help but try and keep an eye out for her, and she finds herself appreciating and reciprocating that attention all too easily, and soon enough they’re back in bed with each other, albeit with a completely different tone than before. The story doesn’t end there, however. In between encounters, they wrestle with topics like their teacher-student relationship, the main character’s relationship with his wife, and more.
To contrast the drama surrounding their circumstances, though, the sex between them is refreshingly vanilla. However, that’s not to say that things are boring in bed. Kurahashi is very, very enthusiastic at making sure the main character enjoys himself, whether she’s riding him cowgirl or giving him paizuri. An honor student’s diligence and attention to detail is something amazing when it’s turned towards something perverted, after all.
One thing that was disappointingly absent was that while Free Friends is a forum for coordinating compensated dating, that angle never really gets explored any further. Kurahashi and the main character never exchange money for services in either route. If prostitution is your thing, you’ll have to wait until Free Friends 2 comes out…