In the future (subsequent to the events of the television series) Kate, Rose, Rachel and Claire divide their immortal lives between study and vigilantism. Their past link to the red garden on Roosevelt Island comes back to haunt them after mysterious transfer students Louise and Edgar seek out their friendship.
Anime: Gonzo did the production on this again (known for their work on Saikano and Gankutsuou) and Kou Matsuo directed as well (known for his work on all seasons of Rozen Maiden and the OVA). Dead Girls is a 45-minute OVA that was released on August 8th, 2007. As far as I'm aware, Dead Girls has not been licensed, either by ADV, or Funimation (who currently holds the original series' license).
Dead Girls picks up about 300 years in the future in NYC, where Rachel, Rose, Kate and Claire are pretending to be high school girls as cover for bounty hunting, because
hey, why not? They apparently don't have any memories of the original series, as they were warned previously in the original series. But the new transfer students look quite familiar and may mean trouble for them...
Okay, so, first off, it's interesting to see what 300 years of having a seventeen year-old's body has done to the girls. There are some pretty obvious 180s in peoples' personalities, but there are pretty decent reasons given for it, which is really appreciated here. It's more fun seeing what the girls are like now than it is watching the actual plot of the thing, which isn't the greatest or most interesting and gets resolved in a pretty lame way. Again, though, director of Rozen Maiden, so this shouldn't come as much of a surprise in terms of lack of resolution and plot quality.
As for art, it's the same style as the series, but with some added caveats. There are a lot of reused character designs from the original series, either for continuity or because the designers were lazy, take your pick. Also, there's the typical Gonzo mech added, and it's quite nicely done and doesn't seen all that out of place.
Music is pretty much what was used in the series, with a song being sung in horribly out of tune voices (yay for realism?) to the main theme. Ehhh, this kind of loses points with me. But otherwise, pretty solid.
Seiyuu are same as in the series, with seiyuu reprising their roles for similar looking characters from the original series; again, continuity or budget saving, who knows.
Length here is pretty solid. 45 minutes, which was more than I expected. Just about right, actually, though it did drag at the end.
Overall, this is a pretty solid OVA. There's a few issues of laziness versus continuity, but otherwise, a solid follow-up that's worth a watch.
The original Red Garden anime contained the same sort of issue that is found in many series: while the main plot was resolved, there were many unanswered questions. Given the often horrific nature of the series, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing -- what's scarier than the unknown? -- but the addition of an OVA nonetheless provided the opportunity for more explanation and closure.
Dead Girls takes place years after the end of the original series. Our four heroines are, naturally, still alive and without memories of the first seventeen years of their lives. Not knowing who they were or why they can never die, they've
stuck together, traveling to new places every few years so nobody realizes how odd they are, and have begun working as bounty hunters (known as, appropriately, the dead girls) by night. When an opportunity for learning about their past arises, they take it… and that's about it. I won't spoil the ending, but it's a generic one that tells us (and the girls) little and fails to even infuse meaning into our state of uncertainty. While it's nice to know what happened to them, and the choice to set the OVA far into the future rather than immediately after the series was an interesting one, there's a massive amount of potential lost and the OVA ends up feeling completely pointless.
An opportunity for character development is similarly lost with all four of the girls. Naturally, after hundreds of years, they've changed dramatically, and yet we never get a peek into how and why they've changed. Its alluded to that they choose to take on different traits as the years go on and they move to new places, cutting off ties from both old peers and old personalities, and that could in and of itself make a great OVA if it were used to explore their characters, their deepest needs and desires, or even the nature of personality as an overall concept. But Dead Girls doesn't do that, opting to simply treat everything as normal and expecting the viewer to nod along. Disappointing, to say the least.
At the very least, this OVA has the same art and musical style of the original series. The singing is back, although (at least in the English dub) the fact that the songwriting and singing are weak is amusingly lampshaded by characters. Art and animation are very nice, unique without being overly bizarre, which fits the show nicely. However, I would have enjoyed seeing more thought put into the physical setting, however; it has a generic futuristic look without any real "oh cool!" moments that really aren't that hard to add when making up technology (or even fashion) for the future. The way it looks and sounds don't particularly make up for the story and characterization, though; it looks and sounds nice, but not nice enough to distract you from that.
Red Garden: Dead Girls is a disappointment that does little for the plot or characters of the original series, but at least it still looks nice. Recommended for completionists who saw the TV series only.
Story-wise, the plot hardly makes any sense at all. Near the end of the series, the girls have the contact information of their families, and photos of friends and family in their pockets, yet they don't seem to have contacted their families, or even recognize any of the reincarnations they encounter. As for the mystery of Red Garden,, they would have known at least, that they were students on the island, since they had their student IDs on their bodies when they lost their memories. All mysteries about their immortal bodies would have been easily answered by Paula, who knew where they
were going, and that they would lose their memories.
I really like this OVA. I watched it right after finishing red garden and after the immediate shock I quickly grew to enjoy everything about the OVA. It's quite radically different from the show and might turn people off. I would like to encourage others to try looking at the OVA without comparing it to the series but I know that would be quite difficult. It was because I did such that I was able to enjoy the OVA so much. That's why I would first recommend the OVA to someone who's never seen the series rather than someone who has.
The first thing that may
annoy a Red Garden series viewer are the personality changes in the characters. If you can't deal with that I'd recommend not watching this OVA. What would next annoy a Red Garden Series viewer is that after having the contact information of their friends and family on their person at the end of the series they claim to know nothing about their past in the OVA. My mind kept drifting away due to this plot hole in that even if they lost the information their still living friends and relatives would have found them somehow. Lastly, perhaps to keep Red Garden series viewers comfortable or out of necessity, many characters from the series appear as different people in the OVA. I say it's a little bit of both.
I guess I mostly fell in love with the OVA due to its strange familiarity. I liked seeing the characters I knew as completely different people and in a strange yet familiar setting. In that way people who just jump into the OVA without having seen the series wont get that affect. Then for those who have seen the series the strangeness may be a complete turn off and the familiarity seen as tarnishing their image of the series.