Eden of the East

Alt title: Higashi no Eden

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VivisQueen's avatar
Jul 3, 2009

Story

For as long as I can remember, anime of the mystery genre have proven creatively stale. As a rule, trying to find a gratifying mystery is an ordeal much like rummaging for haute couture in a dark, creaky charity shop that smells faintly of mothballs. Foremost amongst the dust-caked offerings, Darker than Black collapses into a morbid mess; low-grade Fantastic Children keeps things cheap and cheerless; and the snail-paced Ghost Hound dulled my senses to such an extent that I never saw its middle episodes.

How delightfully reassuring, then, to discover Eden of the East; this, unlike the aforementioned failures, begins on a much higher bar of quality. In fact, tapping into the hot topics of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, information technology, marginalised geek subculture, and subversive conspiracy theories, it accomplishes an astronomical level of relevancy to its early twenty-first century audience that’s both rare and difficult to pull off. Like Akira emerging from a background of Cold War paranoia, Eden of the East manages to capture the Zeitgeist of disenfranchised youth of the millennium and repackage it into a fascinating adventure that anyone can enjoy. Instead of loudmouthed biker brats trying to prevent the apocalypse, there are spotty middle-class misfits with too much HP trying to save Japan from itself.

The sequence of events may be ambiguous, with the script hardly pausing to explain how they connect with each other, but the pace remains satisfyingly steady. Strangely enough, like watching a master illusionist at work, the confusion contributes to the enjoyment. The series withholds tantalising facts until the last possible moment and glosses over its meandering mystery with generous handfuls of charisma.

In truth, the first half of the show elicits the kind of spine-tingling rapture that only comes along once a decade when viewers inadvertently stumble upon a confident masterpiece. I could see it already – breathless fans hailing Eden of the East as the second coming of Death Note, the easy five-star ratings flying from reviewers’ fingertips, and a live-action movie so popular it even makes it as far as British cinemas by 2015!

All I can say is enjoy the magic while it lasts. Inevitably, Eden of the East overreaches and certain contortions of the plot midway stretch viewers’ suspension of disbelief to untenable limits. At first there is a clever chase sequence highly reminiscent of Light and L’s interplay in Death Note, where the mysterious hero Akira tries to save the day with the help of Juiz (a voice on his phone which grants his every wish). For whatever reason, just at that key juncture, the show follows up with a scene of such crippling farce that, despite later rationalisation, it spells a stunning loss of momentum. After that, there’s a long period of rushed explanations, sluggish suspense, and one or two twists desperately in need of more coherent setup.

Fans expecting easy-to-grasp developments and a neat conclusion will end up disappointed. However, for conspiracy theorists and generally anal fans who like to pore over minute details and debate exact wordings for weeks after a show is over, this will prove quite the feast.


Animation

Even in this age of knock-off CGI and dime-a-dozen action sequences, Eden of the East’s visuals warrant some respect. The style may not be up to much, but cityscapes, monorails, museums, cars, and streets have rarely looked this good. The quirkiest aspect is the combination of hamster-cheeked characters with hyper-realistic, superbly detailed backgrounds. Although this sounds intuitively incompatible, the quality of animation is consistently high and melds everything together nicely.


Sound

Apart from a catchy opening theme sung by the established Brit-rock band, Oasis, and some excellent American voice acting during the early episodes, Eden of the East’s soundtrack remains effective but wholly unremarkable.


Characters

Out of all the characters, only Akira Takigawa leaps off the screen with his incredible effervescence. Turning up at the White House naked with a gun in his first scene certainly makes him memorable, but his charm extends beyond mere gimmicks. Akira’s development reveals a fascinating duality in his personality, which ensures he is at once easy to like and teasingly difficult to grasp. His whimsical nature belies an underlying quick mind and a surprising level of gravity, the latter of which manifests itself in the messianic themes surrounding him (obvious statements that he’s Saki’s ‘prince’, his supposed massacre of 20,000 NEETs, the occasional deadpan expression etc). He’ll delight and entrance in turn, and he’ll do it seemingly without much effort.

Everyone else, unfortunately, gets caught in the whirlwind of his mystery without any opportunity to make their own mark. The good news is that the supporting cast, being ordinary people with ordinary problems, generally behave within the familiar boundaries of reason. Regrettably, this means that, when thrown into Eden of the East’s extraordinary circumstances, they become like headless chickens – alarmingly useless. At some point, I began to wonder how many more times I’d have to watch Saki mope after Akira, worrying about his terrible secrets without being able to help uncover them. Her behaviour is always understandable, of course, but also off-putting for being redundant.

Apart from that, the gaggle of weak antagonists impedes any attempt at emotional investment. The most carelessly developed individual has to be that purple-haired femme fatale whose morbid behaviour is as caricatured as her looks. Being the only female of note other than the mediocre Saki, I found her constant prancing in underwear and high heels a horribly patronising and silly portrayal. Truly, does being psychologically disturbed always have to mean being half naked? Other antagonists introduced later simply look boring, are underdeveloped, or generally don’t do much of note. Viewers will keep watching simply to find out the answers to the questions set at the beginning, and not because they will care about the conflict of interest.


