Posted 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
Posted on with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: Real Drive’s end, for which I can’t seem to think off a fitting synopsis…
Highlights: Answers! Closure!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,75/10
I must say, I’m really impressed by this episode. It most likely was the best ending I’ve seen the past month. Oh, I’m SO glad that this series managed to pull through in the end. It was more than just “find Kushima and bring him back while save the world from the evil nano-machines”. This ending was also one of the most intelligent and creative of the past spring- and summer-season. Himitsu hasn’t finished yet, so I can’t label this definitively as the best ending of the past half year, but its ending has to be really good if it wants to surpass this one (which, however, it has the potential for).

Really, I liked the plan to get rid of the rampaging sea by switching off the power in the entire Asian (“Asean”?) continent a lot. It makes sense, and at the same time it also lead to some great symbolism: because the lights were off everywhere, the stars suddenly became visible, which probably points to how Technology can mean a lot to humans, but at the same time it clouds other parts of our mind: the stars. It’s a really interesting message, that ties in with the setting perfectly.

And after the previous episode, I wondered whether the creators really would be able to close off the subplot between Haru and Kushima, Souta and Holon, Jennie and the Secretary General. I didn’t think that the creators would be able to do that, but as it turns out: I was wrong. The latter two were done very subtly: Jennie realizes that he made a mistake, and instead of pouting he helps trying to fix his own problem. The Secretary General is seen, as she still longs back to Souta, even though he won’t come back to her. Souta also finally gets the courage to give Holon the bracelet he bought her, even though she lost her memory. And he finally acknowledged her as a human being, even considering the things that happened to her. All of this happened on the background, but formed a really fitting closure for this series.

Then there was Haru, who finally managed to find Kushima. He first tried to visit Eliza, and after the power was switched off, he ended up at the red ocean. As it turns out, it’s the memory of the sea, and it’s there where Haru was stuck for fifty years before he awakened. The metal was based on this memory. Kushima also doesn’t return with Haru, and instead he still wants to stay where he is.

And the production-values really knew how to close off this series. There were hardly ANY action-scenes, and yet the graphics looked beautiful in this episode. Especially that shot of earth, with its lights on and off was absolutely gorgeous, just as the star-filled sky with the single comet inside of it. The soundtrack also saved some of its best tracks, without turning them into some sort of strange medley, which is what happened in the ending of Macross Frontier.

Now that I think of it, I think that this ending is a very good contender for the best ending of 2008. It’s really the product of an intelligent setting, because in that way, you really can play without resorting to uninspired stereotypes. Out of the top of my head, my list of favourite endings this year at this point is the following:
1) RD Sennou Chousashitsu
2) Crystal Blaze
3) Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~
4) Mokke
5) Clannad

Posted on 24 September 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: A calm-before-the-storm episode, which shows Haru right before he attempts to retrieve Kushima’s consciousness.
Highlights: Finally some focus on Minamo again!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
This was an excellent calm-before-the-storm episode. It did exactly what was needed to prelude the finale for this series, and it also found enough time to finis Minamo’s development. It’s still a pity that she got degraded to side-character when the finale of this series started, so I’m really glad that the creators managed to put a satisfying closure to her story arc. With this episode, her growth feels complete.

The question of course remains: will the creators be able to do the same thing with the subplots between Souta and Holon, Haru and Kushima, Souta and the Secretary General and Kushima and Jennie. That final episode needs to be really fastly paced in order to get everything in there, and this is where the director really has to show what he can do to prevent the ending from getting rushed. I think that his best choice would be a simple straightforward ending, much as with Seirei no Moribito, instead of that chaotic ending of Ghost Hound. He should just focus on providing a satisfying conclusion for all of the above-mentioned subplots.

The plant, breaking down also was really nicely animated, by the way. It shows the promise for a nicely animated finale.

Overall, I’m still glad that I decided to follow this series, and while it isn’t THE best series of the past half year, I’d easily include this series in my top-10 favourite series of the past spring and summer-season, which have overall been rather disappointing for Production IG. They once were my favourite of the big animation producers, but that drastically changed in 2008. I think it was just one big mistake to get affiliated with that small company of Trans Arts, because these guys have just wanted to do way too much in way too little time, and they just don’t fit Production IG’s specific style. Especially with that theatrical announcement for Chocolate Underground, I’m wondering who on the company still finds it a good idea to keep affiliating with Trans Arts. Even Wellber, which I loved when it aired, is starting to get less and less memorable, the more I think back about it.

