This is review number two hundred and six. This anime is part of the Spring 2013 lineup. The longest lineup of the year has finally commenced and things are about to go crazy. I’ll still be reviewing requested anime but I need time to sort my list of anime to watch. In the meantime, I’ll be reviewing RDG or Red Data Girl. It’s a twelve episode anime about a shy girl and a hot head guy having a lot of sexual tension whenever they talk. Oh, there is also some supernatural elements in the show involving shrine maidens and ninjas or something like that. Let’s read on.
The anime is about a girl named Izumiko Suzuhara. She has grown up all her life in her family’s shrine being sheltered and protected. She is completely co-dependent and she has problem talking to people. She’s a shy and awkward little girl living in a small town in the mountains. She isn’t normal though and she knew that all her life. Whenever she touches some electrical device, she breaks it. One day, her guardian visits her from school after she broke a bunch of computers. She was soon introduced to this boy named Miyuki Sagara. Miyuki is an easily annoyed kid and suddenly confronted the guardian as to what he is doing next to such a helpless and pathetic little girl. Her guardian explains though that Izumiko is special and, with her standing, Miyuki is nothing more than her man servant. The two slowly discovers exactly what makes Izumiko not so normal but the revelation is clearly something that will change their lives forever.
Taking the Pants Off
It feels pretty refreshing to watch a PA Works anime. I’m a huge supporter of this studio. I think they have the potential to be amazing and they’re certainly heading into the right direction for some time now. Red Data Girl looks like another promising anime from this promising studio. In fact, the anime was able to grab my attention at the first episode. One reason was the nostalgic Hanasaku Iroha character design but it’s mostly because of the story. The idea of a meek little girl with social anxieties actually having some supernatural demons hounding her is certainly interesting. It’s a wonderful story of the supernatural with some blend of psychological set in modern times, where society is deeply involved with advanced technology. This is topped off by a really engaging duo that had all the potential to be something more than two indifferent people. I honestly wanted to love this anime all the way but I can’t. Red Data Girl had a story that was certainly problematic. There’s a lot at fault here and I’ll get on that later. It’s a shame though. An anime with a lot of potential couldn’t stay interesting all the way.
The premise of the anime is actually pretty intriguing. The reason is because the anime was very vague about it. The moment you watch the anime, you are clearly out of the loop as you see certain events slowly unfold. Don’t worry though because the perspective of the story is on Izumiko, the main character. The audience doesn’t know important details of the story because the main character is out of the loop as well. The fun part is figuring out what the story is actually about. As far as the anime was willing to tell, the show is clearly about Izumiko and her not so ordinary life. She grew up in a shrine, her parents are away, she can’t use cellphones or computers because something freaky happens when she touches them, and people around her are very protective of her that they easily freak out when they see her cut a bit of her hair. Izumiko is socially awkward and the anime actually try to dismiss certain odd events as some sort of anxiety attack that she is experiencing. Destroying computers and seeing dark beings could just be all in her head. Certain things are still off though. The appearance of her guardian and the sudden introduction to Miyuki Sagara made things a hell of a lot more intriguing. I’m pretty sure after the first episode that you simply want to watch the rest of the anime just to know what the whole deal is with Izumiko.
The anime also had a nice build up to the revelation. Izumiko’s not so normal circumstance is actually connected to her relation with the shrine she grew up with. Miyuki Sagara and Izumiko soon set out to discover exactly what the hell is going on. The anime really made sure the paranoia for both the audience and the characters are high as events keep unfolding with no one knowing what is actually happening. I won’t spoil the revelation since the anime did a good job hiding it, building it up and doing a grand revelation of it all. For the purpose of this review though, I can tell that the premise of the anime is about Izumiko being special. She is special in a supernatural sense. She is so special that a lot of people want her for their personal gain so Miyuki Sagara is tasked to look after her. Miyuki is a hot head though that doesn’t like the fact that he is forced to be with a socially awkward girl like Izumiko. After the events that unfold though, Miyuki soon soften up and decided to be with Izumiko. Not because of his duty to serve her, just as Izumiko’s guardian stated, but simply because he feels like a meek kitten like Izumiko cannot handle her situation alone. The story officially started though with the two of them enrolled in Hojo High School where they meet other people who are supernaturally special like them and they are involved in some misadventures in their stay there.
