2061 AD. Fifty years have passed since mankind developed the Network society. It was anticipated that this new infrastructure would realize a utopia where people connected with each other at the level of consciousness. However, new social problems such as personal data leaks and proliferation of manipulated information began to surface. Nevertheless, people still relied on the Network to exchange information, and proved unable to opt to abandon it.
In due course, a new Network realm with more effective security measures was developed. This was called Meta Real Network, usually abbreviated as "the Metal."
The Metal accommodated personal memory data within protected virtual stand-alone organic cyber enclaves called bubble shells and eventually pervaded the everyday lives of people.
However, people gradually learned to release and explode their instincts within the secure environment of the Metal. The unleashed instincts pushed each individual's consciousness to drown in the sea of information and to be exposed to the pressures of desire. Meanwhile, norms and regulations continued to bind their real world lives. Thus, strange friction between the two worlds began to manifest themselves as aberrations beyond the bounds of the imaginable.
Experts who challenged the deep sea of the Metal to investigate and decipher such aberrations were called cyber divers.
This is a story of a cyber diver, Masamichi Haru, who investigates the incidents that lie between Reality and the Metal.
Okay, so after having just completed the whole anime series and seeing that, of the people who wrote reviews, nobody had seen the entire thing prior to writing them. I have decided to write this! Please be aware, this review details the nature of the various elements of the anime, it does not specifically reference any parts of the anime. I don't think describing an anime is called spoiling, or is it? If so, I apologize, please tell me how to better censor myself in the future.
Without further ado, the review:
This is really one of those Anime that goes into extensive detail to get the audience to understand the world of Masamune Shirow. True to the other series that he has created, his limitless imagination and creation of technology surfaces once again; this time we are introduced to the concept of "The Metal". Throughout the Anime, the audience sees the roles which such futuristic pieces of technology play in the daily lives of the anime's characters. By being able to 'experience' the applications of Masamune Shirow's fictional technology through the characters, we gain better insight to the anime as a whole.
The story carefully unfolds as each of the episodes draws to conclusion, the accumulated knowledge which the audience receives is key in appreciating such a masterpiece. In other words, it is really a good idea to pay attention to what is going on in the anime so you don't get lost later! I'd like to emphasize that the story unfolds with time, unlike many action-based fast-paced anime of today. People should not be quick to judge the quality of the anime based on the first episode or even the first few episodes. At first it may not appear to be following any particular storyline but as I said, it all comes with time.
Unlike Ghost in the Shell, which can be called a predecessor of this anime, the environment is very vividly colored. However, all of the characters, objects, and buildings are uniquely designed. All of this gives the anime a sort-of exotic or 'new' feel. The art of the anime also presents the mood, and as such the audience is left with a less serious atmosphere than that of Ghost in the Shell. CG rendering is used sparingly and only as needed, akin to more 'traditional' animation. It feels as if more work is put into doing animation than CG nowadays. I guess, I'm a fan of crisper and detailed images, but the slight blurriness of the background allows the audience to not be overloaded with images. I am referencing Ghost in the Shell because it is the only other Masamune Shirow work that I have seen. There are also some almost psychedelic colors and patterns, in "the Metal" to contrast the bright, paradise-like environment of the Real Drive world.
Perhaps one unique quality, in this anime, which can be noticed immediately are the characters. The characters are generally a bit on the chubbier side, which is fine, considering, in reality, how many people are actually as thin as characters portrayed in many anime. This contributes to the believability of the anime as a whole. After all, not all anime have to conform to the typical, aesthetic pleasing, character design in order to be considered good. Perhaps it can be said that the characters behave true to their appearances, e.g. behavior. Each of the main characters undergo varying levels of development and thus each character is unique and brings forth their own contributions to the story.
At first glance, the music in this anime is quite different from the OP/ED themes. In fact, they appear contradictory of each other. The OP/ED are kind of like hard rock while the BGM fits smoothly and refreshingly into the art and with the characters of the anime. Much of the upbeat music in the anime had been synthesized with a computer, perhaps has to do with the fact of being futuristic. However, some less upbeat tracks are simple and use few instruments such as the piano, glockenspiel, violin. All of these tracks suit the changing moods in the anime. Getting back to the OP/ED themes, though they contrast the BGM, I don't believe they are bad decisions. They aren't bad to listen to either and hey, if you're bored they're a good wake-me-up, ha ha ha. One thing about the OP/ED of this anime is that they are shorter than the usual OP/ED, instead of being around 1:30, they're only around 1:15. This makes for less interruption I suppose, I definitely did not mind them being shorter. They also make each episode a smaller filesize and such benefits people with less storage.
