The story continues from the last volume as the characters are forced to stay awake or die! This series is about a huge swath of the public being sucked into the social media app known as Real Account; they’re being forced to play games and maintain their followers or die. It’s a rather inventive series that holds a mirror to society and so far has been great entertainment. Can it sustain the quality though? We review.
Real Account Vol. 5 (Kodansha Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
A STICKY SITUATION Yuma, Ayame, and the other players trapped in Real Account are suffering from mental and physical exhaustion as the “Reply or Regret” game drags on. As they fight to stay awake, a game changer arrives in the form of “stickers.” Collecting these emoticon images may be the key to outsmarting the game, but Yuma has more than just Marble working against him. On top of the threat of the Real Account servers getting shut down, an unpredictable and sadistic player has his sights set on Yuma…and he won’t stop until Yuma is in complete despair.
Why does this book matter?
On top of being rather clever in showing the faults of social media and our interaction via life or death games, Real Account is also good at delivering mature storytelling: gore, scantily clad girls, and adult themes are interspersed well.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
That dude is mega creepy.
This volume concludes the game from last issue, which forced Real Account users to stay awake in order to reply when sent a message. If they didn’t reply within the time allotted, they died! The conflict is resolved via a new element and that’s via the very Japanese gashapon machines. Not only does this add an interesting, intriguing societal element from Japan, but it captures the gambling nature of a very popular toy dispenser that requires you pull a lever and receive a random toy. In this case it’s stickers, which end up having special abilities. Once again, Okushou uses a cultural element to create a clever way for the characters to solve a problem. One of the joys of this series has been watching Yuma use his noggin to figure a way out of a seemingly impossible situation. The resolution is filled with surprises and ends up revealing a new element of Marble and the death machine that has become Real Account.
We are reintroduced to Mizuki, a sadistic player in the game who is a new threat to Yuma and his friends. Okushou takes this character further however and you get to learn what their deal is and how he poses an additional threat to the protagonists. Ultimately this character serves as the symbolic troll of internet culture and is set up well increasing your anticipation for their return in the next volume.
On top of these elements, Okushou further fleshes out the antics of Yuma’s ex-girlfriend which allows the story to show what’s going on outside of the game. To say there are some big answers revealed in this volume is an understatement. If you’ve dropped this series you might want to check back in just to see where this story might be going in the grand scheme of things.
This volume also ends with a mini-story that’s sweet and sad all at once. It involves two people in a relationship, one in the Real Account game and the other outside of it, who are catfishing each other. They’re unaware, but their love is real and it does well to show the somewhat sad nature of online relationships where two people never really know who the other is.
The art by Shizumu Watanabe continues to be strong and captures the stress and despair the characters go through in these high pressure situations. There’s a few nearly nude images in this one — which aren’t the most tasteful of images — but some audiences will love it. This volume lacks the gore of previous volumes, but as always the facial expressions are point so you’re right there with the characters as they problem solve.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Yuma uses his cleverness to keep himself and others alive, but there’s na added on solution that’s a little too convenient; it’s a moment that certainly requires some strategy, but it drops in his lap too easily, especially in comparison to previous solutions. It’s a minor gripe, and given stories have a finite length due to pages makes sense.
Is It Good?
This is another good volume in a fantastic series that captures the ugly truth behind social media. Real Account Vol. 5 focuses more deeply on the gashapon vending machines, but anyone who has gambled can understand the message in this volume. The biggest takeaway is the progression of the bigger story outside of the game itself which delivers.