Red Garden - Complete Series & OVA
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While alive, Kate, Claire, Rose, and Rachel each explored the streets of New York with the promise of limitless futures unfolding before them. But now, brought together as members of a blood-stained sisterhood, their once-delicate hands reach out to silence demonic beasts no ordinary weapon can destroy. Brutally murdered only to be resurrected as clandestine killers, the girls must stalk their prey with a primal ferocity – or risk losing what remains of their so-called lives. The only clues to their tragic past are a swarm of crimson butterflies and the mysterious woman who carries the harrowing secret behind the lives they lived – and the walking corpses they’ve become.
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Top Customer Reviews
As for the series itself - it's very much an American-styled series. The main girls all live the New York area, and do not have the typical high school life seen in most anime. No Golden Week, no Valentine's Chocolate, no sailor fuku. For the most part this is actually pretty refreshing. It's also nice to see a few fresh personalities from the standard anime archetypes, even if you don't actually like the characters or their actions. It was also great to see some topics that don't come up much in mainstream anime; divorce, parental abandonment, low-income living, etc.
The series takes a unique twist on the typical magical girl anime - no power-of-love beams, instead the girls have to bludgeon and beat their opponents to death. The enemies aren't your typical hilarious monster-of-the-week either, here we simply have feral, berserk normal people.
I won't spoil the plot, but it has a good mix of mystery, horror, suspense, drama, betrayals, and some humour now and then (even a reference to the "Soup Nazi" of Seinfeld.) Animation is typically good, but often the art is not. I cannot decide if some things are off-model at times or if it's just the show's own art style just not jiving with me. Some characters are clearly the result of the artists trying to make them appear very Caucasian - and the result to an actual Western audience comes of like a caricature at times. Overall, there's nothing particularly good or bad art/animation-wise.
Audio was good, I enjoyed the voices but nothing was terribly over-the-top.Read more ›
I like it because its a dark anime that doesn't just rely on action, though the action is there (and messed up zombie-like creatures), it relies on psychological plotlines. Its a very original anime horror and worth watching until the end, and then watching again for anything you might've missed.
This is a dark anime with a feminine touch, I think that's the best way I can put it without giving anything away. Its excellent.
I won't give spoilers, but I will say that I'm hooked on this anime, and there's a reason that I gave it 5 stars.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Originally released in individual season sets by ADV Films, this set represents the first time the complete series with OVA is being released to the public. Coming in at a total runtime of 600 minutes, Red Garden The Complete Series spans 4 discs and comes packaged as a pair of thin packs within a cardboard slipcase.
The show wears an appropriate TV MA (17+) rating, which is due to some disturbing imagery and horror-themes and some segments loaded with gore/ violence.
Language options are typical sub & dub meaning the option of original Japanese dialog track (in Stereo) or an English dub (Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound) and English subtitles available under either language choice.
The breakdown consists of 22 episodes and the OVA, and of course, a nice host of Funimation trailers.
To explain the show to someone who has never seen it would go something like this: A wave of teen suicides washes over New York City (not Tokyo for once) and we follow the exploits of four teenage girls/ high school classmates: Kate, a rich preppy snob, Rose, family babysitter and modest personality; Rachel, party chick extraordinaire; and Claire, the quiet rebel.
The girls all wake up one morning only to discover that they cannot remember anything of the night before.
Things really get creepy when an old woman informs them that their proverbial cards have already been pulled and though they still appear alive, death is on its way to claim each girl.
While this all sounds terribly hopeless, there is a way to cheat destiny in that when called upon on certain nights, they are to engage in brutal and bloody battles against evil human-dogs. By day, they have to go on as if nothing's out of the ordinary (and here you thought staying awake in high school was hard enough when you stayed up to watch Letterman).
The visuals of the show seem to be either a love or hate affair (kind of like Gonzo's other contemporary remakes Gankutsuou and Romeo x Juliet). Gone are the typical wide-glassy eyes of anime girls and their place are bright, simplistic tones in the day, dark and gritty (borderline gothic) sequences once the sun sets.
The pacing of the show is nice and consistent with layers of the larger mystery (including what these seemingly unrelated girls have in common) being slowly revealed amidst the zombie-dog slashing action.
The voice work is fantastic in either incarnation with the English dub actually nailing the mood every bit as effectively as the original Japanese track maybe because its one of few anime titles out there set in the United States with English character names and locations. For once it actually feels like the English actors have a slight edge on the pronunciation angle.
Which brings me to my next point of interest: Like with past Gonzo properties, the attention to detail in setting and location is fantastic. Many of us have never been to Tokyo so we have to take their word for the accuracy but it becomes a different story when such national landmarks as those found in NYC become the backdrop. Gonzo deserves major credit for the scouting and research work that had to have gone into the production of this piece.
I wouldn't go as far as to say that this title is for everyone even though my critique appears quite favorable in hindsight. It takes a pretty unique set of expectations on the viewer's behalf to make the most of the experience. There are essentially two sides to the story: One resembles the atypical common cross-section of teenage schoolgirls and personality archetypes. The other could probably best be described as an animated version of popular survival-horror video games like Resident Evil. The blending of the two concepts work well in some segments but feel a little forced in others. In all though, it's nearly worth the price of admission just to take in the domestic visuals in the anime medium with enough of a mystery-driven story arc to keep the episodes moving along.
