Friday, April 8, 2011

Red Garden Anime Review

Red Garden
Funimation
Complete Collection - 22 episodes + OVA
600 minutes
$29.98 S.A.V.E. edition (2009)
ISBN 704400096556
English/Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Kou Matsuo
Studio - Gonzo
TO BUY: Red Garden

Synopsis: Four girls at a prestigious private academy wake up one morning with no recollection of the previous night.  They learn a fifth girl is found dead and then strange things start to happen.  They are drawn by butterflies to the same place where a woman named Lula and her partner JC inform them they are dead and residing in magical bodies.  The girls witness a man partially transform into a beast and attack them.  They manage to fight and eventually kill him.  In order to regain their true bodies the girls must fight and kill these man-creatures on a nightly basis.

Attempting to resume their normal lives proves difficult for the girls as they continue the nightly killings and discover their new bodies possess heightened agility.  Revelations comes slowly, but they learn of two opposing clans suffering from curses: Animus and Dolore.  The Dolore become beasts and have only two remaining female relatives thus endangering the continuation of their clan.  The girls are thrust into this nightmarish war against their wills.

Also includes OVA Red Garden: Dead Girls - set several hundred years after the ending of the original series

Pros: Somewhat interesting premise with two cursed clans, animation style and fashion costumes are really well done - girls actually change clothes!, OVA flash-forward (a couple centuries) was pretty cool seeing the girls' future selves after they forget all their previous memories

Cons: Image quality is poor for such a recent anime - immediately noticeable when the show starts, characters are bland - especially Kate and Rose, very little horror/suspense moments, zero answers about what the deal is with the Red Garden, how did the one family know when the other ones would turn so they could beat them to death?, the dub voices suck (there's singing)

Mike Tells It Straight: I had really high hopes for this anime after seeing the preview.  Four dead girls taking on things that go bump in the night, but the story was a disappointment.  The girls' lives were really boring and the show dragged along until the last few episodes.  Visually compelling, I was impressed with the show's design and style, but the image quality was terrible.  I'm not sure if Funimation skimped on production quality for the S.A.V.E. edition since it's at a lower price point, but I've never seen such bad quality outside of an HK bootleg.  I would recommend this to female anime viewers due to the teenage girl angst and impressive visuals/fashion designs, but overall this set was a miss for me.

TO BUY and Recommendations: