Red Data Girl is a fairly recent anime series creation based upon a series of light fantasy novels written by author Noriko Ogiwara. The series of novels has been adapted into this 12 episode series which aired from April to June 2013 and that comprises the entire series run. With the adaptation produced by P.A. Works (Tari Tari, Angel Beats!), the series is a combination of dramatic storytelling and fantasy elements.
The series revolves around Izumiko, a 15 year old who is unpopular and doesn't have many friends. She can't interact with technology and she has a special ability which causes these electronic devices to malfunction. This causes her to feel like an outcast and not like some normal person as she can't even use something like a cell-phone. Izumiko soon begins her attendance at the Houjou Academy. This specially designed school is only for the students containing special abilities of a supernatural origin. Soon, Izumiko learns that in addition to technological issues being associated with her, that she was intended as a vessel for an older, powerful spirit who wishes to use her as a means to exact vengeance onto others.
Izumiko is soon left switching between her normal teenage self and the old spirit. She has the help of an associate named Miyuki who is to be her guardian and advisor during these times of honing everything associated with her mystical powers. Can it be possible for her to find peace and normalcy or will the spirit possessing her take-over and will her inability to use electronics continue to affect her and those near her? These are some of the questions within Red Data Girl.
The plot-line feels over-the-top and typical for an average quality anime production. It makes the entire idea behind this show feel generic. I guess I am used to seeing many series where someone receives a special ability of some sort, attends a special sort of school, and must deal with the abilities in an episodic fashion. This concept sort of reminds oneself of much more successful series. It also feels like a take on concepts popularized by the X-Men comics and films. While these ideas are not exactly identical, the similarities are certainly there and the execution is so significantly underwhelming and poorly done by comparison that it makes it worth noting.
The characters feel quite underwhelming, which is probably the biggest issue facing the show. Establishing interesting characters that an audience can connect to is one of the fundamentals required for good storytelling in any medium or film genre. With Red Data Girl, there is very little establishment of Izumiko or Miyuki and their characterizations feel as though they are designed for association with the plot-line and the concepts it involves more so than trying character development for the sake of establishing interesting characters.
One of the successes of the series is it's animation. While the character designs aren't that distinctive, the quality of the artwork is generally pretty solid with good illustrations and background details. The effort seems worthwhile and like that of a well produced series. Certainly, there are likely to be anime fans who can enjoy the visual style of the series.
Director Toshiya Shinohara doesn't have the most impressive stylistic approach as the series seems to be poorly paced and with many lingering shots that seem to add unnecessary filler material. The show could have done with better scripting too. The story and screenplays are credited to Michiko Yokote, a three person group which has resulted in good efforts on some amazing series. Yet the basic design of Red Data Girl and it's story feels underwhelming and uninspired. Red Data Girl ultimately has some interesting concepts but a lack of originality in craft doesn't work well with the poor execution: it results in a mostly mediocre offering which doesn't impress and isn't too notable beyond having a mostly solid animation style.
Red Data Girl is released on DVD from Funimation across two DVD discs. The 12 episode series is one with excellent animation in many respects, and the bright and clean style of it certainly shines quite nicely on this release. The series looks mostly bright, colorful, and is strikingly pleasant and has all the trimmings of a modern television release on DVD. The encoding is mostly excellent without much in the way of compression artifacts and other distractions. The series is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
Both the English dub presented in 5.1 surround sound and the original Japanese language dub presented in 2.0 stereo sound reasonably good. The English dub does have a bit more oomph factor with a slightly better soundstage and use of the subwoofer. The stereo imaging isn't so impressive but the clarity of the dialogue is acceptable and gets the job done for the series. I imagine most viewers will be pleased with the presentation of either option regardless of the language preference.
English subtitles are included.
This release includes English dub commentaries on two episodes, textless songs (op/ed credits), the U.S. trailer, and trailers promoting other Funimation releases.
Red Data Girl isn't as interesting as the title might seem to suggest. The series feels mundane and (worst of all) boring. The show lacks a major dramatic punch to make the outlandish plotline seem worthwhile and the characters feel cookie-cutter and lacking in originality. It ultimately feels like another generic anime series without enough to distinguish itself from competition. Funimation's DVD release, on the other hand, is generally quite good and is a reasonable presentation of the show. Established fans of Red Data Girl should consider this release a worthwhile purchase. Everyone else should probably just skip this one altogether.