Eden of the East

Alt title: Higashi no Eden

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VivisQueen's avatar By on 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 By on 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
JohnWatchAnime's avatar By on 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
Teka123's avatar By on Jul 26, 2014

Good story and fun development,

I was suprised by how much i enjoyed this anime, It's story is unique and it throws you into a great mystery which you discover along with our main character.

It's set in modern day japan, where our main character wakes up with amnesia, and off we go on a journey to unravel the mysteries, and the things which our main character are invovled with .

There's romance, mystery, drama and action, it's a fun ride which is somtimes slow paced but still well worth watching.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
CoulterRail's avatar By on Apr 4, 2014

<div>Don't get me wrong: Eden of the East is good anime. It's from the writer/director of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, so the storyline is intelligent and solid. The characters are charming and don't stink of cliché anime archetypes. The concept is interesting and I was driven to see the conclusion. So why couldn't this climb to four or five stars? Let's get to it:

***PROS***

ANIMATION
Smooth, no shortcuts or gimmicks. The backgrounds are a high point and stand out from standard anime. The battle animation and choreography look great, although battles are almost nonexistent.

CHARACTERS
The main character is funny, confident, and completely at home in his confusion. His self-assurance gives the series a lighthearted attitude that helps to keep it entertaining but also causes a problem down the road, which I'll get to. There's a hacker called "Panties" who'll come into play in the second half, and he is fantastic. The rest of the players are mildly interesting and not annoying, which seems to be hard to achieve nowadays in anime.

STORY
It's hard to touch on the story without throwing up *SPOILERS* because the whole point of the show is that the main character (Akira) has amnesia--and thus the audience should be amnesiacs, as well. We learn of this world as we go along. Akira wakes up naked outside the Capitol in Washington, DC. He has a gun, a cellphone, and no memory. The token female lead appears, and it's time to figure out what's going on. His cellphone has a ton of yen on it and an operator on call that can make pretty much anything happen. It's intriguing and enjoyable to unravel the facts of this unique world.

***CONS***

PACING
Eden of the East suffers from some pacing issues that begin around episode five. The story slows to service a romance and some curious side characters, and the casual attitude that makes Akira so likable begins to erode the seriousness that the plot is trying to form. The lag isn't terrible, but I felt myself getting bored. Worry set in that this show was going to lose its narrative or that the creators didn't have a conclusion planned at all (which anime is famous for). This story DOES HAVE A CONCLUSION, but it drifts between epic and disappointing--an odd feeling. While I can say I liked the resolution, I also felt the show deserved more.

MUSIC
The soundtrack is light, funky, and has some jazzy vocals. This quirkiness works during cute moments or when Akira is being slick, but during the intense scenes the lightness of the music undermines the gravity of the content. The missile attack finale is ruled by this music, dampening a great scene and making the end of the show feel like every other episode: charming and mildly entertaining.

Don't let my gripes dissuade you from watching this series; it's a good story and worth your time. I just expected more from the team behind this, because I knew they had the potential to create something fantastic. They created an interesting world and characters, and then moved them forward mildly. I will watch the movies and hope that they include the much-needed drama and intensity that the series is missing. Please enjoy, but don't expect action or anything more than what you start with. The story is interesting and well-conceived, but that is all.</div> <div> </div>

6/10 story
6.5/10 animation
3/10 sound
5/10 characters
5.5/10 overall