Anime: Red Garden

It started with the butterflies.

Claire, Rose, Rachel and Kate — four New York City girls from the same school but from very different backgrounds and social circles — are drawn together one night by a flock of mysterious butterflies that only they can see. Waiting for them are two mysterious figures — a woman named Lula and her partner, JC — who inform the four girls that they are dead.

In order to continue in their borrowed lives, the heroines are forced to fight for them. Each night, they must wait until midnight before they can rest. If the butterflies come to them before midnight, the girls must follow them and fight a twisted, bestial man with no help and no skills but their own will to live.

Thereafter, the lives of the girls (and the plot of the anime) revolve around coming to terms with these facts and the "suicide" of their friend Lise. Their deaths and the rabid men they are forced to fight all tie back to a strange and influential family.

Combining elements of horror, music — the girls occasionally break into song — and teen drama, Red Garden takes a very different approach to the girls-fighting-monsters genre.


This show provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Grace.
  • Action Girl: To an extent. Claire and Kate are the first to put up a fight during the girls' first battle, and from then became the two primary combatants. Rachel on the other hand, is either the Girly Bruiser end or literally the Chew Toy of the night. Rose spends the majority of the fights cowering in fear, but she eventually graduates to an Action Girl. Lula and Headmistress Sinclair (the chairwoman of Grace) have also proven their Action Girl capabilities.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jessica, who is one of the girls in Grace, towards Kate. Subverted, as Jessica later reveals it's out of concern for her.
  • Ancient Conspiracy
  • Animation Bump: The last episode is noticeably better looking than the others.
  • Anti-Villain: Herve starts out like this, as he just wants to save his family from its curse, but late in the series he starts acting more villainous and sadistic, especially when he tries to kill Lise and blackmails Kate.
  • Anyone Can Die: And how.
  • Back from the Dead: Kate, Rose, Rachel, and Claire, obviously enough. An unexpected example comes up later when Lise is revived.
  • Badass Teacher: The girl's teacher, Miss Lucy.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening credits are pretty floral silhouettes accompanied by a pleasant girlish song. The show, on the other hand, is dark.
  • Big Applesauce
  • The Berserker: Claire.
  • Big Fancy House: Rachel and Kate both have nice homes, but it's the mansion where they died that takes the cake.
  • Bishōnen: Herve.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Bland-Name Product: "SDAM" instead of Spam.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents
  • Break the Cutie
  • Burger Fool: Claire works for an unnamed burger joint.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: The butterflies only appear to the girls after they've died, and are generally linked to situations where death happens in some form.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Claire does this towards her father for not noticing her mother's emotional spiral into suicide.
  • Captain Ersatz: The NYPD investigators, an old jaded white guy and his younger black partner, would seem to be Detectives Briscoe and Green with the badge numbers filed off.
  • Character Development: The actual focus of the series. The nightly fighting and background of the two clans take a backseat to the way the girls are coping with their borrowed lives for most of the show.
  • The Chew Toy: Poor, poor Rachel.
  • Christmas Episode: Which is also the penultimate episode.
  • Conspicuous CG: The OVA mecha.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In the OVA, telling the girls to go to Red Garden.
  • Cower Power: Rose's defining traits. It becomes so bad that in Episode 13, it nearly gets Rachel killed.
    • Oddly enough, in Episode 7, she is seen actually fighting the monster with the other girls, getting a few good hits as well.
  • Cultured Badass: Claire listens to Classical Music, really LOUD.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Marie's fight in Episode 3, and it's not pretty. The girls actually lay out the curb stomping in a seemingly strategic fashion in Episode 11. Herve easily takes out an Animus and the girls in the finale as well, and Lula's the only one to deal mortal wounds.
  • Dark Magical Girl
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Randy and Dr. Bender.
  • Dating Catwoman: Kate ends up dating Herve. She's oblivious about who he is for a several episodes, but he knows from the start — it's why he pursued her in the first place.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lula.
  • Die or Fly
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: JC in Lula's and later, Lula in Rachel's.
  • Dies Wide Open
  • Disappeared Dad: Rose's dad. She goes to find him later in the series.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lise's death is covered up as this. Later, Randy attempts suicide after the collapse of his company. It's implied that this is what happened to his and Claire's mother.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Randy, Claire's older brother.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Even Bad Girls Love Their Mamas: Rachel is shown to be rather sweet to her Lady Drunk mother, who averts the stereotype of an alcoholic, abusive parent and visibly cares about her daughter, notably she's one of the few people Rachel doesnt have a confrontation with.
