Are you feeling overwhelmed with all of the serious and violent anime this season? As wonderful as shows like Inuyashiki and The Ancient Magus’ Bride are, sometimes you just need a short bit of fluff that’s easy on the eyes. And if you like boys in speedos, you can’t go wrong with Dive!! from this past summer. It won’t change your life, but there are plenty of enjoyable casual moments as well as some darker undercurrents that keep this anime about a struggling high school diving team interesting.
As for the characters themselves, they hit just about every personality type there is – the ace with a mysterious side, the wild man, the jealous best friend, the self-proclaimed rival who constantly gets ignored, and many more. But they do all have one thing in common, and that’s their rock hard abs. A diver has to be aerodynamic and flexible, so naturally everyone on the team is crazy fit and trains around the clock to stay that way. But you may wonder to yourself... which of these spandex-clad specimens is truly the abdominal champion? Well, wonder no more! We’ve carefully pored over all twelve episodes to bring you the top ten best abs in Dive.
Ryou has known Tomoki, the protagonist, since they started diving together back in elementary school. Along with Reiji, the three of them had fun making memories together and generally didn’t worry too much about perfecting their craft. But when Coach Asaki stampedes into their lives and forces them to be better than their best in order to qualify for the Olympics and save the club, Ryou starts to feel uneasy. Tomoki works hard and has natural talent, so he gets most of Asaki’s attention while Ryou and the others are left by the poolside. Eventually, he snaps at Tomoki for being so perfect and oblivious to their struggles, but later calms down and quits the team to play a more team-oriented sport instead.
Since Ryou doesn’t appear as a diver in very many episodes, he ranks pretty low on this list. But he does have nice abs that are mostly defined by subtle shadows, indicating that he’s younger and doesn’t take diving as seriously as the other characters. He also gets points for making a cameo later in the series to cheer up Tomoki during a rough patch, showing that he’s happy on his new path and doesn't hold a grudge against his longtime friend. He’s a realistic teenager with a good heart and good abs.
Tomoki’s other childhood friend is Reiji, a green-haired middle schooler who also ends up playing second (or third... or fourth) fiddle to the other divers once Coach Asaki joins the team. Unlike Ryou, though, Reiji sticks with the team and sets his own goals so that he gets as much out of the club’s new direction as the more skilled divers do. He’s not aiming for the Olympics, but rather to improve on his own scale. His outlook on life is part of what inspires Tomoki to rethink his own goals later in the series – don’t just do what others tell you to do, but instead make your “own Olympics” that you alone want to strive for.
Physically, Reiji is very similar to Ryou and Tomoki. He stays on the team for all twelve episodes and focuses more on his training once Ryou leaves, so his shadow-defined abs are shown more often and he gets to execute some impressive dives. Even if he’s not the best, Reiji never gives up.
Representing Splash Osaka, “Fiery” Jiro is quite the manly man. But he doesn’t get his nickname from his intense personality or his love for flashy diving techniques. He gets it from constantly trying and failing difficult dives, landing on his back and turning it bright red like fire by the end of every meet. Well, at least his passion helps inspire his self-imposed rival Shibuki to take joy in competitive diving! Along with Coach Asaki, Jiro insists that Shibuki use his wild and unique diving style to amaze the crowd, even if it gets fewer points from the judges.
Jiro is one of the few divers designed to look more heroic and muscular than cute. Even though he’s a supporting character, he stands out for his sharply drawn muscles and his overly intense attitude. For fans of manly characters with a silly side, Jiro is a welcome sight on the rare occasions when he appears.
Toshihiko is another rival diver, this time from Fukushima Rainbow. He has a background as a gymnast and is unusually knowledgeable about other people’s diving techniques. He also helps the others feel less nervous on the diving platform with his cheerful disposition and can-do attitude.
Owing to his gymnastics training, Toshihiko has more muscular arms and somewhat tighter abs than the other characters. His button nose, bright eyes, and compression gloves complement his stockier body, making his design distinctive even though he doesn’t get very many lines.
6. Shibuki’s grandfather
These next two may seem like odd choices, especially since this character and his best friend only appear in one episode. But their actions from long ago are what spurs Shibuki to return to competitive diving and pursue his own dreams.
Shibuki’s grandfather was a legendary diver who, like his grandson many years later, grew up diving off of twenty-meter cliffs into the ocean. His graceful swan dive wowed all who saw it, and his best friend, Coach Asaki’s grandfather, knew that he was a sure bet for the 1964 Olympics. But the shift from the ocean to a pool wreaked havoc on his back and his dream was torn away from him. As an adult, he went on to teach Shibuki everything he knew so that his grandson would be able to experience the joy of performing in front of a crowd.
As a young man, Shibuki’s grandfather was wild and untamed. His hair stuck out in every direction at once, his eyes burned with intensity, and his body was lithe and jagged from wrestling with the open ocean. His abs were especially prominent and were beautifully showcased during his signature swan dive. It looks like Shibuki inherited not just his grandfather’s brusque personality, but his Tarzan-esque physique as well.
