The whole thing starts with high-impact action scenes, throwing us right into the middle of the story with no warning. Much like the protagonists, who spend most of the early episodes backtracking to figure out what’s going on.
As I said, there’s a lot going on. ^_^
Among which, everything Kate, Rose, Rachel and Clare thought, assumed or knew was true in their lives…isn’t. Starting off with their lives. Because they aren’t alive any more, they’re dead. And now they have been given borrowed lives in order to fight against men who turn into demonic beasts.
These aren’t strong girls. Kate is smart, kind, a member of “Grace,” the Student Council of the school they attend. Rachel is entitled, hip and superficial. Clare appears to be tough and dirt poor, but she’s not what she seems at all, and Rose, the last of the group is sweet, poor and (understandably) a crybaby. The four have one thing in common – friendship with a girl named Lise, whose body was found in the woods, murdered.
The first volume of Red Garden introduces us the the four girls, to their lives and to their friends. We also meet Herve’, the heir to the family that appears to be “our” enemy, although why, we don’t as yet know. (Yes *we* the audience know. The characters don’t. Not yet.) And we meet Lula and her brother JC, who claim to be the four girls’ teachers, but their teaching goes like this, “Kill this guy or die. Your choice.” Lula’s not much for details.
Volume 1 is very emotional, as the girls deal with Lise’s death – and their own. There are several impromptu musical numbers. These are not sung prettily. In fact, one was so atonal that the wife asked, “What are you watching?!?” But why should we expect that average, everyday girls have fabulous voices? We shouldn’t – and they don’t. I watched the English dub for the last song, where the English VAs do pretty much the same thing – sing the song in squeaky, not particularly on-key voices.
Volume 1 is also very violent. Lots of shrieking and wailing and screaming. Rachel definitely tastes best, based on results from 3 out of 4 beast men.
Let us not forget the that Volume 1 is also quite gay. I had completely forgotten *how* gay Paula, president of Grace, is for Kate. She doesn’t bother hiding it. And she’s so focused on Kate, that Jessica doesn’t have to bother hiding how jealous it makes her. Paula’s affection is so obvious and unfettered – and not quite odious – that it doesn’t take much to see the Yuri, with or without Yuri goggles. (Paula was one of the best thing about the series, IMHO.)
The translation was very good with one exception. For some reason, every time Grace was mentioned, instead of “Student Council” for Seitokai, it was translated “student group.” I can’t even conjecture as to why. I’m fairly certain that most high schools have a Student Council, even if, like mine, they really didn’t do much.
In terms of extras – there weren’t any. Nada. No interviews, no art, nothing. But the episodes are strange, violent, action-packed and riveting, which mostly makes up for it. ;-)
I’d forgotten a lot of what happens, and missed a lot of the details the first time around. It was a good watch and I look forward to Volume 2. I definitely recommend Red Garden for a strong dose of Yuri with extra creepy flavor.
Art – 7 It takes some getting used to, but it grows on you
Story – 8 Action-filled, but still remains character driven
Characters – 8
Yuri – 4
Series – 3 Other than fans of blood, there really isn’t much, the manga has more Goth-Loli and dress-up.
Overall – 8
I keep meaning to mention this, but it always surprises me how *short* Clare is. She’s so much the tough, butchy chick that when they are all standing and Rachel is a head taller than her it makes me laugh, every time. I wish she had worn the suit from the manga at the funeral, too.
And super thanks to Daniel for sponsoring today’s review!