Real Drive: It’s Just Intonation, Don’t Worry About It

I still can’t figure out for the life of me why no one else is watching Real Drive. I think it’s a combination of the involvement of Masamune Shirow (whom everyone likes for Appleseed and Casshern and Ghost in the Shell, which are decidedly not like Real Drive at all), the fact that we seemed to be promised hard-core cybernetic diving action with the plot synopsis, and the wicked awesome 9mm Parabellum Bullet OP theme, which goes against the general mood of most of the episodes in amusing fashion. It does take a bit to get started, but now that I’ve seen up to 11 (and I’ve been silent on it, yes, but enjoying it just the same, when I get the chance to watch some, which has been few and far between, unfortunately), I’m more inclined to agree (more) with cuchlann’s initial discussion of the series as a post-singularity tale (which I would also use to classify such works as Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Aria). Especially after episode 11.

Episode 11 touched the same nerve my favorite episode, Love Letter, did for books, except this time with music (classical music, even, which I will admit upfront that I have no idea how to understand in the slightest). The message here is fairly simple, and you don’t even need Eiichirou beating you upside the head with the moral of the story for the episode to work. With the books, it was content vs. experience; here, the content vs. experience is applied to the creator of “art” (or culture, if you’re feeling particularly Zentradi today). I actually looked up (and tried to read) the Wikipedia article on , which resulted in two things happening: one, I got a headache in three paragraphs; two, I wanted to throw bricks at mathematicians who think that they can be really cool musicians with the power of science.

Yes, I saw (and loved) Donald Duck in Mathemagicland, both in elementary school and in high school (when the sub decided we needed a retro break from the interim curriculum he was teaching while our actual algebra teacher was off having babies or something), and, yes, it is pretty cool that things sound pleasant to the human ear due to the collusion of incredibly complex mathematical ratios and formulae and such, but I’m also fairly certain that if someone actually held a concert with everyone in perfect mathematical harmony, it wouldn’t really be all that great.

Or, well, it would be, if the people making the music put their heart and soul into making it absolutely mathematically perfect.

Maybe.

As Eiichirou handily pointed out for us, getting the mathematical perfection of just intonation down is skill–a skill which he had, at a very early age, likely due to his scientific mind–but it’s not necessarily a talent. Eiichirou felt he lacked “talent”, defined by him as “love”, so he gave his violin to Kazune, who did have talent, if not necessarily the skill. Eiichirou could have made the most perfect harmonies in the world on his violin, but to him they sounded as soulless and mechanical as Holon’s defintiion of just intonation. This talent, or “love”, is also why Kazune can see his younger self in Nyamo when she plays her recorder. The recorder is a fairly obnoxious instrument, all said and done, and I’m not even sure Nyamo played it the way it was supposed to be played, but both times she busted it out, with its simple, clear notes, that you clearly cannot apply just intonation to, everyone around her smiled and simply enjoyed it. It’s a rosy picture to be sure, but considering the locale, instrumentation, and assumed skill level of the performer, it’s a testament to human feeling over cold calculation. It’s my common complaint and criticism–sometimes, something can be so carefully thought-out and orchestrated that it simply loses all of its humanity and becomes something sterile. Perfection may be beauty, but imperfection has its own peculiar lure. That is, if perfection and imperfection even exist. Which they might not.

If you’ll let me shift gears into reverse abruptly and totally screw up my transmission, I’m almost tempted to say that “content vs. experience”, mentioned above, is a running theme for Real Drive, given the nature of the Metal, cyberrealities, and the general themes of the episodes. I don’t think I can elaborate more on this until after some more episodes (or even the whole run of the series), so more on this later.

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3 Responses to “Real Drive: It’s Just Intonation, Don’t Worry About It”


  1. 1 Jobrill 17 August 2008 at 7:33 pm

    I’m watching and greatly enjoying real Drive, actually. It’s turning out different than advertised, but it has its charm, and I greatly look forward to each episode.

    I can see a lot of people being turned off, since it seems to be shying away from the promised cyber-thriller it was set up to be in the promotional material and first episode. Even I’m getting impatient over all these questions: What is the real nature of the Metal, what is this strange force that stole Haru’s youth, and why does Eiichirou not age, and what is up with Minamo being the only person without a cyberbrain and stuff.

    I’m sure we’ll get some answers as we get closer to the end, but it’s hard to wait sometimes. The Charm and depth of stories like the two mentioned above, and the characters of Minamo, Haru, and Holon keep me hooked though.

  2. 2 Ez 17 August 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I get what you mean. As a musician myself, the music always sounds better when you play it with passion. Cool post! =)

  3. 3 otou-san 18 August 2008 at 11:23 am

    I love that we’ve basically got a “slice of life” (my least favorite genre name) series taking place within a cyberpunk world. Shirow and other authors of the genre often focus on how dehumanizing cybernetic enhancements have the potential to be, but Real Drive focuses on the flipside of the coin: what it is that actually makes us human. Hence unmodified Nyamo. At any rate, I love it.


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