Overall

I find this a very difficult anime to recommend without caveats. Objectively, I recognise Eden of the East’s great achievements; brandishing an arsenal of treats, including an innovative mystery that doubles as social commentary and Akira’s magnetic characterisation, it will exceed expectations on first impressions. On the other hand, I feel underwhelmed by the experience. Somehow, the show misses its mark, becoming a rambling setup for the anticipated movies with convoluted themes and tenuous explanations. Nonetheless, the fact remains – for a fresh and nail-biting reinterpretation of the mystery genre (even if short-lived), Eden of the East rivals the monumental favourites on the market to date.

7.5/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
BeheadedDog's avatar
Jun 15, 2015

Story revolves around a young girl who meets a amnesiac boy at washington and how the boy tries to figure out his past.

Somehow i felt the story was too off and totally built on the idea of possibility.

It was a light hearted action show most possibly targeting young teens or females. There have been several movies or animes following similar story (like the movie Jason Bourne) that makes better use of the male protagonist and the settings

5/10 story
7/10 animation
6/10 sound
4/10 characters
5/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar
May 19, 2012

Notice: This review covers both the series and the two movie sequels. They have the same story continuity and the producers simply didn’t want to make this a single full season series.

PRODUCTION VALUES
The animation is done by Production I.G. a studio which always does an exceptional job when it comes to detailed and elaborate science fiction settings. The animation is simply the best thing one can expect from a tv series of the era the show was made.
- Every background is brimming with details and colors, most of which really look like real locations of today’s urban America and Japan.
- All the characters’ movements are so smooth and lively most of the time; you really can’t compare them with the average stiff body, mouth-flapping cardboard of an average anime.
- All faces are drawn rather simple but have such an amazing liveliness in expressions; you can’t help adoring the characters.
- BMG and voice acting are also done in a professional way, without high-pitched voices, random tunes and any of the usual things I loath in mediocre productions.
- Even the dialogues have decent context when they don’t try to explain the otherwise messy story.
- The opening song by Oasis easily becomes a favorite. I must have heard it fifty times so far.
- The artistic touches they gave to the opening and ending themes with all that paperwork is simply stunning.
- The SD comedy moments did not feel annoying; which is rare.
- Too much dick innuendo. Seriously, there are a lot of jokes regarding naked men to the point it becomes disturbing.

SCRIPT
Eden of the East is amazing when it comes to themes, and shit when it comes to presenting them. As much as you can like the moral and social messages, you just can’t turn a blind eye to a completely ridiculous plot that tries to impress you with a triple aerial flip but ends up landing on its head. The premise is definitely amazing, dealing with a plethora of issues such as unemployment, terrorism, a sort of death tournament, webbed in a global scale conspiracy concerning total control over a nation’s actions.

The first half was doing great, being a battle of wits where cell-phone owners use cunningness to outsmart one another and save Japan from a financial disaster. But then it lost all sense of logic; specifically when some bitch magically sprouts wings and flies out of a window. WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? They vaguely explained it to be some sort of an illusion but not only they do not justified how she did it without preparation in just a few seconds but also why she HAD to result to such a costly gimmick and not just open the freaking door and leave like a normal person.

That exact moment is when you realize the commands the cell-phone owners give are simply not possible to happen. Requests are supposed to be fast responses by government officials, so technically you are bribing people to bend the rules or bypass bureocracy. Sounds reasonable, right? So guess how retarded it feels when you can wish the most improbable things to happen, such as kill that guy immediately, or make that guy have amnesia, or make me sprout wings so I can start flying. All of which happen in just a few seconds after you give the command, with perfect coordination and execution.

This is no longer logical and justified, IT’S PLAIN MAGIC! I mean, ok, it is an anime, you shouldn’t expect perfect realism, but suspending your disbelief can work up to a point; not when things are so retarded they can not be ignored anymore. The series began as a plausible sci-fi setting full of mind games; not magical nonsense. It essentially performed a U turn in themes and seriousness, and became an average dumb super power shounen.

CAST
And as if that wasn’t big enough of a problem, not even the actions of Akira, the protagonist, make any sense. He gave the order to become amnesiac in the very beginning of the show. Setting aside the fact that there is technology that can somehow do that, and also how amnesia is a very lazy plot device to halt progress, it was never explained why he did it. It wasn’t helpful in any way; in fact most of the show got wasted on trying to remember who he really is. And as soon as he achieves that, he just orders to forget everything once again. It’s all part of a masterplan … when there is no masterplan. And they don’t even stop there; they just spam amnesia after that to make everybody forget everything, and we essentially get a reset ending where nobody learned anything or remembers achieving something.

