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Red Garden, Vol. 2: Breaking the Girls

ADV Films // Unrated // November 20, 2007
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted January 12, 2008 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

Admittedly I'm not the biggest fan of the horror genre when it comes to anime. Sure I've watched the occasional title like Hellsing, Demon Prince Enma, and Gantz but on the whole I don't necessarily go out of my way to get spooked by animation. Honestly, that "spooking" doesn't generally happen for me because, after all, these are animated shows. A certain mood has to be set with a certain quality presented through the atmosphere to really draw me in. ADV's latest release, Red Garden does just that.

Produced by GONZO Red Garden appears to be a labor of love because just about every aspect of it breaths inspiration. The way the voice acting was handled, the manner with which it was visually styled, and the scripting were a cut above the rest before it was even released. Given the fact that there are 22 episodes to play with the series has a lot of room for developing the interesting premise and after watching the first volume it appeared as though it was in no rush to do so.

Red Garden takes place in a twisted version of New York rather than in Japan as told typically by most anime. The show focuses on four girls who attend a private institution set on Roosevelt Island. Like you'd expect from a snooty private school the girls have formed their own little group called Grace who governs most of the student body. Essentially it's a club for elite girls to get together and do what snobbish young females do. One fateful night all of that changed.

In the first volume we watched as Kate, Rachel, Rose, and Claire woke up to discover that they couldn't recall what happened the night before. Shortly thereafter the death of one of their friends, Lise, is announced and the sense of foreboding sets in on the girls. Later that evening Kate, Rachel, Rose, and Claire are led by strange butterflies to a weird place where they meet a man and a woman. They learn that they are in fact dead (or undead as it were) and possess supernatural powers. From there the show promoted a ton of questions about the girls, what exactly happened, who these strangers were, and generally, what the hell was going on.

The second volume essentially picks up where the previous left off with the four girls coming to terms with their new state of existence. As you would expect being told that they are to be undead warriors doesn't sit very well with their fragile psyche as is but add to that the amount of blood and monsters they have to face and you have a psychiatrist's nightmare. The episodes here were equally slow in pacing as the first installment but I found them to be far more compelling.

As each of the girls follows the butterflies to their targets they begin to feel despair well up inside of them. Kate, Rachel, Rose, and Claire handle their emotions and situation quite differently and let's just say that some take the truth better than others. One thing is for certain while watching these episodes though; the girls are each coming to grips with reality much better than they did in the first volume. They aren't quite handling things as a "matter of fact" yet though it's safe to say that their acceptance of things has strengthened. I'm definitely curious to see how this will play out in the future as the situations become much more diverse and we receive more answers.

For the time being Red Garden remains a very intriguing and unique supernatural horror anime with many layers of depth. The characters haven't really evolved or developed to a point where we know them to the core but with the way the series displays its concept I'm sure that's something we'll see in the future. If you're looking for a cool horror series then you'll definitely want to give this a spin. GONZO did a fantastic job on the production of it and all around the first two volumes have remained entertaining.

The DVD:


Red Garden was originally released in 2006 and wrapped up broadcast earlier this year. ADV's attentiveness and desire to pick this release up shows thanks to the quick turnaround time from airing to DVD release here in the States. The series is presented here with an anamorphic widescreen transfer that features boatloads of quality. The artwork is solidly represented with bold design and a striking palette of color. Seriously, there is a lot of contrast in the video here and the slight amount of grain that appears over most scenes doesn't detract from its beauty. GONZO is no stranger when it comes to producing quality anime from a visual standpoint and in that regard Red Garden looks great on DVD.


As far as the dubbing quality in Red Garden is concerned I was very impressed. The original 2.0 Japanese language track conveyed emotion and feeling in ways that few anime are able to emulate. It appeared to me that the animation was developed to stay in line with the audio because the two come together more naturally than you typically see with anime. The 5.1 English dub holds up well in this regard with nearly identical quality. As you'd expect you have to give and take some things with the new language track and in this regard the songs don't sound as good and the emotional impact isn't as strong.

Technically speaking both tracks do well with their presentations. The 2.0 Japanese selection is somewhat limited with its range and you can expect the front channels to maintain the audio as well as could be. The 5.1 English offering spruces the sense of immersion up a tad with some nice sound effects but it's not as powerful as it could have been. This is a horror anime and if the little hairs on the back of your neck don't stand up then the rear channels aren't doing their job. Still, both tracks are decent enough with no flaws to report.


Clean animations are once again the only feature available for this volume.

Final Thoughts:

When it comes to horror anime I don't go out of my way to watch a lot. Red Garden is a new series that makes me glad I did. The series has developed nicely and though we don't get the sensation that we "know" each of the girls quite yet their tale is certainly interesting. This is a strong follow up to the first volume and after popping in the disc I couldn't stop watching until the eighth episode ended. Anyone looking for a quality horror series should definitely give this one a spin.

Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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