Winter 2007 Anime Season: Red Garden

January 19th, 2007

Like Code Geass, Red Garden is a series that is more properly attributed to the Autumn 2006 anime season, but I’ve been too lazy busy to review it until now.

The plot is still a bit obscure, and I am not sure how much will be or can be explained. But in short, four high school girls learn that they are technically dead, but have been given a second life in order to fight off diseased men who become beast-like. So it kind of has a vampire-y, werewolf-y, undead, creature of the night feel to it. Both the reason the men change (attributed vaguely to a curse) and the reason the girls should kill them is left rather shadowy at the time I write this, which is probably midway through the anime. We learn that the family whose men are affected by the curse are attempting to reverse it. Which side is good, and which is bad – or if there is indeed a bad/good, right/wrong, we have yet to learn. And we may never learn it, frankly, which would be no detriment to the story.

The four girls involved have absolutely nothing in common, except that they attend the same school, which is supposed to be set on Roosevelt Island in New York City. The cityscapes are one of the many things I like about the series. The high school is exceedingly un-New York like, however. ^_^

The first of our four and, indubitably, our heroine, is Kate. Kate seems to be a “regular” kind of girl. Smart, pleasant, boring. As the story opens she is dealing with not only her own horrific situation, but also the apparent suicide of her best friend Lise. Lise, like Kate and the others, is not at all what everyone thinks she is.

Rose is a “poor girl”. Her mother is hospitalized and she works hard to take care of her two much younger siblings and keep their family together. Rose is naive, timid and kind-hearted.

Claire represents a different kind of character altogeher. She appears to be extremely poor, but there’s a story there that belies her whole existence. She is a loner too, but that’s about to change. Let’s call her “outcast” girl.

And completing our primary characters is Rachel, our “cool” girl. She is trendy, fashionable, cool and superficial. At the beginning.

These four find themselves becoming friends through circumstance, and then, just because. But the circumstance remains – they must fight these beast-men, together.

I can’t tell you a lot about the story, because it’s not over yet and there’s no real way to tell where it’s going. (I don’t read fan forums and I’m content to watch it play out. So if you think you’ll be clever and spoil it for me with a comment, don’t. Please.) I can tell you that there is decent enough writing going on – even in the mostly cliched plot complications. ^_^ And I liked the fact that in the early episodes, the main characters would suddenly start singing – not well, mind you – and sort of express their feelings that way. It was a bit like watching a musical, without the sticky music or good singing voices.

Okay, so for Yuri. Kate is a yuri magnet, without a doubt. We learn that she and Lise had an exchange diary and that they were very close. fandom will undoubtedly interpret that as *very* close.

Kate is also a member of “Grace,” the name for the school’s student council. Because of her new circumstances she’s been late recently, hanging with a bad crowd and other un-Grace like things. Another member of Grace, Jessica, is seeking to remove Kate from the Council, but is continually blocked by Paula, the council president. (Remember what I said about “Student Council President”? It’s totally the new code for “lesbian.”) Paula is incredibly supportive of Kate – and rather touchy too. Stroking, hugs, holding hands, all in the name of friendship. As Kate has developed a mild case of boyfriend mid-series, I see that crashing, and soon, around Paula’s feet. I predict that she will become Kate’s number one enemy, and not ever know why she feels so betrayed. I also await a flood of Paula x Kate art and stories. Yesterday on the 2chan Yuri board, I saw a simple comment that fully expressed what I see:

Jessica → Paula → Kate.

Yup.

Although I’d wager that Jessica’s jealousy lacks that crucial ounce of desire that would make it “Yuri.” She’s just jealous of Paula being so easy on Kate and paying so much attention to her. “Normal” friend jealousy.

And lastly, I’ve already seen artwork pairing Rose with either Kate or her best friend whose name is escaping me as a I type.

Kate herself appears pretty straight, as do all the others. Shame about Claire, though, she’d make an admirable lesbian. ^_^

What makes this series work for me is that around the unreal storyline, the four main characters appear to be handling real(ish) issues realistically. Certainly consistently with their personalities, anyway. So despite the high pretension level, and the perhaps incoherent plot, the characters are very strong and very likable. With some fanon Yuri.

Ratings:

Art – 3
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – Paula – 8 (she is so gay); other than Paula – 2
Service- 1

Overall – 7

I found it amusing that last week at my house, I was watching a vampire/undead-type anime with girls as the main characters and some mild Yuri, while the wife was watching a vampire/undead-type anime with boys as the main characters and some mild BL.  ^_^

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5 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    LOL, was she watching Gungrave?

  2. And I’m glad to report that I was wrong about Paula. Her confession was very beautiful and she and Kate stay friends until the end of the series. So yay for me being wrong.

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