- Titles: Vampire in the Garden
- Genre: Duh-rama, war, vampires
- Episodes: 5
- Studio: Wit Studio
The world ended…again. Ok not completely, the planet is still there and there are a few humans but those humans aren’t very happy. And they certainly aren’t living in the lap of luxury. Trapped in an endless war for survival, trying to scrape by. There are also a lot of vampires around but they’re not doing much better. They also got that war to deal with and just because they don’t eat food anymore, doesn’t mean they don’t need to eat at all. And with so few humans left, vampires are starving. When two factions have their interest so completely opposed, is there ever any chance for peace. And what about a chance for two crazy kids who just happen to really like each other?
Is there such a thing as a vampiric post-apocalypse genre? There should be. I have watched a lot of movies and series that could be described as that. Seraph of the End for instance. I am Legend is another. I’m sure you get the idea. Humanity has either become subservient to vampires or they are fighting in dwindling numbers to remain human. Anyways, Vampire in the Garden is a paint-by-numbers vampire post-apocalyptic fiction.
I have to say, I think Wit Studio phone it in for this one. The studio has done some absolutely gorgeous stuff. Including the disappointing but beautiful Bubble also for Netflix, the same year as Vampire in the Garden. But this series just looks a little lazy. There are several dancing scenes that either only last a few frames or are just a slideshow of still shots instead of animated. The entire story is about war yet the few fighting scenes we get are slow or from far away making the action nondescript and unimpressive.
On a positive note, I didn’t hate the character designs, but your mileage will vary. They were also not that impressive and occasionally inconsistent despite not being deeply detailed, but they were striking in my opinion and I give them points for that. Really the only part of the production I was genuinely impressed with and saw a bit of WIT’s usual skill shine through is the backgrounds. There are several absolutely beautiful sceneries throughout the series.
I will say that WIT was probably working on Vampire in the Garden at the same time as The Girl from the Other Side, Bubble, Ranking of Kings and Spy Family so they may have been stretched a bit thin. Still, it’s a somewhat disappointing addition to their portfolio.
Story & Characters
Here’s the thing, I’m writing on September 6, 2022. I’m planning on publishing it for Halloween 2023 (hopefully my blog is still around). Every year, I try to put together a line-up of “horror” anime reviews for Halloween time and I find it a lot easier when I prepare ahead of time. Since I’ve already got my full roster of Horror reviews for this year, I’m going to try to save this particular review for next year. I suspect that by the time this post publishes I will have completely forgotten what I wrote in it and indeed probably completely forgotten Vampire in the Garden as well.
Vampire in the Garden is a 5-episode ONA, essentially making it a miniseries. Technically it could have been a movie but I honestly had some trouble getting through it and I would recommend taking advantage of the fact that the story is broken into pieces to watch it in several sittings.
In the first episode, the main character Momo is thrust into a cruel war where she has to abandon parts of her humanity to survive and not put everyone around her at risk, she then goes through a traumatic break with her overbearing and probably abusive mother, before seeing her best friend brutally slaughtered before her eyes. However, in the remaining episodes, things go downhill for Momo.
Yeah, it’s this type of story. It’s very serious, dark, grim, everything good in the world always dies type of story. And since you get no real time to develop the characters or get attached to any of them, most people will probably not be able to connect and invest in all this heavy drama. The story as it is, really requires the audience to do most of the heavy lifting and there’s no payoff to justify that.
If we are purely talking about the plot, it’s o.k. It really is a boilerplate post-apocalypse with vampires. I have a feeling there are about 56 YA novels I haven’t read with pretty much the same plot. Oh, there is some slight romance insinuation between the two leads who are both ladies so I guess you can call it Yuri light. But I almost completely forgot about this aspect. And there’s nothing explicit so I would not watch this just for some fluffy yuri feels. You won’t get them.
It feels a little silly to hoard a review for a year when I have so little to say about the show. It’s not very good in my opinion. Like I said the plot is o.k. just kind of overdone and really not my type of story. But the pacing is rather bad and the characters aren’t doing the show and favours either.
The short runtime and sheer amount of tragedy pr0n the show tries to work in, means that there’s not much time for any proper character arcs. Sure Momo and Fine do have some development but it’s abrupt and often feels unearned or thrown in. And at the base of it, they feel more like archetypes than people. This can work. There are a lot of shows that are beloved by fans, and by me as well, that mostly use archetypes instead of three-dimensional characters. It’s a choice that can create some very interesting impressions, especially in more surreal stories. But in a war drama that seems to rely on the audience sharing the characters’ pain, it’s not a great choice.
The pacing is the worst offender in my opinion. Events seem to be strewn together instead of organically leading us on a journey. Revelations about character motivations and backgrounds are too abrupt which makes them seem tacked on or like backfill instead of development and generally the story just doesn’t hold together all that well.
I realize that I am harsher on this show than a lot of viewers. This is baffling to me and I think a potential first. I usually tend to enjoy anime (any and all anime) more than the average viewer and my ratings reflect that but I did not enjoy Vampire in the Garden much at all and was honestly surprised at seeing what I think is a very generous 70% rating on Anilist.
I saw for instance that a lot of people seemed to appreciate the relationship between Fine and Momo which I found difficult to believe on any sincere level. To me, it was just a case of two people trying to distract from their own trauma with each other and never really getting to know the other person. Maybe some Stockholm syndrome as well. That is evidently a very cynical view on my part.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend Vampire in the Garden. However, it is a relatively short watch and if you happen to like melodrama and stories about girls being friends for no obvious reason, then there might be something you enjoy about Vampire in the Garden. I know that a few of my readers do not share my tastes so this one might be for you guys.
I will take every negative thing back if they do a merchandise tie-in and start selling Garden Vamps. Like Garden Gnomes but with little fangs. That will definitely be the payoff that makes it all worthwhile! After all, there is no garden in the show so you need to make that title work!
You might like this anime if:
I dunno… if you have tastes opposite to mine?
My favourite character:
Allegro. He likes dogs so that makes him the best character in the entire series.
- Every time Nobara is disappointed – take a sip
- Every time Fine or Momo dances – take a sip
- Fine and Momo dance – raise your glass
- Every time Allegro pleads with Fine – poor Allegro
- Every time Momo has a new outfit – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “warmee” – shake your head
- Every time someone plays the piano – clap
- Every time anyone says Eden – take a sip
- Every time Momo cries – get some water, it happens a lot
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.