- Genre: Supernatural, drama, adventure romance?
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: P.A.Works
Izumiko Suzuharais just a normal teenage girl…Or is she?? Well actually, yeah, she is. She’s at that age trying to figure out who she is, shy and insecure, going to a school far from home for the first time. She’s really a girl just like any other girl (and in this anime, girls are pretty hard to tell apart if you can’t see their hair…) but strange things keep happening around her. Computers and cell phones break down, people seem to appear out of nowhere, dark shadows take on as life of their own. And now, apparently, this mean boy named Miyuki is being forced to serve her. But why? Izumiko never asked for any of this, she just wants to be a normal teenage girl.
Man that description sounded cliché didn’t it? But it’s not wrong. This show is a bit all over the place but at it’s core it’s a pretty traditional, magical coming of age story. Also it’s by P.A. Works so it’s pretty. Really pretty.
It’s a solid production all around. Sure, the faces do look very similar and some of the voice acting was a bit overbearing but in general, it’s a beautiful detailed anime with fluid animation and some real creative anatomy when it comes to movement. A running scene in one of the early episodes (2 I think) had me rethinking everything I knew about the human body.
Oddly, I found the male character designs much more unique and easy to differentiate from one another. I’m not entirely sure why I say oddly. In any case, there were a lot of different face types for boys but seemingly only one for girls. It was a really pretty one though…
I was unexplainably excited for this series. If you read my TBW post, you may remember that I had picked out the show entirely based on the fact that I liked the name. I’m not even sure what I like about the name mind you. It sounded a bit like a play on RBG (RDG) and the data part made me think technology would be involved. It’s all rather nebulous. This said, I went into this series with unclear but high hopes.
And the first episodes did not disappoint. There was a deep air of mystery hanging over everything. A slight ominous mood kept the tension at just the right level. The images were stunning! The computer scene immediately made me think of Lain (I do that a lot, don’t I?) and that’s a good thing!
I was all in, ready to decipher some riddles and uncover some secrets! Even Izumiko’s ultra meek personality, that should have annoyed me under normal circumstances, seemed fitting and appropriate. After establishing that she has a ill effect on technology, they put Izumiko on a plane and that scene, of simple take off and slight turbulence, is one of the best tension building moments I have seen in a long time. The shadow creatures (never fully explained but you can easily guess) are also effective faceless antagonists in the early establishing arc.
This said, those nice elements are not sustained. The story is basically divided into two arcs. An early establishing arc where Izumiko’s character and background are obliquely established in her small mountain village, and a main adventure arc where she and Miyuki are now attending a private school for kids with powers (think Hogwarts meets Xavier’s school for gifted children meets pretty much every anime school ever). As happens a lot in 12 episode series, the narrative tries to take on just a bit too much and is forced to either drop some story lines or rush others robbing the audience of a satisfying conclusion.
The first episodes set up a slow burn small town mystery to could have been greatly entertaining, just to have everything thrown out in a basic exposition dump at the 3rd episode and have the series more or less reset as a school drama. At this point the main arc has some vague supernatural power struggle theme and a time traveling spirit trying to save the future of humanity (guys, I think Steins;Gate is trying to slowly take over my entire life…I’m ok with it!).
Yeah it’s scattered and it tries to pack in too much but that’s not really my issue with it. All things considered, it did a decent job at explaining most plot points and keeping everything clear but it failed to make me care. No really, for all the excitement and tension it had build up in the first episode, it completely fizzled out for me by the middle of the series and although it remained completely watchable, the most I can say for it, is that it was very pretty.
One of my biggest issues were the characters. The designs were gorgeous but these kids are going to have to rely on their looks. For once, it’s not even a lack of development or depth, for the most part the characters showed decent growth and enough depth and complexity to pass for complete people but they were all really boring and occasionally unpleasant. I would have no interest in going to have a drink with any of them. Can you even imagine that!
I still couldn’t tell you why you should be rooting for the protagonists over the antagonists. Other than “plot”. For me, this was difficult to overlook, no matter how pretty the anime was.
There were also a few mindboggling details that seemed to have been thrown in for no reason. For instance, in one of the early episodes it’s implied that Yukimasa Sagara, Miyuki’s dad (and a main character whose existence I kept forgetting) almost beat his son to death because Miyuki was being a little rebellious. We see Miyuki seriously hurt and barely able to stand, saying that he’s lucky to have gotten out alive. The we forget about it. Both Izumiko and Miyuki keep interacting with Yukimasa as if nothing happened and it’s never mentioned again.Form what I could tell, the scene was useless so why put it in?
This is just one example, there are a few more somewhat disturbing elements that are just thrown in and then forgotten like that.
I’m a little at a loss. I can’t recommend this show, there are definitely much better series in the same vein, but then again, there are worse ones too. I don’t regret watching it at all but I would have been ok skipping it as well. This is possibly the most useful review ever.
Actually, let me put that sass in my pocket. This review IS useful. This tepid, wishy washy write up should give you a very good grasp on what this series is like. Not bad but also not good. Yeah, that’s what I was going for all along! I’m a genius!
Favorite character: Jean Honoka Kisaragi (had to google his name)
What this anime taught me: Miyukis are generally herks (that’s my portmanteau for Hot Jerks)
Step aside Water, this job is for Wine!
Suggested drink: RDC or Red Devil Cocktail
- Every time Izumiko wants to be a “normal girl” – take a sip
- Every time Izumiko’s mother is mentioned – take a sip
- Every time Miyuki is being a bag O butts – roll your eyes
- Every time SHADOWS – gasp
- Every time we see Himegami – raise your glass
- Every time a character is being very cryptic – take a sip, it’ll help you figure it out
- Every time Izumi changes her appearance***** – take a sip
- Every time the siblings bicker – take a sip
- Every time we see Masumi-kun – take a sip
- Every time there’s a premature and somewhat pointless standoff – stretch
- Every time they cross over to Togakushi – take a sip
- Every time anyone dances – try it too
- Every time anime casts a spell – take a sip
******I really liked how the show insisted on, and gave a lot of significance to, Izumi’s choices on her physical appearance and how she presents herself to the world. It nicely mirrors the changes teenage girls often go through as their appearance suddenly becomes so much more important and a more tangible extension of their personality. I didn’t know where to fit this in the actual review.*****