The first episode of Red Data Girl just aired last week, but for some reason three episodes already pre-aired for premium users on Niconico in 398p a while back. I can’t say I understand the reasoning behind this marketing move, though maybe it is to encourage people to get premium accounts… That aside, let’s look at the anime itself.
The main heroine, Izumiko Suzuhara, has lived at Tamakura shrine, supposedly one of the Kumano shrines, her whole life. Apart from that Izumiko has an another special thing about her – the unfortunate ability to destroy every electrical device she touches. At 15 she is to enroll in Hōjō High School in Tokyo (although she would rather go to the local high school with her friends) with her guardian’s son and childhood friend Miyuki.
The anime is an adaptation of Noriko Ogiwara’s RDG Red Data Girl six-volume modern fantasy novel series. (It already has a manga adaptation too, drawn by Ranmaru Kotome.) Given that the anime is supposed to be only 12 episodes, I am a bit curious as to how P.A. works will fit the whole story into one cour.
If you wanted to get a head start on RDG before the season started and found that the novels haven’t been translated and only the first chapter is available from the manga or if you choose your anime based on the promotional materials offered (not my case as you may have noticed), the animation studio aired 3 videos: 2 PVs and one TV commercial. I recommend the second promotional video, but feel free to watch the first PV and the commercial too, of course.
As for the first episode, I must say I was a little disappointed at what I though would be one of the best shows of the season and from ‘first impressions’ on other aniblogs, I’m not the only one. It follows the first chapter of the manga to a ‘t’ or a ‘Japanese character’, depending on your language, and having read that I just got a colored version of it, except for the last couple of minutes.
Summary: We follow the heroine, Izumiko, around – witnessing her cutting her hair, her ride to school and a discussion with the driver about Izumiko’s busy parents, physical education class, where she sits on the sidelines and gets shot down with a ball, computer class, where she trips the breaker (thanks to her awesome ability) after video-chatting with her father in the US,… Then suddenly a helicopter lands in front of the school and Izumiko’s stand-in guardian flies her to a hospital for a check-up, no questions asked. Later back at the shrine while dawdling about the surrounding woods, she meets a boy in his school uniform, who lashes out at her. This precious lad turns out to be the guardian’s son and Izumiko’s future (Shinto version of a) bodyguard. Unfortunately he is not too happy about serving a timid, sheltered girl, who is supposedly some sort of a goddess. After some persuasion from his alleged father, he gives in at the end of the episode and enrolls at the local school.
Izumiko’s manservant-to-be, Miyuki Sagara, was mentioned in the series summary as her childhood friend. From the flashbacks in this episode, he visited the shrine once and spent the whole time bullying Izumiko. I wouldn’t call him a childhood friend, would you? Anyway, his attitude concerning her hasn’t changed and he is being an utter jerk towards Izumiko, mostly yelling at her for being weak. Not much was said about his background – his 33-year-old father comes off as not being his father and we are told Miyuki spent some time training as a monk – that isn’t much. (I really hope he and Izumiko won’t get romantically involved.)
One more character worth mentioning before we get to the heroine is Wamiya-kun. He speaks a single sentence throughout the whole episode and appears in only two other shots, but he is introduced in the OP. On top of that there are some legitimate theories making rounds, that he might be able to turn into a raven/crow at will or that he might even be Yatagarasu. In light of the second PV, that makes him a likely candidate for the bad guys, unless he was flying in to save our goddess.
As for the heroine, as was brought up by Miyuki, she knows nothing about what’s going on, she won’t go against her ‘fate’ or just plainly stand up for herself. All these claims can be backed by what we already saw in the episode by that time. For example when Izumiko gets hit in the face by a ball in gym class, she almost breaks into tears. The boys’ remarks, such as “You couldn’t have dodged that?” and about her hair, leave her speechless. She is defended by her girlfriends, who bear down upon their classmates with righteous ferocity.
To my surprise these two girls don’t know about her ability or is it a curse? They marvel at the short lives of her mobile phones and help her in computer classes. While it was implied that she disables electronics instantly upon touching them, this time she managed a short exchange with her father before plunging the lab into darkness. Did the computer last that long because she cut her hair? That is supposing her hair is the source of her spiritual power, as suggested by Sagara-san. On the other hand Izumiko wonders why this time she incapacitated all of the computers, not only the only she was in immediate contact with. Does that mean her power grew or is it possibly getting out of hand?
The drowning scene above just before she trips the breaker also happens in the anime, but I liked its portrayal in the manga better. I think Overcooled of Metanorn wrote it perfectly in their First Impressions, so I’ll just quote him here: “It seems like characters with social anxiety drowning with water has been a recent trend, with Tsuritama being the most recent example in memory. Unfortunately, the scene doesn’t have the same effect in RDG because there’s no metaphor at all. Why is she underwater? I dunno, but someone thought it looked cool, said “screw it,” and decided to throw it in…” He also wonders whether this will happen every time she is about to kill a device, which surely is a valid question. (I don’t think it will, in case you are interested.)
To sum it up the first episode managed to introduce the characters and give us some snippets of the plot, but in the end left us with barely anything more than a wagon of questions. Why is Izumiko special? Who is a himegami? (Okay, I know the answer to this one. It means a goddess.) What are those hospital check-ups about? That’s just to name a few. Nonetheless, I will be watching and reviewing episodes 2 and 3.
How did you like the first episode of Red Data Girl?