Red Garden (レッド ガーデン, Reddo Gāden) is a Japanese animated television program produced by Gonzo studios and broadcast in Japan on TV Asahi since October 3, 2006. The plot revolves around four girls who become involved in a series of supernatural murders happening throughout the vicinity of a fictional depiction of New York City. It combines elements from typical American movie productions like horror, drama, mystery and musicals. An OVA sequel called Dead Girls was released in Japan, on August 8, 2007.
A manga of the same title began serialization in the seinen manga magazine Comic Birz on August 30, 2006. The first tankōbon was released on February 24, 2007.
Red Garden employs a technique often used by animated productions outside Japan, but rarely used in Japanese animation. The characters' dialogue is animated after the work of the voice cast, synchronizing the animation with the voice actors' voices. The synchronization is particularly evident in scenes where characters are singing (occurring in some of the earlier episodes).
Red Garden was licensed for release in English by ADV Films for $660,000 and the first DVD was released on September 18, 2007. ADV Films' Anime Network began airing the anime on September 13, 2007 on their Subscription On Demand platform. On March 6, 2008 the anime began airing on their Free On Demand platform. FUNimation now has licensing rights to Red Garden.
Kate, Rachel, Rose, and Claire are all students at a private institution set on Roosevelt Island, New York City. Waking up one morning, all feel uneasy and restless as they deem strange that none of them can recall anything about the previous night. Their anxiety escalates when the school announces that Lise, another classmate of theirs and friend to all four girls, was found dead.
Afterwards, the following night for unknown reasons the four girls are drawn by butterflies that gather them to the same place, as if they have been summoned by something which they cannot explain. There, they are approached by a woman called Lula and her partner JC to tell them all that they are already dead, and must work for them if they do not want to disappear completely. Later she explains that the girls were reanimated on new, special bodies and their real bodies are in her custody. They are revealed to be working for an organization called Animus. Lula also claims she has the means to eventually return them to their previous lives when their job is done. Their job is killing "monsters" in the dead of night. Lula and JC will summon the girls on certain nights, and then they will fight certain "monsters" (that look almost like regular people). After a fight the girls feel drained and tired. If they fail, they will die for real.
The series also shows another character, Herve, who is trying to fight to save his cousin and his sister's lives as they are subject of a curse (that causes their complications to manifest and die), and his family are their enemies. They are the Dolore clan. It is later revealed that the two sides of the battle have Book of Curses and the reason they fight is to retrieve the book from the other side. It is because of these books that Herve's family was cursed as they stole their book from the Animus. The Animus are also cursed in that their masters have been living for several centuries. They were forced to give up what is referred to as their freedom (they are in an inanimate state) and therefore they cannot die, again the only way to lift this curse is to take the cursed book back from the Dolore family. The girls find out that if they retrieve the book from the Dolore family then it will result in them losing their memories which would mean that they could not remain with their friends and family. However, if they lose then they will die.
The four girls continue to wander in the world of ruin fighting as bounty hunters and this time they are after a wanted person.
Although they spend their days fighting, the girls also lead ordinary school life. One day a beautiful girl transferred to their school. Her name is Louise and she wanted to be friends with Kate and the others. But besides Louise another handsome youth by the name Edgar approaches Kate and her friends.
Kate Ashley (ケイト・アシュレイ, Keito Ashurei)
Voiced by: Akira Tomisaka (Japanese), Melissa Davis (English)
From an affluent family, Kate struggles to maintain her position as a member of "Grace", an elite group of girls tasked with enforcing rules and policing the student body. Of the four girls she had been the closest to Lise, and is the one who suffered most because of her friend's death. She starts to date Hervé, who is a friend of her sister's boyfriend, oblivious to his true intentions until he tells her in episode 16 that he is actually a part of the Dolore Clan and their enemy. Kate is extremely serious, and viewed as 'boring' by most people, something she admits. She cares deeply about her friends, and despises Hervé because of what he had done to her, Lise, and Emma. She is the first to develop her abilities in the group, and in the OVA, she is much quieter, but still her usual self; due to her memories being erased, she has no recollection of Lise or Hervé, and thus, she does not make the comparison in their reincarnations appearances. She creates the theme song for the 'Dead Girls' group.