Posted on 18 September 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: Jennie tries to execute his plans, and I finally found out what the bugger’s trying to do!
Highlights: Nice fight scenes!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Okay, so this series blew its chances at being a masterpiece due to some uncoordinated build-up, but it still can end the series with a strong finale, if everything goes right. It started the build-up for the finale thankfully at least a bit in time, and right now it needs to deliver an interesting finale in its final two episodes. This requires the creators to take what they’ve been building up to, and push this into an entirely new or further direction, because I’m not convinced whether a character-based or straightforward ending is going to work for this series. The fact remains that the most fleshed out entity in this series is Minamo, and she never played a central role in the final arc.

Ooh, but I finally found out what the eventual plan of Jennie is, thanks to some very appreciated English words that appeared on the screen. It’s really a shame that this series has stopped being subbed, because the finale was just full of elaborate dialogues. In any case, Jennie has been trying to use the plant he and the secretary general have been developing in order to send nano-machines into the atmosphere, in an attempt to control the weather. And I must say that this is a perfect issue about which differences of opinions could arise. On one hand, think of the possibilities when you can fully control the weather. On the other hand, you’ll be disrupting the eco-system of the entire planet this way. It’s the basic environmentalist vs. progression debate, in a very interesting coat, if I had to say so myself. At least the messages in this series are rock-solid, but I wish I could say the same about the storytelling-technical aspects of the series, but ah well. You can’t change what’s already done, so at least I’ll try to enjoy the finale of this series for what it is.

Another interesting thing is the huge amount of parallels with Nijuu Mensou no Musume that are popping up. In its final arc, Chiko is also trying to prevent a scientist from launching a particle beam, and what’s even more coincidental: both in their latest episodes, these attempts have succeeded. Overall though, RD’s attempt at its particle beam is more interesting, because Jennie still is more of a villain than that scientist of Nijuu Mensou no Musume. At least I’ll grant it that. Jennie at least feels part of the show, rather than him being just another villain. In the end, I do admit that his lack of attention wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it was. I think that the reason that this series has disappointed is simply the fact that it went from character-based to story-based, and that progression wasn’t that smooth. This series is about its setting and characters. When the story takes over, it’s going to feel a bit awkward. That finale just arrived to abrupt. What should have been a time when all the character-development came together turned out to be a time where the characters are ignored in favour of the storyline. And that’s just a pity.

Posted on 11 September 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: The secretary general gets some more background, while the search for Kushima’s consciousness continues.
Highlights: Extra bit of depth about the secretary general was very much appreciated.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Okay, so I’m probably the only one who’s still crazy enough to watch this series without subs. Still, this episode featured a lot of interesting things. It’s slowly getting clearer as to what the heck happened, back in episode 21: apparently, Kushima is experiencing the same thing that Haru went to go through for fifty years at the moment. His brains that were found in the previous episode didn’t carry his consciousness, and only a few programs were left on it. One of them is an emergency AI-program he wrote for himself. It’s a really neat idea, to just be able to automate some of your thoughts, in case your consciousness loses it. In this case, humans have really become like machines, and the only thing that separates androids from real humans is that they’re completely mechanical, and their memory programs are designed to be functional, when compared to the whimsical nature of human brains. That’s one thing I really like about this series. It may have screwed up with its characters a bit, but Masamune Shirou’s setting for this series is rock-solid.

In any case, this episode gave some very much needed background to the secretary general, and shows the moment when she met with Souta, and fell in love with him. From here, we can probably guess that they started working together, and at one point she forced herself onto him. She really feels much more as a balanced character after this episode, but the problem is that this should have been a point of character-development. Instead, this episode just showed different sides of her. This shouldn’t be happening THIS LATE in a series, and there’s still that matter of Jennie’s lack of development. there are only three episodes left, but PLEASE give the guy some depth!

I still haven’t figured out what exactly Jennie is planning, but it seems to have to do something with the artificial island that had been built. And whatever it is, it seems to be in the interest of most of the inhabitants of the island. There also seems to be something that’s threatening the artificial island, which I guess is the same thing that Haru encountered.

Posted on 3 September 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: Kushima didn’t only go brain-down, but his entire cyber-brains went missing. This episode shows attempts to recover it.
Highlights: Lots of metal-eye-candy.
Overall Enjoyment Value:8,5/10
This episode was much better than the previous one. Not only because I actually was able to follow what was going on, but also because the focus returned back to the characters. The thing is that RD really is a series about its characters. Most of the episodes had absolutely no plot whatsoever, so any attempts to introduce an overall plot would fall a bit short.

So, basically Kushima was attacked and his brain was removed off-screen, because he posed a threat to Jennie’s plans, whatever those may have been. Souta manages to find this out with the help of the secretary general, who she still turns out to have feelings for. It was pretty brave of Souta to show up in front of her, along with Holon.

In any case, now that this show is about to end, I do have to say that this series has disappointed a bit: it wasn’t the masterpiece you’d expect from such a stellar director. Overall, it’s still a good series, but I expected better (damn those expectations again). Now that the main storyline has started, and this series is done with most of its building up, I realize that this has been a very unbalanced series.

I don’t have a problem with the episodic cases (in fact, I love them), but you have to know how to use them. RD spent way too much of its early episodes on Minamo, which left too little time for the other characters. As the result, Minamo has turned into a downright excellent character. Holon, Souta and Haru also were fleshed out enough throughout the series, and they too are great characters.

Kushima, but especially the secretary general and Jennie needed a lot more screen-time than they actually got. I absolutely feel no connection to Jennie, even though he’s supposed to be the upcoming bad guy. The scuba brothers also are really underused characters. I think that if the creators scrapped the haunted school-building episode, the book episode and perhaps the blind girl episode, and used these episodes to flesh out Jennie and the scuba-brothers a bit more, this series would have greatly improved. The result right now is that two absolutely useless characters are fleshed out more than most of the important ones. As funny as Minamo’s classmates are, they’re really not that important to this series.

In any case, the thing that stood out in this episode was the metal itself. Because the concept of the metal is so original, the artists in this series really could do with it whatever they pleased, which resulted into some very nice eye-candy. Souta, screwing up at the end of the episode and basically erasing Holon’s entire memory also had a lot of impact. Such a tragic love-affair.

Posted on 27 August 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: Souta struggles with his feeling, while the top executives plan to do… something…
Highlights: Talking, talking and more talking. Oh, and some very nice romance.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7,5/10
Ugh, at times like these I regret being the only raw blogger of this series. Something major definitely got started in this episode, but those top officials are like a bunch of walking dictionaries. Usually, I can pick up enough Japanese to understand an episode, but this was one major exception to that. The online dictionary I use wasn’t of much help either, because the words it suggested kept making no sense in their context… If someone did understand what exactly happened in this episode: care to explain?

In any case, the romance-parts of this episodes were something I did understand, and they were really well done. Even though this is a typical building-up episode, Souta finally decided to buy a gift for Holon and break up from sleeping with his boss. Nothing really happens between him and Holon, but that’s only a matter of time.

Haru can also fully walk again, albeit with the help of a walking-stick. Kushima also seemed really happy with that news. This really was a big episode for him, especially since what happened to the guy at the end of the episode. All “that was revealed was that he was “swept away”, but what exactly that means is up for the next episode.

Posted on 20 August 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: To synopsis this episode would be a bit too spoilerific, but let’s just say that it sheds more light on the concept of cyberbrains.
Highlights: Ooh, the character-development!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
You have to wonder: what the heck are the creators planning for the finale of this series? There’s no bad guy, no approaching apocalypse, there no cast member that’s in danger of losing his/her life, there’s no evil plot to take over the world/organization/town, there’s no goal to overcome, there’s been NOTHING that hinted at a standard conclusion whatsoever. The only thing I can think of is that Souta’s sleeping with his boss, and I can imagine how that would go wrong, but it feels nothing like any other conclusion of a story I’ve seen so far.

This episode too: it was all about Minamo’s and Haru’s character-development, while the next episode seems to go back Souta (whose bracelet was that!?). But then again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I really like Real Drive’s episodic nature, and this episode really showed that this series is evolving, now that Haru’s got the power in his legs back. He spends the entire episodes, trying to learn to walk again (which obviously takes A LOT of effort after fifty years without walking). He sure does it in an unorthodox way: no crutches, he doesn’t try to hold any solid object around him, nothing. In medical terms, that’s obviously not advisable, but I can imagine how after fifty years, he really wanted to try and walk without any help from other people or things.

Minamo meanwhile also surprised me when she decided to get a cyber-brain in this episode. And oh my god, the transition to a cyber-brain is much more complicated than I expected. I originally thought that they were just going to plant some chips into your brain and stuff, but it looks like your entire brain is getting replaced by a device. I can imagine that Kushima’s adjustments to his body are even bigger, to prevent him from aging and all. Through the entire series, this “cyberbrain” had seemed like some sort of magic, but when this episode showed what’s inside a person’s head, it suddenly got a whole new dimension.

I also loved the random chatter Minamo made with one of the other people who wanted to get a cyber-brain, although it also was a bit disturbing to learn that Minamo has actually fallen for Haru. Now that he’s about to learn to walk again, and might not need Minamo anymore, Minamo seriously started thinking about him, and realized that she felt for him. I really hope that she meant “as a friend”, rather than the other thing. ^^;

Also, I do wonder what’s up with that guy that Minamo talked to. He lied to her about getting a cyberbrain (he already had one), he used a fake name and he looks like Haru when he was younger. Could this be the first hint as to what the creators are planning for that ending?