  • Evolving Credits: The first set of ending credits change gradually over time. Also, the opening has some mostly still bits swapped for something more animated about halfway through the series.
  • Expy: Almost everyone in the OVA (barring the title Dead Girls, who are the same people) is an expy of someone from the TV series.
  • Fangs Are Evil: The men the girls fight tend to have fangs, heightening the animalistic image they project.
  • First Episode Resurrection
  • Flashback
  • Foreign Language Title
  • Four Girl Ensemble
  • Fur Against Fang: It's the tiniest bit of a stretch, but the Animus and the Delor clan can be seen as Our Vampires Are Different and Our Werewolves Are Different respectively. A clan of people that have Immortality are dead, and have super-human-strength, which also reproduce by reviving the dead, and have a thirst that can only be quenched by lemons. Where as the Delor clan is full of beast-men with glowing eyes and sharp teeth who run around on all fours and systematically go crazy at designated times in their lives.
  • Genre Shift: The OVA features sci-fi stuff such as Humongous Mechas and flying cars. Justified because it takes place hundreds of years after the events of the original series.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Delivered by Claire and Kate to Rachel in Episode 6.
  • Girl Posse
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom
  • Gratuitous English: Actually averted in the show proper, but the ending themes are guilty of this.
  • Healing Factor
  • He Knows Too Much: Both the cops are killed just as they find Lise alive.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: JC dies protecting Lula. Both Emilio and Lula die protecting Kate, though at different times.
  • Hot for Teacher: Rachel gets accused of this.
  • Hope Spot: Lula presents one to the girls when they seem ready to quit fighting by showing them their dead bodies and telling them they can be resurrected and return to their normal lives if they can continue to fight. This lifts the girls' spirits up and they slowly begin to grow happier and start to get along with each other. Then comes episode sixteen.
  • Humongous Mecha: In the OVA.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal
  • Ill Girl: Mireille and Anna, Herve's cousin and sister respectively.
  • Improvised Weapons: Considering that the girls don't develop their powers until later, they have to rely on weapons. Claire primarily brings a bat to the fights, but in the first battle used the side-view mirror of a car, and a telephone inside a purse as a bludgeon. Kate had also attempted to strangle a monster with Rachel's purse, and Rachel herself whacked Herve upside the head with a large tree branch.
  • In a Single Bound
  • Incurable Cough of Death
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • Karmic Death: Raul, Dr. Bender and Hervé especially.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Rachel is usually the most fashionable of the combatant, but the Animus are this in general.
  • Killed Off for Real: Just about every member of both clans bar the four main girls.
  • Lady of War: The Animus in general, who are primarily well-dressed while fighting in a more refined style compared to the Dolore.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia
  • Limited Social Circle: Much of the show deals with the heroines' escalating ostracism from their old social groups and their varying efforts to stay in contact with their old lives.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted; most of the girls wear different clothes everyday. Even Kate, who wears her Grace uniform more than anything, wears unique outfits outside of school.
  • The Load: Rose tends to cower more than she fights. Later lampshaded by Rachel in the form of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Episode 13. Strangely averted in Episode 7 when a verbal bright slap from Rachel herself during a fight motivates a fallen Rose to rise back up and fight. Ultimately, Rose gets better.
  • Love Triangle: Between Rachel, Luke, and Amanda. Sam wants in with Rachel though she never reciprocates, and people assume this about Rachel's literature teacher,
  • MacGuffin: The cursed books.
  • Magical Girl: Played very very dark, and more for the character aspects and conflicts than for the powers. There are powers, but they rarely show up.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Emilio.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The pharmaceutical company Vivaleo.
  • Muggle: Paula's family are members of Animus, though she herself is not.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Rachel is the first to kill a monster in Episode 4 when she beats it to death with Claire's bat in a berserk state. In Episode 7, the girls (with even Rose included) viciously beat up another in an alley, and once again in a strategic manner in Episode 11.
  • Oedipus Complex: Hervé ends up killing his father for not caring enough about Mireille and Anna.
  • Older Than They Look: Animus apparently don't age, even after centuries' worth of time.
  • On the Next
  • One-Hit KO: Occurs every now and then during the fights.
  • Ordinary High-School Student
  • Parental Abandonment: The reason why Claire holds a grudge against her father. Rose seems to have taken it well with her own father, despite that it resulted in her raising her siblings while their mother is in the hospital.
  • Pendulum War: The finale.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Claire.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Most of the upper class people have blonde hair and blue eyes, among them Kate and her family, Claire's family (but not Claire herself),several of the members of Grace, and both of the feuding clans.
  • Precision F-Strike: Delivered by Luke when his suspicions about Rachel and one of her teachers boil out.
  • Pretty in Mink: Primarily Rachel. She even dons a fur coat in the final battle.
  • Random Passerby Advice: At one point Claire is on the sidewalk outside her apartment practicing swinging a bat when a random guy runs across the street and critiques her stance, advising her to "rotate your hips", then walks away.
  • Really Dead Montage
  • Rebellious Princess: Claire.
  • The Reveal
  • Robot Girl: In the OVA Louise turns out to be one.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Paula is quite clearly in love with Kate.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: It turns out that Paula already has an idea of what's going on with Kate and the others, which she reveals in Episode 19.
  • Shout-Out: In episode 4, there's seemingly a shout out to either the "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld or the real person who inspired the character.
    • Episode 5 has a shot of a billboard, labeled Witches, that is obviously modeled off the poster for Wicked.
  • Shrinking Violet: Rose.
  • Taking the Bullet: JC is killed by Herve while taking a blow for Lula.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: In the OVA, Louise challenges the girls to a battle and when they lose, they'll have to become her friends. The girls point out that she already has valuable friends even if they're not immortal, and the battle never actually takes place.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Claire and Randy have purple eyes.
  • The Other Darrin: Joe Diaz voices Herve up until episode 16 in the dub. He is voiced by Quentin Haag for the rest of the series.
  • The Virus: The curse.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted. While the girls never actually go to therapists their friends and family do notice that something is wrong, and they do ask the girls questions. The girls, however refuse to tell them.
  • Timeskip: The Dead Girls OVA takes place several hundred years in the future, with all of New York except Roosevelt Island mile high buildings and floating cars.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone:
    • The only outsider to the family wars who gets entrusted with a vague hint of what the girls are doing is Butt Monkey Sam. He doesn't understand it, but it's the thought that counts.
    • Happens again in the OVA where a dressed-up Rachel starts flirting with Sam's Expy at the school prom.
  • Title Drop: Not in the main series, but in the OVA. The Red Garden is Roosevelt Island, which is now covered in pink flowers.
  • Tomboy: Claire leans towards this, especially when contrasted with the rest of the group.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Well, not the favorite part. A few episodes in the girls find that lemons help with the side effects of their condition and from then on are seen eating them often and to the bemusement of the people they know, but they don't necessarily like them.
  • Tragic Dream: Rose spends several episodes looking for her Disappeared Dad to convince him to return to the family and in episode 17, expresses to Kate and Claire that she wanted herself, her siblings and her parents to live as a family of five again while getting to know her dad. Unfortunately, the previous episode had revealed that all Animus were fated to lose their memories and live forever meaning that she could not stay with her family. She doesn't even get to spend Christmas together with the whole family since she has to leave for the final battle.
  • Training Montage
  • True Companions
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Deconstructed. Fighting is clearly difficult for the girls (whether physically or mentally), and they don't know why they have to do it. This ends up creating a lot of social (and mental) problems for them, which are given quite a bit of focus.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As mentioned before, the only reason Herve does what he does is to save his family.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?:
    • The leaders of Animus whose only goal is to die. Of course being unable to move as a result of a curse probably contributed a lot to their disillusionment with eternal life.
    • Averted in the Dead Girls OVA where the four main characters are mostly satisfied with their immortality, and instead of angsting all the time do things like composing ridiculously silly battle songs and travel the world getting bounty hunting gigs.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the OVA, Edgar and Louise finally look like they are ready to love each other and the girls are willing to let Edgar off the hook for his crimes, only for both of them to get pulled under the earth by vines.
    • Beforehand, Louise mentions having met the girls before which would indicate that she remembered her past life. If that is the case, then she could've been able to tell the girls about their past which is what they seeking clues for.