One day, in 2011, a Japanese university student by the name of Saki Morimi is visiting America. When she throws something into the Whitehouse courtyard, the security guards quickly start questioning her... but she is quickly granted a distraction by our protagonist, Akira Takizawa, who has appeared outside the Whitehouse completely naked, with a phone in one hand and a gun in the other, and absolutely no recollection of who he is or how he got there.
Saki lends him her coat, but quickly comes to realise that she left her passport in there, causing her to chase after him. Meanwhile, Akira finds a large amount of weapons at his apartment, along with several fake IDs. As the series progresses, Akira finds out that he is part of a group called the Selecao, who have each been granted an enormous sum of money, and a phone connected to somebody called Juiz who will use this money to carry out any command they are given. Their cause is to use this money to save Japan.
As you've probably noticed by this point, the premise of this series is absolutely bonkers, and in the best way possible. It comes across as anime's take on American spy thrillers, and pulls it off with ease. For example, a notable part of this series is their aversion to Engrish, not counting that spoken by the Japanese characters when in America. Instead, they hire actual American voice actors to play the American roles. This is, of course, only one facet of the genius put into this show's production. Watching it, it's very obvious that Production I.G. absolutely spared no expenses in making this series. The animation is absolutely top-notch, along with a distinctive art style that will be familiar to fans of Honey And Clover, whom it shared a character designer with. It's also worth noting that the opening and ending themes are both extremely impressive. For the opening theme, they use Falling Down by Oasis, which not only flaunts the massive budget they had on this, but also adds heavily to the multicultural chic the show uses. This is set over an animated sequence with a visual style that would make Steve Jobs cream his shorts if he saw it. The ending theme, while less notable music-wise, uses a very distinct style, using a stop-motion sequence made using papercraft.
And all of this makes Eden of the East all the more disappointing.
The first problem that appears comes up about halfway through the series, and that would be that Juiz is ridiculously overpowered. You can basically ask Juiz to perform pretty much any command, and it will magically happen. Now, in of itself, this isn't the problem. The issue isn't what she can do so much as how she does it. The ways in which the commands are executed are simply ridiculous. For one example, upon command, a truck is to be brought down to block the path. Rather than, say, a sniper shooting out the wheels, the truck falls apart. No explanation as to how this is done is ever given. It falls apart of it's own accord because somebody paid out a large sum of money for it to happen. And sadly, this isn't even the most nonsensical use of Juiz's abilities, though to name any worse uses would be to give out enormous spoilers. The ending, for example, features a mind-breakingly stupid use of it that provides a completely asinine plot twist that had no foreshadowing whatsoever, and doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. The Juiz concept does get put to good use on numerous occasions, mind you. One sequence, for example, is reminiscent of the back-and-forth mind games presented in Death Note, and is used just as well as they were there, which makes it a shame that it isn't put to such good use more often.
Another problem is that the "Save Japan" concept is underused. On a few occasions we see the other Selecao and their ideas for how to save Japan, and these are actually very good, but overall we just don't see enough of them. These ideas, and the stories behind them, are one of the more interesting parts of the series, but we only really see it happen on two occasions, most likely due to the painfully short 11-episode runtime.
The characters are another disappointing part of the series. Most of the cast are just completely uninteresting, especially Saki. The only truly interesting character in the series is Akira, but he isn't exactly great either. While he's far from a bad character, he's anything but impressive. Part of his problem is that he is permanently happy. The only side we ever see to him is an all-smiles personality with absolutely no depth of emotion. Of course, being constantly happy isn't exactly a bad thing, but it's hard to get attached to a character who seems completely one-dimensional.
If anything, I think this entire series would have been better in almost every way if it had just been longer. 11 episodes simply isn't enough time for a series this ambitious, which is probably why two movies have been produced to follow it up. I have yet to see the movies, but nonetheless it seems nigh impossible for them to properly fix the series' faults. At best, they may give some development to the characters, but as late as that it seems like a poor idea. Really, it would have been better if there had simply been about 4 more episodes in the middle of the series. This would have given them time to make the characters more interesting and fleshed-out, shown the ideas behind the remaining Selecao, and come up with more interesting ways to use the abilities of Juiz, then Eden of the East could have been truly fantastic. Instead, it comes across more as a collection of great ideas that weren't properly realised.
Final Words: I weep for the lost potential this series has. If we're lucky then the movies will pick up some slack for it, but there's no way it'll fix everything.
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