20 Minutes into the Future, Japan has been taken by storm by the social network Real Account, commonly called "ReaAcc" by the populace. ReaAcc has become an ubiquitous part of the nation's culture, having combined all functions of other social networking services into one platform and received support from the government, businesses, and the public. The service has become an essential part of everyone's life, and naturally a big concern of many, if not all of its users, is the followers they accrue. The number of followers one possesses is critical to establishing an online standing.
Kashiwagi Ataru may be an Ordinary High-School Student in real life, but on Real Account, he has over 1500 followers...that he gained by falsifying information on his public profile. But hey, at least he's #4 in nationwide score rankings for "No Answer"!
For the most part, Ataru has no social life outside of Real Account. But his online presence garners him enough attention by the social network's creators for him to be whisked away with the ten thousand most popular users into cyberspace. There, he will have to compete in a ReaAcc-hosted death game televised across the country. The key to staying alive? Followers willing to put their lives on the line for the participants...and how many care enough to make the commitment?
Written by Okushou and illustrated by Watanabe Shizumu, Real Account started off in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shonen Magazine in 2014 before moving to Weekly Shonen Magazine (and changing the main cast) in 2015. In 2018 the series moved back to Bessatsu, where it concluded in 2019 at 24 volumes. A movie was announced to be in the works in the same year but it is currently in development hell or shelved. It's licensed in English by Kodansha USA, but is victim to very sporadic releases.
Tropes in Real Account include:
- Augmented Reality: The Real Account games take place within the virtual world of social media and can be broadcasted on any electronic device with video capability. It's revealed much later that the games actually take place in an augmented reality more similar to modern technology's virtual reality. This revelation leaves many questions that have yet to be answered.
- Bittersweet Ending: The real account site is destroyed and its sinister creators Masahide and Shin are now dead, thus putting an end to its murderous rampage. Despite that, the dark and toxic side of the internet is still there, as shown by a news report detailing the suicide of two middle schoolers who were harassed by online trolls. After his Face–Heel Turn, Ataru decides to isolate himself from his friends, but he still keeps them updated occasionally. He and his brother, Yuuma, have largely decided to take a break from the Internet, though Yuuma still believes it has a good side.
- Bloodsplattered Innocents: Ataru and Yuuma when they were kids.
- Bystander Effect: Largely in play and one of the biggest dangers present to the participants. Followers can opt out of following a player at any time if they value their lives over the player's. It's incredibly evident in chapter 1, with people leaving others to die in order to save themselves, yet not associating their actions with contributing to murder. Considering that the creators intended for the game to be a social experiment, it's not surprising that this was invoked.
- Characters Dropping Like Flies: A LOT of people are introduced, gets a few lines in, then promptly drop like flies.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Ataru and his sister Yuri's parents are shown to have died before the start of the series. How Ataru and Yuri get by is so far unexplained, other than evidently having a home and mentioning that they're poor.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The contestants in the 2nd group didn't exactly have the best circumstances before entering this game. So far, we have:
- An AV actress who failed to meet her father's expectations; he forces her to marry another "loser". Then Played for Laughs as the couple lose their virginity to each other and she discovered that she can achieve fame by popping another man's cherry, divorcing him, discarding her name and becoming a well-known AV actress.
- A beauty who initially had a beautiful twin while she herself was very ugly, forcing her to wear a mask. After starting a fire to try to kill herself, the pretty twin died saving her, and she herself underwent surgery that ended up making her as pretty as her deceased twin.
- A serial killer who was initially a housewife, whose Start of Darkness was a burglary gone wrong killing everyone else in her family. While she eventually killed the burglar, she realized that her blood lust was stronger than the love of her family.
- A cultist who was originally a web programmer, indirectly participating in the First Real Account game to save his boss trapped in the game. The boss died when he failed the Re-ACA's Live Broadcast, with the programmer only surviving because his boss preemptively blocked him before his death.
- A fashionista who's a severe case of So Beautiful, It's a Curse, cemented by her stepfather killing her mother just to prove his love to her.
- A box-wearing boy who lives in a dice cube. Every week the cube was played in an illegal casino, with the number rolled on it marking his amount of food for the week. Years later he decided to settle the score by gambling his life and rolling the dice cube by himself. While he lost first, a plane suddenly crashed into their location, leaving him as one of the only survivors.
- A dog who turned out to be the traitor for the second Real Account game. He lived with an owner who trained his intelligence and uploaded the videos to the internet. Unfortunately, the dog discovered recordings of his owner murdering his previous pets - and he intended to make the dog the next victim. Upon the owner's return, the dog was saved when a representative of Real Account asked him to become a traitor for this session.
- Deadly Game: One where a person's survival depends on the number of followers he has. If the participant dies in the course of the game, he will die in the real world, with his followers dying alongside him. If his follower count drops to zero, the participant dies alone.
- Fanservice: A rather large amount of attention is giving to sexualizing the female cast, even during moments that are supposed to be life-or-death situations.
- Honor-Related Abuse: A wealthy businessman can be seen in chapter 1 saying, "He was a worthless son. It's no big deal."
- Humans Are Bastards: What the game's host, Marble, seems determined to prove. It ties into the manga's theme of social media bringing out the worst in people and being a very toxic environment.
- I Have No Son!: A businessman in Chapter 1 evidently feels this way, declaring that his son was worthless and meant nothing to him.
- Necessarily Evil: Both Masahide Eniguma and the protagonists' father (Shin Kashiwagi), the masterminds behind the killing of billions, made the Real Account site because they want everyone to understand that the internet is evil.
- One-Hit Kill: Yuuma and Ayame are alive because they follow each other; if one of them decides to unfollow the other, s/he's dead. Because of that, they don't want any other followers so they won't pull others down with them.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Aiji to Ataru (actually Yuuma.)"I'm begging you, don't let anyone besides me kill you, Kashiwagi Ataru!"
- Ordinary High-School Student: The protagonists, who have no particular skills or talents to speak of. Not so ordinary, though, after it's revealed they're the sons of scientists who worked on Real Account and are an integral part of its purpose.
- Police Are Useless: Not one police officer initially appears onscreen, although it could be justified as them being unable to handle the chaos; it's also implied that they may be in on it. A police officer does show up later in the manga.... as a participant of the game.
- Power of Trust: The best way to survive the game is by forging strong bonds with participants and entrusting your lives to each other.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Attempted. They... didn't get far.
- Split Personality: Yuuma (actually Ataru) has a very psychopathic one.
- Take That!: The manga is essentially one big social commentary on toxic social media culture and the people who run it. The character's lives are literally dependant on how many followers they have, and one game involves finding old tweets to "cancel" someone, so to speak.
- Villain Has a Point: Both Ataru and later Yuuma understood from Masahide Eniguma and their father Shin Kashiwagi's perspective that the internet is full of bad things and is considered toxic but Yuuma counteracts it that there is a good side to internet.
- Year X: Presumably, the manga is set in the year 20XX.