Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
The last stand of the living dead.
Kate, Rose, Claire and Rachel are dead.
The woman in the sharp black suit named Lula had told them that but she also told them something else that gave these four girls hope. Yes, they are dead and living in borrowed bodies that look similar to their old ones but there is a chance they can reclaim their old bodies and go back living a normal life. With this news, the girls that were once strangers have found a reason to fight against an enemy that has finally revealed itself to them.
Collection 2 spans the final 10 episodes as well as includes the OVA entitled “Dead Girls” (that I will go into later) and it picks up directly after the events seen in Episode 12 of the last collection. Discovering that they can get their bodies back, another discovery is made by the girls during another battle with two monsters. Just as Rachel had did in the early episode, Kate discovers that she can jump a great distance. In fact, she can even run up walls. This leads to Kate training with Rose who – during a battle – failed to help Rachel out when she was in trouble. Being the weakest member of the group, Rose starts working out and training in hopes the she would not fail her friends again.
On top of that, Kate’s sister is dating a man that just so happens to be a close friend of Harve. Upset that the doctors in the pharmaceutical company can’t come to the aid of his “cursed” cousins, Harve discovers that his friend’s fiancée happens to be the sister of one of his enemies. Dating Harve, Kate is unaware of his intentions until Harve lies about going to a birthday party at a closed restaurant. Something is definitely up.
As I mentioned in my review of Collection 1, half the fun of Red Garden is that the anime not only focuses on the main characters’ new nightly occupation but it also touches on their personal lives that is deteriorating right before their eyes. We witness as Rose searches for his father who decided to leave the family when he lost his job. Rachel finds some platonic comfort with a teacher when she realizes that she doesn’t want to lie to Luke, the boy she likes. Even Claire begins to withdraw from her only male friend. The best moments in the series are also the bond the girls form with each another.
The series also continues to surprise with its twists as Detectives Claude and Neil find out that Lise – the girl that started these chain of events – might not be dead. The best parts come towards the end with Kate and Harve facing off and a final showdown takes place near their school where the secret of the curse finally comes into light as well as the fate that awaits the girls. While the last 12 episodes aren’t as jam-packed with action scenes, the final battle more than makes up for it.
I won’t spoil any of the other surprises the 12 episodes throws at the viewer but expect the same smart and intriguing storytelling of the early episodes. As a whole, the series is memorable and utterly brilliant at times. I also enjoyed the OVA “Dead Girls” that feels like a sort of continuation of the main story despite the fact that familiar characters show up (some of them in different roles like Luke as a thief) in a futuristic setting that also includes huge robots. It’s weird, alright, but a fun addition to the collection.
What we have here in Red Garden is a wonderfully original story that reminds us that quality animation like this is the reason we love anime so much. Red Garden, Collection 2, is the perfect finish to an otherwise smart, dark and compelling series the more mature crowd will certainly appreciate. Packed with the original OVA, I don’t see any reason not to include this one in your growing library.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The girls come closer to the truth behind the so-called curse as well as others like them. Harve’s real intentions become clearer as the girls decide to make a final stand outside the school grounds in one of the most exciting moments of this series.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is handled beautifully in this series as well as in the OVA and that the series as a whole looks amazing on DVD.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
Once again, the voice acting in this series is top notch and the powerful performances just don’t apply to the English dub either. While there’s no singing like some of the episodes in the first collection, the original score is simply gorgeous. We also thank God that iTunes carries the closing theme songs by LM.C like “Oh My Juliet.”
There are a few trailers and clean opening and closing theme songs but the real bonus comes in the “Dead Girls” OVA that is just so downright strange that it’s good
In the end, Red Garden turned out to be one of the more original and surprisingly smart supernatural tales to come along in a long time and Collection 2 is a fitting ending that definitely should not be missed if you picked up the first collection.