After third episode though, the anime started showing its cracks. The story soon started to get overwhelming. Keep in mind, the anime is still in Izumiko’s perspective where she is out of the loop because of her reserved nature and co-dependent personality. If she is out of the loop then the audience is also out of the loop. This style of storytelling started to turn against the anime after the third episode because the story suddenly got complex. The status quo drastically changed and a lot of supernatural things that are important to the story remained unexplained. Certain events just kept on happening with the audience having no idea what is going on. The story often speeds up with how certain things unfold but then slows down after the events transpired. This kind of uneven pacing soon made the show very confusing. A lot of names were thrown here and there and important aspects of the story are glossed over. The story kept going uninterrupted though and I honestly stopped watching the anime at one point to form the story in my mind.
The reason the story became convoluted and the pacing uneven is because the anime crammed so much in its twelve episodes run that it became a task to keep up with it all. Let me lay out the structure of the story to get a better understanding of the anime’s flaws. First of all, the anime had three plot points spread freely in the anime. The first one is about Izumiko and her special circumstance. I can’t expand on this much without spoiling a lot so forgive me. It is revealed though that she is part of a long line of special people that has since died out. She is among the few that remains and she is considered an “endangered” species. Her situation has deep ties with the supernatural and a lot of people try to take advantage of her. This plot point is mostly about Izumiko getting involved in some supernatural incidents and she does her best to overcome them. She has tremendous power and she is deeply troubled by it because she just wants to be a normal girl. Well, imagine her dilemma of trying to be normal when she unknowingly breaks computers and sees evil creatures everywhere she looks. So the first plot point is mostly about Izumiko slowly embracing her special circumstance, trying to grow as a person and maybe even helping other people in a supernatural way. It’s a really wonderful thing to see Izumiko grow from a shy girl into someone more dependable and the anime really did a good job of featuring it.
The second plot point is about Izumiko and Miyuki. It is revealed that Izumiko is special and Miyuki looks out for her. Honestly, this plot point is cute because it mostly involves the relationship between the two. They have this cute dynamic of Izumiko always being the damsel and Miyuki would always being the one to save her. Every time you see these two alone, you just can’t help but smile. They have this “I care about you but I also secretly love you” vibe as they stick by each other through the events that happen in the anime. This plot point is mostly concerned about the two main characters, their relationship and the journey they have as they face certain things together. It’s pretty straight forward. While Izumiko is trying to grow as a better person, Miyuki is right by her side trying to be good enough to try and protect her from things she cannot face alone.
The third plot point is about the school they are in, Hojo High School. It is revealed that Izumiko and Miyuki are both placed in this school by the World Heritage Council that is concerned with endangered species. Izumiko, being a rare special girl, is considered a supernatural endangered species by this council. They actually gathered a bunch of these endangered species and they watch in the shadows to see who is worth protecting. Hojo High is actually secretly a place where endangered species are gathered and they try to become the number one student in the school that will get the council’s full backing. Two promising candidates are actually trying to become number one and they gathered a few other students in their cause. Izumiko and Miyuki are soon caught in the political mind games. Miyuki isn’t easily fazed though and decided to stay under the radar. Izumiko is a shy girl that can easily be taken advantaged though so that can be a problem. It seems that their time in Hojo High would unavoidably be a supernatural adventure.
I’m sure a story with three plot points is fairly manageable. After all, as long as it heads to the same direction then you can join certain things together. In fact, the three plot points may as well be one story moving in a clear pace. While certain supernatural things, like the difference between a sorcerer and a shrine monk, can be easily ignored, it soon becomes a problem when you realize this anime has four arcs to present. This is where things become majorly convoluted. The anime had four arcs which might as well be four individual subplots on top of the main story about Izumiko being special. Keep in mind, you’re ALWAYS out of the loop in certain events and you’re job as a viewer is to catch up. I’ll admit that the challenge was fun but it was clearly a sign of an adaptation gone awry.
The first arc of the anime is the middle school arc. This is roughly the first three episodes where we realize that Izumiko is a special girl. This arc was concerned about the supernatural circumstance the main characters are in and the start of their personal journey to become a better person. This basically set the anime on a wonderful note. It was honestly the reason I kept watching. This arc was very beautiful and it even had a nice little story of a lesser god being involved with the two main characters.
The second arc is when they first entered Hojo High. This is a new start for Izumiko who easily befriends her roommate and her energetic brother. She is in a new class where she saw an evil spirit as one of the students. This eventually led to the revelation that other supernatural people are in the academy and they are up to no good. A villain appeared among the characters and, after learning of his underhanded tactics, they decided to stop him. This is where the anime slowly got convoluted. You were expecting a story about Izumiko and her special situation yet the focus was on the other students. Naturally, I expected this to simply just be a setup for the rest of the anime since we are starting with a clean slate after the events of the first arc. I was wrong though. It was soon a challenge keeping up with the anime after this arc.
