Red Data Girl (RDG) is nothing more than another adolescent drama in P.A. Works repertoire of productions. Slightly off the mark apart from its past choices, but nonetheless, turns out to be a less than satisfying title suffering under some less skillful implementation and directing that makes it feel else than whole or for matter, entertaining.
Series Name: Red Data Girl
Studio: P.A. Works
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Romance
If anything, a nice way to describe RDG would be a show that is “fundamentally simple and okay at the start, but turns into something absurd and too ambitious by the time it’s over”. Without a doubt, RDG is nothing but simple as it follows a young, shy girl named Izumiko who wishes to be nothing more than normal but happens to be the vessel of a powerful goddess known as the “Himegami”. How can you possibly make that complicated? Well, more complicated than it sounds already? It doesn’t take much by the gist of it…
One major problem RDG has comes from the writing alone, which tries to be too ambitious as it leaps into too many subplots and details within the series. Everything from the schools faction wars to Izumiko’s misfortune with electronics are either too intricate in explanation or not forthcoming enough and either way, do not add anything to the core narrative. With that said, the narrative itself is lost within all these meaningless details and information, and just drag the show down further. In way, the addition of all these details really just hinder and destroy what the story aims to do: show Izumiko come to terms with her power and grow up to become a more confident individual. This can been seen throughout the 12 episode run, but it is just so poorly executed it lacks any meaning to what the shows lends meaning to. While making the series longer than 12 episodes probably would not helped RDG, the omission of many details would have from something that seems incomplete already.
By token of omission, the narrative does not even seem to be to assure of its self when it comes to some of the finer details like the “Himegami”, that are often gleaned upon and hinted at, but never fully given any consideration. This might be because of RDG’s six volume spanning novels, but the series could done so better letting details like this come through so much smoother than it has others. Given how much the concepts like this one and others are stressed upon, they are usually thrown to the side as unimportant (see episode 9) and more than often, giving details that are less than understandable or interesting more credence. I can understand that is in attempt to make the typical “adolescent growing up” theme more enthralling than it is, but by my lens is obviously a failed attempt.
Another core issue with RDG beyond the scope of its directing and writing comes from its characters. Just like the narrative itself, many of the characters are not even present throughout the story (I.E Izumiko’s mother, Yukimasa, etc) or useful that is very difficult to decipher their role. If anything, director Toshiya Shinohara makes these more stand-offish and deceptive than they are or need to be, since everything nearly comes off as incomprehensible. These both good and bad, but mostly bad for the what the narrative has in mind. One of example of an incomprehensible and convoluted character is the Masumi Souda, one of the late bother of the Souda triplets, who more or less acts as one of the stories poorly implemented or detailed sources as conflict just as Ichijō Takayanagi does. Takayanagi is a more suitable antagonistic force, but also, does not bring much to this front with only his cryptic dialogue and laggard actions that don’t really seem to have any malevolent intent. Nothing more than a person wants to be more charismatic and popular than he seems. In the end, everything that is portrayed by the characters really lacks any motivation or sense to say the least from the stand point of directing and writing.
Regardless, where RDG fails in respect to the presentation of story it sort of does redeem itself within its lacking narrative and elsewhere. One of these areas happen to be the animation side that P.A. Works is known for. Working alongside the production from Hanasaku Iroha, Shinohara manages to the captures to the aesthetics of the series quite wonderfully and with Mel Kishida’s artwork as the original template. Featuring both worldly and spiritual, modern and traditional, the interplay of these dichotomous devices add-on nicely to the animation than expected. Granted it doesn’t exactly add anything of specific value, it at least enhances the wonder the show gives off for the first couple of episodes before it becomes normalcy. It surely is one the details that stand out compared to its narrative, but does not exactly help with its haphazard execution.
By comparison, I can at least give P.A.Works and its director due slack, but not enough to consider this title what I hoped or would liked it to be. If you can deal with a meandering story with interesting concepts and narrative material destroy by said narrative full of useless flavor text and less than understandable subplots, RDG has it. Creative by design and content, but also devalued through it, RDG is just another production that could have been so much more if it planned and shows it cares.
Pros: Interesting concept, beautiful artwork and animation,
Cons: Too many subplots make the story hard to follow, weak writing and poor directing, many important details omitted or not given.