First, overall, I liked this. It's above average in concept, in character development, in dialogue. I own it and plan to watch it again. I plan to give it to my friends. It features a group of sane girls trying to cope with insane personal disaster. It's their story, and so we are spared the clueless, gormless, constantly embarrassed male co-star, or the loud and bratty little sister, or the overly moe pet. It's surprisingly quiet. Yes, there's too much shouting during the fight scenes, and some of the secondary characters can be accused of overacting, but it's not one of those anime where everyone teeters on the brink of adrenalin exhaustion. Each of the characters is a unique individual, and is believable, even when their circumstances aren't. Rose, for example, fighting to keep her family together and care for her younger siblings, with her mother in the hospital and her father run off, and no sign of NYC Family Services.
SPOILER ALERT, all the way down.
That said, there's plenty of plot holes, and your disbelief has to be hanged, not just suspended. We never find out why the girls were enticed to the old house in the first place, nor why they were killed, or why they were left. Was it all a plot to get one New Body? If they were recruited to fight the other clan, why weren't they trained to fight? Why weren't they given better (i.e. any) weapons? Then there's the pharmaceutical company, with their inept experiments. If the drug side of the operation is run the same way as their attempt to preserve a breeding stock, it's a wonder we're not all dead. What's the purpose of the red flowers and the butterflies? Wouldn't a cell phone do as well? Even a pager. What happened to the seed the girls planted at the cemetery? Why do the old New Bodied women die and dust when the curse is lifted, but Our Girls just fall asleep, and wake up immortal but without memories. These kind of gaps run all through the program. If you are the kind of person who can just say "magic" and ignore them, you will like the series. If not, you will have trouble not shouting at the screen.
In the end, the girls come to terms with their future, understand that they will be remembered (even though they won't remember), and win through to a hollow victory. Everybody dies. On both sides. Except them. The school and its island are covered in a Red Garden of flowers, where they awaken. That's when the fun begins.
For me, the post-season OVA (original video animation) was the best part. It takes place hundreds of years in the future. There are flying cars. The supporting characters are all future versions of the ones from the series (the two policemen are still on patrol, the same guy runs the hamburger stand). We have just spent 22 episodes establishing the characters, and now we can have fun playing off of them. They are all still biologically 17, even though they are chronologically (and emotionally) much older. Rose is more assertive. Rachel is a bit of a slob (showers are so much trouble). Claire is still driving her old car. They make bets on who can seduce the new transfer student. They fight crime while singing (extremely poorly) a song set to the music that plays for the setup screen. Claire builds a sexy female gundam style mech, one that ends up face down in the flowers of the Red Garden, with its bare backside in the air. Kate, less changed than the others, manages to shock them all at the very end, and I think I'll keep that spoiler to myself.
Now, if you aren't all for violence, I do not recommend this show. The show itself shows very little in way of violence, and the only murdering or blood it even presents to the viewer is done in a very stressful way to show the impact that being forced to kill someone or something has on the human mind. The show is more about family ties, friends, an overlying problem having to deal with two waring families and the lives being affected by horrible time and place accidents. I'd rate this show highly, yet it's not my all-time favorite either.
The character reactions and attitudes are believable. I found myself impressed by the quality in that department. However, the actual image quality of the show isn't very good. I doubt it's because it's on DVD, but the screen has a sort of fuzzy quality to it throughout the whole show. It may be on purpose, but it doesn't look too good in the end.
For those of you ordering through Amazon and choosing to have Amazon package and ship it to you, the packaging is the perfect size for the item and its quality is good enough with minimal cardboard which I like. You all probably know what the package will be like if you've ordered through here before. The show comes with no special features worth watching (from what I've seen on Disks 1 and 2 so far) except a textless opening. This is the S.A.V.E. package though, so you shouldn't expect much anyway.
Overall, I highly recommend this show. It's quite the attention grabber.
"Rose" is the most annoying character, whining, mewing & crying the entire first half of the series. I wanted to reach into the TV & wring her neck. Thankfully, a more "ballsy" character gives her a stern talking-to, & Rose finally mans-up, just a bit. The medical experiment Sci-fi elements are anime cliches that are simply no longer enjoyable to me, as a fairly seasoned anime viewer. I kept waiting for action, more conflict, explosions, or for SOMETHING to happen...no such luck.
The 2nd half of the series is more enjoyable, but just barely. I can't really complain, the Amazon price I paid was low enough to not be steaming with regret after the final disc. Red Garden isn't "bad" per se, just could have been much better with better writing, and even a tad bit more action. Not for everybody, certainly. It's one of those shows that flirts with cool & interesting concepts, but ultimately falls back on lazy writing & bad pacing. I got Black Blood Brothers in another Amazon order the other day, I thought to myself "now, this is silly, goofy, but gleefully violent & lots of fun, & has tons of action". No matter the shortcomings of whichever anime series I watch in the next few months, I'll be thinking "There's action! Sooo glad it's not like Red Garden."