Red Garden is a very much, mixed bag. To get it out of the way, you should know that the 22-episode TV run does not resolve the story entirely, and it continues on in OAV form slated for August of this year.
But I think I was pretty satisfied with the run. It didn’t stray from my expectations, and it was an entertaining climb to the climax when the series shifted gears at around the half-way mark (accompanied by a new ending that clued us in as to its theme).
Actually, if I had to draw comparisons to Red Garden, it would be with Gilgamesh. If you enjoyed Gilgamesh, you probably will enjoy Red Garden as well, I guess; the persona of Kiyoko is split amongst our four protagonists, and you get the Countess in all of the female cast put together.
But unlike its post-apocalyptic slosh of Babylonian decadency, Red Garden paints a very…weird picture of upper-class NYC urban utopia? I suppose having first and second-hand experience with a lot of the stuff in the show makes me look at it with a particular bias, but I think it’s quite safe to say that don’t believe a thing from Red Garden that actually is true in New York. Heck, I’m not even sure they got Coney Island right, and that they can just mimic from actual films!
Aside from the general dysfunction and failure for a Japanese anime to mimic American urban life (looks like they just used Tokyo urban life for the average Japanese and added a few NY quirks to it), the show has a bit of pacing problem. Part of it comes from its unusual homage to musicals, music, and the dramatic. For one, what the hell was with breaking into songs in the first 4 episodes? I guess, sure, music does play a big part in the show, in setting the mood, in cluing us in from the OP and ED themes, and some of it is even substantive (like in episode 23), but…? I don’t get it.
Well, enough slamming. I thought the show ended much like how a classic tragedy would. Once they opened up the can of feuding clans and ancient curses, I didn’t expected much aside from a classic, Shakespearean brawl (complete with tragic dying speeches) to put it to an end. It was amusing, it was dramatic, it was a bit of a farce (but not as bad as Gilgamesh), and it was solid entertainment. Nothing less for Tomohiro Yamashita I guess.
And not only that, it’s well-decorated. The JP site has some sets and designs for you to browse through. Just how many outfits did Claire go through in 22 episodes? God knows. I can really dig some of those Homepage illustrations though… Hrm.