The summer months are on the way! Are you ready for the heat? Most people cool off by jumping into a large body of water for fun. Or to train as synchronized swimmers under the tutelage of a slightly sadistic dolphin trainer. In the 2001 film “Waterboys”, the desolate remains of a swim team do just that. Written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, it starred famous comedian Naoto Takenaka and launched the careers of young actors like Satoshi Tsumabuki (“Great Teacher Onizuka” and “Dororo”) and Hiroshi Tamaki (“Nodame Cantabile”).
The story begins in a small town with all-boys high school student Suzuki, who dreams of waterlogged greatness only to be perpetually crushed by the competition. He is the sole member of his school’s swim team until the coach is replaced by a beautiful young woman at the beginning of the new school year. Oodles of students swarm the first swim team practice in hopes of getting near her. After she unveils her history as a synchronized swim champ and her plans to turn them into a synchro-team, only Suzuki and four students remain to slap on their speedos and spit-shine their goggles for glory.
After the teacher plans their performance for their high school festival she discovers she is pregnant and has to take maternity leave. Despite the doubts of their town and the jeers from the other clubs, the swim team ultimately decide to carry through with training themselves and performing the best synchro swim show their town has ever seen. Together they learn to overcome their difficulties, prejudices and differences to work as a synchronized whole towards one shared goal.
The movie is an odd little summer gem that won two Japan Academy Prizes and was nominated for eight. It was quite popular and had a spin-off televisions series that ran for three seasons. It’s a feel good flick complete with unlikely friendships, romances and ridiculous antics all in the pursuit of having an unforgettable senior year.