Red Data Girl is an anime series adapted from the light novel of the same name written by Noriko Ogiwara (The Good Witch of the West). Her talent of writing involves in the field of fantasy and supernatural so expect some of those themes from RDG. Otherwise, P.A. Works handles the production of the series. They are known for their usages of serene visuals and clearly does not disappoint; at least in the art department. This was a series I really wanted to like and that I had high hopes for, but that ultimately fell flat. The story starts out clear enough (Izumiko is to be the new vessel for the Himegami, a mysterious and powerful goddess that could destroy the world, and Miyuki is her reluctant protector… together they must find a way to overcome their differences and figure out the mystery of the Himegami, etc.), but then descends into a mire of seemingly irrelevant side stories and confusing plot points involving clingy triplets, a sick horse, school festivals, student rankings, traditional dancing, and something called the “World Heritage”.
The series spells out some confusion and mystery. For example, Suzuhara seems to have a strange power that lies dominant in her and these powers are let out when she is near technology. This is proven when electronic gadgets she comes in contact with results in destruction. Additionally, her glasses when removed seems to gave her visions of the supernatural, or otherworldly beings. From an initial standpoint, it’s hard to tell anything by how these powers came to be. For one thing, we know that it’s some sort of ability and very likely has a connection with Izumiko’s origins. It spells out mystery and the viewers’ curiosity may peak from some of these aspects; at least I know I did.
I found the characters to be another huge weakness to this series. Their actions and lack of development left a lot to be desired. Still, I do believe the lack of character development does span from this series trying to introduce a ton of sub-plots. Really, the best way I can describe it is that this series suffered from an identity crisis. It couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a plot-driven story or a character-driven story and as a result, it ended up being neither. I found it difficult to get invested in Izumiko and her “plot” because it was so damn confusing. It seemed like even the writers were having difficulty trying to figure it out. That’s not to say it wasn’t “good” because I found some aspects of it to be interesting. However, its progression and explanation is so choppy and so poorly explained that it strongly detracted from the overall quality of this series.
While I did find the story and the characters to be big weaknesses, there were some things the series did rather well. I really loved the artwork as well as it’s traditional Japanese themes. The one thing I’ll give P.A. Works is that they are very good with their animation and artistic design. While I did rip this series for having so many sub-plots, that’s not to say it didn’t have good ones. I did think the main plot was interesting albeit confusing, but it just seemed so rushed and choppy due to having so many sub-plots. I did find the sub-plot revolving around Masumi to be interesting as well as the one behind Wamiya. The sub-plots in themselves were “good” but suffered from choppy pacing and lack of strong progression due to having way too much going on in way too little amount of time.
The show is hard to grasp and connect together. There’s a lot of confusion among the characters and what’s there. The plot itself is also a bit loose and I find it dull at various occasions. The Shinto atmosphere might also not fit well for target audiences. In fact, RDG is more the type of the show where we have to expect the pace to start off slow, flow smoothly, and hopefully wrap up in a tolerable way. Ultimately, I’d say this series is a gamble to watch. Some people may like the serene backgrounds along with the spiritual vibe that gives off while watching the show. Then of course, there are others who may be bored out of their lives of trying to figure out what is going on. Then, there are the folks who watches the show to pass time. It’s a tough gamble but I hope it’ll play well for you.