Red Garden – Mini Review

A Gonzo Show! I loved it… Right?

Image result for red garden animeYou might not have heard of this bizarre anime from the Fall 2006, so let me do my best to explain this one a bit. Wish me luck:  

A series of strange suicides have been plaguing New York. Four girls from an elite high school find themselves in a strange situation when they realize their friend is one of the suicide victims. That’s when the butterflies appear and rip Kate, Claire, Rachel, and Rose from their normal lives. They are all quite different, but circumstance has forced them together. Upon following the butterflies, they meet a man and a woman who inform them that they are dead and now must fight for their right for continued existence.

Image result for red garden anime

That, or I could have just said, this is a lot like Twilight but if it were somehow more poorly written, acted, and WAY more enjoyable. Even if horror-comedy-musical-tragedies aren’t normally your thing, you may very well still want to check out Gonzo’s Red Garden. Let’s dive right in and find out why.

OMG, I’ve never seen this trailer before. Most anticipated horror-action of the YEAR guys! 

The first big thing about Red Garden is that director, Kou Matsuo, has this weird fascination with Western media. One thing in particular being musicals. For the first handful of episodes in the series, sometimes a random, in-character musical number breaks out. These don’t add anything to the show, but knowing that was enough to peak my interest.

What’s more is the crazy story format. It jumps all over the place. Sometimes it is a slasher show, a comedy, romance, etc… when I read about the plot a few years back, I just knew that this level of out-there was something I’d enjoy. I was right too, but it also was more of a slog to watch than expected.

Red Garden suffers immensely from pacing. This isn’t helped by the inconsistent format, poor acting, and generally bad writing. Plot wise, it actually isn’t hard to follow, but the dialog and events are an absolute mess.

The Western influence did bring about some more interesting things for the show though. For example, setting the show in New York, most notably Roosevelt Island, was a nice touch. The girls, while design wise not always the best, wore unique outfits that were generally believable. Additionally, the socioeconomic differences between its cast were more highlighted here, even though they all attend a rather prestigious school.

There were a lot of little touches like that in Red Garden that added to its depth when it wasn’t being a totally bonkers genre blend of a story. It also knew how to restrain itself and tell human stories that actually mattered. They were far-and-few between, but it was a nice break from the supernatural drama.

In essencethis is a vampires vs werewolves story. The girls are newly-made vampires, except they suck lemons instead of blood. Really, they are more like zombies, but the show also gives them vampire powers. Werewolves are part of this other clan and are the rivals of the vampires.

Both sides are under a curse due to some dumb thing that happened a long time ago. They each resent the other side, and want to solve their own problem without helping their rivals. However, there is a twist. If the girls win the day, they’ll lose all of their memories and become immortal.

Upon this revelation the Red Garden really gives this time. The final battle brought things to a fairly decent close, and the series ended on a decent note. Then the OVA happened.

The OVA takes place far into the future and all of the girls have taken on new personalities. They have no memory of who they once were either. For whatever reason, all the other characters are also in this OVA, which ends up being funnier than expected. The OVA turns things into a futuristic sci-fi action-mystery with mecha in it for good measure. Seriously, it is bizarre.

That’s the appeal of Red Garden though. It’s so utterly unique and interesting that calling it outright bad would be a disservice. It certainly isn’t good, but it does entertain. There are some very slow bits, but ultimately, it was worth the watch.

I should note that watching this either in Japanese or English made no difference. Both tracks are intentionally done poorly. I went with English because it was easier to understand and the atrocious singing was a lot funnier to me. You’ll probably want to flip subtitles on for at least that though, you can’t understand them well when they sing. Partially because they are BAD, but also because it is really quiet.

Sorry the quality isn’t the best. This was the only good example I could find. Check out the OP & ED’s for the show though, those are legit good.

I’ll link to one of the songs here so you can see what I mean. It’s probably the best way to sell you on the show, as counter intuitive as that may sound. Gonzo certainly has put out a lot of shows I’ve loved, and while Red Garden doesn’t quite measure up to their other works, I still think this one was a valuable edition to my collection.

Have you seen Red Garden? Be sure to share your thoughts. Additionally, what is your favorite Gonzo show? There are a lot to choose from! If you enjoyed this article, consider dropping me a donation via the button bellow. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

Chio’s School Road – Mini Review

Inconsistently Funny

Image result for chio's school roadI’m not sure what exactly got me to watch Chio’s School Road but I did. It’s an ecchi-comedy series centered on the titular Chio and her misadventures getting to school. Well, sort of, because half the time it doesn’t even seem like getting to school matters at all. When it comes to comedy anime, I tend to be a lot more picky and the ecchi component definitely didn’t help but there were some pretty high points for the series.

The first episode of Chio shows off how her character totally gets absorbed into video games and then tries to mimic them on the way to school. Later her personality expands to show she’s kind of a loser who idolizes delinquent type behavior. As a premise this is pretty solid.

As more characters were introduced, however, the show became worse for it. While Chio’s friend, Manana was alright, the later of inclusion of characters such as Kushitori actively hurt the show. Being an ecchi comedy, it falls for the trap of making sexual assault the punchline to jokes whenever Madoka, and later her homeless sensei, are on screen. There were other times where you would see panties kind of just for the sake of it too. Not exactly the greatest.

Still there were three jokes that landed particularly well for me that absolutely made the show worth watching overall. The first is the initial revolving joke about how Chio is secretly this super powerful underworld leader named, “Bloody Butterfly” due to a misunderstanding between her and a biker gang leader, Aundo. This whole ordeal gets pretty out of hand to the point where people think that Chio has a special move to summon (poor CG; makes it so much funnier) butterflies to kill people with.

Image result for chio's school road bloody butterfly

It’s become kind of this running joke with my friend who watched the show with me to exclaim about the Bloody Butterfly in the style of the exaggerated voice acting whenever we see butterflies in anime. I’ve been watching Red Garden with him, and trust me, this makes that show even funnier than it already is.

The second big moment for me in the show is the cat dance thing. I just really love that. I’m going to just leave the clip below for you. It’s also funnier in context but man, still so good.

Crunchyroll put out an official clip at some point but it seems to be gone now? Here’s the best version I could find. Also, the VA’s did the dance IRL too so you can check that out here.

As for the final thing that had me laugh was when the show did a blooper roll for the final episode. They even animated the characters flubbing lines and such. More shows could really benefit from this kind of thing, even if it were short. While not every blooper lands, they are still pretty funny. Additionally they followed up with a, “next season” preview type thing of a bunch of out-of-context scenes that were just kind of ridiculous.

Usually I don’t bother mentioning this but given the choice watch this subbed. I caught a glimpse of the dub, and as a dub fan, it is pretty terrible. It ends up being a lot of yelling and flat joke delivery that is monumentally less funny than its Japanese counterpart. If you enjoyed the dub, power to you, but I couldn’t sit through even five minutes of it.

Despite being hit-or-miss, with slightly more misses than hits, it wouldn’t be entirely right to say that Chio isn’t worth watching. This is one that you’re going to have to try out but I’d give it an episode or two due to the nature of the show. The little comedy skits were pretty amusing and the few that had me laughing, got me hard, so there is something there.

Did you watch Chio’s School Road? What were your thoughts on the series? If you haven’t seen this one yet, do you think you might check it out now? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments. If you feel like helping me out with money because you like reading my thoughts on things, please hit my donation button below. And, as always, thank you for reading!