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Red Garden: The Complete Series Box Set & OVA S.A.V.E.

1 rating: 3.0
Anime & Manga and Boxed Sets movie directed by Steven Foster

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 … see full wiki

Director: Steven Foster
Genre: Boxed Sets, Animation
1 review about Red Garden: The Complete Series Box Set...

A Domestic-set Horror Mystery

  • Sep 1, 2009
Red Garden is one of those rare anime titles that slips through the cracks as far as placing it into a single genre is concerned. It spans a pretty wide variety of subjects and pacing but at its core is a basically a mystery laced with supernatural undertones. But before we get ahead of ourselves here, let's take a look at the hard facts.

Originally released in individual season sets by ADV Films, this set represents the first time the complete series with OVA is being released to the public. Coming in at a total runtime of 600 minutes, Red Garden The Complete Series spans 4 discs and comes packaged as a pair of thin packs within a cardboard slipcase.

The show wears an appropriate TV MA (17+) rating, which is due to some disturbing imagery and horror-themes and some segments loaded with gore/ violence.

Language options are typical sub & dub meaning the option of original Japanese dialog track (in Stereo) or an English dub (Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound) and English subtitles available under either language choice.

The breakdown consists of 22 episodes and the OVA, and of course, a nice host of Funimation trailers.

To explain the show to someone who has never seen it would go something like this: A wave of teen suicides washes over New York City (not Tokyo for once) and we follow the exploits of four teenage girls/ high school classmates: Kate, a rich preppy snob, Rose, family babysitter and modest personality; Rachel, party chick extraordinaire; and Claire, the quiet rebel.

The girls all wake up one morning only to discover that they cannot remember anything of the night before.

Things really get creepy when an old woman informs them that their proverbial cards have already been pulled and though they still appear alive, death is on its way to claim each girl.

While this all sounds terribly hopeless, there is a way to cheat destiny in that when called upon on certain nights, they are to engage in brutal and bloody battles against evil human-dogs. By day, they have to go on as if nothing's out of the ordinary (and here you thought staying awake in high school was hard enough when you stayed up to watch Letterman).

The visuals of the show seem to be either a love or hate affair (kind of like Gonzo's other contemporary remakes Gankutsuou and Romeo x Juliet). Gone are the typical wide-glassy eyes of anime girls and their place are bright, simplistic tones in the day, dark and gritty (borderline gothic) sequences once the sun sets.

The pacing of the show is nice and consistent with layers of the larger mystery (including what these seemingly unrelated girls have in common) being slowly revealed amidst the zombie-dog slashing action.

The voice work is fantastic in either incarnation with the English dub actually nailing the mood every bit as effectively as the original Japanese track maybe because its one of few anime titles out there set in the United States with English character names and locations. For once it actually feels like the English actors have a slight edge on the pronunciation angle.

Which brings me to my next point of interest: Like with past Gonzo properties, the attention to detail in setting and location is fantastic. Many of us have never been to Tokyo so we have to take their word for the accuracy but it becomes a different story when such national landmarks as those found in NYC become the backdrop. Gonzo deserves major credit for the scouting and research work that had to have gone into the production of this piece.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that this title is for everyone even though my critique appears quite favorable in hindsight. It takes a pretty unique set of expectations on the viewer's behalf to make the most of the experience. There are essentially two sides to the story: One resembles the atypical common cross-section of teenage schoolgirls and personality archetypes. The other could probably best be described as an animated version of popular survival-horror video games like Resident Evil. The blending of the two concepts work well in some segments but feel a little forced in others. In all though, it's nearly worth the price of admission just to take in the domestic visuals in the anime medium with enough of a mystery-driven story arc to keep the episodes moving along.

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Red Garden: The Complete Series Box Set & OVA
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