An adaptation from Rokurou Inui’s book A Perfect Day for Plesiosaur, Real blurs the lines between imagination and reality through “sensing” – a practice that allows Koichi (Takeru Sato) to enter the mind of his girlfriend Atsumi (Haruka Ayase). Comatose after attempting to take her own life, it is up to Koichi to travel through Atsumi’s subconscious and put together the puzzle pieces as to why she wanted to die. It is assumed that once he discovers her reasoning, she will be able to wake up.
Atsumi is a disciplined and passionate manga artist and is drawing for the majority of the time Koichi spends in her mind. Extremely self-critical, we soon learn her grievances and anxieties are surrounding her work. Quite early on in the sensing, she asks Koichi to find a picture of a plesiosaur she gave to him as a child, which proves to be a very important clue in what will help her regain consciousness.
With the help of Dr Aihara (Miki Nakatani), Koichi has numerous sensing sessions and soon life and sensing slowly blur into one. Seeing ‘philosophical zombies’ as well as Atsumi’s gruesome magna drawings coming to life, Koichi is unable to distinguish between the two and is increasingly confused, worried and anxious.
With Inui’s blessing, director Kiyoshi Kurasawa (Pulse, The Cure) changed a high percentage of the original story, but says the core has remained faithful. What starts out as a promising narrative soon turns tiresome as a result of convoluted and unnecessary dialogue. The absence of direct and concise writing eliminates the hold of the audience’s attention as well as any concern for the characters involved.
One of Real’s strong points is the visual transformation between real life and imagination. While some aspects are purposefully low-grade, some shocking visuals make for intriguing viewing in an otherwise bland production.
Real lacks emotion and purpose, while Kurasawa’s preference for quantity over quality works against him with the 127-minute running time ensuring the film long overstays its welcome.