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Red Garden – The Complete Series & OVA (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

October 25, 2009 by  



“From the music to the awesome voice acting in conjunction with an intriguing storyline and animation that is absolutely beautiful but yet with undertones so dark and disturbing, makes “RED GARDEN″ an anime series worth owning.  Definitely recommended!”

 

Image courtesy of © 2006 GONZO/RED GARDEN PROJECT.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Red Garden – The Complete Series & OVA

DURATION: 22 Episodes + OVA (600 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English 5.1 Dolby Surround Stereo, Japanese Stereo

COMPANY: Gonzo/FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV MA

Directed by Kou Matsuo

Series Composition by Tomohiro Yamashita

Screenplay by Juki Hanada, Mari Okada, Tomohiro Yamashita

Storyboards by Hajime Horinouchi, Kou Matsuo

Music by Akira Senju

Original Character Design by Fujijun

Character Desgin by Kumi Ishii

Art Director: Masatoshi Kai

Chief Animation Director: Kumi Ishii

Featuring the following voice talent:

Akira Tomisaka/Melissa Davis as Kate Ashley

Ayumi Tsuji/Brittney Karbowski as Rose Sheedy

Misato Fukuen/Taylor Hannah as Lise Harriette Meyer

Miyuki Sawashiro/Kara Greenberg as Claire Forrest

Ryoko Shintani/Maggie Flecknoe as Rachel Benning

Rie Tanaka/Shelley Calene-Black as Lula

Sho Saito as Chairman

Takashi Kondo/Chris Patton as JC

Takehito Koyasu/Jose Diaz as Herve Girardot

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 s-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.

What would you do if you were given a second chance at life?  Welcome to the life of four teenagers who are given a new chance at life but things are not as what you may expect.

Back in October 2006, GONZO’s “RED GARDEN” appeared on TV Asahi. The show ended at 22 episodes in March 2007 and have been collected along with one OAV in a 4-DVD box set from FUNimation Entertainment.

The series which is animated by GONZO is directed by Kou Matsuo (“Rozen Maiden” series) and featuring a screenplay by Tomohiro Yamashita (“Afro Samurai”, “Gankutsuou: The County of Monte Cristo”), Jukki Hanada (“K-On!”, “Rozen Maiden”, “Chobits” and “Popotan”), Mario Okada (“Rozen Maiden”, “Vampire Knight”, “Kodomo ni Jikan”).  Music is composed by Akira Senju (“Fullmetal Alchemist”, “Rampo”, “Mobile Suit Victor Gundam”) and character designs by artist Fujijun.

“RED GARDEN” is an anime that takes place in New York and revolves around four teenagers:

Kate Ashley – A member of GRACE, the top students who police the school for students who are late to class and to ensure that all is well at their high school but trying to cope with life after the death of her good friend Lise.

Rachel Benning – The popular girl in school, very fashionable and always wearing the most expensive clothes and partying with her friends.

Claire Forrest – Independent and outspoken. Not a student but works (or tries) to make ends meet.

Rose Sheedy – A shy girl who takes care of her siblings while her mother is hospitalized.

The four girls have nothing to do with each other but each share a common friend named Lise Meyer who has been murdered. To make matters worse, other young girls from their high school are being murdered.  But with the four main characters, another bond they share is that they can’t seem to remember what happened the night of Lise’s murder.

One night, the four are brought together and not sure why they are brought together, they wait and then a mysterious woman named Lula and her partner JC appear and tells them that they all were murdered and have been given a second chance at life.  The bodies they have now are “re-animated” and are not their original bodies and to stay alive, they will need to kill the beasts who murder at night.  They have no choice but to fight and win. Or else they die.

Of course, the four don’t believe they were murdered until they all go to visit a home that they recall visiting.  That is when they realize they were murdered and are in fact dead.  To make things worse, they are attacked by a man/monster and the four manage to survive.  They are then told that in order to live, each of them must fight these monsters when called upon every night.

The bodies they have right now, are replications of their real bodies and they can go on living their life in the real world but in order to survive, they must fight these monsters.  And there is a chance that they can go back to their original bodies but when they do, they will lose all their memories.   And of course, there are rules…if one of them doesn’t fight, they will all die.  So, the four must work together to take on these monsters.

Not knowing why this is happening, the first story arc features the y0ung women dealing with their new lives and having a difficult time with it, the second arc features an introduction of a mysterious man named H’Erve who starts dating Kate and the third arc is the revelation of who H’erve really is and the final battle between the Animus and the Dolore clan.

Other characters in Red Garden:

Lise Harriette Meyer – A friend of the four main female characters who was murdered earlier in the series and was supposed to be reanimated but was captured by Herve and is a an experiment used by Herve’s family to find a way to end their family curse.

Lula – Represents the Animus and her job is to help those re-animated and prepare them for the war against the Dolore Clan.

JC – The brother of Lula and rarely speaks.  Although women can only be animus, it is not known how he possesses the abilities as well.

Herve Girardot – Lived in the mansion where the four main characters were killed.  He wants to find a cure for his family through Lise in order to help his cousin and sister Anna who have the curse.

