Kotobuki: Whatever. That kinda thing will just work itself out.
Iori: I don't think it's that simple...
Kotobuki: You won't get anywhere if you only try things you can already do. What matters is whether or not you're interested in something.
Iori Kitahara starts his new life as a college student at Izu in Shizuoka Prefecture, revisiting the town after ten years; in the meantime, he stays with his uncle Toshio Kotegawa and his two beautiful daughters, Chisa and Nanaka, at their family-run diving goods store "Grand Blue".
Unfortunately, he discovers that life at the seaside isn't as great as it's cracked up to be when he gets shanghaied into joining "Peek-a-Boo", an inter-collegiate scuba diving club whose members are more interested in drinking and being naked than actually diving, which so happens to use Grand Blue as their base of operations. Alongside his fellow mechanical engineering freshmen, diving-obsessed Chisa and hardcore otaku sis-con Kouhei Imamura, Iori might just survive this new insanity.
Grand Blue (ぐらんぶる) is a monthly Seinen Manga written by Kenji Inoue (creator of the Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Light Novels) and illustrated by Kimitake Yoshioka (of the Amagi Brilliant Park Manga fame). What sets it apart from most Slice of Life stories is its cast and setting: college is very different from high school, and topics that wouldn't usually show up in the latter like the consumption of alcohol, sex and the quest to lose one's virginity are rampant. Despite the narrative's potential for raunchiness, Grand Blue is light-hearted and tells an always hilarious, yet moving story of a young man's journey into adulthood.
The series got picked up for English release by Kodansha USA, under the title Grand Blue Dreaming. It also got an Animated Adaptation, airing in the Summer 2018 Anime season, while a live-action film adaptation was released in August 2020.
This work contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: In the manga, Nanaka is the first of the Kotegawa sisters Iori meets when he arrives at Izu. The anime replaces her with Chisa.
- Age Lift: In the manga, all the freshmen are around eighteen years old. However, because in Japanese law drinking alcoholic beverages at that age is still illegal, and perhaps to get around Moral Guardians potentially objecting to their excessive alcoholism, the anime ages them up to twenty, the legal minimum.
- The Alcoholic: Just about every named male in the series drinks alcohol of all sorts—beer, sake, spirits, vodka, whiskey, wine; the women are more frugal with their alcohol in-take. Grand Blue can allow such wanton consumption since the characters are in college and are not bound by restrictions they'd normally get in high school.
- All Men Are Perverts: The majority of the male student body at Izu University; they'll even share their Porn Stash with one another. Only the upperclassmen from Peek-a-Boo aren't openly perverted.
- Artistic License Biology: Drinking concoctions with an alcoholic content of higher than 70% is akin to drinking rubbing alcohol—it's not meant for consumption, and can easily be fatal for those treating it like normal "hard" liquor and taking multiple shots, yet characters who have tried "Spirytus", which has an alcoholic content of a whopping 96%, look no worse for the wear after repeatedly binge-drinking it, including entire glassfuls. Lampshaded in Chapter 21 when Peek-a-Boo makes a cocktail made of different alcoholic drinks from each member. A chemistry major attempts to add rubbing alcohol into the mix, only to reveal he's joking as the resulting concentration is too low compared to shots of Spirytus each member had been adding beforehand, horrifying Iori and Kouhei.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: When trying out swimsuits themed on Evangelion plug suits, red-haired Chisa appropriately enough wears Asuka's suit, while blue-haired Aina likewise wears Rei's.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Iori, Kouhei and their fellow mechanical engineering freshmen friends may piss off and Troll each other to the point where one wonders why they're even friends, but if a third-party mistreats one of them, they will get even or make their point clear.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening seems to show it's a legitimate anime about diving instead of drinking — just like how everyone thought Peek-a-boo is a legitimate diving club instead of a drinking club.
- Call-Back: Iori's first look into Peek-A-Boo is repeated in Chapter 12.5 / Episode 6A, with the same paneling and all. The major differences are Aina Yoshiwara is the one opening the door to Grand Blue and Iori's joined his club members in drinking and playing games.
- During their trip to Okinawa, Iori promises Chisa that when the former wins the lottery, he'll invite her back to Okinawa as both couldn't enjoy the trip due to Iori not having a license and Chisa looking out for Iori. When Iori happens to win the 300,000 yen in the lottery in Chapter 61, he then invites Chisa back to Okinawa again. Unfortunately, Aina happens to hear the conversation.
