I liked the anime for Red Garden enough that, when a manga became available I jumped right on it. The combination of likeable characters, solid horror/action plot and Yuri worked just fine for me. The fact that the one actual lesbian character wasn’t diminished in any way, did not die or become psychotic or any other predictable negative outcome, just added to my overall enjoyment. (My prediction in my review was, therefore, completely wrong. And I’m thrilled.) In fact, I thought the whole situation was handled beautifully.
So, I was really interested to see what Gonzo was going to do with the manga for Red Garden. And while it is definitely different from the anime, I’m still liking it pretty much.
The artist for the manga, Ayamura Kirihito, doesn’t appear to have done any other manga, although he does have some art collections, and a really creepy doll photo book. And dolls really seem to be his interest. So the art for Red Garden is very lush with a strong preference for GothLoli, and a tendency towards the grotesque…while being really violent and horrific at the same time. There’s some scenes where Lula, in particular, would have fit in neatly on any page from Hellsing.
The basic plot is the same: four young women attending a school on Roosevelt Island in New York City, bound only by separate friendships with a dead girl, learn that they too have died but are not yet allowed to rest in peace. Instead, under the guidance of mysterious Lula, they are forced to fight off beast-men for what reason they don’t yet know. (Not, at least, at the end of Volume 1.)
The characters are the same, still likeable; with a little less character development than went on the anime. I think that if one read the manga first, Kate, Rose, Rachel and Clare would be a little less approachable than they were in the anime, where a lot of time was spent with each on their personality and backstories.
The art *is* different from the anime – Herve’ is evil right off the top, and Kate in particular has a tendency to have hyperdramatic glowing 70’s shoujo “shock!” eyes (if you know what I mean, you know what I mean) which gets a little tired by halfway through the volume.
Rose gets a GothLoli makeover which suits her, and both Lize and Kate tend that way too, which doesn’t. I have NO idea what Rachel is supposed to look like. Not a New York rich girl, certainly. lol Clare gets hit with the butch stick – apparently right out of the Mod closet. Her slightly flared-pants men’s suit for Lize’s funeral was really hot. It’s too bad about Clare, really – she would make such a good lesbian. ^_^
In terms of Yuri, for this volume at least, it’s the same as in the anime – Paula is very gay for Kate and doesn’t bother hiding it. I just hope that, like the anime, she remains cool and graceful to the end. But Jessica’s little thing gets a steroid injection to a bout of insane jealous rage, which has her giving Kate openly evil “Die, I hate you” looks throughout the volume. So we have at least *one* psychotic lesbian. Phew.
Otherwise – lots and lots of blood and violence, evil, horror, mystery, underlit grinning faces, etc, etc. Just the kind of thing you want to read while eating a rare steak. LOL
Art – wildly inconsistent, ranging from “eww” 3 to “wah” 8
Story – 6 intruguing, but a little weak
Characters – 7 we’ll hope to learn more as we go along
Yuri – 5 ahh, psychotic schoolgirls and their crushes, how sweet
Service – 3, unless violence gets you off, I guess, then 7
Overall – 7
I’m really hoping that future volumes go deeper into the characters, but as this is Gonzo, I suspect it won’t get that chance. The color pictures the author has done are really pretty though. Check out his website for some examples.