I’ve confessed that I like and watch anime (Japanese animation for those not in the know), but I came to a realization that I haven’t really ever given any final thoughts to any anime series. This is partly due to some of them being ones that I’m still currently watching, so any idea of “final thoughts” isn’t really possible, and doing things like this for one episode seems silly. However, today I will break that trend and offer my first anime “final thoughts” on Red Data Girl.
I was introduced to this anime by the gaming/gaming culture blog Kotaku in a post earlier this year called “Five Anime You Should Be Watching.” I found that a number of them were offered through Hulu for free so I decided to try to watch some of these ones that were recommended, even if they were recommended half way through. Red Data Girl was the first of these that I completed.
Honestly, I think the story winds up being a bit of a complicated mess, but I admit that this could be due to my lack of knowledge regarding Japanese folklore, magic, and myths. This story seems to draw a decent amount from such stories and knowledge. All that aside though, at it’s heart this is a story that deals with Izumiko Suzuhara’s journey from thinking she was fairly normal, shy, awkward girl to realizing that she was something much more. She learns that she is the vessel for an entity known as “Himegami.”
The series starts out with Izumiko living in a rather secluded mountain temple going to the local school there, but after a few episodes she transfers to Hojo High School, which from what I gathered is a school tailored towards “special” people like Izumiko. She makes this transfer with her reluctant mountain monk-in-training bodyguard Miyuki Sagara, but also makes friends with a pair of twin (well, actually triplet) siblings on campus Mayura Sōda and Manatsu Sōda. This is the setting for Izumiko as she comes into her own. You do see her grow and develop a little bit, but I didn’t really feel that her or any of the other characters really develop all that much. Given that this seems to be a coming of age story, or maybe more accurately a coming to terms with who you are story, that is a bit troublesome.
So you have the main character developing a little bit, but the show does not really explore a lot of the elements of the main character. There are times when she seems to be in grave danger from shadowy figures, but that danger doesn’t show up much beyond the beginning of the series. What powers does the “Himegami” really have and what is her relationship to Izumiko? This isn’t really explored too deeply. The “Himegami” says that she is a threat to humanity, but there isn’t much visible threat presented by Izumiko or the “Himegami.” These are just a few examples of issues that don’t really get a whole lot of attention in the series, or at least aren’t fleshed out very much to give you a feeling that all these issues are that important.
Side characters fare even worse. Izumiko’s bodyguard Miyuki, starts off as just plain mean, particularly to Izumiko. He’s instantly pretty unlikable, but yet we’re supposed to rely on him to protect Izumiko. He’s also set up as the main love interest for Izumiko and given how he treated her at the beginning of the series this just seems unlikely. We’re also given little motivation as to why he was so mean at the beginning besides his dislike for his father, who is also a guardian for Izumiko. Granted we’re not given much reason for that dislike either so it makes it hard to be too sympathetic towards Miyuki. Also for a bodyguard he doesn’t really have a lot of magical power and doesn’t really seem to grow in that regard for the whole series.
The ones who probably get the worst treatment are the Sōda siblings. Mayura and Manatsu have the power to summon their dead brother Masumi, but we’re given little reason to be interested in them besides the fact that they’re Izumiko’s friends. We’re not really told why they have the power to summon their dead brother, although there may be hints along the way. Mayura has the goal of being the top student and becoming the “World Heritage Candidate”, but we’re not really told why this is important or what it means. Masumi also seems to play a big role in everything as he gets involved with Izumiko, but we’re not really told why he is so important or anything of that nature.
So as I said the story is a bit of a mess. It was an interesting mess at last at times, but one that just left me more dissatisfied and confused than anything else. At the end it felt more like we were at a halfway point than we were at the end of anything. It felt like there was a lot left to explore and explain, but that we weren’t going to see any of it.
Overall, I really can’t recommend Red Data Girl. It was interesting at times, but just doesn’t delve deep enough to let you feel like you have a decent grasp on what is going on or why any of it is important. Given more episodes it could have been good, but even then I’m not sure since the show was pretty slow at times despite not explaining much. Red Data Girl took a interesting concept and really failed to deliver for me.