- Censor Box: A black circle is frequently used to cover the boys' no-no bits.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: In Chapter 8.5 / Episode 6 pre-credits, Iori and his engineering batch-mates must complete a German-language exam, but they pull off "cheat sheets" because they don't know the material; unfortunately, they score with failing grades. Subverted when the professor bell-curves the scores because the class results were abyssmal, giving Iori and his friends a pass... then Double Subverted when the professor announces a re-test since he suspects they were cheating all along. Aina calls out Iori and Kouhei and in later chapters for fluking even with cheating.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Played for Laughs as a Running Gag. Whenever multiple characters are working together, there's a very good chance whatever endeavor they take will go awry because one member decided to be selfish and actively sabotage the others (mostly Iori and Kouhei towards each other).
- Comedic Sociopathy: The insanity of the story and its comedy relies on this. For example, in Chapter 36.5, Iori, Kouhei, Hajime, Yuu and Kenta look for a solution to help Shinichirou lose his virginity. They come up with two options—get him a prostitute or via "brute force".
- Cosplay Café: Iori and Kouhei are roped into helping out at a maid cafe during the Oumi Women's University festival. In Chapter 41.5, Kouhei takes Iori to a little sister maid cafe, too.
- Death Glare: Used frequently by the men when conversations about girlfriends are discussed, especially Iori and Chisa's "relationship". Meanwhile, Chisa is an absolute master of this, mostly towards Iori, due to Enraged by Idiocy.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The anime's ending theme, "Konpeki no Al Fine", is primarily sung by Yuuma Uchida (Iori) and Ryohei Kimura (Kouhei), with backing vocals from Katsuyuki Konishi (Ryuujirou) and Hiroki Yasumoto (Shinji), as the group "Izu no Kaze". In a recursive manner, the ending credits shows that the actual song is the Peek-a-Boo boys' karaoke rendition of the original by Idol Singer Kaya Mizuki, whose voice actress Nana Mizuki (herself a real-life Idol Singer) does the "original" Episode 11 version.
- The Dog Bites Back: When Iori and his engineering classmates are stuck in a lab with the smarmy and strict assistant professor Ushironomiya, they try everything in their power to annoy the crap out of him.
- Establishing Series Moment: At first, Grand Blue appears to set up the generic Seinen story of a college freshman falling in love with a girl he just met before first year begins. When he opens the door to his new residence, he finds a bunch of nude, muscular men with grotesque faces cackling and playing Drinking Games and ropes him into their insanity without choice.
- Fanservice: Applicable to both genders and is equally balanced. Almost all chapters feature the incredibly well-built men of Peek-a-Boo in various states of undress. Meanwhile, the women are shown in swimwear whenever possible (given the setting is right next to the ocean and the tropical climate allows for it), with Nanaka and Azusa the most curvy and shapely of the female cast.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Part of the reason Iori and Kouhei get along so well is they both only have each other to depend on whenever faced with Peek-a-Boo's ludicrous activities and demands.
- Gargle Blaster: A Running Gag throughout the series features various characters passing up "Oolong tea". In a pint glass, pour in 9 parts vodka and 1 part dark whiskey. You can light it on fire too! Judging by its unfortunate consumers' reactions, drinking it isn't a pleasant experience, to say the least.
- If you need water, drink up, it's clear — even though you can light it up and pour out of a bottle that say "Spirytus" and "96%"
- Chapter 21/Episode 12: Otori... Peek-a-Boo style. Into a large stone jar, everyone pour in a full bottle of their favorite liquor. First comes 2 bottles of Spirityus (96%). Then another bottle of Spirityus, then another. Then if allowed, a jar of Awamori (60%), but is frowned upon due to dilution. And keep going until everyone pours in and have enough so for every X person, they can chug X time; in this case, 12 times; each chug involves a full glass that is poured not just to the brim, but have the surface tension rising a bit. Drink it fast, other wise at least a gulp will be evaporated. Be careful of the alcohol vapor; it sting. For those with weaker composition, dilute one part of the mixture with 2 parts water so it's "only" 30%. (note: typical liquor percentage: 40%)
- Gratuitous English: The anime frequently peppers character dialogue with actual English phrases.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Izu University's male population, specifically the mechanical engineering students - due to the male-to-female ratio in the the program being 133:3, anytime someone has a girlfriend, the men's first idea is to kill the one who got a Relationship Upgrade.
