Dive!! Volume 2 Review

The year began with a splash when Yen Press released the first volume of Dive!!. With summer fast approaching and warm weather already making itself known, what better time to return to the series with Volume 2!  

As we rejoin the members of the Mizuki Diving Club, tryouts for the Beijing training camp are fast approaching and those who make it through the tryouts will be preparing for the Olympic Games. Protagonist Tomoki Sakai is striving to conquer his three-and-a-half somersault, but in order to do so he’s spending every free moment he has diving. Pushing away his friends and loved one to follow his dream, Tomoki doesn’t realise that he’s hurting his girlfriend, Miu, and the consequences of his actions are heavy.

Elsewhere, newcomer to the group Shibuki Okitsu must perfect his own dive, having lived a life away from prying eyes where he’d practiced diving into the ocean. His grandfather had the potential to become a legendary diver but lived in a time where his talent wasn’t recognised and retired without accomplishing anything of note. Coach Kayoko Asaki recruited Shibuki at the end of Volume 1, wishing to polish his natural talent and have the world recognize him for his unique way of diving – but this is proving challenging. At this rate, will any of the cast make it through to the training camp?

I think this volume of Dive!! finally acknowledges the kind of story it wants to be. Although we do see plenty of diving in this volume, the series continues to shy away from any in-depth conversation around the sport and instead focuses on the characters’ day-to-day lives. Tomoki’s story arc revolving around the loss of his girlfriend (to his little brother, no less!) is the type of story comfortably at home in a slice-of-life drama, and that’s ultimately what Dive!! is becoming.

There are messages woven throughout the volume asking how much following your dreams can cost you and how to decide if that’s worth it to you, and ultimately the characters have tough choices to make. Some will give up, and some will continue because that’s how much the sport means to them. It makes for a compelling junior high-school story but it’s not the diving-focused story we were promised originally.

The final nail in the coffin for a diving-focused plot is when the Beijing training camp takes place and is completely glossed over. The whole thing happens ‘off screen’, with those who attended the camp making references back to it. It feels like the training camp would be an important part of the process for reaching the Olympics, so I was disappointed that we never got to see any of it at all.

Instead of the training camp, we spend our time with Shibuki as he revisits his hometown and discover what his upbringing was like. This offers some substantial development for him and allows us time to get to know him. By the end of the book I finally felt like I understood what drives the three main characters, and even having lost out on the training camp for it, I’m grateful for being able to say that.

With the third volume being the last of the manga series, I’m now fairly conflicted about its future. Initially I was interested in Dive!! assuming that it would be similar to a series like Haikyu!!, which puts a lot of emphasis on the sport. With that clearly not being the case, I don’t know what the end-goal is meant to be anymore. Is it the Olympics? If it is, the final volume will have to speed through most of the content that I’d have liked to have seen. The character development within this volume means nothing if the series can’t nail the ending, and right now I have major concerns about that happening.

Away from the story, I also had some concerns with the artwork this time around. Diving scenes for the most part were still drawn well, and mangaka Ruzuru Akashiba does well to convey the height, depth, twists and turns of the jumps. However, there was something incredibly off-putting about the way they drew Shibuki’s hair. I get the impression he’s supposed to have white/blond highlights, because random bits of his hair were whited out in every shot. It’s not very well drawn though, and instead of looking like highlights (or part of his hair at all) it just looks like the black toner was on the blink when printing the pages. It’s distracting to look at and leaves a lasting negative impression.

Volume 2 of Dive!! comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Christine Dashiell. The translation reads well and Yen’s release overall is a nice quality. There’s even a colour page at the beginning! The final volume is currently scheduled for release in July.

Overall, Volume 2 of Dive!! moves the series from being a story about diving to more common slice-of-life matters. With only one more volume to go, the manga desperately needs to decide what’s more important to it: the characters or the sport. Nevertheless, as we head towards the conclusion, I can at least say I’ve developed a growing fondness for the cast.

6 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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