Real Drive

Alt title: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

TV (26 eps)
3.357 out of 5 from 1,025 votes
Rank #9,124

Fifty years ago, Haru was diving in the sea as part of a scientific experiment; but something went terribly wrong, and a shockwave both decimated the area, and caused Haru to slip into a coma. In the present, Haru awakens as an old man into a vastly-changed society. People, no longer content with reality, have turned to a metaphysical reality called the Metal to fulfill their desires – and it’s up to "cyber divers" to save these souls when something goes wrong. With the help of the cheerful girl Minamo and the android Holon, Haru strives to become a cyber diver, discover the secrets of the Metal and ultimately discover the reason why his life has slipped away.

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Innovation and experimentation are always welcomed aspects in any series for me; they always score extra points every time I encounter them. In this particular case, we have something that is indeed trying to go for something new. Being made by the creator of Ghost in the Shell looked very promising, especially since it was also about the dependence of people on technology and how it ends up dehumanizing them in some ways. In practice though, it ended up being a lot less than most expected. The formula the scriptwriter went for was to basically mix hard science fiction with light slice of life. These two genres are practically polar opposites, as on one corner we have a robot made of a million detailed bolts, fuses and microchips, pondering about the meaning of life with extremely serious and mature language, while on the other corner we have a simplistically drawn moe girl eating cake and enjoying her life. Where the heck is the connection point in all this? Simple; it’s the word “life”. The concept of the series is to show how ones simple life can be affected or deepen through the use of technology.The word “deepen” is another thing that is used both literally and metaphorically. As the cyberworld is usually described as a sea of information, the users are “surfing” through it or when it comes to one’s mind, they “dive” into his subconscious. So literally the hero of the show dives in the depths of the Unreal like a true diver. I must say that the parallels between the real world and the unreal could lead to something equally captivating as GitS.… and yet they didn’t.I have no idea how Masamune Shirow did such a lazy directing over his own work. The entire anime reeks of boredom. Here is what I mean.- It is very hard to pinpoint the overall feeling of the show. The slice of life aspect is so abundant that to the most part you think this is aimless (as the genre usually is). It simply doesn’t combine well with hard science fiction, which most of the times tries to show some really important concepts that lead somewhere. The fluffy aspect of the cute girls didn’t manage to flavor the setting but instead watered it down. - The actual cases involving “diving” into the minds of people affected by the unreal world (called simply Metal) are described in one word as unexciting. The hero would just end up in a few holographic projections of one’s mentality, chat a bit about stuff, and it’s all over. There isn’t much of a conflict, tension, anxiety, and thus all the serious messages and concepts are gone to waste. You are given so much sugar candy in the calm moments, your brain turns to pulp and you lose all interest into paying attention to what these guys are saying about happiness or the meaning of life. “Man, this cake is so delicious. Can I have some more? What? Raison d’etre? Never tried that sweet, can I have a slice? What? The unbearable lightness of being? You are right, I need a diet.”Speaking of fat, the girls in this series are drawn in a way that appear to be… plump. They ain’t in reality but the industry has spoiled us so much with skinny anorectic character designs that the girls simply look fat, when it is just an artistic choice. A case where the stereotypes stand in the way of enjoyment; I know people who dropped the show because the moe chicks didn’t look skinny enough.Not that this is all the reason for not liking it. The main character is an old man, who can’t even walk without a wheelchair. His avatar in the Metal is actually that of a well-built young man, but that doesn’t save the series from staring at an old geezer. I know people who dropped it because they prefer bishonens. And what’s with the fascination the main girl has with him? Sure, he is not really as old as he seems but she clearly has the hots for him. Not many people are in favor of such pairs and again many dropped the show because of disgust. All this time I didn’t say anything about people dropping it because of the dull plot, or the slow pacing, or the anti-climactic confrontations in the Metal. Well it’s because half the viewers returned back to GitS and the rest didn’t even care about how mature the concept or the directing was and just bitched at how the girls didn’t have legs like crooked straws. That is the dreaded power or moe; it makes you demand shitz and completely miss the context. Why did he even include it? Bad choice.I on the other hand paid more attention to such things and I can say they are nowhere near the complexity or excitement of GitS. Oh but wait a second, why am I comparing this to GitS all the time instead of seeing it as a stand-alone work? Well I can’t; it is made by Masamune Shirow and the guy is now married to his work. You can’t see them as separate entities. And even if you do, Real Drive is still not attractive compared to his second wife (his first was Appleseed but they divorced as soon as he met GitS). It is a shame though, since the production values are very good in this anime. The artwork is very detailed and almost artistic in the way it depicts the Metal holograms. As usual, I am not that thrilled with Production I.G. when it comes to character figures, as they feel too apathetic and stiff; hard to see them as alive or just lively. It worked with GitS (here we go again) since everybody there was part cyborg, but here it is simply inexcusable. The cute schoolgirls don’t look perky enough. And they are UGLY FAT COWS! (not really, that is just the public opinion) The sound part is actually disappointing. Although the dialogues are generally well-written and sophisticated, the soundtrack is actually very unimpressive. Nowhere near as great as in … you know where. And the girls don’t have very squeaky voices so they sound wrong (from the mouth of moe fans). So as you see, RD mixed things that should never be mixed; some things are better off pure. Mixing vanilla with chocolate does not create a flavor that is better than both; it will just be a dull chocolate flavor. And this is what is wrong with this show. It is dull for both fans of slice of life and hard science fiction. So let me put this in plain words: NOT GOOD; THE GIRLS ARE UGLY FAT COWS AND THE CYBORGS DON’T BATTLE EACH OTHER UNTIL THEY ARE SCRAP METAL!

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