- Groin Attack: In Chapter 32, Ushironomiya dedicates a lecture where Iori and his classmates are forced to smash each others' genitals for an experiment by tying them to a rig with the possibility of a hammer bashing their testicles at the wrong angle. Fortunately, he's dealt the receiving end of it, too.
- Hypocritical Humor: After an escapade with two rowdy German Otaku and their exasperated female friend, Iori and Kouhei muse the latter must have it rough dealing with two fools all the time. They're saying this to Chisa, only to realize the irony of their statement as they start pointing fingers at each other.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Iori and his college friends have no qualms insulting each other for their particular vices, but when other people do the same to them, they won't hold back defending each other.
- Incest Is Relative: Nanaka is literally in love with Chisa, while Iori is attracted to the sisters, his cousins, but won't do a thing. Subverted when his uncle reveals that Iori is not actually related to the sisters, his father being the adopted brother of the girls' mother.
- Insane Troll Logic: Used occasionally among the cast against each other, with an early example being the decision to decorate Iori's room. To prove he can be independent enough to be allowed into a mixer, Ryuujirou, Shinji and Kouhei transform his living quarters filled with porn, then moe material, and even yaoi, before Iori suggests plastering Chisa's face on the aforementioned material to appeal to Nanaka's "tastes". Iori is ultimately exiled to a different detached room from the house.
- Karaoke Box: The anime's ending theme, "Konpeki no al Fine", is set up as the four main boys singing the song in a karaoke room and absolutely having a ball of a time, ending with them posing before the camera naked.
- Kimodameshi: The freshmen go through one set up by the rest of Peek-A-Boo in same sex pairs in specialized courses. While Aina and Chisa's is textbook, Iori and Kouhei's is filled with things meant to be disgusting rather than terrifying.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In episode 9, the animators intentionally blurred the Evangelion diving suits to avoid lawsuits regarding copyrights.
- Literal-Minded: While attempting to work as bartenders in Chapter 14 / Episode 8A, Iori and Kouhei serve Aina's order of a screwdriver (vodka + orange juice); they hand her a drink with a literal screwdriver.
- Market-Based Title: The official English translation of the Manga is called Grand Blue Dreaming, likely to avoid confusion with Granblue Fantasy.
- Missing Mom: Subverted. Chisa and Nanaka's mother was unseen for much of the series, though when Kouhei (with the mindset of an otaku well aware of typical anime/manga cliches and tropes) wonders whether she is dead or divorced, Iori reveals that she is just working overseas. This is no longer the case as of Chapter 50, which reveals she was working in Palau, which so happen to be the where the freshmen go for a part-time job during summer break.
- Naked People Are Funny: A crux of the comedy relies on nearly every male character at Peek-A-Boo being naked.
- Nightmare Face: Another artistic style the story uses and Played for Laughs when many characters regularly contorting their facial expressions in order to enforce a point or bemoan their situation. In fact, alcohol does not need to be involved at all.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Occasionally turns up in order to set a less comedic tone. For example, when Peek-a-Boo's seniors set up an abandoned elementary school as a haunted house for the freshman to participate, Iori and Kouhei don't take it seriously at first until they discover their seniors have sworn off alcohol until the end of the event.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Aside from Chisa and Aina, a lot of women, upon seeing Azusa and Nanaka, admit to feeling this way in terms of looks and bust size.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Diving Club Peek-A-Boo doesn't get to do diving very often. Justified as its stated that diving is expensive so they need lots of fund raising activities, and these fund raising activities are often plots in themselves. The manga itself thus is often "the diving manga that doesn't do diving", to the point where the author often lampshades it during particularly long diving-less storyline periods via a text box saying "This is a diving manga."
- Reality Ensues:
- One side chapter has Iori and Kouhei visiting a maid cafe with a little sister theme and Kouhei's (who is a siscon) fantasy is ruined when he finds out the "little sisters" there are actually adults older than him. No workplace will hire anyone younger than 18 and only some will only hire high school students as part timers.
- Chapter 62 has Aina and her friends tell Kohei that dating sims/eroges are in no way realistic to his despair.
- Running Gag
- 99% of the time that anyone gets naked, it's usually a male member of Peek-a-Boo.