The journey from the beginning to the end of the anime was well paced and advanced accordingly. There wasn't ever a feeling that there was no story left or too much story at the end. Perhaps though, being a more evenly-paced anime would cause some viewers to get bored really fast. Even more-so when not even all the subs were out. Having fine details yet needing to wait for weeks until the next episode, definitely does not help to tie the anime together as a whole. I suppose it is more suitable to watch it all the way through over a shorter period of time.
Though the first impression is often the lasting, the careful planning involved in introducing the anime's world in detail to the audience, makes me give a:
8/10 for Story.
Detailed and colorful are words that come to mind when recalling the world of Real Drive. Sharpness and blurriness are used appropriately to soften or heighten the anime's vivid colors. The uniqueness of the infrastructure, environment and characters design in the anime get it a:
9/10 for Art.
All of the music is crisp and cleanly composed and fits well the changing environment and moods of the anime. You can listen to the OST on its own and it would still sound good, preferably on 5.1 surround sound please!
9/10 for Sound.
The characters are uniquely designed and should be accepted for that fact; it should not deter the audience's perception of the character as an individual . As well, as individuals and groups, undergo substantial development and growth throughout the anime. This makes them seem more believable, real even.
9/10 for Character.
Each of the individual elements (such as the ones above) of this anime were tied together well, everything was place somewhere for a reason.
8/10 for Enjoyment!
As with many others, this anime started off a little on bland in my mind though, slowly but surely, I began to appreciate all of its fine details. True uniqueness is very difficult to accomplish when dozens of anime are broadcast throughout japan every season but, I will remember this as something truly different from the rest.
Edit: After reconsideration, I have lowered Character to 9 because not all of them really, noticeably, develop over time.read more
Real Drive is a sci-fi series that deals with the impacts of the dependence on the Internet(the Meta Real Network, in the setting) on society, other than focusing on the effects on single individuals.
Set in 2061, it seems to expect a slower evolution of human technology then we see on other similar works. The story mostly occurs on an artificial island that is itself built as the pinnacle of the present technology, but most of it's design and features are not something one would be surprised to find on an high-tech experimental facility today.
The plot starts very slowly, with single episodes depicting the life of the protagonists on the island and interesting events that occur to them mostly on their jobs, as all are somehow connected to a role of maintaining and developing the island. As the series progresses, comparisons between the Metal and the ocean become more numerous and relevant, and the story starts revolving around the environmental impacts of the island as it reaches it's final stage of completion, and on the development of the main characters, as well as a small focus on the philosophy of human-like AIs.
The art is simply astounding, the feeling of connection with nature, specially the sea, is a primary concern, which translates into simple designs for buildings and virtual interfaces (as opposed to heavy designs cluttered with pseudo-scientific artifacts as is common in sci-fi), and an amazingly consistent color palette. For example, it's quite rare to find a frame without a single blue hued pixel in it. Another notable part of the art is the "chubby" character design, specially for females, very uncommon in anime, it is most likely linked to the author's view on the future of the ideal female body, as a consequence of the current fattening tendency of the human populace.
The background music is rare, and in most scenes it's present it's hardly noticeable, which, however, fits the mood of the show. The intro and outro songs, on the other hand, are very aggressive and enticing, specially when coupled with their respective video clips. The voice acting is very good, with special merit to the gynoid character Holon and lookalikes, which contributes the most to the believability of the technological setting, along with the audio filter used for voice communications done within the Metal, that at the same time does not hinder the comprehension of the voices and is very easily identifiable by the spectator.
Finally, the characters are very well designed, each has it's own clearly defined goals which they are constantly developing towards, through either physical or mental training, self-prompted personality changes or even built up life experiences that give birth to epiphanies.
