Review #55-Winter Garden

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Merry Christmas dear readers! We hope you are doing well as the advent season continues to advance. Anyway, today we are reviewing an anime appropriate for the season called Winter Garden, which is actually a spin-off of the anime Di Gi Charat. We hope you enjoy the review, but beware, as there may be minor SPOILERS!

Without further ado, let us begin the review!

Summary: This is sweet and bitter love story of Dejiko who is a grown up. The story begins on the Christmas day. Dejiko or Di Gi Carat is working part-time at a bakery shop. On her way from the shop, she happens to meet a young guy, Senba Taokuo at a park. Then, she meets him again in a town. While Dejiko begins to care for Tako and she’s looking forward meet him again, Takuo drops in at her shop…. Whether will she succeed in love? -MyAnimeList

Plot: 5/10

Winter Garden is pretty standard as a girl meets boy drama. The story itself takes place over the course of a year, which results in there being a great number of time skips. This leaves the story feeling a little bit disjointed. The story itself is also kind of weak, forced, and a little bit rushed at points, even taking into account time skips, but still charming enough. Its greatest shortcoming is the failure to relieve the tension present in the story properly, leaving the viewer wholly unsatisfied. As a forewarning, very little of the story actually involves Christmas outside of the very start.

Characters: 5/10

The anime works with a smaller cast, which is definitely to its advantage. The characters aren’t really set up properly (likely a result of it being a spin-off and the assumption the viewer would already be familiar with characters).  While this able to be overlooked, developments in the characters are a little out of place. The main couple unfortunately are a rather bland pair of characters, despite being the main ones. Often, the supporting cast are more entertaining or even developed than the main couple.

Animation: 7/10

The animation is a bit older, so it may be off putting to some. However, it does not detract from the anime itself all that much. It is hard sometimes to tell what actual season the scenes are taking place in at times.

Soundtrack: 8/10

Easily the best part of the show, the soundtrack is definitely enjoyable to listen to. It can seem a little bit random at times, but is nonetheless a high point for the show.

Themes: 7/10

As an anime meant, in part, for the Christmas season, it does deal heavily with the typical Japanese view of Christmas as a romantic holiday (making it more akin to Valentine’s Day than a religious holiday). The anime displays both a family love dynamic and the relationship of a couple as its primary thematic focus. The couple’s relationship touches on both idealistic expectations of a relationship, as well as the realistic struggles that are always present. It also gives a reminder of the importance of communication in a relationship. Going along with this, it explores loyalty in relationships as well.

Final Score: 6.4/10

Final Grade: D

B-Ro’s Take

Winter Garden was a mess. It is a spinoff of another anime, so maybe if you watched the original anime first it would be better. It did not stand well on its own however. The animation was not the best, but it was bearable and did not have any impact of the quality of the show over all. The characters where not introduced well into the show at all. You are given very little information about the characters and they force a lot of development. There was also a very weak story about jealousy that seemed rather forced as well. I don’t think I can say that there was anything done well with this anime. However it was not the worst thing I ever saw, it was just boring and bland. Out of 10 I would give this anime a 5.5. I would only recommend this anime to people who have seen the original anime and enjoyed it. Maybe if you have more background information going in to it you can enjoy it more. – B-Ro

LowKev’s Take

Seeing that this was a short series, I had the benefit of watching this a few times. With that, I can say confidently that Winter Garden is amazing… for its music. And by that I mean its opening, closing, and the inserted French song. I don’t know why, but the songs are just so catchy and cute. I’ve been listening to them all week, and will most certainly be checking out more by Instant Crytron. So for that alone, Winter Garden was worth the watch for me. With that out of the way, the show itself is pretty mediocre, but has admittedly grown on me as I watched it again. It definitely helped to have some context about the show. How was I supposed to know that the main characters were actually aliens who came to Earth years ago for Dejiko to become a pop idol from Winter Garden alone? Once I found this out, I ended up watching a few episodes of Di Gi Charat, and I’ll admit that they’re pretty entertaining shorts. This also explains why Dejiko and Puchiko acted a little strange at times, and didn’t need a formal introduction. I’m curious how long time Di Gi fans reacted to this. It would have been quite interesting for Dejiko to suddenly shoot eye beams at someone, but they wanted to emphasize that Dejiko has grown up and mellowed out. Which isn’t a bad thing per se. However, perhaps the main problem in the anime is her relationship with Takorou. They don’t really feel that close, and the conflict between them is perhaps one of the worst cases of “conflict that can easily be solved by communication” that I have ever seen. I feel like this show is meant to be a simple, easy going special for fans who grew up with Di Gi Charat. Despite the relationship bogging it down, the show mostly succeeds on this front. I imagine it to be bittersweet for a fan to see Dejiko as an adult. But all in all, I appreciated the music recommendation, didn’t hate my time watching it, and despite it not being that Christmassy, it somewhat got me in that good times holiday spirit. Somewhat.

Final Comments: Even with a surprisingly strong soundtrack, Winter Garden lacks holiday spirit contrary to what one might expect going into it, just as it lacks interesting characters and a convincing plot.

Thank you for joining us for our first review of the holiday season! Have you seen this anime? What’re your thoughts on it? Be sure to check out the recent bonus post of Our Favorites: Christmas Anime Episodes for more Christmas anime ideas. We will be back next week reviewing the anime movie Santa Company! Look forward to it!

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