First Impression: Red Data Girl

First Impression Red Data Girl
I’ve seen more convincing protagonists.

FYI: This is a niconico pre-air, so the video quality is a far cry from good. While not outstandingly bad either, you won’t get any hysterical qualityfags to watch this, so if you’re one of them, stay away from this and hold out until the release date. If I recall correctly, this was actually supposed to air on March 6th alongside Date A Live (which got pushed back two weeks for reasons unknown to me, probably due to schedule issues), but what do I know.

Let me ramble a bit about the visuals first: It’s a P.A. Works show™ and as such, the character design might sliiiiiightly remind you of… well, all their other shows. Really, even KyoAni’s output varies more in terms of looks and that says a lot. The animation is pretty… mediocre at best which is a step down from their last show’s pilot episode. Let’s just say that the production values did not go to the animation department.
I can’t really say a lot about the background art due to the poor video quality and that’s a notably sad thing, since background art is one of P.A. Works’ few remaining values. Don’t get me wrong, I totally hate their background art anyway due to being waaaaaay too shiny and pristine, but for what it’s worth, I fully recognize that some effort went into it. Last (but not least?), there’s also the usual CG quality you’d expect from a P.A. production, looking a bit better than the average anime CG nonsense, but still obstrusively outlandish and they relied on it more often than they should have.

The first half was… uh, not good. Nor was the second half, for that matter, but at least that’s when things got actually interesting – more interesting than during the first half. The show starts in medias res which is usually either an attention-grabbing or attention-dwindling matter, although in this case, it turned out to be neither. While I struggled to find any reason to consider something about the start as noteworthy, I also never really had to pose the question why I should care about any of the show. Things could still get pretty boring, though. The protagonist is a clumsy, shy, run-of-the-mill wallflower girl and gets harassed for that. Sadly, the writing pretty much used that as an excuse to pile up some clichés, like her getting hit in the face by a ball during PE classes and the mean guy who (accidentally) threw it at her offensively complaining she should have just dodged it. No bonus points for subtlety on this front. Unfortunately, mc girl hardly succeeded as a protagonist, more often than not self-pitying and getting a tad too melodramatic (there was even a scene with voices haunting her and flashbacks on stuff you got to see a few minutes ago just so they could underline her oh-so-complex motivation once more!) but I at least appreciate that she wants to change. That’s the spirit. That also got her to cut some of her hair, which was mentioned fairly – far too – often during the episode. Eight times, sometimes even bringing forth entire conversations about it and 6 times out of that was in the first 5 and a half minutes. And I’m not even excluding the opening. Or was it five times? Not that it matters. So in case you didn’t notice – and the show made sure you did -, cutting her hair was an important twist that might or might not influence her powers. Other than that, the character interactions remained fairly shallow during the first half and pretty much took the TARI TARI approach – “Hey, we have character interactions. That’s all an anime needs, right? This is completely slice of lifey-something, isn’t it?”.

Thankfully, things improved by the second half. That’s when the bishounen squad appeared. And when she seemed to drown in front of a computer. I took that as your average use of imagery (Tsuritama, for instance, did a similar thing) to depict her fear and nervousness but when she shut down the computers due to it and was able to talk to her father through the monitor, things got… weird. But who cares about that, the bishounen were far more amusing. You see, her ultra-pretty guardian came to school, picking her up. With a helicopter. I pretty much rolled my eyes during the conversation with the principal:
“We can’t believe you that you’re her guardian. We just can’t hand her over to anyone if you don’t give us any proof.”
– “I’m thirty-three. I have a child.”
– “That’s impossible to accept but we decide to believe you. Reasons? Who cares!”

Well, they never really ditched the “Folks, something is weird about all of this. But we’re being TOTALLY subtle about it!” subtones the episode had but things drastically improved once sour bishounen #2, who’s also her childhood friend, joined the team. Poor fellow. He has to meet a girl he despises, faking friendliness to her relatives, get ordered around and told that he’s her slave now and transfer to her class despite living in the city. It was quite a pleasure to watch him suffering. And then he refuses to do so, leaving the house, only to get beaten to a pulp by bishie #1 and decide it would be the best to listen to him. THOSE ARE THE GOOD GUYS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

So, eh. Very, very mixed impressions. It never really tried to move anywhere but rather hinted at some possibly interesting developments and as it unexpectedly didn’t aggressively bore me, I guess that warrants giving it another episode or two. It tackled my interest and I have no clue in which direction it is about to head. Also, it’s based on a novel that’s not a light novel which is sort of promising. Shin Sekai Yori turned out to be good, so maybe this will do the same?

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