「はじめての拒絶」 (Hajimete no Kyozetsu)
“The First Rejection”
One of the things I first noticed about this episode was how well animated it was. Even for P.A. Works, I liked the different angles that they used for shots and the amount of full-lengths was at an all-time high for this show. That final scene with Izumiko’s hair and the details that they put into the expressions and ghosts of each scene was a nice touch. I’m not one that usually appreciates these things but I know a standout episode when I see one, so I was really in awe by the efforts the studio put into this. It’s always nice to see scenes that are drawn from a different perspective (and I don’t mean up a girl’s skirt =P) rather than a flat pan.
This episode marked the start of the finale and the big move that Takayanagi made towards Izumiko to get her to join his side. And by big move, he kind of looks like he was trying to hit on her (reminds me of old creepy men hitting on younger ladies). For a final showdown though, I was a little disappointed by the outcome. It looked like Takayanagi did make an attempt to set up traps and plans – they just failed. On the other hand, the Souda twins didn’t do much at all except try and prevent Takayanagi from succeeding. Not much of a plan, except for the help from Masumi. I would’ve liked to see more plotting and scheming, but that’s not the type of show that Red Data Girl is. A little mystery (and a surprise ending) wouldn’t have hurt anyone, but Izumiko’s final scene was a little predictable. This did show a lot of her character development though and how she’s able to start defending herself.
The engagement between Mayura and Miyuki came out as a bit of a shock. It was little uncalled for and random. However, I’m able to forgive all those facts because despite the awkward timing because it pretty much confirmed the relationship between Miyuki and Izumiko and Mayura and her brothers. Whereas we always knew that Miyuki and Izumiko were developing a sweet relationship, I found it a more interesting fact that Mayura and Manatsu were so connected. I wouldn’t say that Mayura loves Manatsu in a “romantic” fashion, but definitely more than as a brother. The same goes with Masumi.
「世界遺産の少女」 (Seikaiisan no Shojo)
“Girl of World Heritage”
For a finale, I thought this episode tied together the final arc very well. I know some people may disagree and think that it’s a lackluster ending, but it’s not in my opinion. The audience gets to see (from beginning to end) where Izumiko took herself, how Miyuki came to save her (again) and the resolution between the Souda triplets. No major cliffhangers are left and I don’t see any low-hanging fruit that needs to be resolved or shown. I think the audience can imply a lot of what happens between the lines and I think that’s pretty much how it was for the entire series.
Although it wasn’t necessary, I appreciated the flashback to Mayura and Miyuki’s conversation about their “potentially fake” engagement. It showed Miyuki’s straight up rejection to Mayura’s idea because he wanted to make it work with Izumiko. He didn’t want to take another way out and I think that was a blow to Mayura because she never thought of doing it the hard way. As much as it adds to the final scene between Miyuki and Izumiko, I still feel like their relationship lacks something. It’s not the typical romantic relationship you’d see in anime, and the characters aren’t the obvious choice for a couple either, but I like that. It’s refreshing to see a normal teenage coming-of-age relationship because they’re both new at this and exploring as they grow up together. On the other hand, I liked seeing the triplets’ relationship as a contrast for Miyuki and Izumiko’s. It showed that they also “love” one another but to a different extent and they also handle it very differently. Also, one of them is dead and can’t really be in the realm of the living with his living siblings. It’s a bittersweet relationship and I almost feel more attached to their story than Izumiko’s.
An unexpected pleasant surprise was the super cute Takayanagi in dog form. I wasn’t expecting him to be turned into anything, but a dog seems like a fitting punishment. What an odd pair to see Takayanagi teaming up with Miyuki… following a raven around (Wamiya). Not to mention that they were only linked to Izumiko because she picked up her cell phone. Although I think the message was stronger than simply “calling” one another – it was because both of them wanted to find one another. As Wamiya stated, you have to believe. It wasn’t too obvious in the initial episodes, but I could always feel that Masumi had a bond with Izumiko. Whether or not it was a romantic love or a “I-want-to-eat-you” love, it’s a flattering thought… kind of creepy too. I never thought of them as a likely couple, although seeing it now makes it a logical choice if Izumiko wanted to escape. She was also declared as the official World Heritage candidate which seems to be as predicted. I didn’t expect anything less from her, because judging by how Takayanagi and Mayura were performing, I didn’t think they were worthy candidates anymore.
I’ve seen and read some of the debate going on between people who enjoyed RDG and others who thought it was just simply no good. Personally I thought it was alright – the pacing wasn’t something that I was a fan of and I think what irked me the most were the gaps and missing explanations in the story. Like I said, I feel as though there were a lot of assumptions made on my part to piece the story together in my mind. I don’t have the strongest Japanese background though (in history or culture), so perhaps that’s what deteriorated my experience. As an afterthought, it does seem as though this story is more suited as a novel (which was its source material) but as an animated story, it feels a bit lacking in areas. This is probably because the anime didn’t really express a lot of what was going on in the minds of Miyuki and Izumiko and the audience had to just go along with it. Their relationship is a good example of that because although it was never stated when or how (and you can’t pinpoint the exact moment), the audience just knows that they like one another.
Storytelling aside, I thought the animation was top notch; the acting and music was also done well and I can’t complain about the story/plot because it seems to stick very closely to the novels. It’s not the type of story that personally interests me, but it does have an appeal of a historical/supernatural story that’s taking place in modern times. It’s an interesting concept and I think the author does well to target this towards a certain audience that can appreciate the coming-of-age story of Izumiko. I warn you that it’s not chockfull of action and surprises, but it has a ton of characters with development pieces of their own and references. RDG is not your typical supernatural/fantasy story, although it has supernatural elements in it. It gears more towards a story about adolescence in a supernatural setting and dealing with your own identity.