vampire in the garden is a breath of fresh air from Netflix. It’s not a one-off movie, nor is it another weird CG version of a well-known series. Instead, it’s a heartfelt look at two sides of a war that’s been going on for some time, with a victor unlikely to ever be decided. Combined with beautiful artwork, excellent voice acting, and a first episode that will get your heart racing, this unique look at two different types of monsters is shaping up to be a must-watch, even from its very first episode. You won’t want to miss this one.
opening shot: We are immediately transported into a frozen tundra as a young woman traverses it, interrupted by visions of a music box and a waltz couple. A female voice is trying to convince someone that they cannot go with someone else, that paradise is waiting for them. A young white-haired woman wakes up with a start.
The essentials: One winter long ago, vampires appeared and brought a plague to mankind. Requiring only blood for sustenance, they were able to reproduce fast enough for humanity to be unable to match. When the humans lost most of their lands to the vampires, they worked to build a fortress that could help them fend off the bloodthirsty monsters while preserving humanity.
That meant building a sanctuary surrounded by a wall of light. Humans banded together to survive while protecting each other, looking for a leg they could possibly gain against the ridiculously powerful vampires. They even destroyed music, art and culture as we know it to not make the vampires attack or provoke now. Every able-bodied person joins 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 doing her part in the military to fight off the vampire menace. She works under the watchful eye of her mother, the General, and alongside her friend Milana as she sorts trash and searches for vampires. Life is difficult for Momo as she is fed up with the conflicts and wishes she could just be left alone.
On the other hand, 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 drinking the blood she needs to survive and instead waits to find a place to die. She and Momo have one thing in common: the desire for all fighting to stop. And so, when they meet, they set off in search of a place called Eden, the mythical garden that no one has seen before but 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 pose a central threat to humanity and the Hellsing Organization is summoned to defeat them with an army led by ex-human and newborn vampire Seras Victoria. Anime fans will also recognize themes similar to those of Vampire Knightin which a human student becomes involved in the affairs of a class of vampires who attend the same high school as her.
Our opinion: vampire in the garden feels like it’s going to be a tearjerker of the highest calibre. There is also evidence that Fine will fall in love with Momo as she apparently did with another human girl before tragedy struck her. Fine already sees remnants of her old love in Momo, especially when she sings with the music box, so it seems the couple could come together and eventually start a relationship.
In addition, a massive war is brewing that is unlikely to end in peace for humans or vampires. The first episode is bloody and violent, casting a negative light on both sides of the conflict. Humans and vampires can never seem to coexist, but the gunfights and attacks are still visually interesting and exciting to watch, with certain scenes being very radiant attack on Titan Vibe, just like the walls repel titans in this series, the light wall repels vampires here.
Even in the first 20 minutes of the series, it manages to captivate and engage in a way that many of the Shonen-centric series of late have failed to do. If it keeps that momentum going, there’s no way this series can evolve into something more intriguing (and potentially more romantic) over time, even if it veers into emotional damage territory soon enough, and I’ve watched enough anime to know where it is probably will stop next.
gender and skin: none. Humanity is too busy fighting off the vampires, and the vampires are trying to protect their own kind. Nobody thinks about looking hot or wearing it…at least not in this episode.
farewell shot: After an unknown group of fighters end the rampaging vampire’s life by decapitating his writhing body with a sword, Fine and Momo are able to escape in a vehicle. With Momo huddled in the back seat for safety, Fine asks her if she’s alright as the pair cruise across the snowy banks into the horizon, likely the same ones we saw at a different time earlier in the episode.
sleeping star: Larissa Gallagher brings a warmth and poignancy to Fine that can either send shivers down your spine or make you feel right at home, and as Fine oscillates between warmth and caring, fatigue and a willingness to fight for her loved ones , Gallagher’s voice fits right in. She’s also a refreshing choice for the series, as there are a few voice actors who tend to be overused far too often for these character tropes.
Most pilot line: Momo is called to her mother, the general, in her office and receives her new assignment. Her mother is brutally honest about the state of affairs: “This town is crumbling because of the never-ending war with the vampires. Our resources are running out and we can’t hold out much longer. We have no choice but to fight. It’s kill or be killed. Get it?” Moments later, everything collapses and continues down that path for the entire episode. It sets the stage for what will happen later in the series.
Our appeal: Stream it. Since time immemorial we have witnessed wars between humans and vampires. But there is something to it vampire in the garden This is so immersive that you can’t help but glue your eyes to the screen. There is no clear winner to lean on here, as both sides have committed transgressions that neither should be a part of. Momo is an innocent young girl who will do whatever it takes to survive, but also, like many of us in these turbulent times of the real world, is tired of fighting. This longing to be “left alone” so to speak, to seek a different way of life, and the same feeling that emanates from Fine and many of her kind is now more understandable than ever. That, coupled with beautiful animation, characters that go beyond trope and an excellent voice cast, makes for a great start to a short but sweet series. And it’s about time we talked about something other than vampires duskas we simply cannot let this franchise die.
Brittany Vincent has been reporting on video games and tech for publications such as G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot and more for over a decade. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s collecting retro consoles and tech. Follow her on Twitter: @MolotovCupcake.