Grand Blue Dreaming: The Crazy Party of Youth

(Disclaimer: Contains minor spoilers for the manga Grand Blue Dreaming.)

So, the extended winter break has come to an end… and I am about to go back to another stressful term as a university student. Facing the huge upcoming workload along with the PTSD from the last not-so-great fall term, I decided to spend my last couple of days watching a couple of old comedy manga series that I have enjoyed in the past then to (hopefully) gear up.

And then, as if life wanted to dig further into my suffering, the first one I found was Grand Blue Dreaming—a comedy series with a college setting that I had wholeheartedly enjoyed when I was still a naïve high school boy with no idea about what university life was like (yeah, the one you always want to punch in their face for stupid mistakes). As one of the rare comedy manga that develops university life as its main topic, this manga definitely takes my first place in regards to total reread and rewatch time, even if it isn’t the series I invest most of my time in. So, I am here, expressing some simple thoughts about one of my favorite manga to ease down the stress of deadlines approaching sooner than ever.

Okay, let’s begin with the manga plot first, shall we?

Grand Blue—a normal manga about diving, but is that all?

Grand Blue Dreaming, or Grand Blue for short, is a manga about the university life of Kitahara Iori – a young man who decides to step out of his comfort zone and enroll in an engineering program on a faraway island. The blue sky, the warm sunlight, the gentle breeze from the ocean: all of it promised a bright and cheerful future for our freshman on his first step into adulthood! Isn’t it perfect for a new start? What could go wrong when even the beauties of the sea can be seen near your place?

Everything…

Everything changes when he opens the door into the house and sees a bunch of naked muscled men having a strip party in the living room…

Ah, the beginning of all, such good times, eh?

Okay, I will stop there to ensure your enjoyment of reading through it by yourself. And don’t be afraid, he will still have fun, but in a wilder and more “energetic” way that he could ever have imagined. This is a fine cocktail of youth, alcohol, and the sea infused with the recklessness and competitiveness of university life; topped with friendship and love (?) to allow you to turn your mind off and laugh along with their shenanigans, no matter how many times you have read it before.

Yep, this one and the one above are the same people, and yes, this is usual in the entire series.

The comedy part of this series mainly rests on three factors: the surprise, the absurdity, and the face/body impressions. I would not say that the plot is exceptional when you can find any of its ideas within the usual comedy genre of manga, just flavoured to fit the college setting. What keeps it special, nevertheless, is the highly clever usage of all three above factors for the author to naturally slip in the humor and keep it entertaining, especially the well-done facial expressions which contradict strongly with the usual art style, which in my opinion is one of the best in its entire genre.

But only these elements? Is this enough for me to binge this one manga repeatedly instead of looking for new series, whenever I need some rest from the stress of life? No…

It is the “ideal” university life, and the freedom that I dream of every time I open the first volume and go through it again; the hardship of school only makes it more and more endearing to me. Getting wasted with fellow friends, messing with professors (while not being an ass), stepping (or getting dragged) out of the comfort zone to try new stuff, having all types of shenanigans with friends without worrying about how people view us while having your back covered by them whenever something bad happens. Sounds cool, right? To be honest, this was my motivation to open myself up more when I first joined Welcome Week at McMaster (sad that it must be held online this year), and to join this club (aside from the Jojo BGM—that is also important). It turned out great, and I have a great time with everyone, although it is a little bit different from what I expected: no getting wasted at night at the party, but chilling and having comfy drinking sessions with fellow Vaulters in the bar; no strip rock-paper-scissors but stupid discussions about anything that comes to minds with friends that share the same mindsets and respect my opinions. Everything seemed fine, and I thought it would stay like that forever—that at one point, I could finally create strong bro relationships with somebody, like how I look up to Iori and Kouhei in this manga. But then COVID-19 happened, and I am sitting here almost one year into quarantine and talking about returning again to this series to set my mind free from this stressful time…

But hey, life is always full of surprises and unexpected moments, so we just have to flow with it and grasp the opportunities we can while we are still young. And then one day when we get out of this party of youth, we can step forward to further achieve our dream under the grand blue sky without any regrets.

You will never know how the world will look like out there unless you take a step into it, so why not give it a try while you still can?

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