Grand Blue Dreaming
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Grand Blue ?
Given all of the shenanigans the Grand Blue Dreaming gang gets up to on a weekly basis, you'd think that a story revolving around a game of truth-or-dare would be an easy slam dunk. Specifically, this is a Japanese truth-or-dare variant called the King's Game, which involves each player drawing numbers with one lucky player becoming the “King”, who then proceeds to dare the rest of the players to do pretty much anything they want. Knowing Iori, Kohei, and the rest, you can easily imagine what nefarious and bizarre misadventures the crew could force each other into with the power of the King, which makes it all the more surprising that the end result is one of the show's least funny segments to date.
To Grand Blue Dreaming's credit, the King's Game mostly doesn't fall victim to the shrill mean-spiritedness that has marked the show's worst vignettes. There's one groan-worthy joke that involves Iori severely overreacting to Kotobuki being forced to tell him “I love you, sister!”, but outside of that gag, the biggest drawback to this whole scenario is that it just doesn't go anywhere interesting. Many of the jokes feel halfhearted and unfinished. Iori and Kohei get into a mild argument when they screw up cheating at the game, there are a few exaggerated faces tossed around, and Azusa and Nanaka's deviousness is limited to a single attempt to get Aina and Chisa to strip. That last joke wouldn't even be that funny if it were taken further, but at least the show would be committing to the bit.
Even the punchline of the whole scene falls flat: The whole point of the game was for Iori and Kohei to trick Chisa into inviting her friends to a mixer, but Iori and Kohei screw it up and end up going out for drinks with Tokita's buff drinking buddies. The “joke” is that they're all rowdy and intimidating, the opposite of the pretty girls the boys wanted to go out with. It's a limp ending no matter how you slice it, and it doesn't help that it's just a rehash of the same gag we've been getting since the first scene of the first episode of the season.
The second half of the episode isn't much funnier, but it at least offers the satisfaction of a cute slice-of-life plotline. The Peek-a-Boo club needs new gear, so they all head to the shop to look at masks, diving computers, bathing-suits, etc. There are some standard jokes involving Iori and Kohei having no clue about how any of the diving gear is supposed to work, plus Chisa and Aina get some cute moments together. The one joke of the episode that made me laugh was Kohei's borderline orgasmic freak-out at the sight of Chisa and Aina wearing wetsuits designed to look like Asuka and Rei's plugsuits from Neon Genesis Evangelion, though the prerequisite mosaics slapped on top of the suits are more distracting than funny.
We end with a quick montage of the gang realizing that they've once again spent all of the money they were supposed to use for their Okinawa vacation, so they all take on some embarrassing part-time jobs to get some fast cash and finally make the flight out to their tropical destination. There's no telling if the Peek-a-Boo Club's vacation is going to go for the comedic or the slice-of-life route, but Grand Blue Dreaming's core cast is likable enough at this point that I'm sure it will be at least be watchable.
Grand Blue Dreaming is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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