The third arc is the summer vacation. The characters visited the hometown of one of their friends. It was a nice change of pace for Izumiko but trouble soon followed. This arc introduced the situation of the student council being “neutral” and the status quo concerning the third arc. It got messy though when the focus was shifted to the characters facing off a dead horse and one of their companions. I honestly cannot fully understand the events that transpired in the third arc. It hit a climax though of the characters facing off a giant snake without any forewarning from the anime.
The fourth and final arc is the school festival arc. This is where the characters enjoyed their time in the school but this was also a time where a lot of shady people can freely enter the school. The World Heritage Council was also all eyes on promising candidates. There is also some focus on Izumiko’s situation causing trouble for the characters and the main story finally getting a good progression. Figuring out the story up until this point was pretty worthless though and I honestly just watched things go down. For the purpose of this review though, I wanted to make sure I understand what the anime was going for. It’s not surprising though if the intrigue the anime built on the first few episodes vanished when you reach the fourth arc. It was just a mess but it really shouldn’t be.
Making sense of the events of the anime was hard. A main story with three different focuses clumped together with four different arcs with four different stories to tell is certainly not something you watch for fun. The anime easily overwhelms with the way it push out the story and it doesn’t take time to explain things clearly. The pacing was also so abrupt that a harmless sleepover can turn into a hunt for an emo kid hiding in a rock in such short notice. The obvious problem is that the anime crammed too much in a twelve episode anime. If this anime was stretched out in twenty four episodes then I can honestly see it progressing smoothly with no problem. The anime can even skip the explanation of certain things as long as the episodes are easily to handle. If they just cut back on the arcs and focused more on the main story then I can see this anime being amazing rather than the convoluted disappointment it turned out to be.
The characters are pretty decent. The two main characters are impressive but the rest were caught up in the convoluted progression of the anime. Izumiko is the typical shy girl at first. She had an amazing transformation in the anime and it was one of the highlights of the show. From being a shy little kitten to being an awesome girl you can look up to, the anime did a good job of transforming her character. She was nicely developed that she eventually speaks her mind about to almost everyone that tried to look after her without her consent. It was pretty great and something I personally enjoyed seeing since it was among the things I can actually keep up with. Miyuki had a nice growth as well. He wanted to be strong enough to protect Izumiko and the show did a nice job of developing his character. He does get stronger bit by bit even though his training wasn’t really focused. His attitude gradually changed as well. He was a hot head in the first episode that could easily choke people he doesn’t like but he slowly transformed into someone that is dependable and can take charge of any situation. The two main characters situation also had a nice development. They just look good together at any moment. From their fighting to their sweet moments, the duo had a lot going for them. Their progression was just quietly hinted though but that’s OK seeing how cute they look together.
I even made a GIF to prove that point.
The rest of the characters are OK but some of them are convoluted like the anime. I can’t be hard on them because the show was stretching them out with four arcs and a main one so their stance is never really revealed. The individual progression of the story also made it hard to fully appreciate the characters. The ones I had a hard time figuring out was the triplets: Mayura, Manatsu and Masumi. Mayura is the go-getter girl with an aggressive attitude. Manatsu is the guy that loves horses and is super energetic. He gets serious concerning his twin sister. Masumi is the dead guy that can be summoned by the twins. Oh boy, these guys are confusing. Their personality changes when it comes to the arcs and the lack of explanation regarding the things they are involved with made it hard to really appreciate them. I really stopped watching the anime after Masumi was revealed to be a lesser go dreaming he was a boy but he is still the dead siblings of the twins but he also had hidden agendas concerning Izumiko. It was really hard to understand these characters and that takes some of the fun away.
The other characters are pretty straightforward since they just relate to certain arcs or the main story. They actually play their role well because the stories nicely progressed thanks to them. They are pretty one dimensional though but I am glad they are. If they are like the triplets then I can see them being convoluted as well. It’s just nice to know that Mayuri’s father is a d*ck, Izumiko’s mother is a bad ass and one of the student council member looks sexy with cute hair.
This was such a promising anime but it’s a shame how it just got convoluted in the end. It’s also pretty disappointing that PA Works did something so subpar. They hit a bump with Tari Tari that I can dismiss but RDG is a huge fault. I do hope they can release some hard hitters like Another one of these days. For the meantime though, RDG is confusing, disappointing and overwhelmingly bad.
