Episode One-Derland: Red Garden

Plot: Kate, Rachel, Claire and Rose are all from different walks of life, but they have one thing in common – they’re dead….But not really. Well, yes, they are, but they’re still walking around and interacting with people – anyway, they don’t remember anything about the night they died, but mysterious ‘teachers’ show up to guide them…to murder?

Breakdown: I had plot synopsyes from other websites that I could have ripped from, but I like writing my own. So if that plot sounds confusing it’s only because this first episode is really confusing.

I didn’t know much about Red Garden going in and I pretty much still don’t, even after reading a couple of reviews on it. It tends to get middle of the road reviews, and that seems to be because the final four episodes are terrible. Several reviews I read treated this series as if it would have been near masterpiece level had the ending four episodes not been so rushed and terrible. The THEM review on it made it sounds like a damn car crash of plot development.

To tell you the truth, that almost put me off altogether, because I can stand watching a bad anime or just a couple of episodes of a bad anime to get my chuckles in, but if you give me a good anime and then tell me its finale is terrible, I feel like I’ll be investing a lot just to end up disappointed.

One of the reasons for the initial confusion is that the first episode keeps jumping between the girls. For a good chunk of the run time, it’s just constantly reminding us that the girls don’t remember what happened the night before and they’re all sleepy and feeling ill.

The opening scene does show all of the girls, now unconscious, being transported back to their houses, and we learn a friend of Kate’s, Lise, went missing and was found dead in the woods under mysterious circumstances. Everything culminates in the end with all of the girls being lead to a location in a park by a bunch of butterflies that only they seem to be able to see. They meet two people, clad in black, who introduce themselves as their teachers before instructing them to kill a nearby man who turns out to be a monster.

It’s staged very much like a thriller, which I like, but it doesn’t change the fact that the first episode is confusing. I think it does enough to keep my attention and make me want to learn more, however.

The art and animation will take some getting used to. Everyone’s very lanky with big lips and smaller eyes than you typically see in anime. It’s not really bad, but it’s just weird to me. Not my cup of tea.

The music in general is pretty nice and the voice acting is also decent.

THEM noted that this series has a very awkward habit of having the girls, for no reason, suddenly break out into sad songs and mentioned that their voice actresses just could not sing worth a damn. I honestly didn’t think anything of it when I read that, but when Kate started singing….yikes.

I was going to give her some slack because she was grieving her friend so it was probably just her emotions affecting her voice, but…..no. There’s a difference between putting emotion into your voice and sounding like someone is gently strangling you as you sing. I shouldn’t be visibly flinching at points during your song.

Continue Yes

While I am going to be very wary of the final four episodes, many people still seemed to enjoy it in its entirety just fine, and I think it’s worth a roll of the dice. Nothing’s really reaching out to me as ‘masterpiece’ worthy or even all that great, but I still think it will be interesting and hopefully explore some cool ideas.


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