So, to jump right in, what do you think a traditional fantasy/occult story is about? The strength of resolve manifesting into physical acts? Learning to accept one’s individualities, and finding one’s true place in the world? These are all themes which can be seen throughout magical tales, and the idea is fairly straightforward. Insert an individual, add a dash of destiny, and walla, we have a plotline of somewhat importance. So what are we to do with Red Data Girl, in which the world is full of people just like her, but also oh so different?
The protagonist is essentially an endangered species. The ‘red data book’ is the list of near-endangered animals, which is thereto where the show’s title is adapted from. Yet, at the same time, the protagonist is surrounded by not only the normal (these are hardly mentioned), but rather, by the supernatural. She goes to a school where sorcerers, priests, demons and gods at all normal. Yet, to this point, the girl herself has had no in-depth exposure to these elements, and so despite her personal powers, she is scared. Just as she had always to hide her abnormal side from her normal friends, so too at this new school must she hide her true self. In essence, she is perpetually an abnormal among abnormals: destined to always be an outsider.
So how does she adapt to this schism between her identity and the necessary reality? By changing, and somewhat unwillingly. She is constantly being possessed by her ‘other half’ under the oftimes deliberate manipulation by some, and then returned to ‘normal’ by those who prefer her this way. Both sides feature similarities far beyond appearance, but are also so strikingly different that she may very well be mistaken for a different character. This is the goal, the overriding social thinking which the show expresses through this medium.
Rather than entering a secondary world where all is as it should be, the protagonist is forced to find her own way in an in-between that all men must traverse. There is no ‘one self’, no more than there is a limitation between what choices one can make. Every individual makes complex decisions moment-by-moment, and while there may sometimes be a traversable statistical guideline to what types of options we lean towards, there are always outside forces in affect. At one point a man may take a right, while the next day, exact same situation, just different external forces, may cause the man to take a left. It’s the traditional mask trope, in which humans adapt to their circumstances, and despite how much you want to deny it, it does indeed exist.
So how does the protagonist of Red Data Girl fit in? She doesn’t. Like most of us, there is no ‘place’ where everything is roses. Instead, she must constantly strive to fit in, to stand out, to be happy, or sad, or whatever else she wants to be. Take away the trivial love affair and other supernatural elements, and all you have is a normal girl who can’t find herself in a confusing world. The hint then given by the work’s producers is this: balance. It’s a cliché theme, but alas, the cliché’s are made such for a reason. The only way to find your place in this world is to constantly dig it out yourself. Others can sometimes help, yes, but their efforts are often superficial at best, and false crutches at worst. Instead, you basically just have to deal with things as they come, and hope for the best. We’re all born as outsiders, whether you’re a normal teenager full of angst, or a young woman who just happens to be the reincarnation of an ancient power. The only difference is the taught ability some of us possess to fake our way into at least feeling accepted.