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.