Archive for May 9th, 2008

Real Drive: Virtual Sexual Depravation

Nooooo, Minamo! Don’t think about what the word “orgasm” means! That way lies madness!

So Real Drive seems to be settling down into a kind-of episodically serial format, where each individual story takes up an episode or two, but characters progress along the way. I also couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the focus is on Minamo’s character more so than Haru, a fact which I probably shouldn’t like but which I don’t really mind. And it could be that they’re just holding back the Haru-plosion for later in the series. At any rate, the interaction between the two is lovely. They’re a perfect pair–Haru’s doubts and fears are removed simply by being in the energetic presence of Minamo, making them excellent partners in this diving detective business.

And what a business it is. Real Drive wastes no time getting to the seedier side of technological progress, smacking the viewer full-on with a laundry list of bizarre sexual fetishes (having an extended female orgasm while also having a death experience? I don’t think there’s a proper paraphilia term for that!) made possible through the advent of the Metal. Like Dennou Coil before it, it explores aspects of the virtual as they apply to the real world. Whereas Dennou Coil explored the more philisophical side of virtual reality (yes, I’m shamelessly self-whoring; sorry about that), Real Drive seems to be intent on exploring instead how humans use or abuse this technology.

In episode 4, the first “case” for Haru, he gets to rescue a lost diver from the “torments” of his own personal sexual pleasure. A sexual pleasure so intense, that even Haru, who at his age should have no sex drive to speak of, finds himself caught in the allure of it. Minamo, meanwhile, has no idea what an orgasm is, let alone the whole complex act of copulation itself, and it’s her simple, childish devotion to Haru that pulls him out of the erotic grip of the siren. I found that strangely touching, in a way, both that Minamo was that devoted to Haru, and that Haru recongized the difference between reality and fantasy, the latter amplified by technology. The power of actual love (which I guess is the best way to explain the relationship between Minamo and Haru) conquers fantasy and all that jazz.

Whether or not MInamo was tacked onto the series due to the demands of the anime market or not, as mentioned last time, doesn’t seem to apply much here anymore, neither does it apply to many other series. Most writers of most series have the skill to pull off a convincing character, regardless of whether or not they were tacked on there to be nearly superfluous in the first place. The focus on Minamo tells me that maybe Shirow had her in mind for the protagonist/”narrator” all along, which is fitting: she’s an innocent 15-year-old with no cyberbrain, so she’s literally looking at the world of Real Drive with similar eyes to the viewer. And, in the end, it doesn’t matter for what reason a character is in a series for, as long as that character contributes in some way, small or large to the story, the setting, or the overall appeal of the series.

And I still maintain that Minamo is quite cute, thunder thighs and all. It’s nice to see a different-yet-attractive character design in anime!

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The Daughter of Twenty Faces: Welcome to 1930!

Population: you, Aya Hirano, and the manliest thief ever. Thieves are already pretty manly anyway (see: Kokoro Library and Funny Tortoise the Thief), but they are especially manly when they send advance notice of their thieving intent and still manage to fool everyone anyway. Granted, thief shows tend to have this standard plot-generating mechanism, but there’s something much deeper working under the surface of The Daughter of Twenty Faces. And that something is named Chiko.

Twenty Faces is actually not an “original” character, in the sense that the original mangaka made him up. Rather, he drew on Japan’s literary history for one Edogawa Ranpo, the man responsible for publishing the first modern-style crime stories in Japan. Just to point out how awesome Edogawa Ranpo is, his name is a Japanification of none other than Edgar Allen Poe, which shows you where his heritage lies. I actually grabbed via Interlibrary Loan a compilation of some of Edogawa’s shorter novels to check out his writing, since it is pertinent to my interests. I don’t know if that collection actually features Twenty Faces or not, but, hey, never hurts to check it out. I’ll probably make a post eventually detailing my experiences in reading Japanese crime fiction, linking it with the tone and style of The Daughter of Twenty Faces, or something.

As for the series itself, it desperately needs more attention. It’s striking me in that special way that only old-time mystery stories can (even though the manga started serialization in 2003). Granted, my only exposure to this kind of thing is probably the fragments of Sherlock Holmes I’ve read, and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. That last one reminds me of Great Detectives Poriot and Marple and, oh, how I wish that hadn’t been a cheesy kid’s series. Poriot does not take interest in missing jewellry, thank you very much.

Anyway.

True to the storytelling style of the 30s, Daughter of Twenty Faces is much less concerned with things such as “avoiding plot holes” so much as “being totally awesome”, and they’ve hit the nail on the head. The first two episodes are a little on the slow side, but once Chiko starts to get involved in the theiving in 3 and 4, things pick up considerably, as her sweet, innocent exterior hides a cunning mind and a drive to learn. Twenty Faces, of course, exploits this as much as he can in her, to the great amusement of those who like a bit of old-old-school in their anime. If one likes smooth players in their anime, then you’re in for a treat as there’s two: Twenty Faces and Chiko. If they weren’t so buddy-buddy it’d be hilarious to set them against each other and have them try to outwit each other. And if that happened, I don’t know who I’d be rooting for.

It’s unclear where things are headed from here (I’ve seen through 4, which is all that’s out now) but, judging from both the OP lyrics and animation, we’re in for a timeskip paired with a missing Twenty Faces. They’re certainly advancing Chiko’s skills faster than they would if this series was about Chiko’s growth solely, so that tells me that they’re going to do something much different with this series than a standard kaitou series. Wherever it goes, however, I’m certainly planning to be along for the ride.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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