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Red Garden - 1

I have a low tolerance for shows I can't get into within the opening minutes. It's not that I expect opening sequences to be great all the time, within reason. The most recent example being Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge (Perfect Girl Evolution), where both the anime and the manga were similarly ugly as sin -- but the humour survives as a testament to what happens when the Ring girl in her well gets her own shoujo manga. That is, I tend to expect a show with a damn ugly opening sequence to have something worth speaking about in terms of the story even more than other shows. I have yet to find all that many shows that question this snap judgment. It is a snap judgment. In the way I trust my instincts to tell me if a story is lousy within the opening lines, I trust the same instincts to tell me if a show will make me run away screaming by the way the opening sequence pans out.

And that doesn't happen here, or at least, in not enough of a proportion to justify itself. After one and a half minutes of flowers, bright colours and a blatantly girly soundtrack, we open with five unconscious girls delivered home in the wee hours of the morning by the men in black. One of the cars the girls are traveling in gets attacked by zombies and crashes. The next morning, the NYPD (yes, it's set in New York, where everyone speaks Japanese) find the body of the girl from the car that was attacked in the woods. They figured she committed suicide, but note that this is the fifth time this month they've found a girl in that condition. So far so good, right?

We cut to an exclusive private school, where all four of the remaining girls are students. The prefects wear gosurori gear, because only prefects get to wear school uniforms that look like German milkmaid gothic lolita outfits as approved by Moi-même-Moitié. An announcement is made about Lisa, the dead girl, after which, classes for the day are cancelled. Kate, best friend of Lisa and one of the girls from the night before, breaks into song. Yes, that's right. She breaks into a sad song about wanting to be with her missing friend. A moment of true brain hiccupery, this. I cannot imagine the storyboard that came up with this one, and this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a musical. Anyway, it also turns out that none of the four girls remembered anything about the night before. They also develop the ability to see butterflies that no one else can ("Jigokuchou!" -- Hamp) and are being stalked by the ugliest woman alive and her dashing lackey.

The butterflies summon all four girls to a park later that night, where the ugly woman tells them they've all died the night before. Oh, and like, there's a zombie coming down the street at the moment, which they'll have to kill with their bare hands. Red-tinged flashback of Resident Evil proportions!

Followed by a horrible hiphop-tinged rock ending sequence not even worth speaking of beyond one sentence.

So. After the first episode of Red Garden, I'm tempted to throw it away. It's melodrama. Horrible melodrama, especially when the girl starts singing. I want to find out more about the dead girls, especially with regards to that Resident Evil-like death sequence at the end, but the melodrama doesn't want me to.

I should mention I came into this show by way of the ridiculous promotional poster I saw on AniDB. Notice its slightly interesting juxtaposition of good art with terrible 60s-style girl exploitation action movie poses and weird frilly dresses. Having said that, the art in the show is gorgeous. Very Gilgamesh, so it's up to personal taste in that respect, but I find it works. The girls themselves are actually pretty, barring the one girl with Barbara Streisand's nose and Pippi Longstockings' hair. The clothes are classy. Someone has been doing his or her fashion homework. If the plot managed to be less boring, or somehow less girly, it might've even been watchable for me. But it's not. And I trust my instincts on this.

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