Real Account Volume 3
Now that’s odd. In this volume, Real Account changes lead characters suddenly.
I liked the beginning of this series, where Ataru gets pulled into a social media virtual world where actions have real-world consequences: survive the games, or you die, and so do all your followers. He’s driven by his desire to get back to his younger sister, Yuri, who believes in him.
In the second volume, the life-or-death game involves revealing messages you’ve deleted, particularly those that show the user in a bad light. Ataru’s tweett (to avoid trademark issues, probably, that’s the spelling used) reveals him to be a murderer, but it’s more complicated than that.
Ataru had a twin brother, Yuma, who was less confident. One-third of volume 2 consists of Ataru telling this tale of what happened and how they switched places, along the way explaining why he was so taken by online social networking, escaping there instead of the real world, where he became more withdrawn.
As teased at the end of that volume, volume 3 takes up the story of this new (but identical) kid. Yuma, like Ataru, values his “friends” online more than the real world ones because he doesn’t feel like he has to be fake with them. When Yuma is sucked into the game, instead of a sister to return to, he has a kind-of girlfriend.
There’s a lot of this installment that repeats the first — explaining the concept, showing the users that their followers won’t be loyal if their own wellbeing is on the line, and giving Yuma someone to partner with in the game world. Instead of a nice girl that reminds him of his sister, though, Yuma gets Ayame, who has a smart mouth and a grudge against him.
The first major game involves revealing a random picture to the world, and the first victim is a shy girl whose topless selfie for her boyfriend is shown. In contrast to the first two volumes, beginning here, events are ramped up a bit. There was already violence inherent in the concept, but there’s more sex here, and more explicit violence. Also, the rules are no longer fair, and although Yuma figures out the twist, it seems unbelievable (particularly when layered on top of the exaggeration we’ve already gotten).
This take on the concept is less subtle, less commentary on social media and more exploiting it, as seen in the second game, which requires the players to put on a livestream and do whatever it takes to attract viewers. In some cases, that means rape or murder.
This revamp, it’s mentioned in passing in a brief note at the end of the book by artist Shizumu Watanabe, is due to the story changing magazines for serialization. The author, Okushou, says the previous lead, Akaru, “will definitely be back.” I hope that’s sooner rather than later, because I liked his storyline and supporting characters better. I’ll keep reading for now, though, because I enjoy the dramatization of social media conventions.