Synonyms: Ratai no Kigen, The Origin of Nudity, Tenshi no Fellatio, Angelic Fellatio, YumeKana, Umi kara Kita Kikai, The Machine That Came from the Sea, Tsuki no Sho, The Book of the Moon, Egao de Sayounara, Say Goodbye with a Smile, Emi-chan
Garden is a collection of Furuya Usamaru's "indie" shorts that were published in Comic Cue, Manga Erotics and GARO. The title is obviously a reference to Hieronymus Bosch's famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, with the first story being a homage to said painting. The other stories range from absurd comedies to fantasy and horror. It's a very eclectic mixture, but make no mistake: artistically, Garden might just be Furuya's most accomplished work after Marie no Kanaderu Ongaku.
1. Ratai no Kigen (The Origin of Nudity)
2. Tenshi no Fellatio (Angelic Fellatio)
4. Umi kara Kita Kikai (The Machine That Came from the Sea)
5. Tsuki no Sho (The Book of the Moon)
6. Egao de Sayounara (Say Goodbye with a Smile)
Before anyone says "if you don't like it, go read something else", I want to clarify one thing. I love dark, surreal and violent manga. This work definitely didn't let me down on those three points. However, Garden falls short on several basic storytelling conventions that make a manga enjoyable to read.
The manga is drawn in an indie style; the art is good and the design is interesting - you keep wondering what kind of freaky creature will pop up next. This is Garden's strong side. The weaknesses become obvious very early on: there's no obvious logic or structure to the events that unfold. I
get it, it's supposed to be a trippy fantasy, but there needs to be a minimal red thread throughout the story, otherwise it will only confuse and frustrate the reader. With one exception, there is no coherence in any of the one-shots. Despite the strong themes and imagery, Garden doesn't have any impact. I can guess that this sort of mental diarrhea was a lot of fun for the author to draw, but it is not fun to read.
Story 1 is drawn in full color and sets your expectations high from the first few panels. While the events were possible to follow, nothing is explained and no questions are answered. By the end, I was thoroughly confused, and the entertainment value of the art had long since evaporated.
Stories 2, 3 and 4 and 6 are more of the same, though they have less exciting art and are not even vaguely understandable.
Story 5, The Book Of The Moon, deserves special attention and a much higher rating than the other ones, and is the only part of the manga that is worth reading. Much more thought and care were put into the setting and characters; the art style suits the story very well and even makes it momorable. It shows that the author is fully capable of these things, and makes me wonder why he didn't put as much effort into the other stories - if he did, this manga would have been a real gem.
Story 7, Emi-chan, is a total trainwreck. It's nothing more than a random slideshow, alternating between gory and trippy moods. It was much longer than the other stories, and the most frustrating to sit through. In an attempt to explain the bedlam for a change, the author added an infodump at the very end. Classy.
In conclusion, if you're looking for some good surreal horror, Garden will leave you disappointed.
Now, I wouldn't say I am anything of a avid fan of gory, horror themed, strange and overall weird indie manga. I don't go out of my way. Of course, I've read some here and there and it often leaves a bugs-crawling-on-my-spine feeling. They all lay a certain type of impression on the reader. Which is exactly what happened here for most of the short stories. I'm sure Furuya who illustrated the panels himself for himself also had a wild experience, seeing as he chose to draw the young girls in Emi-chan specifically finding it hard to stomach. I found this purely by chance and
I was intrigued. Thus, I tried my best to not let myself be easily swayed by the scenes, cough, the scenes...
The amount of nudity is prevalent throughout the collection, at first I was disturbed by this but you do get used to it after a while (or maybe you never do). On top of this is a heavy serving of bodies being disassembled, torn apart, pretty much in any shape or form with a grotesque art style to match it. This art style is truly very nice, he leaves no detail, often going out of his way to make something so hideous and frightening that you could almost believe that it'll pop out at you. Though the regular humans rather than the monsters and giant mismatched humanoids were more scary in my opinion. It's true; it's hard to delve into the story. So much symbolism and meaning, yet there is no meaning at all to be found. At least plotwise, it is lacking.
-If you haven't read Garden, don't read below this unless you want to be spoiled!-
Except for The Book Of The Moon, that was truly different from the rest and I was initially cautious for the page count. At the end of it all, I was sad that it only had that amount of pages. It took 8 months to finish that one in particular, I could see why it could! There was obvious planning done behind it and it was coherent, meaning I did not have to wrack my brain to find out what he meant by this or that. The only thing I could actually point out as the only unsatisfactory part of TBOTM was the part where Rita thanked Adel by um, yeah, providing services... I wasn't expecting that from this one however I'll get moving along, nothing to be too surprised about! If this was published by itself as a stand-alone, I would buy it in a flash and be happy about what I now had in my hands - a masterpiece. It reminded me of the book, The City Of Ember in which the inhabitants of a underground city realize that they have been underground for more than two hundred years and escape to the world above by way of boat. Is it sad that I'd like to see what happens for Adel? I am truly invested in his experiences in the real world, after all he was just a clueless homunculus who worked blindly for the philosopher without knowing anything and heck, he didn't know what juggling was! There isn't much innocent than this that it could get... Other than a baby.
I initially gave it a 9 immediately after reading it all, seemingly not regretful of my choice until having a second thought.