Red Data Girl Is A Different Kind Of Fantasy Anime

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

As the spring anime season hit its mid-way point, I called Red Data Girl one of the five anime you should be watching. And while it is definitely one of the more low-key anime in that bunch, it is also the most real on an emotional level.

Good -- A Modern Japanese Fantasy Tale

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

When it comes to fantasy anime, most are focused on the Western fantasy genre -- knights, princesses, demon kings, and dragons. But Red Data Girl is based on Japanese fantasy. This is all the more interesting as it is set in the modern day world. So while the main characters live in our world, they also see a different version of it -- one filled with shamans, ghosts, and gods.

This traditional Japanese fantasy framework is centred around a modern school for children who are everything from up and coming wizards to half-trained monks -- a school for any child with a strong connection to the spiritual world. In this way, it is a lot like a "Harry Potter in Japan"-style setting. It's really a fun way to experience Japanese folklore.

Good -- Low Key But Exciting

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

There isn't a lot of violence in Red Data Girl. Rather, everything is driven by interpersonal drama or tension-creating suspense. Izumiko, sheltered all her life, finds the world outside her small town fascinating and more than a little scary. Of course, she is also able to see the world beyond our own, one filled with ghosts and spirits all keenly aware of her. Moreover, her fears about the outside world are not groundless as everyone wants a piece of her because she looks to be the next earthly vessel of a powerful, immortal goddess.

Good -- World-Changing Politics at the High School Level

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

The search for the next vessel of the goddess is treated as the single most important event in the world of Red Data Girl. To control the goddess basically means being able to tap into powers far beyond that of even the most gifted magical humans. Thus, the brightest magical children have all been gathered together in one school and are constantly vying for the position of top student. After all, wouldn't the goddess choose the best student to be her next vessel? Of course, if you can't make the top, you ally with someone who is likely to win so as to gain favour when that student becomes the goddess. And so the school is split into factions all trying to get their candidate to be the next vessel.

This all makes for an incredibly dangerous situation for Izumiko. Should it become known that she is a likely candidate for the goddess vessel, the top students would try to control her -- or kill her in the hopes of drawing the goddess to themselves after her death. This makes for excellently tense situation.

Good -- A Metaphor for Growing Up

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

Much of Red Data Girl deals with Izumiko and her strange powers that set her -- even from the other students at the school. So as she makes friends and develops a close relationship with her bodyguard, she still feels isolated by the changes happening to her. She just wants to be a normal girl.

Thus, if you strip away the fantasy elements, Red Data Girl is really just a metaphor for growing up. Everyone feels awkward through puberty. And despite not having the supernatural problems of Izumiko, having to deal with the body and emotional changes that Izumiko experiences is something viewers in their teens or above can empathise with.

Mixed -- An Ending but not THE Ending

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

Red Data Girl has an ending, but it is somewhat lacking. While much of the mystery revolving around the goddess is revealed and the conflict comes to a head, the series ends on an emotional cliffhanger. Moreover, not a single supporting cast member's story arc is fully resolved -- despite several being developed up to and through the climax itself. It is definitely one of those anime where you feel like there must be a movie or OVA coming to wrap everything up (though there has been no announcement regarding such in the case of Red Data Girl).

Final Thoughts

Red Data Girl Is a Different Kind of Fantasy Anime

While most fantasy anime these days are based in comedy or action, Red Data Girl is one of the few that is firmly set as a serious coming-of-age drama. It builds an excellently realised fantasy world superimposed over our own; and the story will thematically resonate with any viewer familiar with the trials of puberty. If you like anime that are down-to-earth yet fantastical at the same time or are a fan of a similar Western equivalent like Harry Potter, feel free to give Red Data Girl a try.

Red Data Girl aired on Nico Nico and Tokyo MX in Japan and is available for free with English subtitles on Funimation.


Comments

    I love my anime, but Im burnt out on the whole "Highschool students are the centre of the universe" trope. Most anime that features an adult cast is locked into its own genre.

    Available for free... but it's sourced by Hulu in the USA. So break out the anonymisers, do the hoki-poki and turn yourself around.

    That's what it's all about.

    When it comes to fantasy anime, most are focused on the Western fantasy genre — knights, princesses, demon kings, and dragons.Princesses (hime), demon kings (Most ruler figures are either demons in disguise, or being controlled by them) and dragons (or at the least dragons as a metaphor for leylines of power if not eastern dragons) are also significant parts of Japanese fantasy and folklore as well. There is also far more anime that deals with Japanese mythology (Things like kitsune, tanuki, oni, hannya and the very broad category of yokai) rather than medieval and western fantasy. I like that Kotaku reviews anime, but it really irks me that they make a lot of inaccurate generalisations. /rant

    On topic, I enjoyed the Fate/Stay Night series so this sounds like it might be interesting.

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching RDG, but I agree with you completely, it really did feel like the ending was missing something. I am hoping for a OVA or movie in the coming months though as you say, nothing has been announced yet....

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