Dive!! – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Tomoki Sakai, is 14 years old, and he’s been dedicated to diving since he was a child. It all began when he met Yoichi Fujitani, a genius diver three years his senior. Tomoki and his friends attend the Mizuki Diving Club, but their new coach Kayoko Asaki says the club will close if it doesn’t produce an Olympian. And so begins their fight as they lay everything on the line for a single moment! (Official Anime Strike Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Dive!! doesn’t look great, and that likely spells big trouble for later on. It’s not that the characters are ugly, or the colors drab, but there’s already sloppy character art, and a few off model shots this early in, which is always a bad sign of things to come. Near every anime drops in quality somewhere during the season and Dive is having troubles now? You can see where this is going.
Linny: In fact, the art style often makes it confusing to distinguish how old the boys are and whether we’re watching a flashback or a current event. Not only that, the anatomy of the boys can often look a little off, like arms that are too short, or too narrow a torso, almost giving them a comical look, which can distract one from the scene. The show also tries to be a little stylish by having water reflections appear on the boys’ bodies when they’re near it but unfortunately, that reflection effect doesn’t look very impressive or convincing either.
Tom: A big problem I have is how unsympathetic Tomoko Sakai, our lead, is. Tomoki’s time this episode is largely spent detailing his fascination with diving, how he learned to get, well not good but competent at it, his respect for Fujitani, and how awful he treats his presumed girlfriend, Miu Nomura. Tomoki is an outright ass to her, too meek to tell her he didn’t share her feelings, but continually blows her off all the same. It makes it difficult to like him. Things aren’t helped by Fujitani, a thoroughbred diving protege, who possesses an air of superiority and obnoxious self-confidence.
Linny: Furthermore, you can already tell that Dive!! is going to follow a standard sports anime formula where a meek but passionate boy will learn to embrace and bring out the inner super talented player inside. It’s something we’ve seen a milllion times before and what makes it work is having that boy be likeable and worth rooting for. But like Tom said, so far Tomoki just comes off as a wimp in the worst ways possible. Watching him look completely disinterested and continually blow off his girlfriend makes one wonder if the show is secretly pushing hard for fan girls and fan boys to ship him and Fujitani.
Tom: And outside of Tomoki and Fujitani, there’s really no one else to latch onto in this first episode. Maybe the trouble of these two leads is alleviated by an active interest in the sport of Diving, but as wider appeal goes, the characters need to likable. They need to be relatable, enjoyable. Fun to watch and I’m not getting that here.
Linny: Dive!! has failed to sell its characters with its first episode set in an otherwise disappointing and common story. Sports anime aficionados will surely feel deja vu as they watch Tomoki become filled with awe for a sport, get inspired to join and be part of an underdog team that’s kept afloat thanks to one super awesome member, in this case, Fujitani. If you don’t take to anyone and you’ve already seen a lot of sports anime, there’s not much to cling onto, especially since its disappointing art style isn’t going to make for any decent fan service either.
Tom: Dive!! right now feels like a poor man’s Free, a show aimed at the female gaze and showing off swimmer’s build male bodies, but there’s little under the surface to latch onto. With an unlikable lead, an arrogant supporting lead, and weak art Dive!! just doesn’t seem worth the look in.
Linny: Dive!! starts off feeling like yet another generic, by the book sports anime that unfortunately doesn’t have the animation quality or charming cast to elevate it. In fact, its underdog character comes off downright unlikable. Maybe, if Dive!! turns out to be a story about his redemption, it might still have some appeal but for now what it offers the viewers isn’t enough to make it a must watch by any means.
Dive!! is available for streaming via Amazon’s Anime Strike Channel.