Genre(s): Action, Supernatural, Psychological, Mystery, Thriller
Age-Appropriateness: 18+ (Graphic violence, Gore, Nudity (TW: Sexual Assault Ep. 3))
Episodes: 10 Movies, most 1 hour, some 2 hours, and some 30 minutes.
TheAwersome Rating: 6.0 / 10 (Tries too hard at what it’s bad at)
Premise: Shiki Ryougi acquired the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception, which allow her to see and cut the critical life threads of any living thing, after surviving a fatal accident. She’s teamed up with her high school friend Mikiya Kokuto working for a detective agency run by the mage Toko Aozaki that specializes in the paranormal. Through investigating the various cases, Shiki, and those around her learn of Shiki’s true nature, attracting the unwanted attention of those who would seek to claim her Mystic Eyes for their own benefit.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: This started out interesting enough. The entire series is set in the late 90s, and strongly channels that era’s “gritty anime” vibe: Excessively violent, dark, and too many mostly failed attempts at being philosophical and deep. Because this was by studio ufotable (Fate/Zero, Fate/SN [UBW], Fate/SN HF) with music by Yuki Kajiura I had really high hopes. But there’s only so much that stellar animation and music can compensate for when the story and source material is so convoluted.
Do you guys remember that scene in the second Matrix movie where Neo’s talking with the Architect and we just get a dump truck of exposition via a 20-minute monologue? That’s tame compared to trying to follow this. I feel every episode tries way too hard to present a philosophical point that is utterly and completely baseless. That and the episodes are chronologically a mess.
The good news is that about one out of three episodes are decently entertaining enough, but I really can’t say “You should watch this.”
TLDR: Stellar animation and music for a boring, unconvincing story.
This does take place in the “Nasuverse,” which refers to the various stories by writer Kinoko Nasu that are all loosely connected (think Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere); so if you recognize elements from Tsukihime or the Fate universe, that’s why. While it was refreshing to watch something of stellar modern quality that doesn’t suffer from using any tired tropes of today’s mainstream anime, I feel it went too far and negated itself. In an attempt to not have any of the tropey “anime comedy” that kind of makes you feel like a kid for watching it, this show tries So Very Hard to be deep and philosophical and because it doesn’t seem convincing at first they just make it more and more complicated and it falls into the “well now you’re just a kid trying too hard to be an adult” category.
Its explanations are even more convoluted than Harry Potter being the actual master of the Elder Wand because TEchNicAllY it was DrAcO who stole it from Dumbledore even though Snape killed him, so since DRACO took the wand, HE’s the master even though he gave it to Snape who gave it to Voldemort, and Harry stole a DIFfErEnt wand from Draco once like, halfway across the country four weeks ago, that means that the Elder Wand that Voldemort has that he took by killing Snape doesn’t count because it was technically Malfoy’s but now it’s technically Harry’s because it knows somehow that A Wand was taken from Malfoy by Harry. I always thought that was a steaming pile of horse butter, and that’s about what you can expect from most of the episodes of Garden of Sinners. I mean, my brother at 15 years old had more convincing explanations for Star Wars plot holes that he’d make up on the fly to convince Cub Scouts that he was a Jedi.
If you are curious, here’s the chronology of the episodes. I’m fine with the occasional flashback episode, but this is just outrageous:
-Episode 1 – 5th
-Episode 2 – 1st
-Episode 3 – 4th
-Episode 4 – 2nd
-Episode 5 – 6th
-Episode 6 – 7th
-Episode 7 – 8th
-Episode 8 – 9th
-Episode 9 – 3rd with a timeskip to 10th
-Episode 10 – Kind of around 6th-ish?
So yeah, if you really, REALLY are in the camp of “Older darker, grittier anime from the 90s are the only good anime” than you’ll probably like this. Personally, it felt like Matrix meets Underworld meets a group of r/iamverysmart neckbeards at 2 AM sharing their philosophical ideals that they don’t believe or understand but just want to share to look smart.