RDG: Red Data Girl – 01

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I am intrigued by RDG: Red Data Girl, a new series by P.A. Works and Lantis! Based off of a fantasy novel, the premise revolves around the sheltered and quiet 15-year-old Suzuhara Izumiko, her relationship with Sagara Miyuki who is forced to become her protector, and the mystery behind her strange powers.

With gorgeous backgrounds and some solid voice actors, there is just enough mystery and fantasy to want to watch more and discover the secrets behind Izumiko’s existence. I am hoping for good things from this slice-of-life/fantasy anime…

OP Sequence: Small worldrop (スモルワールドロップ) by Annabel

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The opening was pretty normal, nothing too flashy, exciting, or particularly original. It mostly consisted of character cards, and really the only interesting or telling aspect of the opening was the first and last 5 seconds or so. As the opening explains in a bit of text, the Red Data Girl (RDG) is a girl from an endangered species, as noted in a book, based on the Red Data Book (RDB), and many wish to control her mysterious powers.

There are flashes in the beginning of a wolf and a woman in a kimono in some snowing mountains, hinting that they are the same being. In the end are some cryptic shots of some scary faces, a wave of power washing over Tokyo, and the edge of the Earth as seen from behind the moon in space. Hmm, how interesting…. I hope the story expands to cover and answer all of these tantalizing images in the opening.

Episode 01: The First Transfer Student

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RDG begins with a birds eye view of a crow flying over a mountains and forested region, with the camera eventually settling on Tamakura Shrine deep in the Kumano mountains. The scenes are luscious and simply beautiful, with plenty of detail, and blue and green tones.

Our protagonist Suzuhara Izumiko is preparing to cut her hair in front of her bathroom mirror. She’s hesitant, but in her voiceover, asserts her desire to change as she gathers her courage and closes the scissors on her hair… Even though she’s just been introduced (at this point we don’t even know her name), it’s obvious that she’s determined to change herself, and that her hair means more than it means to the average person…

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Leaving for school, Izumiko’s caretakers are surprised at her new hair style, and they all wonder out loud what they will tell her mother, Yukariko, but she runs off avoiding having to give a response. Her personal driver, Nonomura, drives her down to the nearby town, to the local school Izumiko attends. From the amount of winding road that they traverse, it’s apparent that the shrine where she lives is very, very far from anything at all.

There’s also some talk with her driver about how her father is in Tokyo and wants Izumiko to attend a school there. But, she thinks it’s impossible and refuses to go. She’s trying to change, but moving away from the shrine and her familiar surroundings seem to be too much for her at the moment.

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At school, Izumiko’s two girlfriends marvel at her hair cut, encouraging her to step out of her shell a bit more. By the way her other classmates treat her, it seems like Izumiko is not the most popular in her school. She sits out gym with her two friends, but manages to get clocked square in the forehead with a stray volleyball. And, instead of an apology from the guy who did it, she gets a mouthful of ridicule – which the rest of the class agrees with. Luckily, her two friends stand up for her, and while they’re off yelling at the boys, Wamiya, a boy in her class, encourages her, saying that her hair looks just fine. Izumiko blushes at his kind remark… the stirrings of a little love?

Izumiko’s friends return and one of the girls, Harucchi, asks for her e-mail and cell phone number. At this point I’m a bit confused since I assumed they were already friends, so how come they haven’t exchanged contact info yet? Anyways, Izumiko explains that the phone she just bought to replace her old one (that she broke) is already broken… She is seriously bad with technology.

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And, as if to underscore this point, in computer class, the students are researching what to do on their upcoming class trip. Harucchi, helps her by pulling up some relevant webpages, while Izumiko explains that using the internet takes much, much longer for her than for others for some reason. After a fellow classmate makes a snide comment about her not doing her own work (and with a sneaky peek at Wamiya), Izumiko attempts to use the internet herself.

