In Japan, the color blue signifies youth, a time of excitement and infinite possibilities. After graduating high school, Iori moves to Izu, on the coast, to go to college for mechanical engineering. “I’ll put all my effort into having the best college life possible!” he vows. “I’m going to meet cute girls, fall in love, and enjoy the pinnacle of youth with good friends!”
He moves in with his uncle and, more importantly, his two beautiful cousins: motherly, long-haired Nanaka and tomboyish, short-haired Chisa. All of them work at the uncle’s dive shop, the Grand Blue; unfortunately, so do Tokita and Kotobuki, macho dive bums who pressure Iori into joining the diving club even though he can’t swim. Alas, Iori soon finds himself roped into their social circle, partying with a bunch of goofy jocks who just want to get naked and play all-male drinking games. Will Iori get to enjoy a cool campus life? Will he find love? Will the diving club ever actually get in the water?
With its opening shots of a girl in a wetsuit, Grand Blue Dreaming initially seems like a standard seinen manga full of fanservice and romance, but it turns out to have a very different focus: goofy slapstick and binge drinking. Constantly pestered by the diving club, as well as fellow dorks like good-looking but skeevy anime fan Kohei (“Why isn’t there a club full of beautiful high school girls to be my harem?”), Iori spends most of his time watching porn with the guys, recovering from hangovers, and other Animal House fraternity-style hijinks. The female characters barely show up.
At around page 100 it sinks in that Grand Blue Dreaming is more or less lampooning the grandiose dreams alluded to in the title. Eventually the protagonist starts to learn diving basics, suggesting that the manga might go in a more serious hobbyist direction in Volume 2. To make it that far, though, you’ll have to really love booze jokes, funny faces, and gags about guys being caught naked with little censorship marks obscuring their junk. Fans of GTO might like the wacky, bro-y mood (although it lacks the sex and cheesecake in GTO), but it seems like a waste for a diving manga to spend the entire first volume without the main character going into the ocean.
story and art: Kenji Inoue & Kimitake Yoshioka