After being way, way too filler-ish of late, we finally get a Real Drive story arc that feels like it has a serious and decent place within the confines of this series. Not only that, it also follows up (at least in part) the mentions of water particle research made (and largely glossed over) in the last episode, which somehow makes me feel a little better about the whole thing.
The plot of episode eighteen is really simple enough - Noise has been detected which interferes with The Metal, and appears to be coming from a jungle-filled island not far from the main artifical island. Of course, the job is to find out who or what is causing this noise, and thus Haru, Sota, Minamo and Holon are sent off to trek through and explore the jungle for answers, assisted by an expert on the island who is rather usefully cyberbrain free, leaving her free from the struggles suffered by those with cyberbrains as the noise interference gets worse.
This scenario actually allows us to get to one of the core concepts of Real Drive, that being technology versus nature. While the episode itself is pretty slow-paced, it really brings into relief the powers of both camps, from Minamo fighting off a cold while Holon struggles to co-ordinate herself as her connection to The Metal gets weaker (which seems like a pretty big design flaw to me, surely cyborgs shouldn't shut down just because their connection drops?!), while the jungle around them is shown to have grown apace, even overtaking villages on the island and outliving even humans using prosthetics by a massive degree. While it doesn't particularly ask any big or searching questions, this episode does at least manage to offer a nice line in provoking thought, the kind of thing Real Drive has done so well, yet so rarely, during the majority of this series.
This episode also proves to be part of a rare multi-episode story arc, which I suppose has allowed for this slow but sure (and surprisingly light-hearted on occasion) build up while giving it the opportunity to create and grow the points its trying to make. While this doesn't make for an exciting instalment by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly makes a change from all that pointless filler material we've been subjected to, and the introduction of something worthy of thought and debate is always a good one in my book.