Rachel Benning (レイチェル・ベニング, Reicheru Beningu)
Voiced by: Ryoko Shintani (Japanese), Maggie Flecknoe (English)
The "popular girl" stereotype and the most mentally unstable of the girls, Rachel had a boyfriend and an active social life before her untimely death. She finds it difficult to reconcile her old existence with her current situation, sometimes straining her relationship with her boyfriend. She finds comfort in talking to her Literature teacher whom she regularly meets as the cafe to talk about books as well as drink coffee. She obsesses about her nails, and fashion, and when her friend Amanda stole her boyfriend, she acted as if she didn't care, which deeply angered Amanda. Eventually, she loses all ties to her friends. She is potentially the most aggressive in combat. In the OVA, she seems to have given up on beauty and her fashionista ways, and acts much like an 'old woman'. However, due to all of her reading, she appears very smart, even designing a giant robot for battle. It was stated that she went through a wild phase in Osaka, in which she dressed in visual kei style clothing. Rose commented that it was like "a costume party every day."
Claire Forrest (クレア・フォレスト, Kurea Foresuto)
Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro (Japanese), Kara Greenberg (English)
The most independent and aggressive of the girls. She lives alone in a run-down apartment and holds part-time jobs to make ends meet. She does this despite the fact that her family is wealthy because of her strained relationship with her father, because he threw her mother out on the streets, although why is never explained. She also cares deeply about her brother Randy, and when his business fails, she is deeply angered at her father for not being there to help him (even though it was later explained that he was in Europe trying to find out who had betrayed Randy). Her race is very unclear, because both she and her brother have darker skin tones, while her father does not; it can be drawn that she is potentially bi-racial, as she has had that color since her youth. She is quick to react in battle, even bringing a baseball bat to the fights. In the OVA, she becomes much like Rachel, being extremely fashionable and manipulative with men.
Rose Sheedy (ローズ・シーディー, Rōzu Shiidii)
Voiced by: Ayumi Tsuji (Japanese), Brittney Karbowski (English)
A shy girl who won a place in the school by academic scholarship. She takes care of two younger siblings while her mother is hospitalized. Unfortunately for her friends, Rose used to lack the courage to fight and ended up only being a bother; however, after Rachel is almost killed because of her cowardice, Rose realizes that to save herself and her friends she must fight no matter how painful it may be for her. At the end of episode 18 she realises that she must live her life as best she can and not worry about what will become of her. Her father had walked out on her shortly before her mother got sick, and her friend Sarah helps her find him, and he becomes a part of the family again, which made Rose happy because she would soon disappear from their lives; that someone would be able to take care of her siblings and mother in her absence. In the OVA, she acts much like Kate does, becoming a perfectionist student, and the leader of Grace, with Jessica and Paula's reincarnations, and had even stated that "she wanted to be cool this time", suggesting that they move from place to place living new lives each time.
Lise Harriette Meyer (リーズ・ハリエット・メイヤー, Riizu Harietto Meiyaa)
Voiced by: Misato Fukuen (Japanese), Taylor Hannah (English)
She was about to be reanimated like the other girls when she was kidnapped by Hervé. Lise spent the first episodes dead and unconscious, until she was finally brought back to life but without any of her memories. Her real corpse was discovered in the woods and it is her death which draws the attention of the police. Lise is being used by Hervé's family to try and find a cure for their family's curse. As the cursed blood was injected into her, she becomes a Man-Beast whenever she makes contact with blood. She also went insane after Herve tried to kill her and her memories returned, going to the school during the final battle. She turned into ash when the tomes were returned to the Animus, possibly due to the injected blood. However, she returns in the OVA as a reincarnation of herself named Louise. Louise is an android who admires the 'Dead Girls' because they live forever.
