The series revolves around the Mizuki Diving Club (MDC), which is on the verge of closing down after having financial troubles. The club's new coach persuades the club's parent company to stay open on one condition: that the club sends one of its members to next year's Olympics as part of Japan's Olympic team.
Well, where do we start? I guess from the begining. Dive!! is an anime about, you guess it, diving, but it does little to nothing to get you exited for it. As we all know, at least the ones that have already watched an spocon, you don't have to like the sport that the series is about, you don't even have to know about it's very existance to like the anime itself and that is one of the many things this show does wrong. The anime fails in selling you the sport, they barely explain how
the scores work and how the judges judge, and what the difference is between a good and a bad dive, an so on. So, having failed with one of the most important things of this anime genre we naturally proceed to take a look at the next most important thing, the characters. You would think that this is were the anime shines, but you'd be wrong, this is the worst part of the anime. But how? Well, by making them totally generic archetypes or worse, making them less than that. You have the protagonist which... likes to... dive? Yeah you don't know much about him other than that and the fact that he had his ex-girlfriend taken by his douchebag brother (yeah, you sure like that NTR shit). Ok, but we have a supporting cast right? Of course, we sure have! We have Yoichi which is the talented boy with no other trait, we of course have the underdog Okitsu which at first dislikes diving but... guess he starts to like it further into the series. And theeen we have the rest of the cast which are only there because the world is suposed to be habiteted by other human beings, but in this case you don't give a fuck. Now that we are done with the "characters" we can analyze this beautiful story. They want to go to the Olyimpics, that's it. Soooo, what else can i tell you? The artstyle is fine and so is the sound, but at this point you don't care about that.
In conclusion Dive!! is a bad anime, don't waste your time watching it unless you want to stack another anime to your list ;)
Dive.... what can I say about Dive?? I think that the producers looked at Free! and noticed how popular it was and decided to shit something out that was somewhat similar, only to be poorly executed. I don't even feel like writing out the exclamation points for this anime because I don't think it deserves it in my opinion! I am going to use Free! as a comparison to this anime when I write my review because it is EXTREMELY apparent that elements from Free! were manipulated and grabbed by the writers of this thing, with an addition of typical anime tropes that even Free
used, to gain attention.
(DISCLAIMER- I know that there was a manga series/novel that was published for this before Free! existed, but the fact that they produced this as an anime adaptation AFTER Free! does not sit right with me.)
For all of the beckoning irritations I have with this anime, one thing I will say is that the art style is pretty nice. Although I'm not the biggest fan of Tomoki's eyes, it is clear that there was a lot of effort put into the production. BUT, an art style should not distract a person from noticing a flawed story line and dull characters.
Can we also talk about the concept of this anime? Diving. It's like they said "hmm, what hasn't already been done for a sports anime? Let's take this old series and do something with it." And the fact that the novelist wrote something like this before Free! is astounding. Competitive swimming was an open field for this series, and they happened to butcher it to make the dullest, most boring thing! Congrats! Your character can jump off a diving board! No offense to divers, though. I think that real life diving IS truly enticing and marvelous. But, when people are trying to animate it, that message does NOT get across. In Dive, the animation for diving was extremely choppy and awkward. There was SO MUCH BUILDUP that got you going like shit!! this is gonna be Intense! But when you finally get to the point where he's gonna jump, it just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Almost like a betrayal. In Free! there was So Much Going On and they really used a lot of elements to express the competitive intensity of each character. But you can't really compare them I guess, since Dive had such a lacking concept from the beginning that would make it challenging to execute.
Queerbaiting. I mean, really! The most typical trope of sports anime. I will say, though, it was pretty interesting to see that whole Miu fiasco, which is something different, I guess. And there was a whole lot of build up that honestly kept me watching (I mean like, did you watch Yuri!! On Ice??), but it was just shut down. There is so much blatant fanservice that a lot of sports anime will use when it comes to queerbaiting, so I was not surprised that this anime would be the same.
Also, the storyline is super choppy. We get it, you want to add some personal elements to the characters to give your series some Angst, some Flavor!! And that's perfectly valid! But in this anime, it got downright confusing. Towards the end, it's like they realized they were going off on a tangent and forgot to assure a stable story line to its audience, so they figured they would cram a whole bunch of shit into the last few episodes! Not only is the storyline super choppy, but the actual production is! Transitioning to each part of the story left me with an unfinished feeling, like they cut parts of the scene to conserve time, and even the music felt off in a few places. This flaw was SO present in the diving scenes that it became a chore to sit through them.
Overall, I just couldn't get into this anime. I tried to hard. I sat through every single episode hoping that it would go somewhere, and I did not know what to expect. A lot of the characters just felt out of place or boring, and the concept of the anime did not help with that at all. There was barely a flow; it was all over the place!! The end left me extremely disappointed, and I will not watch the second season if they decide to shit one out. I can't believe I wasted my time with this, and you shouldn't either!
It's pretty hard to imagine that there would be a way to make an anime about competitive diving interesting. Dive!! does nothing to change your mind in that regard. What you end up getting is a very average, typical sports anime.
The story itself is okay but any efforts to add dramatic or comedic elements fail for the most part. The art is good although I do have a little gripe with how the reflection of light off the water's surface looks on the divers bodies. The best chance the anime had of drawing me in I thought would have been the way they chose to
animate the dives. With the exception of the final episode, I thought the animation was just about average. The soundtrack was good and it was utilized well throughout the series. The characters were okay for the most part although they were insufferable when it came to scenes that contained drama.
Dive!! isn't bad but if you're looking for new sports anime to watch, then it should be low on your priority list. The show has potential to have a better second season should that happen but to fully take advantage of that potential there should have been better story development.
I suggest to those who love sports anime, please take this as just another sports anime. If you're here to watch and compare Dive to other sports anime like Haikyuu, Yuri on ice, Free!, you'll be sorely disappointed. But if you take it as a normal sports anime, without holding any expectations or benchmarks, this is a very good anime that you can take quite a bit from.
The character development was great. I can say that this was pretty realistic in showing the diving industry in Japan especially if you're not very familiar with it. The characters all managed to change and improve in their
own ways. They're not super flashy about it but if you pay attention, you'll definitely see them grow.
The art was simple but beautiful and the OP and ED suited the anime very well, in my opinion.
I would say give this a chance. If you're someone who can appreciate a unique sport that is neither flashy nor dramatic, and if you can keep an open mind, I think you will enjoy this.