Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Real Drive 12: Of Metal Art and Cybernetics

It's been such a long time since a new episode came out, I was a bit worried that The Metal has dropped the series. Especially since I didn't particularly like the last two episodes of Real Drive. Good thing this episode came out and at the right moment too.

Another new character is introduced, and with her introduction, we find out more about the nature of the meta-real.
Episode 12: Morning without Light - Image
More Screencaps from Real Drive 12

The episode starts off with a girl standing on the beach and seemingly doing nothing but stare at the sea and reaching out her hand as if to touch it. Enter Minamo who's just arrived from grocery shopping. When she sees the girl, she immediately assumes -- and I don't know how she gets the idea -- that the girl is about to kill herself. So what does she do? She tackles the poor girl (lolz!).

Fortunately, the girl doesn't get super-mad at Minamo. I mean, if that were me, I'd slap her around and issue colorful expletives if only to make a point that getting tackled by random people in public places isn't my idea of a good day. Believe it or not, the two end up kind of friends.
the scene is really more innocent than it looks

Minamo finds out the girl was blind from birth but that she recently got cybernetics for her eyes. As such, she is still trying to adapt to the world of sighted people. According to her, she does not really trust what her eyes see and that she has to touch things first just to be sure that they are she sees them. As a matter of fact, that is what she has been doing before Minamo came shooting out of nowhere -- she has been trying to touch the horizon.

Much later, Kushima talks with Haru about a missing metal artist named "Iris" that a sponsor of the Meta-Real has asked him to find. Apparently, Iris is one of the most sought-after metal artists on the island but that she recently disappeared and no one has heard of her again.

Haru agrees to take on the job. However, when he dives into Iris' metal, he is confounded by what he finds. The world that Iris' has created is nothing like he had ever experienced, with sight translated into touch, sound into colors, etc.
talk about fishing blind

In school, Minamo finds out that a classmate of hers, whom she's never even seen or heard of before this episode, is coming back to school. As everyone is busy preparing for her return, Minamo sees a picture of the girl from the beach together with her classmates. It seems the girl from the beach and this classmate are one and that her name is Amy.

However, that day Amy does not come. After school, Minamo goes to see her at the beach and this time, she introduces herself properly. The two talk once more and in the course of their conversation, Amy shares that she feels like she lost something in return for her new sight.

Later that day, Amy brain-downs.
It turns out that Amy and the metal artist, Iris, are also the same person. To save her, Kushima has Haru diving directly into Amy's cyberbrain.

While Haru tries to search for Amy's consciousness in the meta-real, Kushima explains to Minamo that for congenitally blind people like Amy, they find it near impossible to adapt to sight. This is because as they grow, that part of their brain that is assigned to sight does not develop while all other senses are heightened to make up for the lack of sight. Amy is unable to cope with her new surroundings and this is why she brain-downed.

Nevertheless, Haru, with the help of Minamo, manages to find Amy's consciousness: it is shaped like the blue-glass pendant she wears around her neck. And Amy wakes up.
For a while, Amy tries harder to adapt. She even goes back to school and meets up with her classmates and Minamo's friends. However, she realizes that she will never again find that something that she has lost. And perhaps it is because of this realization that she has decided to leave with her parents.

Awww. sniff, sniff

Actually, I'm not quite clear on what Amy finally decided in the end. Did she decide to regain her "sight" (i.e. return to being blind) or stay that way (i.e. sighted but not really)?

Interesting idea: handicapped people are only handicapped in the eyes of others. To the handicapped (or should I say, differently-abled), they are not at all handicapped because they can still do what is necessary to enjoy life. So our efforts at "curing" handicaps is actually a form of discrimination against them. Because by "curing" the handicap, we are as a matter of fact eliminating what makes these people who they are.

Blind people "see" things differently. Interesting what Amy said: that the world is not quite what she imagined and that everything seems wrong. This is exactly how synaesthetes feel when they are confronted with something that is not quite the same as how they otherwise perceive it. For instance, in your mind's eye, something is orange but when you actually see it, it's actually red, and you know for a fact that it's supposed to be orange, it's disturbing to see it quite so different from how you "see" it.