Grand Blue Dreaming Episode 12
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Grand Blue ?
Grand Blue Dreaming's very last scene offers up a perfect summation of what this series is all about, with the girls of the Peek-a-Boo Club gathered around Chisa to look over the photos that commemorate their big vacation to Okinawa. Chisa laments the “gap” between the two types of photos; half of them show the gang enjoying diving and having a traditionally happy time, while the other half reveal the club members in all of their debauchery and alcohol-infused madness. “I like both of them”, Azusa snickers. “That's exactly how we are.” It's an on the nose way to cap off the series, but it's true all the same. If nothing else, Grand Blue Dreaming has spent the last twelve weeks proving that it is perfectly capable of being a warmhearted hangout show and a raunchy college farce at the same time, and this finale showcases both sides of the series in style.
The first half of the episode is where the show gets all of the mushy stuff out of the way, spending so much time with (relatively) good, clean diving fun that you might forget what show you were watching. GBD even manages to wring some genuine pathos out of the Peek-a-Boo Club's celebratory diving trip; Iori ended up screwing himself out of a license after all, and it was honestly kind of a bummer to see him sitting out the deeper dives and watching while his friends boast about their experiences and offer photos as a consolation prize. It's a painfully relatable position for Iori to be in, and I was surprised at how straight the show played the bit where Chisa goes to make sure he isn't too upset at being left out.
I wasn't surprised enough to be caught off guard by the jokey reveal of Iori being more upset by his seasickness than anything else, but it's still impressive that I was able to take the plot as seriously as I did, seeing as GBD has only dabbled in emotional storytelling a couple of times in its entire run. The animation and art is as good as it's been in a long time; the characters even seem to be mostly on-model for a majority of the episode. If someone came into Grand Blue Dreaming just this week, I wouldn't blame them for thinking the series was a more traditionally straightforward slice-of-life series about a bunch of college kids who spend their time diving. You know, like what people who never read the manga thought the show was going to be in the first place.
Of course, Grand Blue Dreaming could never really be that show, which is perfectly fine by me – the Peek-a-Book club's drunken, naked antics may consist mostly of loud and dumb hijinks that grow more and more exhausting as time goes on, but these dorks have always been just likable enough to make it work. So, when the final half of the finale consisted of one final drinking game to end them all, I couldn't be that disappointed. None of the jokes were all that funny, save for the general gag of the Club's drinking pot being filled with pure alcohol, but the whole scene has a sense of cozy camaraderie that serves as a perfect way to see our club members off. I wasn't a huge fan of how much of the humor came from how handsy Aina got after downing some of Azusa's cocktail, though Kouhei did manage to sneak in the best gag of the episode when he mistook Aina's drunken come-ons for an impending love confession, asking aloud if the story was about to reach its “true ending”.
And I guess we really have reached the ending, huh? I'm not going to pretend that this was a great show; I honestly don't even know how well I could make the case for it being good. It's a crass, poorly animated, inconsistent series that pales in comparison to this season's similarly out-there comedic showstopper, Asobi Asobase. But for all of its faults, I think I'm actually going to miss Grand Blue Dreaming now that it's over. I think these kids made for some decent company during this summer season, and I'm glad to have spent time with this show, warts and all.
Grand Blue Dreaming is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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