Posted by psgels on 1 October 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, RD Sennou Chousashitsu


Also happily adding to the theme of “fooling the viewer”, which returned in quite a few series for the past season, is RD Sennou Chousashitsu, or Real Drive. The set-up promised to be awesome, uniting Masamune Shirou, the creator of Ghost in the Shell and Ghost Hound with the director of Chevalier and Rurouni Kenshin – Tsuiokuhen. It promised to be an epic science-fiction action thriller-something. So, what did we get? A series that combines science fiction with slice of life and a few politics here and there. That’s not something you see everyday.

And indeed, Real Drive is probably the most original series to have aired in the past half year. It’s not about action at all. Instead, it just wants to present its image of the future in about sixty years from now. It’s really science fiction in its truest sense: it explores the current technology, and predicts how it’s going to evolve through the course of time, and most importantly: how did people learn to live with these technologies, which is where the slice-of-life part of the series comes in. This series also sets itself apart from most other science-fiction series by presenting a future image that’s overall positive in its message, compared to most other of its kind, which feature some sort of post-apocalyptic setting. Real Drive instead focuses on the creative expressability that people have gained, and highlights the disadvantages that come with these capabilities, instead of the other way around.

You also really have to admire the guts of this series: never have its protagonists been so different from the norm: the two main characters are a slightly overweight girl and an eighty-year-old guy. Normally, characters like them couldn’t even dream of acquiring any important role in anime, due to some strange rule that dictates that every female needs to have the looks of a J-pop idol and ever male needs to look young and hot. It’s taken quite a while, but finally a series comes and shows that you can make characters that don’t have perfect bodies look great. In fact, the entire series looks great: the few fights that appear are well coordinated and realistic, the CG is beautiful at times, and a lot of imagination went into creating the visuals. The soundtrack is also rich and complements the scenes very well.

Alas, this could have easily been a masterpiece if it wasn’t for some problems this series stumbled upon along the way. What we have here is a series with mostly episodic stories, and a large story at the end. That’s fine and all, and the individual stories are really nice to watch, but they’re also very unbalanced. They focus way too much on one character: Minamo, and leave all the others a bit behind in development and background. The result is that Minamo turns into an excellent character, but when everything needs to come together at the finale, this rather fails, because some of the major characters weren’t fleshed out enough. In the end, two unimportant characters that have nothing to do with the story have gotten more screen-time than some of the major actors, and I really feel that the creators should have spent more time into balancing out the topics of the individual episodes.

So, no. A masterpiece this is not. However, it is worth enough watching this series for the huge amounts of imagination that went into creating its setting, because THAT’s where this series stands out. Real Drive has also been the most intelligent series of the past half year, even though it may not show this at times, and thankfully everything does come together at its endings, which I rank among the best of the past year.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 10/10

9 Responses

  1. saris says:

    Great series. Too bad that many viewers isn’t interested in this just because there ‘s no eye-candy. I have to praise production I.G. for their attempt to make such a creative anime. Hope there will be works like this in the future from them.

  2. Kurisu says:

    No eye-candy? Huh? I think Real Drive looks overall better than something like Macross Frontier because the creators actually know how to use colours to please the human eye and provide very consistent animation. Emphasizing that the character design don’t aim for perfect bodies seems almost silly. They aren’t anorexic and don’t suffer from inflated breasts. These “flaws” are so minor, they just make them more human but on the normal real-life scale, they look still way above average. Haru isn’t your perverted cliched geezer but that kind of anime character should have extinct in the 1990s anyway. In case of Haru that could have been forgiven though considering that he has only really lived for 28 years despite his biologic age. So it wouldn’t be surprising if he acted much younger and preferred young women. It almost struck me as odd that he really behaved like some nice old guy.

    Whatever. You can’t blame people for not watching this if there aren’t no subs. I’m not blaming the subbers but it’s clearly up to that kind of capable people to push or drown a current series. For anyone like me almost no knowledge of the Japanese language, Real Drive was an unreachable gem just in front of me.

    The same goes for Kaiba, Edo Rocket and Emily of New Moon. It almost never happens to the super-popular series but I rarely care about those. Due to this I’m almost avoiding following any current series and rather fetch a batch once it’s finished. Of course that makes it more difficult to find others to talk about each episode. In any case, blog coverage doesn’t say much about quality or even popularity of some series.

  3. PhuzyBuny says:

    I finally finished it because I wasn’t brave enough to watch it raw. But it was definitely one of the series that stands apart from the rest. High quality animation for each episode with consistency that one would come to expect from Production I.G. The story is really unique. One of my favourites for sure! Thanks for blogging!

  4. Patrick Monti says:

    Should have known that Shirow + Production IG wouldn’t fail me. Bad me four doubting it.

  5. Hoba-la says:

    Just finished watching the series: it was fantastic. Thanks for blogging Real Drive; without it, I never would have held onto this show for so long!

    Personal Comment on the Series:
    I completely agree with your review. Less Minamo, plz! (I only say that because the character development she got in the last few episodes was enough to make you care about *any* character anyway)

    And I will forever remember this series for trying to be “realistic”. Real character designs, real character development, real planet. We *are* all connected, and it’s nice to see an anime that manages to encourage those connections while still being entertaining (Dennou Coil comes to mind?).

  6. zakuro says:

    Geez. I’ve just realized you followed some of my favorite works in 2007-2008! Ghost Hound, RD, Himitsu, Natsume, Mouryo no hako… oh and, Kurozuka(!?)
    Actually, of course, you are covering quite extreme number of animes, so probably no wonder that you reviewed almost all of my favorites (well… Kurozuka didn’t carry through. indeed….)
    What struck me most about your blog on those animes, was that you really didn’t miss all the under-rated (or missed due to lack of subs?) animes – esp. the cases of RD, Himitsu, and Mouryou no hako! (Thank you so much!!!)

    Besides, among the remaining, I do enjoy Michiko e Hacchin, and Xam’d, and still manage to follow Jigoku Shojo mitsuganae. Zeez… you got the last two eps quite right! The 12th finally flipped me out brilliantly;) and the punishment scene was absolutely fantastic! And, the 13th was really a surprise in the best way! JS gets serious at last. So glad I kept watching (but a bit reluctantly earlier, to be honest;)

    Keep it coming!

  7. Cody says:

    Great show I loved it. I’m a big fan of slice of life shows, and my views on them are a bit different. Most people think of them as a “nothing happens” kind of show, but I like to think of them as a “living” kinda thing so I really didn’t enjoy the slowness of how the show went on. I actually really enjoyed it. I’m not someone who likes needless drama just to spice things up. Kurenai handled that really well too.

    Best episode in the series has to be 13 though. Blew me away how good it was.

  8. Meep says:

    Beautiful and intelligent anime; I really enjoyed this one. It was slow to grow on me though because I didn’t care for Minamo, and I felt like skipping some episodes (like about the ghost at school, the dog, etc). But everything worked to achieve wonderful character development, atmosphere, and setting. I’m glad that I finally watched this! Not sure why I didn’t pick it up when it aired.

  9. FLSA says:

    This was a wonderful, well directed and intelligent series.
    Too bad it was sort of doomed to fail though in terms of Western Otaku reception. Not only are mature, realistic dramas hated, complex conceptual exploration of philosophy and technologies is too; this show combines them.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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