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File:Red-garden-dvd.jpg

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.

Tropes used in Red Garden include:
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Grace.
  • Action Girl: Combined with Action Survivor since the girls don't even knew about their superhuman powers at first place.
  • 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.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The final battle happens on Christmas Day.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The war between two families seem to span centuries.
  • Animation Bump: The last episode is noticeably better looking than the others.
  • Anti-Villain: Herve just wants to save his family from its curse.
  • Back From the Dead: Kate, Rose, Rachel, and Claire, obviously enough. An unexpected example comes up later when Lise is revived.
  • 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
  • Big Fancy House: Rachel and Kate both have nice homes, but it's the mansion where they died that takes the cake.
  • Bishonen: Herve.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Animus get to finally die, and Lise gains back part of of her memories. Sadly, that's not enough to save Lise of turning into dust and the girls become completely immortal, but will lose all of their memories.
  • Bland-Name Product: "SDAM" instead of Spam.
  • Break the Cutie
  • Breather Episode: Episode 21, that happens on a Christmas Eve. The antagonists and the girls' faction are preparing for battle, while the girls themselves are trying to enjoy the last day they will have with their family/friends.
  • 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.
  • Christmas Episode: Episode 21.
  • Conspicuous CG: The OVA mecha.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In the OVA, telling the girls to go to Red Garden.
  • Cower Power
  • Cultured Badass: Claire listens to Classical Music, really LOUD.
  • 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: How the girls first end up using her powers, having to fight a berserk,feral man.
  • 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 Men Love Their Mamas
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Racism: Hervé goes for a lot of low blows about the girls' conditions in the final episode about the fact they're "dead".
  • First-Episode Resurrection
  • Flash Back
  • Foreign Language Title: Yep, just like that, Red Garden. It sort of makes sense since the story is set into the United States after all.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Rose is the naive one, Claire is the mannish-like, Rachel is the glamour-obsessed and Kate acts as the neutral-POV kind of character.
  • Fridge Logic: Why could J.C. fight the way he did? It's clearly stated that only women become Animus, and he wasn't part of the Delor clan.
  • 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 hundreds of years after the events of the original series.
  • Girl Posse
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Delor eyes shine while they're on a berserk state.
  • 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.
  • Humongous Mecha: In the OVA.
  • Idiots Cannot Catch Colds:In Episode 19, the girls begin to get sick because the cold weather. Claire is surprised by the fact their bodies can get sick, since unlike the others she didn't suffer with stomach or head pains. Rachel says she probably can't catch colds, irritating Claire, that immediately catches on the Stealth Insult.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The girls really didn't want to have superhuman powers or fight monsters, but they don't have much of an option.
  • Ill Girl: Mireille and Anna, Herve's cousin and sister respectively.
  • Improvised Weapon: 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: Both curses gives humans this.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: One of the symptoms of the berserker curse of the Delor clan.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: There's zero to no exposition about what's happening and/or why it's happening. We get glimpses there and there about hereditary conditions and "curses" but the plots don't delves deeper into that until episode 19 at least.
  • Karmic Death: Raul, Dr. Bender and Hervé especially.
  • Killed Off for Real: Just about every member of both clans bar the four main girls, and the two detectives.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
  • Last Kiss: As she knows that, one way she will die and another way she will not remember him, Claire kiss her until then platonic partner Juan before going into the final battle.
  • Les Yay: The first episode has Kate pining for Lise on a very -- personal level. And at times, Paula seems very close to Kate -- very close. This goes into Anvilicious territory from episode 18 onwards.
  • 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.
  • Love Triangle: Between Rachel, Luke, Amanda, and debatably Rachel's literature teacher, Nick. Heck, Sam's in there too, so let's just call it like it is.
  • 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.
  • Mutual Kill: Hervé and Anna kill each other in the final episode.
  • Names to Know In Anime:
  • 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 Rex: 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...": After every ending animation.
  • Ordinary High School Student
  • Parental Abandonment
  • 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.
  • 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 to her rich father.
  • The Reveal: Even if the side of the girls win the conflict, they lose all of their memories prior to that moment.
  • Robot Girl: In the OVA Louise turns out to be one.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Hervé ends up being killed by a berserk Anna, and kills her by his own hands. However, it is a little downplayed because though the protagonists don't seem to do a big damage on him, Lula wounds him to a point he fails in fulfilling his objectives.
  • 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 of the Delor is apparently this.
  • 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.
  • Time Skip: 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, who 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.
  • Tragic Villain: Both factions are condemned to horrible fates because of a conflict that happened centuries ago and, therefore, have not a lot of choice about what to do, and can't even cooperate with each other.
  • Training Montage
  • True Companions: The girls eventually develop into this. It helps that they share a secret that they can't exactly share with their friends/family.
  • 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.
      • Fridge Horror: At the end of the OVA, Kate and Claire admit that they're getting bored.
  • 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.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The hair colors are mostly within the realm of realism, but Mireille and one of Rachel's friends have pinkish hair. Claire's hair appears grey and Luke's purple, but they're probably variations on black.
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