Saturday, September 17, 2016

Real Account Vol. #03 Manga Review

Go forth and discover the bonds that connect you as followers.

Creative Staff:
Art: Shizumu Watanabe
Story: Okushou
Translation: Claire Hallmark
Lettering: Evan Hayden and Jennifer Skarupa
Editing: Ajani Oloye
Kodansha Cover Design: Phil Balsman

What They Say:
After his victory in the Dark History Trials, survivor Ataru Kashiwagi sees a familiar face in the Real Account rankings. But this person shouldn't exist, so how can he be seeing him alive and in the game? For now, the spotlight changes to this new protagonist, but the deadly contest continues! This time, Marble will brutally decimate Real Account players with a new set of games including a bonus round that will prove to be quite...revealing.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
When we last left off, we had discovered that Ataru's brother, Yuuma (Who is actually Ataru himself?) is still alive and is also a new resident of the Real Account virtual world. This time around, however, the narrative deviates from Ataru's perspective and shifts to the point-of-view of the newly revealed Yuma Mukai, who we had presumed to be dead up to this point in time. Now, we have two protagonists who look exactly the same and claim to be the same exact person. What the hell is going to happen when these two finally meet up again?

In the beginning of the third volume, we get a glimpse into the daily life of Yuma 2, who appears to be in an entirely different city than his brother(?), Ataru. Much like Ataru, Yuma has hidden his obsession with Real Account from his friends at school -- only revealing it to his girlfriend, Nanako. In yet another relatable turn of events, Yuma is sucked out of his body and tossed into RA just as he's about to totally get it on with Nanako for the first time. From this point on, we get to reread the entire "You can unfollow anyone for three minutes" that we read back in the first volume. This time around, though, Yuma is dropped by his girlfriend and is left with no followers. In a quick, desperate attempt to save his life, Yuma commands that a girl near him (Who is in an extremely similar predicament) follow him in exchange for a follow-back. The boisterous young tsundere reluctantly accepts and the two begin their currently-platonic relationship together.

This is where things start to get different. Kind of. Like, very slightly different. The first game that Yuma and Ayame (Tsundere girl) are thrown into is a game of like/dislike -- where random images from their phones are posted to the viewers and they must predict whether said photos will be liked or disliked by the majority. This is essentially the less stressful version of Ataru and Koyori's game where they had to guess whether people thought they were cute or unattractive. In the end, Yuma shows off that he is also one to bend the rules of Marble's games and winds trying to cheat the system by taking hundreds of bad selfies. Unfortunately, even with the new plethora of unglamorous close-ups, Yuma's chosen picture is a bushel of bananas. Nice. Regardless, he winds up nearly passing by when he discovers the third option -- whatever. Then he spews this whole thing about how the daily-life pictures that people post on the internet really only matter to those involved with them. And he's right. This is actually a pretty hard-hitting revelation for those that don't understand the world doesn't revolve around them.

It is also revealed at this point that Ayame grows moss as a hobby. Okay.

The next game is the cool one -- RA Live. A large portion of the remaining contestants are split into groups of two's and told that they must host their own livestreaming show for thirty minutes. If they have less than 100 viewers by the end of the stream, they will immediately die. However, for every follower over 100, they will earn a solid 100 yen -- much like Ataru's re-tweet game from volume one. And, in yet another similarity between the two story lines, we see a mass of people just start having sex and broadcasting it to everyone. I mean, it's a good strategy. As demonstrated here, humans have this immense obsession with sex and easily gravitate toward it even if these specific acts are matters of life and death. It's yet another intense revelation brought on by the world of Real Account. Oh, and then some girl totally explodes while getting slammed because her husband unfollowed her. Awesome.

Yuma and Ayame wind up surviving this round after using a picture Ayame had taken of Marble (As well as a voice changer app) and essentially narrating a fake plan to destroy civilization. Being well disguised by a quick shielding of the camera, their plan fools nearly everyone and they amass an insane amount of viewers in the last five minutes of the stream -- putting them on top of everyone. As the game comes to a close, we are brought back to Nanako's perspective as she watches over her [ex?]boyfriend's unconscious body. And, much like Ataru's situation, Marble shows up and steals it. However, it as at this point that we discover that there are like seven hundred Marbles and they're all going around successfully stealing unconscious people out of their homes. I call shenanigans.

In Summary:
The third volume of Real Account is decent, but it's a lot more of what we've already read from the pilot. I mean, it's essentially a re-telling of the entire volume, and what distracts from that even more is the fact that our two protagonists are twin brothers (Probably?) who are not only identical in physical appearance but in mental capabilities as well. The addition of Ayame is great for tsundere fans like me but, truth be told, she's incredibly transparent and really not all that special at this point. Maybe things will change, maybe they won't. Who knows? Regardless, it's hard to give a solid grade to an issue that we've basically read already. One thing we do get from this, however, is a variety of doors and pathways that can be traversed on the way to a rather interesting and overall confusing tale of two twin brothers (Probably?) finding each other once again, all mixed with an interestingly gory social commentary.

Content Grade: C
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: July 26, 2016
MSRP: $10.99

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