How to define Red Garden?
Surely this is a hard question that a lot of reviewers will face. It
isn't a straight up thriller, romance or even drama. Genres are mixed
and influences from a well known horror title - GANTZ,
loom ahead. What saves Red Garden from needing one genre to be fit
under is that it is very good (not great) at incorpotaring all those
The animation for the title is to the quality one would expect from a
show of its age. CG and 2D are incorporated effectively - and colours,
rendering and all other aspects one whould classify under the
"technical" are used to the standard advantage. The fighting sequences
could have benefitted from a little tweeking here and there but nothing
about it was distractingly bad. Everything else can easily be
classified under good to great as the character design is interesting
and edgy, especially from a fashion standpoint where characters have
been given height and swanlike necks (which are very much the standard
for catwalk models, and also a look that worked for Utena).
The costume design is equally gorgeous, with the intermissions also
featuring some delightful croquis. What I have just defined will work
for or against the show for some, as one might prefer a more staight
forward design and less stylised characters but this was apleasant
change from the usual for me.
The sound aspect was thought of quite well by the creators with the
characters given a chance to convey their emotion through song in the
early parts of the series. This was also another way the show managed
to stand out from the rest for me. This aspect was dropped later on in
the series though fortunately, the voice actors were so good at
conveying emotion just thru speech that feelings were conveyed to the
same extent anyway. It is worth noting that this anime was actually
created using a fairly revolutionary technique whereby the dubbing was
done before the show was actually animated, allowing the seiyuus to
convey their emotions to the fullest without the constraints of seeing
what the characters would look like. The only reason I am not giving
sound a 10 is because the intro and outtros are pleasant enough,
however they fail to make an impact and stand out on their own.
The storyline starts similarly to GANTZ
(which is where the similarities also stop), the main cast comes to the
realisation that they are dead and that they have been chosen to fight
possessed humans to unsure their survival on the "borrowed lives" they
were given. Unlike Gantz though, the characters do not spend the whole
of the series internalising their emotions. They break down, they let
go, they yearn, they befriend, they FEEL!
The great seiyuus allow the characters to reach you in ways few animes
can. The pain they feel, the reasons why they fight, what made them
this way - all these are explored and expressed to the same standard
one has not seen since the glory days of Saint Seiya.
Even when the story fails the characters (the end works but feels a
little rushed in parts), the seiyuus manage to make the most out of
their characters. Overall though, the story is well adapted and
although it can be a little slow at times, those parts are quite
important when one looks at the series as a whole.
I have enjoyed this anime and applaud what has been done with the main
cast in terms of development - but it might not be something I would
rewatch in a hurry as it is very plot based, and it would be difficult
to pick one episode I really enjoyed to view on its own. I would have
to view the whole thing again, and there is no need to do so for
comprehension, as the story does not have many plotholes at all.
I would put in under the titles I have enjoyed once and would watch
again if I had a lot of free time. Other shows that fit this list in my
opinion are (maybe these can also be recommendations to some):