Paula Sinclair – The chairman of Grace who has a mysterious tie to Animus.

The following 22-episodes are featured on four DVD’s.  Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode of “Red Garden”:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Farewell, Girls – Four high school teenagers brought together by a mysterious woman and the four learn about their fate.
  • EPISODE 2 – A Cruel Night – The four young women must fight against a man who has turned into a dog.
  • EPISODE 3 – The Real Me – The four go to visit Lise’s father and attend her funeral.
  • EPISODE 4 – Where Are We Going? – Claire starts to investigate the mansion of where they were murdered.
  • EPISODE 5 – Every Window – Rachel is having a hard time with her death and starts to suffer a mental breakdown.
  • EPISODE 6 – A Small Light – The young women learn from Lula about what happens if one of them chooses not to fight and runs away from battle.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 7 – Another Fate – We learn about Herve and how his mother died when he was younger.  We also learn about his sister Anna and cousin Mireille.
  • EPISODE 8 – Go Love – The four young women accept what has happen to them and now must become friends and work as a team.
  • EPISODE 9 – Awakening – The four young women work on their personal lives.
  • EPISODE 10 – Bewilderment – Lise wakes up, while the young women take on another beast.
  • EPISODE 11 – Respective Thoughts – Kate’s sister Emma introduces her to her fiance Emilio.  Luke accuses Rachel of having an affair with a teacher.
  • EPISODE 12 – His Thoughts – Emilio’s true colors are revealed and we learn that he is trying to get close to Kate for a reason.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 13 – Holiday – The young women start to learn that their bodies have special abilities.
  • EPISODE 14 – Reason To Fight – Paula, the head of Grace seems to have knowledge of Kate and that she is dead.
  • EPISODE 15 – Sorrow & Anger – Herve goes through a breakdown after someone close to him dies.
  • EPISODE 16 – Painful Lie – Herve reveals to Kate about the history of the Animus and Dolore clan.
  • EPISODE 17 – The Truth – Kate tells her friends about Herve has told her and Herve is put in jail for disobedience by his grandfather.
  • EPISODE 18 – Slight Hope – Herve and Emilio kidnap Lise.

DISC 4:

  • EPISODE 19 – Feelings That Don’t Come Across – The Dolore clan kidnaps Kate.
  • EPISODE 20 – The Room That’s Left Behind – Herve, Emilio and the three young women infiltrate Vivaleo Pharmaceuticals to go and find Kate.
  • EPISODE 21 – The Last Morning – It’s Christmas eve and the young women share what may be their final time with their loved ones.
  • EPISODE 22 – The Light – The final battle between the Animus and Dolore clan.
  • OVA – Dead Girls – We learn what has happened to the four young women hundreds of years later.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Red Garden” is definitely a unique animated series.  The animation is based on the original character designs by artist fujijun.  Needless to say that the character designs give a certain style that is fresh and almost a style you would see in classic bishojou manga series.  Also, the animation uses simplistic style for its characters that is reminiscent to 80’s animation but using modern artistic and well-painted backgrounds.  But also capturing emotions on the face of an individual quite well.  Also, CG used for certain scenes to make snow or rain.  And also different from most anime series is that “Red Garden” has a fine layer of grain added.  Overall, a stylish and fresh looking anime series that I really enjoyed watching.

As for audio, this is also another plus for the series is the fact that “Red Garden” takes place in New  York City and the English dub definitely captures the language of New York teenagers.  May it be angst, profanity, anger, it’s captured quite well.  But for the most part, both Japanese and English dubs are well done.  The English dub track is featured in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and the Japanese track is in stereo.  Personally, I chose to have stereo on all channels selected on my receiver in order to have a more immersive sound.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Red Garden – The Complete Series & OAV” comes with the textless opening and ending themes and FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

“Red Garden” is a pretty trippy, stylishly cool and original anime series.  I really enjoyed the unique storyline, character designs and everything that went into creating this anime series.

I have to admit that I was not really sure what to expect from “RED GARDEN” at first.  In the beginning, it was almost like a twisted “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but in this case, these young women are dead.  Unlike Buffy, these women do not want to be killing monsters each night and its bad enough for them having to cope with the fact that not only have they died, they now have to fulfill this obligation of fighting monsters for the rest of your life.

Is it worth living this second chance of life or is it better off dying?  The way the girls are dealing with this, how horrified they are about having to kill or be killed and seeing how the story progresses and learning about both clans is quite interesting.  I must say again,  I was quite impressed with the storyline especially how they tied things together in the “Dead Girls” OVA.

It would have been nice if there were other special features included in the anime series, especially to hear from the screenwriters and also the character designer.  Heck, even a audio commentary by the English dub talent would have been nice.  It’s important to note that this title was originally released by ADV Films back in 2007 and even back then, there were no special features but the textless opening and closing themes.

Speaking of the themes, I have to say that I really dig the animation for both the opening and closing themes.  Especially with the rockin’ ending themes by rock band LM.C.

From the music to the awesome voice acting in conjunction with an intriguing storyline and animation that is absolutely beautiful but yet with undertones so dark and disturbing, makes “RED GARDEN″ an anime series worth owning.  Definitely recommended!

 

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