Fair play to Full Dive this week, as a decent amount actually happens in an episode this time. It hardly hits the ground running though, picking up as we do with Hiro having just resolved his potty emergency from the previous episode, before detouring into a whole distracting section where Mizarisa corners him in that same bathroom. We're at the end of the season with Full Dive, so I can hardly say I'm surprised by this point that the show constantly chooses to suck the air out of any tense situations or forward plot momentum with bits like Mizarisa propositioning Hiro for a bathroom-based BDSM beatdown. Or following that with Hiro revealing his hilariously tragic backstory to Reona only for her to give him a right roasting for it. But given that I'm clearly not in the audience that finds these odd sidebars all that funny, it really undercuts any strides I feel the series has made when it's taking up my time with violently repetitive poop jokes.
Once we push past that laborious reintroduction to the goblin-invasion scenario seemingly powering this show's final arc, Full Dive basically works in this episode for the same reasons it worked last week: Mizarisa and Alicia are still around and watching them go to work is as fun as ever. I particularly enjoy how Alicia's taken to naming her attacks after specific kinds of fruit slicing. I swear that girl is a great character concept trapped in this middling show. And if Hiro himself is mostly along for the ride as the crisis and combat encompassing it escalates as the episode goes on, he still functions as a set of eyes to communicate to the audience every shift in the situation that occurs. So we see things like the arrival of a one-eyed boss goblin the event seemingly hinges on, or even an admittedly fun little subversion where we hear how Amos and Palu, who I'd previously predicted would undermine the attack's efforts with their ousting, initially showed up to fight after all but quickly turned tail and ran. That rewards an audience's attention to detail in an entertaining way!
As well, the actual fighting isn't incredible, particularly part of the fight between Tesla and One-Eye being communicated via a sparse speedline slide-show. But some of the stuff we get to see, once again, largely from Mizarisa and Alica, is cool enough. Though a lot of it, especially the emphasis on speed being a combat component, just has me checking my watch until Hiro's mysterious track-running powers manifest again to finally save the day. And the mechanics around that needing to come to pass should be the most interesting part of the episode, but are instead something I find myself contentious of. It's not so much the revelation of Tesla as being a manipulative tyrant in league with the Queen the whole time is bad- It's a solid shock that was still effectively foreshadowed by the goblin growls of previous episodes and sets up an impressively impossible-seeming hurdle for Hiro to get over before we're finally done with this storyline. The issue is that the actual execution of it, like so much else in the way of Full Dive's priorities, is bizarrely mismanaged.
The presentational problem would seem to come from the order of operations the twist is revealed in. Hiro at first just comes off shocked and galled that Tesla had some long-imprisoned goblins ready to deploy as a distraction against One-Eye, whereas for the audience at that point it feels like a very “Okay, and?” revelation. So instead a whole lot of circular conversing has to take place for Hiro to prompt Tesla into explaining why capturing and provoking the goblins is bad, actually, and how he's also been doing it for manipulative, evil reasons. The time and place this all comes out makes it feel more like a weird dark twist for the sake of itself than it might really be. And to be fair, I recognize how that could be seen as a riff on the kinds of shitty RPG writing that Kiwame Quest itself exists as a dig at, but it's still also the primary component the drama of the show itself is riding on, so it still doesn't land in the moment. Having to backtrack in the middle of your twist to explain a further twist that clarifies why it was evil in the first place is clunky no matter how you slice it.
It's not helped by the need to setup this situation necessitating the way Hiro uncovers this goblin-grabbing conspiracy by blurting out his deductions in the middle of a life-or-death situation he really shouldn't be so keen to interrupt in the first place. This show has admittedly trained me to believe that any progression by Hiro only incidentally comes about as a result of him being a short-sighted idiot, but that doesn't make it any more entertaining to watch him yelp out his plot-twist theories in the middle of an event he could have cleared easily, with the possibility of him finally escaping the City of Ted hinging on his odd moral compulsions towards the poorly-conceived inner politics of this video game he admits that he hates. That is, the way Hiro comes to his conclusion and the way he immediately acts upon it clearly only occur at the behest of the writing needing to set up this confrontation between him and Tesla for the end of this storyline. And when this otherwise ‘realistic’ themed series shows that it has no compunction about propelling things forward with that sort of contrivance, it just makes it stand out even more that they spent huge chunks of the last couple episodes on the subject of Hiro taking a dump. But I can't claim to be surprised by Full Dive's allocation of priorities at this point, and as I said, I was at least engaged by the basic progression of things that occurred in this episode.
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.