Sight and Sound
Like I said before, part of the reason why I fell in love with the anime is because the character design reminds me of Hanasaku Iroha. The designs of the girls are really nice. They have this nice round face with a bit pale skin color that comes off as a bit gentle. Their eyes has such nice detail though that it comes off as really expressive, most of the times a little bit fierce depending on the character’s demeanor. For Izumiko, she was meek so she was gentle all the way and her face really tells a lot. The big round eyes and the way she resembles a Japanese doll was a nice touch. The rest of the girls all had wonderful design as well and they were great eye candy without sacrificing the quality of the animation. I am a huge fan of Mel Kishida’s character design work going all the way back to Heaven’s Memo Pad. He has this nice way of making girls really cute without going overly moe which is a nice touch of sophistication in his part.
If there is one thing I don’t about Kishida’s design is that he doesn’t put much emphasis on the male characters. Don’t get me wrong. They’re handsome and sexy in their own little way but they mostly look alike. Miyuki looks a hell of a lot like the male cook from Hanasaku Iroha in the rip-off-his-face-and-pasted-it-as-his-own kind of way. Despite the similar facial features, the characters are great eye candy as well. They have strong and fierce faces coupled by some really aggressive eyes. I do appreciate the male characters really looking manly with barely any feminine touches to them.
The animation is pretty great. PA Works is known for outstanding animation so they can’t disappoint on this aspect of the anime. The ways the characters move are nicely animated with smooth transitions. The way the facial expressions are done was a great aspect of the anime since the main character has a wide range of emotions in almost every scene she is in. Izumiko would often go shy then relaxed then scared then happy in the same scene and the anime did a good job really capturing her personality in all those scenes. I am not a fan of the big expressive eyes not blinking though. It’s a common thing in anime but it still irks me from time to time. The movements of the characters are smooth and you can clearly see it from the way the run and do their chants. The fight scenes are pretty pathetic though. It’s not a main focus of the anime but there is not finesse in them. It was just a plot device but it could’ve been done better. I love the effects in the fight scenes though. The anime did good compensating for the lack of great fight scenes.
The background is also something worth noting. There was a great marriage of digitally rendered scenes and CG. The nature design in the anime is really precise. It wasn’t a focus of the anime but the sceneries really captured the small town in the mountains aspect of the story. The vibrant color green and the way the path in the forest is constructed is a really nice touch. The buildings were also pretty impressive. The straight lines and the cool colors coupled by some CG look outstanding. The background work was really expertly done that it added a lot of value in the anime.
The anime’s OP is “Small worldrop” by Annabel. This was a pretty decent song. At first I was a bit weirded out by the song because it doesn’t feel like it’s a good OP song. After a few listening, the slow pace and Annabel’s tiny voice did grow on me. The song isn’t really that impressive though but Annabel’s voice gave it a nice personality. The OP sequence features all the characters and a little summarization of the events in the anime. I did not like how all the important characters were revealed in the OP ruining their appearance in the story but after the anime started to get overwhelming, it was the OP that helped me make sense of it all. It also had some nice flashes of important events and the two main characters hugging at the end. It’s a nice OP and something I appreciate more than the actual anime.
The anime’s ED is “Yokan” by Masumi Itou. The singer’s style is really her great identity. She also sang the ED of Humanity has Declined and Absolute Boy. She has this whimsical style that sounds lovely when she hits the high notes and she has this was of swaying the lyrics making it fun to listen to. The ED song is a mellow one with Masumi’s voice nicely giving the song a nice relaxed vibe. I also love the drum beat as the song rolls along. The ED sequence features Izumiko walking with the background being painted having a storybook feel to it. She walks along while the background changes from scene to scene. It’s mostly just some cute scenery. It ends with Izumiko stopping, smiling and then running off screen as if meeting somebody.
5/10 “The abrupt and convoluted storytelling made the anime overwhelmingly bad and no amount of shy cute timid girls in glasses can ever make up for it.”
I’ll tell you though that the first three episodes of the anime are outstanding. It had a nice buildup and the characters were fully utilized. The rest of the episodes weren’t as great and they were rather hard to enjoy. The visuals do made the show pretty special so I’m sure the weak story can be carried by the pretty characters. At least it does to me. If you enjoy decent stories in your anime then watch this one with caution. If you enjoy supernatural stories with a nice serving of romance then I’m sure there is something here for you.