But…. things don’t go her way, and before she knows it, she’s being engulfed by water that quickly fills the entire class… except it’s only Izumiko that notices this, and the rest of the class goes on with their work without feeling the disturbance. Suddenly her monitor is showing her her father, who is apparently a writer in Tokyo. They chat (surprisingly her dad doesn’t question how she just popped up on his computer screen… he’s just like “oh, hey! You learned how to use video chat!), and Izumiko shows some backbone as she tells her dad off for not coming to her parent-teacher conference, and that since he can’t even bother doing that for her, she can do what she wants – even cut her hair.

Then, Izumiko snaps out of it… what’s going on? Why is she talking to he father, and how? And, with those thoughts, her water world begins to break down as she attempts to free herself by cutting the power… and in her panic, ends up causing the entire computer lab to short circuit. But, she’s back to the real world, and amid the complaints of her classmates about their computers not working, she begins to cry, knowing that it was all her fault. And, suddenly another teacher runs in saying that there’s a helicopter that has just landed on the school grounds, and that it’s come for Izumiko….

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Cut to the principal’s office, where Sagara Yukimasa, Izumiko’s guardian taking the place of her father, comes to collect her. He charms the teacher, introduces himself to the principal, and then raises eyebrows when he states that he is 33 years old and he has a son the same age as Izumiko. I wasn’t sure what to make of the reactions of the teacher and principal regarding his age – I’m guessing he’s really young looking, and they can’t believe that he’s Izumiko’s guardian? But still, he fathered a kid when he was only 18?

Izumiko is whisked away in the helicopter with the eyes of her classmates trained on her. Izumiko asks how she was able to see her father and shut off all the computers, when before she would only turn off her own machine. Yukimasa speculates it’s because her mother was the one to first braid her hair, and that because Izumiko cut her hair without her mother’s permission, she was rejecting her past self. And besides, her hair is the source of her spiritual power. Yukimasa tells her not to worry since there’s a reinforcement coming to help out soon. They fly to a large hospital in a nearby city, and she gets a bunch of tests done before going home.

Now, what is interesting here, is that Izumiko seems surprised and perplexed that Yukimasa thinks she has spiritual power, and even says so. It’s almost like she’s been so sheltered that she considers it simply odd that she can’t use electronic devices, and accepts that it is normal, at least for her. But, she doesn’t really think deeply about why she might be special at all, and doesn’t question why she’s doing tests in a hospital (the way she does the tests and her familiarity with the doctor suggests that this is pretty routine for her), why she lives so far from society, why a helicopter came to pick her up, and so on…

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The next day, Izumiko is out walking and runs into our second main character, Sagara Miyuki. He tentatively says her name, and seems nice enough, until Izumiko affirms that that is her name. Miyuki sneers at her in disbelief, and things turn nasty pretty quickly, as he mocks her braids, calls the situation ridiculous, and wonders how she, of all people, could be the Himegami.

Turns out he’s the son of Yukimasa and that he met Izumiko once before when they were 5 years old. I actually really liked how Miyuki is entirely two-faced, acting sweet at sugar with everyone except when in private with his father and Izumiko. He’s on some pretty bad terms with his dad too, who he calls by his first name.

At the house, over a cup of tea, Yukimasa states that Miyuki lives only to serve Izumiko, will never be more than a mere manservant, and must move to the Shrine immediately because Izumiko refuses to attend school in Tokyo. Obviously, Miyuki flat out rejects everything his father says, and leaves, determined to go back home.

Izumiko has no idea what the Himegami is, and is completely confused about the situation. Man, they have really been keeping her in the dark about everything! It’s no wonder Miyuki resents her, this clueless girl that appears to have little will of her own and simply accepts how things are.

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Some time later, Yukimasa and a very beat up Miyuki show up at the house. They claim that he fell down a cliff, but it’s pretty obviously that Yukimasa used some hard corporal punishment to beat his son into submission, because it’s everyone’s surprise when Miyuki suddenly bows his head and apologizes for his behaviour, and then states that he will be transferring to Izumiko’s school immediately.

