Butterflies and dresses: Red Garden

NB: Some of my earliest blogs no longer have their accompanying images but enjoy the copy!

Due to my not having any internet for the last two weeks, Aisha has kindly stepped up to the challenge to bring you this week’s post. Enjoy her review of ‘Red Garden’, a new release from MVM Entertainment.

‘Red Garden’ brings back a lot of memories for me, it is a Japanese anime produced by Gonzo studios which originally came out in 2006. It was also a manga series in Comic Birz , 2006. The plot revolves around four random girls at the same school who become involved in a series of supernatural murders. One common factor links them, their dead friend Lisa. It has a real American suspense to it and aptly done so as it is based in New York.
After school announces Lisa’s death, the turn of events gets weirder for the main characters. They find themselves tired every morning without recollection of the night before. Then, for reasons unknown, the four girls are drawn by red butterflies that gather them in the same place. There, they are approached by a woman called Lula and her partner JC to tell them all that they are already dead.
Later, events are pieced back into their memory and they now have to work for their lives. They are revealed to be working for an organization called ‘Animus’. Lula also claims she has the means to eventually return them to their previous lives when their job is done. Their job is killing “monsters” – sounds easy enough, right? Get a gun…? Oh wait, they have to do it using their bare hands. This could get tricky. Lula and JC summon the girls sporadically, and they fight certain human looking “monsters” who then disappear.
What puzzles me is that the girls are chosen at random to do this and while they battle to survive, other girls are being killed and put into the same situation. No one is bothered nor to the authorities look into the many missing girls. The girls are at least realistically scared and untrained so they start from scratch; being scared out of their wits then accepting their fates and learning to battle or survive.
The  production of ‘Red Garden’ is interesting in that the producers employed a technique often used by animated productions outside Japan, but rarely used in Japanese industry itself. For example, adding the characters’ dialogue animation after the voices have been recorded. I noticed the synchronization is particularly evident in scenes where characters are singing.
The art looks a bit grainy at times but I pay more attention to the ladies’ outfits, I do like they how have different outfits everyday, rather than living in the one outfit in their fantasy anime world. The music is quite jazzy at the beginning and end, which seems out of place when actually watching the anime with the talents of  LM.C and JiLL-Decoy association (JIRUDEKO).
OVA: Dead Girls
Also included in the boxset is an OVA called Dead Girls, originally released in 2007.  The four girls continue to wander in the world of ruin fighting as bounty hunters and this time they are after a specific wanted person. Carrying on their double lives, they encounter a  beautiful transfer student called Louise and she tries to befriend them. They also meet the handsome young man, Edgar.
‘Red Garden’ starts as a mystery anime, making me hold out for a shocking conclusion or great plot building. Sadly I was left confused and almost bored with the human ‘monsters’ and the point of the organisation.
The characters did not have much personality but at least they had fashion sense. Beautiful animation and music, teamed with a terrible story. ‘Dead Girls’ was a interesting addition but far from a saving grace of the whole series.
For more great reviews on anime, games and events from Aisha & the @animeukshow  team check out wearearcade.com

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