Curiosity killed the cat. In this case, curiosity had me finish watching Full Dive despite a number of concerns I had after the first three episodes when I did my watch or drop post. At the time I put this one as a maybe but curiosity got the better of me and I did the ‘just one more episode’ thing right to the conclusion.
Needless to say, it didn’t get any better.
However, it also didn’t get any worse so I guess if you enjoyed the opening episodes Full Dive is going to work for you.
Full Dive – Doesn’t Pretend To Be What It Is Not
Alright, so Full Dive, or ‘Full Dive: The Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life!’ is pretty much what you would expect from the premise. The protagonist, Hiroshi Yuuki gets ‘tricked’ into buying the game and then refuses to quit because of the money spent despite going through some fairly horrific situations.
Then he refuses to quit for reasons that don’t quite make sense but occasionally things go well for him, until the next line pulls the rug out from under him and he ends up in either the same or a worse situation than he was in.
I get the whole anime obsession with never giving up and the power of ‘will’ but even for a comedy Full Dive takes it to an extreme that is just not plausible.
Forget Hiroshi, nobody would play this game.
Actually, I think people would sooner log into Sword Art Online even knowing they’d be trapped there until someone cleared it than play this game.
Now, I was curious about the idea of a game striving for ultimate realism. I mean, the word ‘ultimate’ makes that sound cool until you realise the reason most people play games is to experience something they can’t in real life. If you only allow a player the skills and strength they have in real life and go out of your way to make the game almost impossible to beat, it really isn’t going to appeal.
But Full Dive takes it a step further and doesn’t even stay true to ultimate realism. Sure, when it is convenient to kick Hiroshi while he’s down they are all about realism. But then we have the guy who moves at lightning speed and the best friend who suddenly becomes a knife wielding maniac who can take down a goblin with a pair of fruit knives.
So we’re watching a character we can’t sympathise with, because he put himself in the predicament, play a game that wouldn’t be any fun anyway, and the game isn’t even consistent with its premise and we don’t meet a single character or player in either the real world or in the game that actually makes this feel somehow worthwhile.
Now, I guess we could just forget logic for a moment and accept this is a comedy and is supposed to exaggerate things and set up absurd scenarios. However, what it seems to have forgotten is making it fun.
What fun is there in seeing the main character beaten down again and again? Not just physically but emotionally. And by his sister, his supposed guide, the walkthrough, and every single NPC. As much as Hiroshi isn’t a likeable character, seeing what he goes through in this anime is actually kind of painful to watch and while he gets a small bit of light right at the end of Full Dive it isn’t anywhere near enough to justify the torture this character was put through.
Nor can I sympathise with him because he put himself in the situation and he literally never improves. He is awful at everything and even after learning that his skills in the game reflect real life he continues to expect to magically improve or have some made sword skills without doing anything to earn them.
Not to mention he literally just screams and shouts every-time anything goes wrong. Literally. Every. Single. Time.
And I guess, potentially seeing a character so traumatised they pee themselves could be considered funny in some contexts but Full Dive certainly doesn’t make it seem like a laughing matter and more just kind of sad.
However, while we’re on the topic of terrible characters, we should discuss Reona. Again, I get that they are using her for comedic effect at times but her personality is all over the place and I don’t think she’s even once actually helpful as a guide.
The standard ‘joke’ in Full Dive goes:
Hiroshi wonders how to overcome some obstacle without actually trying anything on his own first.
Reona, as the fairy guide, offers a ‘helpful’ suggestion.
Hiroshi yells at her that it won’t help or demands more information she never has.
Hiroshi ends up doing the thing anyway.
It ends badly.
Reona makes some kind of quip or shrugs at Hiroshi’s expense.
He either inwardly cringes or shouts at her again.
Rinse and repeat.
I do fully understand that I’m not hugely into comedy but I’m really struggling to see who the audience for this is. It isn’t slap-stick or good humoured violence but rather quite cruel and disturbing. The characters are scathing to one another and watching Full Dive is like watching awful people emotionally tear each other apart episode after episode and somehow being winked at by the characters like we’re meant to be in on the joke.
You know what really bugs me about all of this?
If they’d not tried to make it a joke and actually just explored what a game that was made to be made with ultimate realism was like and had a main character I could sympathise with as he went through some of these trials, there’s still actually an interesting story and concept here.
It was that interesting concept and potential that kept me watching Full Dive however really this anime squandered every opportunity it had and instead we get a reasonably awful anime of a a terrible character playing a terrible game.
That said, it isn’t unwatchably horrific and ultimately the story kind of works even if it didn’t suit me so this isn’t worst anime ever material. Just not really worth the time it takes to watch.
Images from: Full Dive. Dir. K Miura. ENGI. 2021.
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