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Vampire in the Garden is a breath of fresh air from Netflix. It’s not a one-off film, nor is it another strange CG take on a familiar series. Instead, it’s a heartfelt look at two sides of a war that’s waged on for some time, with a victor that’ll likely never be decided. Combined with gorgeous artwork, excellent voice acting, and an initial episode that’ll set your heart racing, this unique look at two different kind of monsters is shaping up to be a must-watch, even from its initial establishing episode. You aren’t going to want to miss this one.
Opening Shot: We’re immediately transported to a frozen tundra while a young woman traverses it, intercut with visions of a music box and a couple waltzing. A female voice is trying to convince someone that they can’t go with someone else, that there’s a paradise for them waiting. A young white-haired woman wakes up, startled.
The Gist: One winter, long ago, vampires appeared, bringing a plague on humanity with them. Given that they needed only blood to feed, they were able to multiply quickly enough that humanity was no match. As the humans lost most of their land to the vampires, they worked to set up a stronghold that could help them to fend off the bloodthirsty monsters while preserving humanity.
This meant erecting a sanctuary surrounded by a wall of light. Humans banded together to survive while protecting one another, looking for any leg up they could potentially get on the ridiculously powerful vampires. They even destroyed music, art, and culture as we know it as to not rouse the vampires into attacking or provoking now. Every able-bodied human chips in as part of the military or as a laborer, and the bloody, violent war between the races rages on without a victor.
Momo is a young girl who does her part in the military to push back the vampire threat, working under the watchful eye of her mother, the General, and alongside her friend Milana as they sort through trash and help scout for vampires. Life is difficult for Momo, as she’s tired of the conflicts and wishes there was a way she could just be left alone.
On the flip side, the vampire queen Fine ekes out an existence with the vampires, a shell of her former self after losing her former lover. She has given up on drinking the blood she needs to survive, and is instead waiting around to find a place to die. There’s one thing she and Momo have in common: a desire for all of the fighting to stop. And thus, when they meet up, they set off in search of a place called Eden, the mythical garden that no one has ever seen before, but that legends tell of. The pair travel together, vampire and human, looking for a way to bypass all the pain and strife, but to what end?
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Vampire in the Garden has familiar shades of series like Hellsing, where the vampires are a central threat to humanity, and the Hellsing Organization is called in to defeat them with an army headed by ex-human and newborn vampire Seras Victoria. Anime fans will also recognize themes similar to that of Vampire Knight, in which a human student is caught up in the affairs of a class of vampires who attend the same high school she does.
Our Take: Vampire in the Garden feels like it’s going to be a tearjerker of the highest caliber. There are also hints that Fine will fall in love with Momo, like she apparently did with another human girl before tragedy befell them. Fine already sees remnants of her old love in Momo, especially when she sings along with the music box, so it seems that, together, the pair may come together and ultimately form a relationship.
Beyond that, there’s a massive war brewing that likely won’t come to an end with any sort of peace for humans or vampires. The first episode is gory and violent, casting a negative light on both sides of the conflict. Humans and vampires can seemingly never co-exist, but the shootouts and attacks are visually interesting and exciting to watch nevertheless, with certain scenes giving off a very Attack on Titan vibe, just as the walls hold off Titans in that series, the wall of light fends off vampires here.
Even in the series’ first 20-something minutes, it manages to captivate and excite in ways that many of the shonen-centric series of late have failed to do. If it keeps up this momentum, there’s no way this series can’t blossom into something even more intriguing (and potentially romantic) as it wears on, even if it veers off into emotional damage territory soon enough, and I’ve seen enough anime to know where it’ll likely stop next.
Sex and Skin: None. Humanity is too busy trying to stave off the vampires and the vampires are looking to protect their own kind. No one’s thinking about looking hot or getting it on…at least not in this episode.
Parting Shot: After an unknown group of fighters end the rampaging vampire’s life by beheading its writhing body via sword, Fine and Momo are able to make their escape by vehicle. With Momo huddled in the backseat for safety, Fine asks her if she’s alright as the pair drive off into the horizon across the snowy banks, likely the same ones we saw at the beginning of the episode during another time.
Sleeper Star: Larissa Gallagher brings a warmth and edge to Fine that can either send chills down your spine or make you feel right at home, and since Fine vacillates between warmth and care, tiredness, and a willingness to fight for her loved ones, Gallagher’s voice fits right in. She’s also a refreshing choice for the series, since there are a few voice actors who tend to be overused far too many times for this character trope.
Most Pilot-y Line: Momo is called to see her mother, the General, in her office and receives her new assignment. Her mother is brutally honest about the state of things: “This city is crumbling because of the unending war with the vampires. Our resources are wearing thin, and we can’t keep on at this much longer. We have no choice but to fight. It’s kill or be killed. Do you understand?” Moments later, everything comes crashing down, and continues down that path for the entirety of the episode. It sets the stage for what’s about to happen later on in the series.
Will you stream or skip the gorgeous anime #VampireintheGarden on @netflix? #SIOSI
— Decider (@decider) May 17, 2022
Our Call: STREAM IT. We’ve seen wars between humans and vampires since time immemorial. But there’s something about Vampire in the Garden that’s so arresting that you can’t help but keep your eyes glued to the screen. There’s no clear-cut victor to root for here, as both sides are guilty of transgressions that neither should be engaging in. Momo is an innocent young girl doing what she can to survive, but also, like many of us during these tumultuous times in the real world, is tired of the fighting. This yearning to be “left alone”, so to speak, to seek out a different way of life, and the same feeling that emanates from Fine and much of her kind, is more relatable now than ever. That, coupled with gorgeous animation, characters beyond tropey depictions, and an excellent voice cast, make for a great beginning to a short but sweet series. And it’s about time we talk about something vampire-related other than Twilight, since we just can’t let that franchise die.
Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot, and more. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s collecting retro consoles and tech. Follow her on Twitter: @MolotovCupcake.
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