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Comedy manga can be very hit-or-miss in part, because the intended audience may not be a 30-something American like myself. In some cases it’s clear the manga is tuned more for a teenager, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t find a few haha’s in there. This manga has those, especially if you’ve experienced college to its fullest.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
After moving out on his own to a seaside town, Iori Kitahara makes a college debut he never anticipated. A new chapter of his life unfolds, full of diving with beautiful girls and shenanigans with a gaggle of lovable bastards! Idiot-expert Kenji Inoue and au naturel authority Kimitake Yoshioka bring you a glorious college tale filled with booze-fueled antics!
Why does this matter?
Grand Blue Dreaming is being adapted into a TV show as we speak, which might be why we’re getting the manga in paperback form. This is a manga geared towards younger men (you can tell based on the humor and boob shots) and it captures the somewhat insane nature of heavy drinking when you enter college. If that sounds like it’d appeal to you then buckle up!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This manga intrigued me because it seems to be mixing two very different things: the beauty of diving and experiencing underwater life, and the raging over-drinking of freshman year of college. It’s not until the very end that it becomes clear manga creators Kenji Inoue and Kimitake Yoshioka are working towards quelling that young person angst with the beauty of deep sea exploration and the rigorous requirements of diving. You begin to understand that in the very last chapter there’s a deeper meaning which is good timing since many may drop it due to the over-the-top nature of what proceeds it.
There are jokes in this book I simply don’t understand. A lot of them deal with male nudity and the awkwardness the main character feels when watching other men get naked for fun. I’ve never experienced that sort of thing; I don’t even know if it’s realistic in the slightest, but it’s a recurring joke in the manga. Even if you don’t find it funny you have to admit it sets a certain mood for the characters who party all the time and could care less about what others think. Main character Iori is impressionable to say the least and quickly plays stripping games with the other men. This leads to him going to class in just shorts and basically having three days of drunken times for his first days at school.
There are a few funny jokes that had me laughing. One of which involves Iori’s room and him setting it up. He needs to set it up fast so he can go out partying after his cousin (who is also his roommate) forbids him from going out. He assumes if he does one thing that’s responsible she’ll let him go. Problem is, his new drinking buddies keep designing his room wrong. The first iteration is a room filled with porno posters on the walls, magazines everywhere, and even porno furniture. They continue to do it wrong and it continues to embarrass Iori in front of his cousin/roommate. There are other chuckle-inducing scenes like Iori demanding people give them his clothes so he won’t get arrested or a drinking contest where folks can tell their beverage is alcoholic or not by lighting it on fire.
It can’t be perfect can it?
A lot of the humor didn’t work for me. Some of which was due to visual problems like Iori’s embarrassment. The facial expressions are ridiculously over-the-top, but also hard to gauge. They come off as strange rather than silly or funny. The constant male nudity jokes are also strange and bizarre. In one scene Iori is attempting to learn how to dive for the first time and a lot of the lessons require they take off their clothes, or rip them off of each other. It’s not done in a sexual way, but in more of a horseplay way that’s not funny so much as awkward. Maybe the creators find male nudity so outrageous it’s funny? I don’t know.
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It’s also very hard to care about Iori who only gains character development late in the manga. Up until the last thirty pages he comes off as immature and easily manipulated. He seems to have a good heart, but we barely know him. Thankfully these last few pages add a bit of character which adds purpose to the title as a whole.
Is it good?
I wasn’t sure about this manga right up until the very end. I like it, but there’s no denying this is more for younger men who may relate to the nonstop partying and debauchery that takes place when you binge drink. The comedy may actually work better in a TV show, because as it stands a large chunk of the nudity humor does not work.
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