The anime Real Drive is probably not what you think it is. Yes, it's a Production IG TV series with an animation budget on par with Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Le Chevalier d'Eon, and yes it's a look at life in the future in which the internet (or in this case, "the Metal") is the life blood of the civilized world, but it's not what you think it is. From the opening scene (wherein a near-future deep sea dive by some 30-something expert free diver goes horribly wrong, and his friend risks his own life [and arm] to save him) I expected a tense, exciting, and possibly violent nautical tale, and an interesting take on futuristic marine terra-forming where problems come quickly and are solved by brains, guts, and guns... That is not the case. You may even still think it's the case for the rest of the first episode as it is played out, but it's not, and you just don't fucking listen, do you...
Anyway, after that diving accident we jump forward another 50 years after that already futuristic opening prologue and find that the diver who was mysteriously injured in the first 5 minutes just woke up from his five decade-long coma to find himself a paraplegic old fart in a world he doesn't recognize anymore. This man, Haru, is our lead protagonist. An octogenarian who can't walk is our hero in this story... I just wanted to make that perfectly clear.
Oh, and the second lead is a 15 year-old husky Japanese girl named Minamo who grew up in Australia. Our main supporting characters are one chubby-thighed android, Minamo's kick-ass brother (who's porking a sexy, older female politician on the side, but who really has a boner for the chubby-thighed droid), and Haru's friend (who saved him from dying in the prologue) who's also in his 80s, but who transferred to a fully robotic body a while back so he still looks around 30. A strange cast to say the fucking least, but you know me, I don't like to say the least about anything if I can help it.
I'd tell you about the storyline, but there is no storyline. This is one of the most laid back, relaxing, and strange shows I've ever seen. There's no drama and no tension at all — not in the overall (very light) story, nor in the individual tales of the week. And the "enemy" or the "cyberworld mystery of the week" of each episode is usually just a glitch in the Metal system, an exploited loophole in the Metal tweaked by a playful hacker, or a small human error. There is no Laughing Man, Individual 11, global government conspiracy or anything in Real Drive. But it's still fun. I can't explain it, it should be the most boring and pretentious "what if?!" premise ever created, yet it's interesting and all the abnormal characters in the cast are people I found myself wanting to hang out with. The premise (this far-future world, with artificial islands being tested to support humans more comfortably and profitably than ever) was handled very well, and the future tech was extremely believable — much more so than say us having a fully cyborgized society by the early 2030s like GitS: SAC prophesied. Add another 30+ years on that date, and maybe you'll have people working the kinks out of brain chips and battle droids.
The amount of detail that they crapped into this show is amazing. The thought that the creators put into every aspect of every bit of scientific creation and the human reaction to it really made me wonder. They thought of pretty much all the implications of having semi-cyber brains, android companions, artificial atolls, a much more immersive and interactive world wide web (i.e. the Metal, or the Meta Real), and obesity in a technologically advanced civilization... Well, that last one's a lie (and Wall*E did a much more thorough investigation into the idea of fatties in the future than anything else ever will), but so many of the characters in this show were *ahem* big boned, or healthy (sometimes VERY healthy) that it really stuck out. Not that Minamo or the chubby-thighed android (Holon) are not cute (or hot in Holon's case), it's just odd to see this sort of thing is all. Usually the Japanese tend to pretend that there are no fat people in their nation, or if they're fat then they're the bad guy, or the stupid side kick. Minamo can never wear corduroy slacks for fear of a friction fire. But whatever. Like I was saying, most every episode is just an excuse to show us fantastic, technologically advanced things and make we the viewers say "Ooooo! Look how cool the future is!" It really shouldn't be this engrossing, but it is. I breezed through all of Real Drive in about 4 days.
Personally, after it was made clear that there was no "big bad" or season-long problem to be solved in this show, I found myself hoping for some major "man out of time" elements and storylines, seeing as that's how this thing seemed to be headed in the beginning. Here's poor Haru, a 30-something man stuck in a damaged, invalid, old-man body in the far future... How does one cope with this realization? Well, apparently very well. Almost immediately after coming out of his 50 year coma Haru has become the world's best Metal diver (or hacker). He's got his own brain chip, and he knows how to swim the Metal like no other. They make it somewhat believable, but any fish-out-of-water elements for him are out the window at that point. Instead, we bear witness to chunky Minamo as she tries to live in the ultra-tech world of Artificial Island without a brain implant, which is a really major inconvenience to her seeing as the Metal has made life as easy for its users as the Jetsons (where barely any physical effort or even face time is needed in order to do anything anymore), as long as one is directly plugged into it. But enough of that, my favorite part of Real Drive is the interactions between Minamo's older kung-fu-skilled brother, Souta, and Haru's assistant/bodyguard android, Holon.