Along with the protagonist we have Saki, a cute girl running after Akira in his non-sensical adventures. She is there as a self-insert, representing the average young citizen who has a hard time finding his place in a world where money is never enough, troubled with finding a job, wanting to do something to help his nation, or even to seek love and adventure in the most unlikely of situations. That is supposed to make her very relatable to the audience. The problem with her is that she is essentially a lobotomized askman. She is doing nothing but being a lap dog to Akira, gasping and asking question for the sake of exposition. What does she otherwise offer to the plot? Absolutely nothing! She is just the stereotypical klutz naive girl in shojo manga, falling in love with a bad boy who has a mysterious tragic past. So corny! And this is otherwise supposed to be aimed at the josei demographic. This is twilight material! She is Bella, a bland cute face looking for romance so the audience can feel fuzzy inside. And of course not even the romance goes anywhere because they are spamming amnesia left and right.

In a similar way, everybody ends up being nothing but plot devises in the hands of the author and his magic cell phone gimmicks. Almost nobody has something to do in the show. They are just running around, asking questions they know the answers for, but fuck you because amnesia. There are a dozen cell-phone owners and most of them don’t get more than one episode of total screentime. They don’t do anything, nor do we learn much about them. But hey, who cares about such things? The cast has lively expressions, vivid movements, young naivety, romantic tension, and lots of things that make them adorable in the eyes of the casual audience. Why have personalities when you can have bland self inserts? And screw character development because amnesia resets everything. Start writing your fan fiction.

LEGACY
It is very pleasing to watch with a blank mind as visuals and music are great, while the cast is adorable. It is otherwise yet another easily digestable work of fiction for romantic fangirls, or people who care to watch without thinking WHAT THE HELL they are watching. Now order to grow gills and go live in ocean. Because technology.

SUGGESTION LIST
Death Note
Code Geass
Mirai Nikki
Terror In Resonance
[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

2/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
3/10 characters
5/10 overall
notoriousj0e's avatar
Aug 19, 2016

After finishing episode 11 of Eden of the East, I asked myself: "What was my reason for watching this show?". Was it because I enjoyed Terror in Resonance? Was it because I didn't hate Future Diary and gag at the mention of its name? Or could it be because I wanted to watch Death Note, but dont want to commit to 30+ episodes right now? By all accounts, I was disapointed by Eden of the East.

Maybe the biggest problem with this show is the grievous identity crisis that lasts through its entirety. In Episode one, the mc, Takizawa, compares himself to Jason Bourne, as he has no memory but possesses a large array of passports and guns. Soon after, he becomes entangled in a half-baked romance (wouldn't be a complete anime without one), mysterious terrorist plottings that nobody seems to care about (a sentiment that I shared), a cell-phone based death game (there's the gag-reflex from the Future Diary hate group), and a visual-recognition software startup (that's a new one). The show also suffers from no real tone. It remains a dorky comedy with frequent dick(I mean johnny)-humor throughout moment of tension or mystery.

In one scene in a helicopter, a character says "this game is stupid". The nail has been hit on the head. We can go home now folks. The survival game theme has been reused to death, especially in anime. So in a bid to be unique, the makers of Eden of the East came up with the dumbest, most convoluted competition with less plausibility than Future Diary at its worst. Originality exists in the scope of a narrative and the execution than it does in a novel concept. Another fail by EotE. The show ends without a completion to the game, thus increasing the why-bother factor. 

To summarize, Eden of the East an ambitious show that tried to do too much and failed at it all. I didn't like the confused narrative, lack of a point or catharsis, or the ridiculous absense of depth or tone in the characters. The rating was overblown by people who enjoyed the ambitious nature of Eote's concept and heralded it as revolutionary. Unfortunately, Eden of the East is just not that good an anime and not a fun or intelligent watch.

3/10 story
7.5/10 animation
6/10 sound
4/10 characters
4/10 overall
JohnWatchAnime's avatar
Dec 24, 2014

This review is for the Secret Santa even 2014

Eden of the East is about a young girl named Saki, who is traveling to the united states for her graduation trip. When she is visiting Washington she meets a strange naked guy named Akira. He accompanies her back to Japan. When Saki met Akira he had lost his memories and was part of a game which gives him a phone and 8 billion yen. When he uses the phone a women named Juiz will fullfill any request with the 8 billion yen.


The story of Eden of the east is very vague, eventhough I watched the anime in one go, I still didn’t get it. I followed only parts of the story, maybe if I would watch it again in the future I would be able to follow it much better.

The characters in the anime are pretty  standard, there’s the casual girl following the mysterious guy (saki) and her friends where she went on a graduation trip with. Akira on the other hand was more interesting. Because he had lost his memories I didn’t really know what he was up to or what he was thinking. He was a mysterious guy, but was also one of the causes why I couldn’t really follow what was going on.

The character design was okay for most of the characters, however I didn’t liek the way they made Saki. It looked like she was a 10-12 year old girl while she in fact was in her twenties. The animation in the anime was nice, it was fluid when it had to be and was less at not as relevant parts of the anime.


In the end I thought his anime was not to bad. I give it 3,5 stars. I didn’t feel like i was wasting my time and the anime kept making my watch episode after episode.

6/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall