The central characters from left to right: Holon, Minamo, Haru, Sota and KushimaReal Drive
is produced by Production I.G
and Shirow Masamune
, and aired 26 episodes during its run in 2008. It's one of those series that have remained relatively unknown to the anime community
despite its high production values, heartwarming story and excellent music.
Masamichi Haru was involved in a diving accident when he was 30, causing him to slip into a coma for fifty years
. Upon awakening, he found himself confined in the body of an 80-year old, unable to travel without a wheelchair. Haru later receives assistance from the 15-year old Minamo, who is assigned to take care of him as part of her school's extracurricular activities. Despite their age gap, Haru and Minamo form a close friendship; fuelled by their mutual interest in the sea and nature's splendour, Minamo becomes Haru's "diver buddy" despite lacking cyber-enhancements.
It turns out that the experiment Haru was involved in led to the construction of the Artificial Island and the Network society, where people hook up to a global network using so-called cyber-brains. Since entering the inner workings of the network is very much like diving in the open sea, Haru finds he still has some purpose in life by becoming a virtual "diver". With Minamo, they undertake various missions into the Metal, where people's desires gradually lead to information leaks and instabilities. Together with Haru's friend Kushima, they also search for the answer in the sea
, which shares an intimate link to the earth's biorhythm.
Real Drive provides examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: While it is not malevolent, its actions have far reaching consequences.
- Aloof Big Brother: Souta is initially this way towards Minamo.
- The Alternet: "The Metal". There's no given explanation for why it is called that, especially when it's virtual properties design it more like an ocean that you can dive into. In fact, diving into the waters of The Metal is a key part of the series.
- Artificial Human: Holon
- Badass: Souta, Holon and even Haru demonstrate a surprising level of prowess.
- Brand X: The "Sous-Marin" sunglasses bear a striking resemblance to Rudy Project glasses
- Closer to Earth: Minamo's lack of a cyberbrain sets her apart from the other characters: in fact, characters of any importance to the plot without a cyber-brain just happen to be female, too.
- Contemplate Our Navels: This is present as a subtle reminder about the impacts of technology and humanity's increasing reliance on the internet to function.
- Convenient Coma
- Cool Old Guy: Haru, for certain. Kushima is this too, but he sure doesn't look it.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: This is depicted as misguided rather than malevolent.
- Cyborg: Kushima's youthful appearance is a consequence of him having a prosthetic body..
- Determinator: Haru won't let his aged body slow him down, if he can help it.
- Does Not Like Spam: Minamo ardently hates green peppers, and plans to eradicate them... by eating them out of existence.
- Mr. Fanservice: Haru's younger self.
- Everything Is Online
- Eyes Always Shut: Yukino.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Haru finds himself in a radically changed world following his awakening from a coma.
- Flashback: This is a prevalent means of depicting past events.
- Food Porn: given that the art in this series is spectacular, there's little suprise that the food in this series is drawn with the same care as the landscape. Of note are those parfaits Minamo and her friends are always seen enjoying.
- Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Haru loved to swim with a dolphin as a boy, although it is implied that they're extinct along with many other aquatic animals by the time the series takes place.
- Gainax Ending
- Genki Girl: Minamo.
- Gratuitous English: At the end of the day, the "blackboard" in Minamo's classroom reads "All today's classes ended".
- Green Aesop
- Hair Decorations: Minamo wears a red bow in her hair wherever she goes.
- Handshake Substitute: Haru and Kushima are fond of using the fist bump gesture.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Haru and Kushima, despite the former being in a coma for 50 years.
- Hollywood Pudgy: This is averted in-universe; while the girls are filled out rather well, it's not mentioned by the characters. The creator once explained that he wished to design women who actually look liked actual Japanese women.
- Homage: To 2001:A Space Odyssey
- Intergenerational Friendship: Minamo and Haru.
- It's Always Summer: The climate control on Artificial Island translates to a warm, subtropical climate year-round for the island's residents.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Haru in his younger days.
- Joshikousei: Minamo and her friends.
- May-December Romance: Minamo's feelings for Haru sometimes make one wonder.
- Meganekko: Erika and Holon, who is modeled after the former.
- Meaningful Name: Iris
- The Metaverse: The Metal.
- Mind Screw: Not as bad as in most of other Masamune's works, but still apparent.
- Mood Whiplash: The show bounces back and forth between a cyberpunk fest and more sedate slice of life episodes.
- Ms. Fanservice: Erika.
- Odd Couple: Haru and Minamo.
- Panty Shot: Minamo gets a few while she's skating around the island at times.
- Post Cyber Punk: This is a soft variety.
- Robot Girl: Holon, the Metal operators, the female battle android, take your pick.
- Recap Episode
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Holon and the other androids like her.
- Rollerblade Good: Minamo is faster than she looks.
- Rousseau Was Right
- Rubber Face: Done to Minamo once, and Ayumu and Haru in the opening. Once more to Ayumu at the end.
- The Rule of First Adopters: Fourth episode mentions that Metal became popular because virtual sex was above and beyond anything that could be achieved in real life.
- Scenery Porn: One of the strongest points about this series, the landscapes are remarkably well done and give the viewer a sense of the tropical environment on the island.
- Shower of Angst: For a male character, even.
- Skinship Grope: Done to Minamo by one of her friends, under loud protest.
- Slice of Life: Quite a few episodes have this feel.
- Spiritual Successor: Though inspired by Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and with many similarities in themes and technology (most obviously cyberbrains, prosthetic bodies and diving into the net), and being made by the same team, Word of God is that both shows are not a verse. Quoting Real Drive and Stand Alone Complex writer Junichi Fujisaku:
Production I.G: Talking about taking over Shirow's world, I heard Fujisaku-san initially created a new "post-Ghost in the Shell" World.
Fujisaku: Yes, we started with the idea, but a request from Director Kazuhiro Furuhashi changed that totally.
- Also part of The Verse with Stand Alone Complex, as a nanotechnology that was developed from Kazundo Ghoda's "Japanese Miracle" Radiation Scrubber technology is mentioned as part of the plot later on.
- The Stinger: The end of every episode has one. Watch the last one to find out what really happens with Haru.
- Surprisingly Good English: While the small amount of text in the classroom mentioned above wasn't very well translated, in episode 12 there is an entire 9+ paragraph long letter detailing uses of the Meta-Real for treating patients with prosthetic eyes that is written in near-perfect English.
- Sweet Tooth: Minamo and her two best friends are seen eating a lot of ice cream.
- Tearjerker: The "love letter" episode.
- Techno Babble: Computing and network jargon is commonplace. At one point, great details are expressed when violin-playing techniques are discussed.
- Theme Song Powerup: The fight in the fifth episode is set to the series' theme song.
- Those Two Guys: Yukino and Sayaka, and the Dream Brothers.
- True Companions
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Non-human intelligence is generally treated with respect.
- Wind Turbine Power: This is used to provide emergency power to Artificial Island following a power outage takes out the main and backup power supplies.