Posted on 12 August 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: Haru tries to take care of the source of the noise.
Highlights: If the metal wasn’t already deep enough, it just gained some more depth.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Okay, what just happened back there? The metal has always been a mysterious existence, but it’s this episode where, just like Dennou Coil in a way, the link between the cyber world and the real world stat to get really fuzzy. I originally thought that this arc was meant to develop the characters some more, but as it turns out, it was all about the setting. Because of that, this episode wasn’t as touching as usual, but it raised a truckload full of questions.

So, as it turns out, something in the jungle was causing this noise. It’s that strange machine (which we actually don’t see in the entire episode, apart from one flashback). But the thing is that it somehow cyber-ified the huge tree it was linked too. We knew that humans and dogs could be cyber-ified, but this was probably the first time I’ve ever seen a cyber-tree. The intriguing thing is that through these cyber-technologies, the tree apparently prevented rain to fall through its leaves, and at the same time plants continue to grow at its bottom, like nothing happened.

The dialogue was very difficult in this episode (note to self: rewatch it once the subs arrive) so I didn’t understand everything, but I doubt that everything that happened in this episode can be explained with logical reasoning. I must say that RD has gone even further than Dennou Coil in this aspect. Dennou Coil was just about whether or not human bodies and souls could remain in cyber-space, and whether computers could break that link that was supposed to be unbreakable. Real Drive has already passed that point, and created a virtual world where human’s consciousnesses can flow freely, depending on their imaginations.

The result? Haru got his legs back in this episode. His freakin’ legs! The legs that were supposed to have been disabled by that very same metal got restored back to normal due to some water-recovery program inside the tree. We’ve yet to get confirmed whether or not they’re back for real, but the preview for the next episode seems to confirm this.

It’s strange to think that this series is already entering its final quarter. And with this show, you’ve got no idea what it’s got in store for its finale. The characters will probably get developed a lot, now that Haru’s legs are back. The cast is already fleshed out excellently, but I have absolutely no idea where the main storyline is going to go now.

I’m also wondering what’s so bad about the lack of overall storyline for this series. I mean, there have been plenty of other series who pulled off the “collection of random stories” properly (xxxHolic, Jigoku Shoujo, Mushishi, etc). And instead the random storylines serve to shape up the setting for this series. Of course, when a lazy writer attempts this, the result is just an incoherent and dull excuse of an anime, but why does everything need an overall storyline that involves saving the world or your loved one, or something? IMHO, both episodic series without much of an overall storyline and continuous series both have their strong and weak points.

Posted on 5 August 2008 with categories: RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Short Synopsis: This episode starts a two-episode arc, centred in the jungle, far away from the civilized and cyberized world.
Highlights: Holon.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
Too… many… shows… air on Tuesday…

In any case, this series continues to surprise me. It’s probably because the cast of characters is the best out of all the series that aired during Spring and Summer (just about the only thing at which Kaiba wasn’t number one). It’s strange, but the characters as Minamo, Souta and Haru feel like real people and Holon feels like a real advanced android, instead of just a bunch of characters. The amount of series that has characters that are this likable is really small, but every series with characters like this is absolutely worth it, even though hardly anything may happen.

While looking at the preview, at some forgotten ruins, I forgot for a moment that this is Real Drive we’re talking about, and expected some epic mystery plot or something similar. In the end, this turned out completely different, and much more focused at Minamo, as she explored the wonders of the jungle. But more importantly, this episode showed an interesting flaw of the technology in this series. In deserted places without much electronics, there’s something called “noise”, which upsets both cyberified humans and especially androids. Poor Holon even collapsed at the end of the series.

Seriously, this episode was just awesome, even if it was only about Minamo, giving her plant too much water, or freaking out over a bunch of large bugs. Seriously, this episode was hardly about anything and yet every minute of it was captivating somehow. Now that Kaiba has ended, Real Drive is well on its way to becoming my favourite series at the moment.


Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:17 AM)
    @kaiser: If Symphogear gets as bad as Valvrave then we’re talkin. Few companies make entertaining trash like Sunrise does.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:54 AM)
    *At first I thought it would be like nanoha
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I read a comment stating that season 3 of symphogear got so bad that it came off as along the lines of “worse than a Mari Okada melodrama”.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:36 AM)
    @Bam: That renegade angel thing looks off the wall, haven’t seen an episode but my thoughts from looking up the show is “I’m not quite sure if this is a good/bad thing lol”

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Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]


Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]


Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]


Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]