|“|| It feels more free when I wear a wetsuit...
In local urban legend, divers speak of the "Legendary Jet-Black Mermaid", a diver who wears an all-black wet suit even in winter, swims at superhuman speed, and comes to the aid of divers who are in trouble underwater. It's said that if you strike a rapport with the Jet-Black Mermaid, they will take you to the secret "Ryugu Palace". Legend states that the mermaid is a woman.
In reality, the so-called "Legendary Jet-Black Mermaid" is Hayate Kohinata, the husband of Kino Kohinata, an ex-diver who owns a diving supplies store and cafe in Izu, Shizuoka. Hayate is himself still a very keen diver who has accidentally risen into his local legend status.
When Mato Katori was a very young child, she visited a fireworks festival where she was too small to see any of the fireworks through the much taller people around her. While trying to see, she lost her parents amongst the crowd and, fearing she would never see them again, began to cry. She was spotted by a very large man who lifted her up onto his shoulders so that she could find her parents again, but having the side effect of giving her a completely clear view of the fireworks bursting in the open sky. Mato did not find out the man was, but it was in fact Hayate. This memory of how beautiful the fireworks were, and how close they seemed from such a high vantage point, had a profound effect on Mato.
Many years later while Futaba Ooki and his grandaughter Hikari were on a diving excursion with the Diving Club with Mato, Mato was flipped upside down underwater by a diver swimming past at very high speed. Momentarily shocked, Mato lost her concentration and nearly hit her head on a rock below, but was intercepted and saved by the very same diver, who she believed to be the Jet-Black Mermaid. Hayate gave a quick-check over of all Mato's equipment and then asked if she was ok. Mato responded that she was, but convinced this was the Legendary Jet-Black Mermaid, wrote on her writing slate asking him to take her to the "Ryugu Palace". Hayate took Mato's hand and then signed for her to hold on tight to Futaba and Hikari before quickly swimming off into the open water, pulling the 3 girls behind them. He took them to a huge underwater cave filled with beautiful coral and fish - the so called "Ryugu Palace" - before taking them back to their boat and swimming off. After meeting back up with the other divers, Futaba and Mato told the story to Makoto and Ai Ninomiya, who were jealous that they had such an experience with a so-called legendary diver - Hikari, obviously recognizing that the diver was in fact her own grandfather, did not break the illusion for them. While mentally relaying the events to herself, Mato realised she had a feeling of déjà vu about the diver, until she realised suddenly that this was the same person who had helped her at the festival as a child.
Later that day while sitting at home with Kino, Kodama and Hayate, Hikari explained how shocked she was to learn her own grandfather had become a local urban legend, which made Hayate blush.
Hayate has grey hair and does not open his eyes wide. He is an extremely large man in both height and build, measuring in at over 200cm (6'5"). Despite his large build, however, he is deceptively very athletic to the point of being able to swim at extremely high speed underwater even while pulling at significant load - he is shown to be able to pull at least 3 other people along with him while swimming at his top speed.
Hayate is a man of few words and very bashful about the fact he has been turned into a local legend. He appears to be very caring about others, particularly divers, given his status as a savior of divers in distress - this is proven when he completed a very meticulous check of Mato's equipment and well-being after her near-injury, and the way he cared for her when she was lost as a child.
|Main Characters||Futaba Ooki • Hikari Kohinata • Ai Ninomiya • Makoto Ninomiya • Mato Katori|
|Side Characters||Aria/Advisor Cha • Ohime • Kino Kohinata • Chizuru Himeno • Akane Mizunashi • Hayate Kohinata • Kodama Kohinata • Kokoro Misaki • Kotori Misaki • The Principal • Peter • Towano|