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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  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:24 AM)
    I also find it easier to get an emotional response from a honest drama, live action film, largely due to the real people doing the acting. Sometimes you get an actor whose just that good too…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    I’ve gotten my odd emotional reaction here from anime and manga but a lot of the time it feels like the jump scare in a generic horror movie, I got shocked but I felt minipulated afterwards it wasn’t genuine, the same goes for some anime/manga drama when it takes a melodramatic turn instead of a bleak, honest one.

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