Image via Azuki

Enter the Garden Teases a Fascinating Future for Anime

If there is one element of the anime industry holding it back, it is the production committee system. It puts the bulk of the money back into the pockets of a select number of executives and investors, instead of the anime studios and animators. The anime Enter the Garden presents a case for a style and approach separate from that outdated and problematic format.

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Azuki, a new anime brand, released Enter the Garden as its first true web anime series production. After some shorts and other projects, the show kicked off with its first episode called “The Waiting Man.” Instead of going through streaming services like Crunchyroll and Netflix, it opted for an independent approach.

Enter the Garden Azuki
Image via Azuki

Fans can watch the fascinating series on either the Azuki YouTube channel or its official website. It has the legendary likes of Junichi Yamamoto, director of Code Geass, behind the helm of the premiere. In addition, it employs the iconic Japanese voice actors many fans likely already know and love, such as Akari Kito (Nezuko from Demon Slayer), Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch from Code Geass) and Tomokazu Sugita (Gintoki from Gintama). As such, Enter the Garden sets itself up to stand on the same level of the usual high-quality anime fans are used to, with a similar level of talent, but without the aged restraints that need to go.

This shows all throughout the quite experimental premiere episode, which certainly gives off an artsy vibe from start to finish. The premiere lasts just under nine minutes and takes place almost entirely in the same spot. It focuses on an older man with a fishing rod who sits quietly next to a futuristic vending machine. It centers around the people who go up to the vending machine, including a girl frustrated with the lack of control in her personal life.

The brief interactions with the characters lead to a swift action sequence towards the end of “The Waiting Man.” Of course, the Enter the Garden episode ends on an intriguing cliffhanger. It hints at the true purpose of the series and titular garden. Overall, I would liken this first episode to visiting an art museum. This first episode is like the main exhibit, which is stunning and enjoyable to look at. However, it is only really there for us to admire its beauty and ponder. There is a distinct lack of substance or anything really happening in the initial entry, due to the exceptionally short runtime.

For this reason, the first episode is best seen as proof of what is possible with independent anime like this one. To be fair, while the story and characters offer very little at this point, the animation looks stellar. The slightly futuristic vibes of the Japanese city give off some incredible detail in its grimy atmosphere. Meanwhile, the special effects of various aspects like water and lighting help to set the scene of the world well.

Image via Azuki

For now, Enter the Garden is worth a look just for its attempt at something wholly different from everything else in anime. It feels uniquely indie in a way I haven’t seen from an series like this before. In some cases, I would even compare it to the current digital net cartoons surging in the West, such as The Amazing Digital Circus. I look forward to the next experimental and atmospheric episode.

Enter the Garden is available to stream right now via the Azuki YouTube and website.

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Cody Perez
Cody is a writer who has been sharing his love for video games and anime since his high school days in 2012. When he isn’t writing about the latest JRPGs and anime series, he can be found in Final Fantasy XIV, occasionally playing some Call of Duty, or lurking on Twitter @SoulcapCody.