Surprisingly refreshing look at the ins and outs of diving
Episode two of Dive!! shows higher ambition than its predecessor, upping the stakes of what originally seemed like a slice-of-life show by introducing themes of dynastic pride and legacy.
The first quarter of the episode features a surprisingly refreshing look at the ins and outs of training young professional divers. New coach Kayoko Asaki, who we briefly met at the end of the first episode, proves to be a real whip-cracker, ruthlessly efficient with an uncompromising critical eye. The description of the rigorous exercises needed to cultivate a diver’s body proved far more intriguing than I had anticipated.
As expected, our bright-eyed protagonist, Tomoki, shows real promise in these first few days of training. Kayoko even pulls him aside at one point and tells him bluntly that he has talent and will be able to climb higher than he could ever imagine if he puts in the work. The climb-every-mountain speech she gives here is very cliche, but of course, so is the rest of this show.
Kayoko soon departs on a mysterious business trip, leaving the boys with an exhausting military-like regimen of drills to be completed in her absence. (Naturally, Tomoki is the only one diligent enough actually to do these.) While she’s gone, resident exposition dispenser Sachiya breathlessly explains to his teammates that she, like Yoichi, comes from an elite lineage of divers – her grandfather founded the MDC, and she was a star diver herself at a young age.
Sachiya is seriously hilarious. When describing the trajectory of Kayoko’s storied career, which included several stints in America training with the best, Sachiya’s excited and thoroughly incorrect description of New York as being the home of casinos, the White House, and Playboy bunnies is a standout moment of levity.
Dive!!‘s “Shark Boy” dives in
Upon Kayoko’s return, this episode introduces us to Shibuki Okitsu (voiced by Yuuichi Nakamura), yet another prince of diving royalty. (There sure are a surprising number of these blue-blooded athletes running around metropolitan Japan!) His design is definitely the most outlandish of the cast we’ve met so far. (I wrote an entire draft of this review in which I referred to him continuously as “Shark Boy” before Googling what his name actually is.) In a cast full of slender ukes, his rippling, muscled physique is a startling standout. Okitsu’s personality matches his body as he fancies himself a rugged nature man who only dives into the ocean and thinks pools are for soft city boys.
It turns out Kayoko wants him to help her restore her grandfather’s legacy. It’s unclear what motivates him to aid her in this aside from general machismo because he doesn’t seem as hopeful about it as she does. Still, he accompanies her back to the city and even agrees to dive in the pool for her. It’ll be interesting to see him try to integrate into the club over the next few episodes.
Cautious hope for the future of this show
The writing continues to be clumsy and cliched. This episode attempts to bookend the episode with matching but distinct metaphors describing the difference between Yoichi with his smooth, by-the-numbers “no-splash” dive, and Shibuki with his ending splashy “wild” dive. Unfortunately, this endeavor at poetics is ham-fisted and completely unsubtle.
With the introduction of Okitsu into the club and the exposition of Kayoko’s family-driven motivations, the shape of Dive’s plot is beginning to come into clearer view. I have cautious hopes that the show may be starting to find its stride. Hopefully, next week will bring more in-depth looks at the actual sport of diving and maybe even some better writing. And more Sachiya. All the Sachiya, please.
Be sure to check out the review for episode 1 of Dive!! on Around Akiba!