OP: 「太陽もひとりぼっち」 (Taiyou mo Hitoribocchi) by Qyoto
「DIVE TO BLUE」 (DIVE TO BLUE)
“DIVE TO BLUE”
Now we finally have the answer to the question that has been mulling through some people’s minds: Isn’t this just another Free!? I mentioned aspects of the series that set it apart from KyoAni’s swimming anime, but it’s easy to tell that it had influence on DIVE!!. The show is built more around its narrative by following Sakai Tomoki (Kaji Yuuki) and his admiration for diving, but between the shots of buff dudes looking stoic and Tomoki’s fawning and admiration for his mentor, diving prodigy Fujitani Youichi (Sakurai Takahiro), it’s looking to corner the market for the yaoi fans. It doesn’t help that his indecision on what he feels about love caused him to string along poor Nomura Miu (Hidaka Rina), who has to contend with his indifference about her and anything that isn’t diving or Youichi.
Tomoki is our eyes and ears in DIVE!!, but it’s hard to find him likable when he’s either tuning everyone out, gasming over diving and/or Youichi, or has an odd bout with his older brother where they trade expositional barbs at each other. “Still being a jerk, older brother?” “Still being a kid, younger brother?”. His point of view does express his innermost thoughts and desires when it comes to diving, but it doesn’t do much to want me to see him succeed. In fact, I’d be disappointed if Youichi doesn’t end up in the Olympics because this was what he was trained to do from the very start, and if the story ends up only giving one slot on the team that’s reserved for Tomoki, what was the point?
For a show that emphasizes that it’ll be a straight-forward narrative, it’s story is very disjointed from the first episode. Maybe it’s the editing, but it’s disorienting how quickly the show jumps from past to present day regularly. You’d see Tomoki jumping off the board with the diving club, and a couple minutes later, you’re back to Tomoki as a little kid. It’s the most nitpicky of my complaints, but I can’t be the only one who thought it was jarring to go back and forth so quickly. It also pads out most of the first episode, so we get bits and pieces of the premise behind reviving the diving club in favor of showing full-length segments on Tomoki learning to dive from Youichi or why he ended up half-heartedly dating Miu.
Let’s not forget the animation! The art in DIVE!! fluctuates between great and disappointing regularly. They get creating detailed close-ups of the character’s faces and have a good grasp at making the scenery very pretty. On the opposite end, the diving itself, the very basis of the show has such choppy animation. Compare that with Free!‘s swimming animation or the Yuri!!! on Ice way of animating the skating routines to look as lifelike as possible, to see the diving here look like it’s running on dial-up feels like betrayal. And the manservice, the main attraction for many viewers, is undercut when the character’s bodies go between looking overly buff, emaciated, and flat. The comeback story and Tomoki’s teenage struggles look promising for those who are invested in sports anime, but I just couldn’t get as easily invested in it as its contemporaries.
ED: 「NEW WORLD」 by Hashimoto Yuuta