Hello and welcome to G-Views, where SoL reigns supreme, moe is respected and Dokuro-chan sucks poopie. I just finished watching this latest anime and I must say that shows like these have become one in a million these days. It’s shows like these that make me happy that my taste for good media hasn’t died yet. Just because I like moe, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate serious/Dark anime. Has this kind of anime plot been done before? Yes. Does that affect the show in any way? No. To express this anime’s greatness in words alone isn’t enough. This will be a 3 parter, where I focus on two anime that excel in awesomeness without having to rely on explosions, gadgets, boobies and all that kind of stuff there. Allow me to begin with the 1st of two shows that blew me away recently, Red Garden.
The EDs are missing their audio for obvious reasons so check this preview instead.
Genres: drama, horror, mystery, thriller
Themes: life after death, survival, troublesome teens, Dark.
Objectionable content: Significant (bloody violence and/or swearing and/or nudity)
Number of episodes: 22 + 1 40 minute bonus OVA: Dead Girls.
G-Rating: 9/10 TV series. 5/10 OVA.
Plot Summary: Strange suicides have been taking place in New York. One day, four girls from the same high school wake up in the morning feeling tired and dizzy and not being able to remember anything about the previous night. In school, they find out that one of their classmates has committed suicide. School is canceled for the rest of the day, but instead of going home, the girls are drawn to a park by butterflies only they can see. Suddenly a man and a woman approach the girls, telling them that they all died the previous night.
From what I’ve heard, this show was made by Gonzo and it has a similar feel to Gantz. Now I haven’t seen Gantz yet, but from what I’ve heard, Red Garden is superior in terms of character development and continuity. Oh and this show also has a definitive conclusion, unlike Gantz.
This show is part high school drama, nail biting suspense thriller, and musical, Shakespearean in the style of its romances and plot.
Let me explain. this show is in my mind, yet another work of art. a masterpiece in terms of presentation.
-High School Drama: Here I mean that it’s a teen angst type, but don’t worry. It doesn’t get annoying. No, far from it, it’s very well delivered in how our 4 leading ladies deal with their lives after discovering the that they’ve been killed and are technically “tangible ghosts” as I like to call them. This show excels in both family and teenage drama.
-Thriller. Oh yes, it’s a thriller all right. When the show isn’t dealing with the girls trying to get used to the big change that’s come to their lives and how they choose to deal with their friends and family, they have to fight for their lives against enemies that I like to call “Man-hounds”.
-Action: Surprisingly enough, there isn’t much of that here. Sure, you get some cool fights here and there against the “Man-Hounds” and two bone chilling encounters against the antagonist team (especially in the final episode, whew.). Sure there isn’t much combat, but the two major fights are just EPIC! You could say that if the show had just a few more fights like the two I mentioned, then this show would get an 10/10.
-Shakespeare/Musical: In the 1st quarter of the show, there will be parts where the characters sing a song that perfectly fits their current mood. No annoying Disney rip-off stuff or High School Musical crap here, no it’s pretty good stuff. I haven’t heard the dubbed version of the songs, but since the English voice acting is pretty good in my opinion, I think they could be pretty good singers as well.
Now for the Shakespearean part, well if you’re familiar with Shakespeare’s style of presentation, then you’ll get a little clue of what to expect. Don’t worry, they don’t use poetic English and ye olde English style of speech, no they just talk normally.
-Symbolism: A common form of symbolism appears in the shape of crimson butterflies and red flowers (I don’t exactly know what kind they are though). I’m not sure what they mean exactly, but I think that if the butterflies have a similar meaning to those in Fatal Frame 2, then I’m guessing that they’re a signal of death, in the sense that they’re signals that call people out to follow them to someplace dangerous or filled with doom. I dunno, but that’s the message I got from playing Fatal Frame 2 and watching Red Garden. As for the title, I have no idea why it’s called Red Garden…that is until the final episode of the TV series.
Animation: Red Garden employs a technique often used by animated productions outside Japan, but rarely used in Japanese animation. The characters’ dialogue is animated after the work of the voice cast, synchronizing the animation with the voice actors’ voices. The synchronization is particularly evident in scenes where characters are singing (occurring in some of the earlier episodes). What this means is that the seiyuu’s voices were recorded 1st, THEN the animation was made so that it wouldn’t miss a single word, breath or expression made by the characters. So yeah, don’t expect any bubbly eyes or jiggling breasts here. Ecchi fans already know what this means: No moe, no stupid male leads, no dumb girls who will fall for some random guy for no good reason, no cutesy wootsy stuff, none of that. Basically for an anime in the year 2006, it’s pretty unique and beautiful to watch in terms of a good anime that doesn’t rely on fanservice at all.
Music: Perfect for this kind of anime. Not a single incorrect note used. Also, the OP and EDs ROCK!
Characters: Once again, what I tend to focus on primarily if the plot isn’t good enough. Thankfully the show’s plot is superb. Now back to the characters. The cool thing about them is that there’s almost NO ONE to hate here. Even the side characters play a VERY important role. There’s not a single character here who doesn’t serve a purpose. Aside from the main villains, excluding Herve, who’s a sympathetic guy despite all the damage he’s caused, every other character here is highly developed and have enough interaction with each other that I have absolutely no complaints in terms of development. Like I said, every character here has a purpose and they they fulfill it very well. Appearance wise, Gonzo has captured the appearance and feel of a fictional New York setting quite well. Even the noses are well drawn. I can tell that they were going all out with trying to draw the characters with as much life as possible. It somewhat reminds me of NANA…somewhat.
Oh, I forgot to talk about the bonus OVA…it’s nothing special. Really, it isn’t. enjoy the TV series. If you want to watch the OVA for completeness, go ahead if you want. Just don’t expect anything memorable from it.
In conclusion: I tell you, if you’re looking for something different and amazing, then look no further than Red Garden. It’s a neat break from all the cute, fuzzy, jiggly and humorous stuff we’re being showered with these days. A highly recommended masterpiece. However, it all depends on your age and patience whether you can appreciate this show’s greatness or not. This is definitely not for the impatient or hyperactive.