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Photo: ‘Vampire in the Garden’
There’s a new vampire romance story in town, and boy oh boy when I tell you that spending a dark and gloomy evening diving myself into this story was certainly something if not intriguing in a variety of ways. ‘Vampire in the Garden’ is Netflix’s newest addition to the anime genre, and a recent take on the classic and dearly-beloved trope of “human falls head-over-heels for the forbidden vampire” trope—as we beautifully well know was made popular with Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series.
Netflix is no stranger to forming unique storylines in its variety of original anime series’; especially when it comes to tragedy and romance. With shows ranging from the anime adaptation of the horrifying hit video game ‘Castlevania’ to the simple silliness of ‘The Way of the Househusband’, Netflix has featured a rather impeccable range of original anime to immerse yourself in for hours on end.
It is with this said that Netflix’s newest addition to this featured and familiar category with ‘Vampire in the Garden’ has proven itself to be a prime example of the utter potential that Netflix can take their anime in the future.
‘Vampire in the Garden’ – A Cautionary Tale For The Ages
‘Vampire in the Garden’, directed by both Ryotaro Makihara and Hiroyuki Tanaka, tells the story of two women who want to attempt the utmost forbidden, and change the future between their divided worlds (one vampire and one human); uniting them into one big paradise as it was once before. Our heroes are Momo (a human who was raised as a soldier), and Fine (the queen of the vampires); and in their journey, it is through their platonic (and slightly romantic) love for each other that they form a bond for the ages and work through their pre-conceived differences to form this aforementioned peaceful union between human and vampire.
As I briefly mentioned in the first section, ‘Vampire in the Garden’ leaves a lot of room for potential. This isn’t to say that the series wasn’t truly up-to-par, but it felt as though there was a tad bit of caution when creating this series. Personally, I wasn’t sure what it could’ve been, but something felt off in how Momo and Fine’s relationship formed throughout the five episodes in the season. From the first episode, Momo and Fine understandably have mass bouts of tension between them; and this, interestingly, gets rather swiftly resolved and all seems to be well.
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Due to the season only having five episodes, there may have been a time constraint put on the creators; which would then progress the story much quicker. But, I find that a slow-burning relationship between Momo and Fine would’ve seemed much more appropriate in this situation. On the other hand, there is wondrous curiosity in how fast these characters seem to be in each other’s comfort zone; and it makes the tad bit of romance between them seem all the more dreamy—something outwardly that one can merely be fascinated about. However, I do want to emphasize that the romance in this series isn’t a lot; and more or less, Momo and Fine seem to want to work more towards a friendship that will build upon their futurist and fantasized paradise.
Eerie World-Building With A Bite
Besides the character relationships, however, the environment and world development of ‘Vampire in the Garden’ seems to be planned out and executed fascinatingly well. The eerie general storyline is also something that appears to be well-loved and cared about as well; horrifying concepts and visuals are scattered throughout the story for audiences to enjoy. The atmosphere in the series also is rather beautiful as well–everything filling with tension and hatred towards another misunderstood kind. Ultimately, through this, the storyline felt developed in some areas–but also, sadly underdeveloped in some ways as well.
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The art style seems to be recent, which is always interesting to see with the evolution of how anime art styles in shows have changed over the years. I adore the dark blues mixed in with the bloody reds visual-wise as well, and the animation is both fluid and has a sense that this was hand-drawn (and, as a former 2D animation college minor, I am a sucker for hand-drawn animation). All of the characters are drawn rather differently from each other as well; thoroughly able to tell who is who, and not get anyone mixed up, which made the series even more oddly pretty to engross yourself in as well.
I, for one, happen to find that vampires are my favorite kind of supernatural and fantastical creature. When I heard about the plot of ‘Vampire in the Garden’ before I watched it, I (interestingly enough) thought about the 2008 anime ‘Vampire Knight’. While this one takes place at a school rather than a snowy town and is a tad less serious at times, I found the similarities between them to be noticeable. This did pull me into wanting to watch ‘Vampire in the Garden’ even more as when I was younger, I adored spending my free elementary-school nights watching ‘Vampire Knight’ alone in my room–so, it is with that that ‘Vampire in the Garden’ did bring back some feelings of wonderful nostalgia for me.
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A Hopeful Ending That Awaits
I do hope that regardless of the slight criticisms that I’ve given this series, you will spend an afternoon watching ‘Vampire in the Garden’. I find myself feeling indifferent about this series, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. However, I don’t want that to deter you, dear reader, from spending some time watching this series if you are also a sucker for vampires (and do love a good ole’ supernatural-human romance story). At the same time, however, I wonder if ‘Vampire in the Garden’ will end up getting a second season in the end. I would love to give this series another go with what I currently know about the story, and (like I mentioned before) there was so much potential that could’ve gone into this series.
Overall, it felt as though there were some precautions when taking care of the platonic (and slightly romantic) connection between Momo and Fine; and coupling this blossoming between them with the main storyline. There was so much to Momo and Fine as their individuals, and the storytelling had a good start but slows down towards the end. In the end, I do hope that Netflix will give this show more love and a chance to fully grow; as it feels like there could be so much more to uncover.
By Leah Donato
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