Grand Blue Dreaming
Iori Kitahara is spending the summer at his uncle's beach dive shop Grand Blue, where he re-encounters his cousins Chisa Kategawa (who was also his childhood friend) and her older sister Nanaka. But he soon falls under the influence of two senpai named Tokita and Kotobuki, who coerce him into joining their Diving Club (named Peek-A-Boo), and into their club's favorite activities- namely drinking, fighting, and public nudity.
"Scenes involving alcohol with forceful consumption and shameful acts are not encouraged"- from the show's own disclaimer.
I ended up liking this show- but feeling guilty as hell about that.
There were a few things I never understood. When Iori arrives- along with one Kohei Imamura, an otaku who will become his "friend"- they immediately encounter Tokita and Kotobuki, who are hanging out nude in the dive shop. I thought that Uncle, at least, would have required a bit more propriety in his public business...but that's not the end of it.
Iori is shortly coerced into emulating the Peek-A-Boo practices- namely, passing out drunk, in full or partial undress- and the two sisters, each in their own ways, give him hell about it: Chisa is more Tsundere Classic, coldly labeling him a "pervert", while Nanaka tries to maintain the pretense of being a more "mature" woman who isn't perturbed by the irresponsible behavior of young men- a pretense she is, obviously, having trouble maintaining. What I couldn't understand was (1) why the two girls seemed unconcerned with this SAME behavior when Tokita and Kotobuki (and their pals) were regularly exhibiting it (and THEMSELVES), but simply took it in stride, and (2) how the girls could fail to perceive that this was all due to the pernicious (and sometimes FORCED) influence of those two "senpai" (with Kohei, the new guy thrown in as well), instead of acting like Iori had been like this all along.
Still, in any case, things devolve into a classic scenario of Young Men Behaving Badly. Iori and Kohei frequently insult each other, which often escalates into physical altercations. (I admit that it's usually Kohei who starts it.)
At another point Iori and Kohei try to get Chisa drunk so she'll agree to do what they want her to do. No, it's NOT for her to have sex with them- actual sexuality only shows up twice in the entire series- it's to get her to do something embarrassing so THEY won't have to do it THEMSELVES. They're not sexual predators, it's just that they're selfish and insensitive; they do exactly to Chisa what they would have done TO EACH OTHER if the circumstances suggested it. Still, they manage to add an element of humiliation to it in the end; that stunt they pull, in real life, would certainly have caused her physical injury as well, possibly serious injury. This was the most inexcusable thing they did in the series, though Chisa does get at least some revenge. in fact the girls get revenge on the boys twice in the series, and you have to admit that their vengeance is at least much more clever than the boorish offenses that provoked it.
Of course, guys are quite capable of destroying their OWN happiness. Apparently, eligible women (or at least women perceived to be so) are in short supply locally, and Iori and Kohei fall in with some guys who vow to make miserable any of their number who actually gets a girlfriend. (I won't say whether Iori really gets a girlfriend per se, but it's clear that several of the girls are interested in him in one way or another. As far as feminine interest in Kohei...well, not so much. I kind of felt sorry for that guy.)
So Peek-A-Boo eventually comprises Iori, Kohei, Tokita, and Kotobuki on the male side; on the female side, we have Chisa, Nanaka, and two others. One is Azusa Hamaoka, our "free spirit"- she's nearly as uninhibited as Tokita and Kotobuki. A student at the local women's college, she's a long-time member of P-A-B, and she's been interested in Tokita in particular, but is not actively pursuing him, for reasons she seems reluctant to go into detail about. The other girl is Aina Yoshiwara, who's in some ways the opposite of Azusa; a repressed girl who was humiliated by the Tennis Club, Aina's regularly offended by the casual nudity in Peek-A-Boo, though alcohol brings out an entirely different side of her. (The tennis club is called Tinkerbell- I never DID understand the rationale for the cutesy club names.)
But they all love diving, and here's part of where the show redeems itself. For Tokita and Kotobuki, despite their appalling social habits, are good diving instructors who, surprisingly, emphasize safety; and when our cast gets in the water the show does get a little magical. I thought the information about diving was pretty interesting too. I also REALLY liked the camaraderie our little octet exhibited in their desire to make sure that EVERY one of their members enjoyed the experience.
And I've got to admit some of the comedy was classic, starting with the "combustible" Oolong tea, and winding up in the swimming pool scene in Episode 11; the latter scene honestly had me doubled over with laughter.
The Rec this time is also concerned with diving, but from a much more feminine perspective.
Men Behaving Badly is maybe not QUITE so bad if they're not ALWAYS doing it. The cast here is college-age, and we do have SOME hope the guys will come around and start treating the girls with more respect even when they AREN'T in the water. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Amazon once again says NR (No Rating). We have, in addition to nudity (the male genitalia are covered with black circles), and grossly irresponsible alcohol consumption, one scene of a couple in bed TRYING to have sex, and another scene where someone gets explicitly propositioned, in addition to milder forms of fanservice. I'm holding out for 16+ here.
Version(s) Viewed: Prime Video stream.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Grand Blue Dreaming © 2018 Zero-G
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