Hervé Girardot (エルヴェ, Eruve)
Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese), Jose Diaz (1-16), Quentin Haag (17-22) (English)
The mysterious man who lived in the mansion where the five girls were murdered. Hervé witnessed his mother being killed after she fell victim to the family's curse and transformed in a monster. His sister and cousin, the last two female members of his family, started to show the symptoms, much to his despair. Hervé feels that the family's efforts to find a cure through Lise will result in the abandonment of attempts to cure his sister and cousin. He manipulates Kate, and is the main antagonist in the series. However, he meets his downfall at the hands of not the Animus, but his own sister Anna instead; he had lost mobility due to the wounds inflicted by Lula (she ripped out his sides), and then when Anna began to change, she attacked him as well. He was forced to crush her spine, killing her, and died of sustained wounds and major blood loss (the girls followed a trail of blood to his location); even if Anna hadn't attacked him, the amount of bleeding from both sides would've killed him.
Lula (ルーラ, Rūra)
Voiced by: Rie Tanaka (Japanese), Shelley Calene-Black (English)
Along with her brother JC, she is the contact between the girls and Animus, the organization at war with Hervé's family and those who reanimated them. She knows much more than she let on, and claims the less the girls figure out about the situation they are in, the better. She is much like the girl's, and is simply an innocent victim as well, who just wanted to be with her brother forever. As such, she was extremely sad when Herve killed JC. In the final battle, she is killed by Hervé, but not before inflicting wounds that eventually led to his death. She is extremely powerful in combat, although she is occasionally overwhelmed by Herve, who was about to kill her, until JC stepped in and was killed in her place. As she lay dying during the final episode, the girls cradled her, pleading with her not to die, because they hated her for bringing them into this, saying that if she died, they would have to forgive her, showing that they did indeed respect Lula. Lula's reincarnation has no ties with the animus in the OVA, but happens to be the neighbor of the Dead Girls, in a much happier version of herself.
Voiced by: Takashi Kondo (Japanese), Chris Patton (English)
Lula's brother. A man of few words, he can almost seem as if he has no personality. While he supports Lula's actions, he is also very empathic toward the four girls. His full name, as revealed in episode 21, is Jeremy Charles Ferhlan. He dies as a result of a battle with Hervé, and later he is buried in episode 18.
Voiced by: Wataru Hatano (Japanese), Leraldo Anzaldua (English)
A cousin of Hervé, he tends to be more level-headed and more rational than Hervé and at times he seems to be more sympathetic to the four girls than his brother. He is first introduced to the story as the boyfriend of Kate's sister, Emma.
Voiced by: Megumi Kobayashi (Japanese), Lesley Tesh (English)
The chairman of the group 'Grace'. She appears to be close to Kate, and cares for Kate deeply, and constantly excuses her from Grace work and responsibilities. It is revealed that she does in fact love Kate, and her family are members of Animus, although Paula herself is not. Her grandmother, the headmistress of the school, is one of the leaders of Animus. As such, Paula knew everything that Kate was put through, which is why she stood up for Kate and excused her, attempting to make life less difficult. Paula is potentially Kate's most treasured friend, as before the Final battle, she spent the day and night with Paula. In the OVA, Paula's reincarnation is still a member of Grace, although, this time, Rose Sheedy is the chairman.
List of episodes:
"Jolly Jolly" by JiLL-Decoy association (JIRUDEKO),
"Rock the LM.C" by LM.C,
"Oh my Juliet" by LM.C,
Supervision: Kou Matsuo,
Original idea / Series constitution: Tomohiro Yamashita,
Script: Tomohiro Yamashita,
Character original idea: Jun Fuji,
Animation character design: Kumi Ishii,
Animation director: Masatoshi Kai,
Sound director: Toshiki Kameyama,
Music: Akira Senju,
Color design: Hiroichi Furuichi,
Visual coordinator: Kentarou Sasaki