Overall, Real Drive is a refreshing take on the genre, approaching even present day situations with characters' struggles and themes such as environment protection. The slow start, however, hinders some of it's true potential and blows away some viewers, myself included, but the show shines at full force towards it's climaxing end, and, while not really present plot-wise, all previews episodes are part of the build up that leads to it.read more
After watching episode eight, I said to myself:" Thank god it's over. Now I can finally drop it." And I'm not saying that just because of the female character design, even though I don't understand why the directors thought that the audiences would like to see a bunch of fat girls running around (there is a reason why getting fit has become a trend and not the other way around). IMO, either the writers are all amateurs or the show is aimed for little kids from the start. First of all, RD hasn't shown any signs that it's going to present a serious theme. Up to episode eight, all I see is some random happenings caused by the metal. Some people might argue that RD doesn't need to deliver a theme because the whole metal concept is unique enough. I disagree. It might be super unique like twenty years ago for all I care but it's definitely not unique in 2008.
Since RD is mainly plot-driven, there is no need to delve into the characterization. I'll say this though, lack of deep characterization doens't mean that the protagonist has to be stupid. Did you hear what Minamo said in the end of ep8 (in a really loli voice):"But if other people could use your personal space, wouldn't that change your personality? YADA, KOWAI!." and some other noises she made. The idea of sharing personal spaces is a good idea and is worth some serious discussion but Minamo's personality completely ruined it.(What? Haru is the progatonist? You should really take a look at his screen-time).
The main problem with RD is that the plot is even worse. The first episode is ok mainly because it only serves to introduce all the characters. From that point on to episode eight, the show literally becomes "the moe-adventure of a loli and a grandpa", and it just gets more and more stupid. In the first few episodes the audiences at least got to see the grandpa do some diving. Then the adventures soon change to things like looking for a dog, fighting a masked guy, school ghost hunt, reading a book...I think you get my point. That's why I was shocked when I found out that RD is actually a late night anime when clearly this is aimed for little kids.read more
I know it's still quite early in the game to be writing a review for this series, but after having just finished episode 8, I'm feeling somewhat agitated, and this will help cool me down.
STORY: 3 (Poor)
Thus far, even though it's early, Real Drive seems to have no discernible plot what-so-ever. In fact, it's quite boring. The beginning of the series started out alright and showed a huge amount of promise, leaving me full of wonder and intrigue, but now... Meh, it's all I can do to keep watching (in agony).
ART: 6 (Fair)
Quite frankly, the art for the background scenery, most of the male characters, and in general is pretty well done. However, and no I'm not saying that all the female characters have to be "pretty" or "ideal", but the portrayal of the female characters in Real Drive is probably one of the most annoying "features" of the show. Almost every girl in this show is either chubby or outright fat, and if that's not enough to just annoy you a bit, the artists seem to want to rub it in your face some more by (ever second episode or so) having these characters sit down to the fattiest, most sugar-filled calorie-rich feast they can possibly encounter--and glomp it all down. I can stand the fatty characters, but this last point just annoys me on a whole new level. Other than that however, the animation is very well done, and it's a shame the rest of it is the way it is.
SOUND: 9 (Great)
I like the soundtrack for the show so far, and the background music is nice to listen to. Not much more to say here, it's enjoyable.
ENJOYMENT: 3 (Poor)
While I enjoy aspects of this show, what I really want to see is more of the "main" character, Haru. I'm so much more interested in him than I am in Minamo (who can just take a hike for all I care). In fact, I've grown so far as to hate Minamo, and just seeing her on the screen temps me to just close down MPC, delete all my RD episodes and never ever, ever give them another chance. She and her friends are the most annoying characters in all of anime, and have ruined my prospective enjoyment of this show that had so much potential. When Minamo is off-screen, enjoyment goes up. When she appears, mouse goes to the top right corner and I have to fight myself from just dropping this show.
OVERALL: 4 (Decent)
Okay, so there are a lot of things about Real Drive that I do like:
1. Interesting (even though not completely original) concept of the Meta Real
2. Sense of curiosity that revolves around every character excluding Minamo and friends
3. Wondering what the plot is actually going to be (assuming there will be one)
4. All of the art besides that which has to do with Minamo and friends is nicely done and sometimes even breathtaking
5. Wondering what the deal with Kushima is.
What would make RD a great show and boost ratings in almost every category and blast this show up a few hundred spots on this website? Kill of Minamo and friends. Please, do the world a favor, end our suffering and kill her off. Then I would give this show 10's across the board.