5. Coach Asaki’s grandfather
The other half of the Shibuki character development desaturated flashback team is Coach Asaki’s grandfather. He never attained the fame that Shibuki’s grandfather did, but instead supported him throughout his journey because he believed that his stubborn friend had the talent and passion to make it to the Olympics. He talked Shibuki’s grandfather into coming to Tokyo to train with him, and then worked tirelessly alongside him to reach their goal. But when his friend developed a back problem that put an end to his career, Asaki’s grandfather felt utterly crushed for pushing him so far. Luckily, though, Shibuki’s grandfather forgave him in a heartfelt speech before returning to his hometown.
Asaki’s grandfather is so high on the list for one specific reason: he pulled off the ‘60s hunk look very well. His curly mop of hair, sideburns, long nose, and buff body that nearly burst out of his popped collar shirt brings to mind Space Dandy or even vintage Super Sentai. When he was in his competition speedo that showed off his impressively manly abs, the slick ‘60s style still wasn’t lost. He was a steadfast friend with a distinctive look that’s hard to find in modern anime.
Coming in at number four is our protagonist, Tomoki. He’s a middle school diver who struggles with where his priorities should lie. Should he spend more time with his girlfriend Miyu, whose confession he only accepted because he didn’t want her to feel bad? Should he focus on saving the diving club by trying to qualify for the Olympics? Or should he craft his own goals, even though he isn’t sure exactly what he really wants? His internal conflict provides the background for this anime’s message – create your own path that inspires you instead of just following what everyone else wants. It will be difficult and you may lose some people along the way, but reaching your “own Olympics” is worth it in the end.
Tomoki looks similar to the other middle schoolers, Ryou and Reiji, but he also has the benefit of being the main character. His abs are rendered with love by the animators, with complex shading and rippling water effects added to emphasize how much effort he puts into his training. By the end of the series, it’s clear that he’s the buffest 14-year-old the diving club has ever seen.
Atsuhiko, better known as “Pinky” because of his bright pink swimsuit, is the most prominent of the rival divers. He represents Miyagi Spirit and burns with a passion undying to someday defeat his greatest foe, Yoichi. Unfortunately, he gets so caught up in this one-sided rivalry that he chokes at meets and flubs all of his dives. Yoichi admits that Atsuhiko is actually better than him in terms of technique and strength, but the pink-clad man’s massive ego constantly gets in the way. Will Atsuhiko ever show his true talent or will he be forever burdened by Yoichi’s shadow?
This character is one of the tallest and most physically fit divers in the whole show. He challenges Yoichi to a weightlifting contest in a brief flashback, where his abs are drawn with thick lines almost like a Western superhero. His over-the-top demeanor and flashy style complete the look, making Atsuhiko a standout character among his less fluorescent competition.
Yoichi is the ace of Mizuki Diving Club, and likely their best hope for staying in business. If anyone is going to get a spot on the Olympic team, it’s going to be him. Yoichi comes from a prestigious diving pedigree and has been dedicating his life to the sport since he was a child. His precise and graceful dives even inspired Tomoki to join the club many years ago. Everyone either looks up to him as an unflappable senpai or wants to tear him down from his comfortable spot at the top of the rankings. And on top of all that, he’s absolutely gorgeous, striking the perfect balance between cute and manly. His abs are some of the finest Dive has to offer, with subtle shadows as well as thick outlines that show how much he’s molded his own body to excel at diving. Is there anything he can’t do?
To give due credit to this anime, Yoichi is an unusual subversion of the “ace” character type. Plenty of time is devoted to showing him struggling between what’s best for his superiors and what’s best for him personally, as well as how the pressure that comes with being the top diver in the area chips away at him. He has developed an eating disorder and an exercise addiction, both of which cause self-destructive behavior that he refuses to let anyone help him with. Hopefully, with the character development that he undergoes during the series, Yoichi can break through his mental cage and learn to be happy as well as healthy.
Do you like muscles? Do you specifically like abdominal muscles? Well, if you’ve gotten to this point in the list, then you must be quite the ab fan. And as far as Dive goes, nobody delivers in this department better than the tanned master of twenty-meter ocean cliff diving himself – Shibuki. This man has a ten-pack and hasn’t even graduated high school yet.
Like his grandfather, Shibuki spent his whole life diving off of massive cliffs into the raging ocean as part of a tradition to appease the gods. Coach Asaki purloins him from his village to join Mizuki Diving Club in Tokyo, where she believes he can continue his family’s legacy and become a competitive diver who shakes up the competition with his hardcore background. He’s initially dismissive of such minimalist pool diving, but learns along the way that Asaki and his grandfather may have been right about the joy of performing after all.
Shibuki has the best abs in Dive because he looks like he walked right out of an old school Men’s Life cover. He has an honest hardiness about him that can only come from diving headfirst into crashing waves and narrowly avoiding jagged rocks for years on end. And unlike every other character in this show, he has a loving girlfriend who he deeply cares for. Do his wondrous abs give him the power to maintain a committed relationship? We may never know.
What do you think of our list? For whose abs does your flag of allegiance fly? Let us know who it is and why in the comments! Also, be sure to check out more fun top ten lists like this one on Honey’s Anime.