Free! started the revolution of half-naked swimming boys. The new swimming anime DIVE!! takes this one step further by putting them in Speedos and throwing them off a diving board.
Based on a pair of novels originally published between 2000 and 2002, the DIVE!! anime premiered its first two episodes in Japan this past weekend. The anime revolves around Tomoki Sakai (seen above, left), a middle school boy who is part of the MDC high-diving club. In the same club with him is Yoichi Fujitani, a genius diver whom Tomoki admires more than anyone. It’s just too bad that, since the club’s chairman passed away, it’s on the verge of being shut down.
In order to save the club from dissolving, the late chairman’s granddaughter Kayoko joins the team and starts training the kids rigorously in order to send at least one of them to the Olympics and prove the club’s worth. But she’s not just any coach—no, Kayoko is so desperate to save the club that her grandfather left behind that she went all the way to the United States to learn coaching techniques to use on her pupils. These techniques are far different from what any of the boys have experienced. For example, she forces the boys to stand in a proper diving position for an entire hour without rest. Her exercises are hellish, but because Fujitani says that the training should bring results, Tomoki and the others continue on.
Tomoki’s not exactly the greatest diver in the world compared to Fujitani, but his coach praises him for his flexible body, which she says will give him an edge and let him grow. Despite his lack of confidence, Tomoki wants very much to go to the Olympics. Unlike the majority of his other diving club buddies who are not up for rigorous instruction, he puts his heart and soul into completing his coach’s new training menu, giving him little time for anything else. That includes his cute girlfriend and classmates.
Even in the first two episodes, it’s easy to tell that Tomoki is separating himself from everything besides his passion for diving. His girlfriend Miu, who confessed her love to him in their first year of middle school, makes a sincere effort to be with him. Even though her house is in the opposite direction, she still walks with him to his club practice so they have time to talk. She texts him at night after his practice is done.
Tomoki, on the other hand, is a horrible boyfriend. Despite his girlfriend’s kindness in walking him to practice, he tells her she can’t watch him dive and considers her an embarrassment when they’re around his respected upperclassman Fujitani. He even goes so far as to intentionally leave early and not wait for her to walk home together. Even when his phone rings with texts from her, he doesn’t even look. His younger brother Hiroya has a thing for Miu, and isn’t happy that Tomoki treats her like crap.
On the other hand, Tomoki is also throwing his relationships with his male schoolmates as well. They invite him to go play every day, but Tomoki is busy with practice. You can see the tolerance of his friends whittling away with every rejection to their invitations. Eventually, one friend gets so fed up that he just hangs up the phone on Tomoki. At this point in his life, Tomoki is emotionally attached to diving and the members of his club so much that he has sacrificed the other people in his life. He could choose to make time for them, but he doesn’t spare even a moment. Instead, he puts everything he has into his passion for the sport.
It looks like Tomoki is going to not only have to face the challenges of the new rigorous training, but also of the emotional struggles of isolating himself inside of diving. DIVE!! is not just about the physical struggle to the top, but about the sacrifices that must be made to reach that peak. Or, at least, the sacrifices that Tomoki chooses to make.
DIVE!! will premiere in Japan on July 7. It will stream exclusively on Amazon, both within Japan and outside of the country.