If by any chance you’re not familiar with manga series Real Account (リアルアカウント) – written by Okushou (オクショウ) and drawn by Watanabe Shizumu (渡辺静) – then what the hell are you doing, go and read it now. I’ll wait. Good? Good.
If you’ve read this manga, you were probably just as confused as me, when half-way through, we’ve got introduced to whole new set of main characters, pretending that the original cast never existed. And hell, if you’re a bit like me, you may have been even kind of pissed of by that. But loving the series to bits so far, I’ve kept reading. Up to this date, there’s been 56 chapters (excluding the first story) released in Japan. And I’ve read them all almost in one go, because – that’s just how good it is. Even approximately 30 chapters that are yet to be translated, despite my crappy Japanese. But since the series is still ongoing in Japan, even now, it left me with a lot of questions that just keep boiling in my head. You see, I’m the kind of person who wants answers, rather than questions. And If I’m not gonna get any, I’m just gonna speculate until I’m satisfied.
Which I did ant thus this blog post came to existence. And whole blog actually, but there’s no point talking about that. If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re Real Account reader and fan just like me, and are interested in some point of view on what’s going on and mainly – what’s going on with the above mentioned abrupt change of all characters, just to reboot the story with the new ones. The other option is that you’re friend of mine who I forced to read this. In which case, thanks, I guess \(^o^)/
Recap of facts
Let’s start with facts we know – at its core, the reason of the sudden change is simple: the series was decided to move from monthly magazine to a weekly magazine. And I guess new people in charge wouldn’t like the story to just start randomly in the middle, confusing new readers who didn’t follow the manga in the first magazine. It’s my speculation that if the transfer didn’t happen, story would just keep going as it was, with the original set of characters. Does that mean that the first story never took place in universe of the second story?
If you’ve read at least chapter of the second story, you most likely realized, that that is actually not the case. Now’s a good time I guess to talk a bit about spoilers. I realize, that most people don’t like spoilers and don’t speak Japanese to read the extra thirty or so chapters, so I’ll do my best to keep unnecessary spoilers to minimum and warn you beforehand.
So the relation between first and second story goes something like this – both follow story of two brothers, who don’t know about each other, but both got sucked up into the world of Real Account. Since I assume you’re already familiar with this, let me just introduce some naming convention here, because naming in this series is little confusing.
The real name of the first brother is Ashiwagi Yuuma (柏木ユウマ), but after supposed death of his brother, Ashiwagi Ataru (柏木アタル), he’s decided to live his life as him, deceiving everyone around, including his parents. Meanwhile, the other brother, who’s in fact still alive, lives his life as Mukai Yuuma (向井ユウマ), despite being actually Ataru without knowing it, because of amnesia he suffered after the accident. And since he woke up with the note from his parents saying that his name is Yuuma, he lives as Yuuma. By the way, if you’re confused on why he didn’t live with his parents after that, don’t worry, it gets proper explanation in the manga, but is not the point of this post. So from now on, I’ll just refer to the brothers with the names they actually use, first brother being Ataru and the other being Yuuma.
When I was reading the second story, I tried my best finding connections to the first one. Because quite frankly, I liked and still do like the first story a bit more. Main reason probably being Kanda Koyori (神田こより), my favorite character in the series, but more about her later. Some facts seemed oddly different, for example during attention seeker game, which should in theory take place during the dark history tribunal on timeline of the first story, we can see other groups of players fighting different attention seekers. In particular, we can see players with numbers 301 to 600 fighting one of them (2nd story, chapter 10), which seems to contradict fact, that both Koyori and Ataru have numbers 404 and 410 respectivly, therefore should be in that group instead of undergoing dark history tribunal.
But despite little details like that, we’ve actually got nice fixed point in both storylines that is hard to argue against. The voting event. At the very end of the first story, Marble decides to show the players results of voting which took place in the real world, where people were betting who’s going to survive and who’s going to die. What a surprise to Ataru, seeing his seemingly dead brother taking the 4th place in the voting pool. In the second story, the voting takes place right after the attention seeker game and without much surprise, all places mentioned in the first story match. Now, that alone should be enough evidence that both stories indeed do take place in the same space and time (if protagonists being brothers wasn’t enough for you), but I’ve also noticed one extra interesting thing worth mentioning.
At one point, Yuuma and Ayame (Kamijou Ayame, 上條あやめ) are told about idol girl called Sayaka being trapped in the Real Account with them. This girl is never mentioned again in the manga and whole scene seems oddly pointless, which didn’t satisfy me. One thing that comes to Yuuma’s mind at the moment is fact, that if there indeed is an idol girl, how did he and Ayame manage to take first place during the broadcast game? Shouldn’t idol – an already famous person – take the first place instead? To me, it suggests that perhaps not all players are always playing the same game, providing explainaton on why Ataru and Koyori are force to play completely different set of games than Yuuma and Ayame.
Later in manga
But the connection between the two stories starts to be interesting when characters themselves begin to discover them. Nanako (Yuzuhara Nanako, 柚原ナナコ) during her investigation finds a picture of little Yuuma with his parents and siblings – Ataru and Yuri (柏木ユリ). This naturally starts a roller-coaster of all sorts of revelations and even more connetions to the first storyline.
But more importantly thatn that, there was a question that has been bugging me since the beginning of the second story: will character of the first story themselves ever make an appearance in the second story? Or are they forgotten and just added as some sort of Easter eggs or unimportant characters in the background stories? It might not seem like a big deal for some people, but mind remind you, I liked the first story somehow better and loved Koyori to bits, so I was asking myself this over and over.
And – minor spoiler alert – surprise surprise, they will. Or at least Ataru, for one chapter. And it’s my speculation that whole point of his appearance is purely to confuse the shit out of readers, because he appears out of blue, acts irrationally as hell, and then disappear, just like that. My little theory explaining his behavior is that perhaps he’s being deceived by the evil dudes, who are actually shown being with him and to certain extent, left without a word of explanation, working together.
Now one thing that made me really happy about this encounter is something Ataru says – that he’s doing it because of “the promise he made with Koyori.” To me, this line is little promise from the author, saying “Koyori will make an appearance in the story,” perhaps will even be reintroduced as main character again. Another interesting speculation might be that “the promise,” was something Ataru and Koyori said to each other when still in the Real Account, meaning we would get a flashback chapter or more chapters, seeing how they were doing when still trapped in Re-Aca after the end of the first story. How much of an importance will they be given, or how much of a “screentime,” I don’t know. What keeps my expectations down is fact that the story got changed because of the magazine transfer, so reintroducing old cast of characters while assuming that all readers are familiar with the first story might be unlikely. But maybe I’m wrong. And I’d love to be wrong on this one.
So do I think we’ll ever get to see the whole journey of Ataru and Koyori from where we left them of after the voting? As much as I’d love to come that true, I don’t think so. But who knows. At least, with information given to us from the latest chapters, we’re pretty much guaranteed to see them again to some extent. The irrational behavior of Ataru during the meeting and “the promise” with Koyori are things that need proper explanations. And I’ll be looking forward to it, because I totally fell in love with this manga.