This relationship is really the, not "lesson," but heart of the series. Over the course of the 26 episode run, Souta finds himself drawn to Holon. At first it's because she's programmed to be better than most everyone else in her mad martial arts skills, and Souta likes to fight her in order to prove that he's better than a machine, but soon he finds that he can't deliver the finishing move to her in any of their spars. Eventually he figures out why, and he doesn't try to fight it. Holon's an android (a sexy, glasses-wearing android), and everyone knows this, especially Souta. He doesn't try to disillusion himself with lame imaginative scenarios in which she's a real woman, or she really loves anything she's not programmed to show any care or concern for... but in this world he still doesn't dismiss his (perverted) feelings. Even when he tells the live chick he's banging why he's leaving her, and she chides him over his unrequited affections, Souta plays it cool. There's even a point in the story in which things get royally flipped on their head, and Souta's world is completely fucked up, and there's nothing he can do about it, and because of his chubby for the chubby-thighed artificial woman your heart breaks more than it might for two real people caught up in that kind of a mess. *Sniff*... Hold on... I... I just thought of the end of Braveheart when Wallace looks up into the crowd while on the executioners block and sees his dead wife... I... I wasn't tearing up over this show... *Sniiiiiff*
All in all this is a good anime. It had no right to be, and in lesser hands it would have been boring crap, but I enjoyed the shit out of it. Yeah, in the end it's basically an environmental tale of how we're screwing with the natural order of the world, but this lesson isn't crammed down the viewers' throats like a giant rubber cock down a softcore actress' esophagus. It doesn't feel forced at all, quite unlike the horrible Arjuna (whose lesson was pretty much "Don't walk outside, 'cause you might step on nature... Hell, don't even breathe -- YOU'RE KILLING THE PLANET!"). Real Drive's very gentle about it (to the point that you don't even realize that's it's an environmental tale until the last few eps).
If I recall, some of my ancestors tried building man-made, floating islands to stop the population problems of their day... that is until the giant megalodons and mutant, enormous nautiluses came up from the deep and attacked, killing millions and forcing future generations to suffer through absolutely terrible made-for-Sci-Fi-Channel movies-of-the-week about the natural rebellion for decades to come.
Not learning from their hubris, they then tried building space stations around the Earth and its galactic neighbors as if to give a giant raspberry to the Heavens themselves. Of course that's when the Chelys galactica and the living star ship leviathans came crashing out of the cosmos and destroyed billions of lives in their attacks on the manmade structures, thusly proving once and for all that mankind was not meant to leave the earth on Earth, lest the Universe itself give him a planet-sized spanking. Well, That is until man learned that killing giant, ancient, and revered beasts in the oceans and in deep space was just as easy as wiping out with pollution and over-hunting (for their fins, shells, and starburst engines that in time were thought to be cures for cancer, AIDs, and erectile dysfunction in prize-winning race horses) native Terran creatures such as the bison, the dodo, and the cocker spaniel. Soon the seas and space were as barren and void as a politician's heart. Then mankind virtually defecated all over everything within his grasp. Again.
They've shown the first steps that lead to mankind's final walk off the plank and plunge into the darkness that is universal uncaring in this show, Real Drive, but even with their artificial islands, weather domination machines, and very attractive cyborgs they never show the real problems that would arise from such technological haughtiness in the real world: Ocean and star behemoths, and minor deities striking down the unworthy with great vengeance... Although historians tend to disagree if the Terrible Heccubus Trouncing of 2305AD was indeed caused by an angry deity or some aliens with wicked awesome weaponry and a distaste for reggae music (whose resurgence swept the Milky Way that summer like a plague of Richard Nixon clones).
Arrrrrrr, I know just how this little Asian diver felt. One day, when I was in me early 20s I went a snorkeling down in the Caribbean with this bouncy lass with a butt that just wouldn't quit, and a tattoo of a juggling monkey on her right bosom. Soon enough we find this glowy, almost pulsing light down in the depths, and as Louisa swam toward it like the retard that she must have been, the light, it blinded me and put me in a coma until around a few years ago.
Arrrrr, you can imagine me surprise when I woke up to find out that me hair was all gone or all white, me rugged good looks had wasted away, I had wrinkles everywhere I could look and feel, and me little sailor took about three weeks to even stand at attention due to malnourishment from not being fed any blondes or brunettes or non-scurvy red-heads for about 40 years... Arrrrrrr. Louisa looked even worse, so I just left her in her coma and ran before the hospital or the feds could get me for 40 years of payment or back taxes.
The moral of me story be this: Never snorkel or scuba dive with a ditzy latina who likes to poke and prod exposed underwater electricity pipelines with her metal harpoon gun. Arrrrrrrrr.