Anime / Real Drive
The central characters from left to right: Holon, Minamo, Haru, Sota and Kushima

Real 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous English: At the end of the day, the "blackboard" in Minamo's classroom reads "All today's classes ended".
  • It's Always Summer: The climate control on Artificial Island translates to a warm, subtropical climate year-round for the island's residents.
  • Not Disabled In VR: Haru's cyberbrain allows him to find a purpose as a "diver" into The Metal, where he can conduct research and investigate anomalies being caused by the interactions of others.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.