Grand Blue Dreaming
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Grand Blue ?
The old “one character hears something another character says out of context and freaks out” gag is a familiar routine, and episode 11 of Grand Blue Dreaming relies on it quite a bit this week, with two extended gags being devoted to the bit. In the first, Aina becomes disturbed when the others in the club approach a vendor at a market and order all sorts of seemingly unsavory things: Azusa says she wants to “eat an old man”, Kohei orders “Hamasaki's wife”, and Kotobuki requests a “chubby high-school student”. Chisa and Kohei are convinced that Aina is just mishearing things, and of course they're eventually proven right, as it turns out those are all just local names for fish that the club members will be eating for dinner. While a distressed Aina is always at least a little amusing, this gag mostly didn't work because the play on words doesn't make for great laughs when translated from English – it was easy enough to assume that the confusion was rooted in some weirdly specific Okinawan colloquialisms, but the end result is more amusing in a vaguely interesting way, instead of being outright funny.
The second round is a bit better, since it's not based on obscure wordplay. Instead, Aina overhears Iori asking Chisa to “go out” with him because “he's fallen in love”, and she assumes that she has walked in on a romantic moment between the two. Kohei even goes in to double-check for her, and he freaks out when he catches Iori asking Chisa to step on him. Later in the night, she finds that Chisa has snuck out with Iori and is complaining about “getting wet”, while Iori advises that she takes off her clothes. Unlike the first sketch, the audience is in on this joke from the jump, so when Aina busts in on the two in the pool we know what to expect. Iori is worried that he'll be the only one that will fail his diving exam, specifically because he's having a hard time clearing his mask under water, so he's enlisted Chisa to help him submerge himself in the pool so he can practice.
Again, this bit isn't necessarily the funniest, since the audience knows the outcome of the joke five minutes in advance, so much of this scene is reduced to just having Aina and Kohei freak out for no good reason. Still, the episode's major through-line of having Iori try to master his mask clearing skills does lead to some good payoffs – the visual of Aina and Chisa stepping on Iori's head is genuinely funny, as is when a random passerby calls the cops on them because it looks like someone is being murdered (the second time someone confuses Aina for a murderer this week).
In a typical example of Iori's luck, this cop call ends up putting him in a bind, since he can't get out of the pool on account of being buck naked. So he ends up with a cold and has to stay in sick with Azusa while Aina and Kohei go and get their licenses. We haven't gotten much of Iori and Azusa just playing off each other in a while, so their banter was nice and refreshing. I also appreciated the way the show handled Azusa's casual offer to sleep with Iori; though it played into the predictable gag of Iori not knowing how to handle a woman who treats sex so casually, the show didn't seem to be judging Azusa for the way she approaches physical relationships. She's more forward about sex than culture may deem appropriate, but Grand Blue Dreaming doesn't make her out to be gross for it.
The episode ends on one of the series' most out-there visual gags, with the newly minted Kohei and Aina coming back to the vacation house to find Azusa and Iori passed out drunk, and not only is Iori naked again, but he has a leek sticking straight out of his rear end. This is apparently a well-known folk-cure for the common cold that Azusa tried to spring on Iori earlier. I may just have been in a particularly juvenile mood this week, but there's something about the way Iori's butt-onion is animated, gently rocking back and forth as he snoozes, that I couldn't help but find hilarious. I guess you can add “hilarious butt-onions” to the list of things I never expected Grand Blue Dreaming would get me to write in a weekly review, and it's a solid reminder of the dumb gags and hijinks that I'll miss when the series ends next week. Hopefully Iori is able to get his own diving license eventually, but at least he'll always have these memories of “bonding” with his friends in the Peek-a-Boo Club.
Grand Blue Dreaming is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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