They have dinner, and Miyuki puts his smiling face on, but it’s easy to see that he’s just pretending. Oh, and dinner looks like… (clockwise from the upper left) tonkatsu, maybe bean curd, some simmered carrot and potato dish, and tofu?

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In the hallway after dinner, Izumiko and Miyuki run into each other. It’s another uncomfortable conversation, as Miyuki explains that he was forced to move to the shrine and serve her. There’s plenty of resentment and anger directed at Izumiko, who has absolutely no clue about anything happening around her. He berates her about how she knows nothing, she can’t change anything, and can’t even think for herself. Izumiko says that she wants to change, and Miyuki retorts that all she does it want to; she never actually does anything in the end.

She suggests telling her grandfather about the situation so that Miyuki can go back to Tokyo, but Miyuki divulges two strange facts: Miyuki will agree to transfer because it’s better than being dead, and that Yukimasa is really the one in charge here. So, his dad would actually have killed him if he didn’t obey? That’s… more than rough. Also, that really makes Yukimasa a suspicious character…

Izumiko has a sudden flashback: she remembers how Miyuki used to bully her by hitting her with a ball repeatedly thrown at her back while she cowered and cried. When Izumiko brings it up, Miyuki says he was trying to teach an ugly and dumb girl some useful skills. There was no servant relationship then. But now, Yukimasa’s only concern is Izumiko… So, Miyuki has some daddy issues.

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Then next day at school, Miyuki introduces himself as a transfer student that, due to various circumstances, will be staying at Tamakura Shrine – much to the excitement of the class, and the discomfort of Izumiko… which Wamiya quietly observes from his seat…

ED Sequence: Yokan (予感) by Masumi Ito

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Comments:

I started watching RDG with absolutely no background on the source material or the plot, but came away pleasantly surprised. Beyond the gorgeous backgrounds and animation, I enjoyed this introduction into the characters and world of RDG. You really have to feel bad for both Miyuki and Izumiko, two people who have little control over their own lives – whether it’s their fault or not.

I can see where both characters are coming from: Izumiko has lived a relatively happy life so far, though secluded and very sheltered. Because of her upbringing she has no idea what it’s like to be a normal girl, to the point that she barely questions her strange power to destroy electronic devices. It also seems like her parents are generally absent, and that her mother is the authority in the house. But, Izumiko is starting to grow and change, with her new hair style marking the beginning of her coming into her own (hopefully…).

Miyuki, on the other hand, appears to be doing everything he can to reject his fate and his father. He has no desire to serve anyone, much less Izumiko, and will clearly fight tooth and nail to do what he wants. He seems a bit manipulative and knows how to work a situation in his favor, just like the way he puts on a smiling face one moment, and then is throwing sworded words at Izumiko the next.

I’m not going to justify his behaviour towards Izumiko (which is plain mean most of the time), but I can see that he probably acts this way towards her not only because she’s a large part of the reason he’s in this predicament, but also because she’s the only person (other than his apparently violent father) that he can vent to. A male tsundere in the future? Though there’s only “tsun tsun” at this point….

But, while I liked both of the main characters, I really hope that Izumiko will develop some backbone quickly, and not be trapped in helpless princess mode for too long…. because that kind of character can be so annoying. I’m looking forward to see Miyuki and Izumiko develop and grow together, and I am curious about the Red Data Girl, her powers, and who’s trying to use her (no mention of anyone yet, but I assume there is someone).

Though, with only 12 episodes planned, I really hope that the pacing picks up a bit from this first episode, which was pretty slow, action-wise. And, if the opening sequence is any indication, there are a bunch more characters to introduce as well.

*fingers crossed to the anime gods* Please let this be good!

P.S. I’m not sure if recaps are going to be thing on this site, but I just felt compelled to try one out after watching RDG!

Full length images: OP 05 ; 27

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