- Iori and Kouhei have a habit of fighting each other, usually pulling each other's cheeks.
- Whenever a character is offered a non-alcoholic drink (either "oolong tea" or "water"), chances are it's actually an alcoholic drink in disguise. Bonus points if a character checks their drink by setting it on fire with a lighter.
- A lot of chapters that focus on Iori and Kohei's non-PAB friends, Fujiwara Kenta is rarely fully shown in reference to him being bland.
- Sadist Show: Another good part of the comedy is the cast frequently Trolling each other in any situation. Lampshaded in Chapter 21.5 by Shinichirou when he, Iori, Kouhei, Hajime and Kenta discover Yuu is trying to have sex with his Childhood Friend Rie, thus they do whatever it takes to sabotage it from happening."...As long as my suffering crushes his happiness."
- Sexy Whatever Outfit: Iori and Kouhei, of all characters, have "Sexy Santa" outfits for Christmas on one color cover of the Manga.
- Shown Their Work
- Occasionally, Peek-A-Boo will drink Spirytus, which has an alcoholic content of 96%; it almost sounds fictional, but such a drink does exist - in its undiluted form, it really can go higher than 95%.
- The universal hand signals for diving are depicted accurately, including proper use of diving equipment and techniques. In an Omake for a collected volume of the Manga, series author Kenji Inoue even details his experience during a diving trip and used it as a frame of reference for Grand Blue.
- As per Groin Attack, the lecture Ushironomiya teaches to the engineering students is based on the Charpy impact test, a strain test meant to numerically determine energy absorbed by a material during "fracture", the separation of an object into two or more pieces.
- Slasher Smile: A near constant use for whenever characters are either Enraged by Idiocy, the result of Green-Eyed Monster or taking advantage of situations in their favor.
- Stealth Insult: When Sakurako wonders if Chisa is "the girl with the flattest chest" in Peek-a-Boo during the Beach Episode, Iori agrees, but adds "if you consider the current lineup" to that affirmation. Evidently, Aina's still getting some jokes even when she was away helping at her family farm during summer break.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Iori and Kouhei somehow arrive at the same conclusions whenever they trying to solve problems. Their "solutions" almost always involve something bizarre or downright insane, with varying levels of success.
- Strong Family Resemblance: When they meet Chisa and Nanaka's mom in Palau, Kouhei and Aina notice that Chisa inherited her mom's sharp eyes and taciturn personality, while Nanaka inherited their dad Toshio's constantly smiling, mellow attitude.
- Sustained Misunderstanding: Just as bad as Gamers! with Chapter 18 literally called "It's a Misunderstanding". Said chapter alone has multiple misunderstandings alone, first Aina overhear the seniors using rather odd phrases while buying fish and believes that they are engaging in something sexual when it is actually local fish names. Then, Iori wanted to have Chisa to help him prepare for his upcoming diving test but his actions made her believe that he wanted to do something dirty on him. When that was cleared, Aina and Kouhei overhear part of their conversation and believe that they are in a relationship.
- Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: Upon taking the train home for the summer holidays, Iori, Kouhei and Chisa encounter two foreigners who don't speak a lick of Japanese. Their dialogue consists entirely of German.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Pretty much the entire male cast with only Naomi being the exception. While they aren't totally unsympathetic, they are all pretty horrible people who will and have screwed each other either because they were jealous or they couldn't stand each other being happy which makes it fun when horrible things happen to them.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Iori and Kohei to a tee. They can and have turned on each other if it benefits them with little to no remorse but they're also an inseparable duo who spend most of their time together.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Used during Peek-A-Boo's orientation party at Izu University with Iori and Kouhei upon drinking too much.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Played for Laughs with Aina, who desires a wholesome college experience only to realize she's stuck in the hellish shenanigans Peek-A-Boo pulls every moment upon joining them. This is further accomplished by Iori and Kouhei during her desire to drive under a starry night during the trip to Okinawa and daydreaming about classy scenes in bars.
- With Friends Like These...: Iori, Kouhei, Hajime, Shinichirou, Yuu and Kenta in a nutshell—all six are perfectly willing to murder each other for the smallest slights against one another; that being said, it's not as if Iori's motives are that much better, either. Downplayed PAB who are True Companions but they are just as willing to screw each other over if it benefits them.
"We're very sorry!"