As the end of the previous episode teased, this week's Full Dive opens with the proper revelation of just why Reona is so invested in Hiro beating Kiwame Quest. And as expected for Full Dive, it's a pure, stupid anticlimax. The thing is, for as much issue as I've taken with this show's previous lack of commitment to any sort of stakes, I actually find myself pretty down with Reona's story of being driven by petty revenge. It had already been established from Hiro's interactions with the walkthrough that Kamui was a total wad, so to see that acknowledged as the ultimate goal to follow up on fits with the feelings the story has cultivated. Granted, there are some mild side questions I have regarding this whole setup, mostly revolving around why Reona couldn't play through the game on her own and instead finds herself relegated to a helper fairy role, but I also can at least understand the ‘real’ point that a show like this needs a more self-insertable boy like Hiro at its center for its fantasy to function. Point is, this episode-opening revelation was the funny kind of irreverent anticlimax that actually got a chuckle out of me.
It's a clear indicator of the point that I'm not sure the writing itself has caught onto, that for as much of Full Dive is based on watching a barely-functional weakling like Hiro stumble through Kiwame Quest, the show's actually a lot more interesting when we're seeing anyone but him do anything. There's an oblique acknowledgement in this episode as the two exiled recruits from last week have Alicia and Mizarisa brought in to replace them, even teaming up with Hiro to carry him through his next set of escapades. I continue to simply not understand Hiro's protests at getting to hang out with two cute yandere girls- How is this the one thing he's consistently aware of the ‘realistic’ issues with? Especially as Alicia seems to have turned her ‘Fruit Knife Wielder From Hell’ schtick into an actual character class, complete with a sweet double-knife holster on her back. The show really feels like it's having fun with these characters versus all the performative agony it had pushed Hiro through for the past couple episodes.
With that uptick in tone, it's easy for me to be way more receptive to this episode of Full Dive compared to the last few weeks simply on account of how much screen-time is spent watching Alicia and Mizarisa go to town. Sure, they're effectively still NPCs running scripts within the game events Hiro stumbles between, but they're so effective at what they do that it's hard not to be entertained anyway. It's refreshing to see characters actually succeed at simple tasks like stopping a purse snatcher where the humor of the ‘realism’ then comes from reactions to the outlandish violence they do so with. And for as bland and dour as Full Dive can look when we're 90% focused on watching Hiro stand around generic fantasy environments, it means things come to life when these two good scary girls actually kick off a decent fight scene or two. Even if it also (accidentally?) reinforces the show's point about how uninteresting things are when they focus so much on being ‘realistic’.
To that end, we're still stuck with a scenario centered around playing out those ‘realistic’ sequences of events, even more egregious this week as the ‘social order breaks down due to an incipient goblin attack’ schtick was already demonstrated with the last goblin attack! The main difference this time is just in the characters that are involved, from the aforementioned Alicia and Mizarisa, to the return of Ginji here trying to exploit the in-game confusion for his own virtual personal gain. It's another case where the show's specific brand of concept-drilling repetition shortchanges its entertainment value, as we already knew Ginji was an opportunistic jerk who treated his corner of the game like a cheap playground, and ending with him being sentenced to virtual jail feels like a conceptual shrug at best. So he's just going to keep logging in for free in-game meals and serve out his term? I had previously thought there was something compelling to Ginji as a portrayal as this kind of player, but by this point feels like he's included in the narrative purely out of inertia. In this case I'm mostly grateful for his participation in the episode for providing Alicia and Mizarisa more opportunities to slice stuff up real good.
All of that is mostly-decent filler between the beginning and ending of this episode setting up the more major components of Full Dive's story at this point. Hiro realizes that the incoming goblin raid could be major trouble given how, uh, everything has gone in Kiwame Quest at this point. But he's apparently got access to some ‘trick’ to winning via the walkthrough that we're currently not privy to, but have enough familiarity with the show's tone to guess is probably going to be something stupid and anticlimactic. And if you can't believe my cynicism in undercutting this series potential, note also that the goblin attack does begin this week, only for the episode to devote its final minutes to an extended sequence of our main character heroically trying to drop a deuce before joining the battle he can hear raging around outside. For all its former fixations on fecal functions, I still don't think Full Dive can get that kind of distraction to land as a gag. If they want to keep me entertained, I'll take less of Hiro's drawn-out failings and more of Alicia cutting dudes' hands off.
Full Dive is currently streaming on Funimation.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.