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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Noblesse Oblige - The Obligation of the Privileged…
Eden of the East AKA Higashi no Eden is a mystery noitamina anime, about a high stakes game with 11 players, special phones and 110 billion yen across these people. Right off the bat, this is not an anime like any other, it’s very unique and reminds me of Mirai Nikki*. It takes a while to get into, it’s short and most of all, it asks thought and patience of the viewer. Regardless of that, I’d think this would appeal to folks who don’t normally watch anime and I’d be happy recommending it to anyone as a first anime. Heck it’s been a while since I watched an anime where neets were a topic, the last time I remember of such things was one of the first anime I watched all those years ago. This is the reason why I watch anime, to come across interesting an unusual stories such as these. Let’s see if this is worth my excitement.
*As you may have noticed, I have yet to watch the Mirai Nikki anime. However it seems other folks feel this is similar and my comparison refers to the live action series Mirai Nikki Another World, which I have actually watched.
I also apologise for the very late review, I fell ill last week and was unable to spend time writing these reviews.
The animation is very high quality, though it honestly what it should be for a 2009 anime. I watched it in 720p HD and it was worth the effort. The animation is very polished, it’s not overly detailed, but it can do that when it needs to. Examples are models of certain items like the motorbike and the phone. At times it feels like the motion isn’t fluid, as if it has frame drops. But these moments aren’t noticed too often.
The style is not of the average anime, it seems a bit different and seems a bit gentler and not too invasive. I guess it’s to make it more appealing for the target audience, who probably get put off the generic anime style, which can be a bit ‘aggressive’ in some ways. It’s quite relaxed and the characters for the most part don’t stand out too much, though a few look like familiar types of characters, can’t be helped and easily forgiven. Of course there’s all the unique stuff in the almost psychedelic and certainly very creative intro/outro sequences. I was especially impressed by the outro, which was a fluid stop-motion paper thingy. Heck it was so fluid and looked so very good that I don’t know if it’s paper or CGI!
Finally, the anime is very sensible for the most part, while the main character appears naked at the start, their way of going about it is nothing off-putting, they censor it perfectly well. Hell there’s an awkward scene with a police officer (not in the way it sounds), but it’s done and dusted with no weirdness. Then there’s the psychopath with a strange method of murder… Somehow they manage to depict some weird things at the start of this anime, without making it seem weird. Oh and then there’s the 20k neets and the very last episode…
Oh man I want the soundtrack for this anime, it's so good. The intro song is very good, heck it’s sung in English. Not that Japanese ‘Engrish’ but proper native sounding English. The outro was also a very pleasant Japanese song and the music for the background was just as great. It’s nothing too exciting like rock or electro, but it’s some gentle and very appropriate instrumental music for the most part. Very nice.
This anime is available in both English and Japanese. I watch this in English and I must say it’s done very well, they put a ton of effort into the English version of this anime. Perhaps it was just the version of the anime I had, but there was a lot of English text outside of subtitles for some Japanese stuff. Especially the intro, it reminded me a lot of the Ef: A Tale of… intros. It’s almost like as if it’s trying to explain, set-up or refer to the story. An appreciated addition. Finally, as bit off topic, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to fully read the original Japanese title for this anime, the Kanji for East is one of the earlier ones I learnt and I can remember it! My brain isn’t so useless after all.
I recognised Akira Takizawa’s voice to be Jason Liebrecht, best known as Hei in Darker than Black and Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle, but he also voiced Luck Gandor/Gretto Avaro in Baccano and Kouhei Morioka in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase. Saki Morimi is voiced by Leah Clark, who was Minami Shimada in Baka to Test, Hikari Horaiki in the Evangelion Remake, Akane Suzumiya in Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Blair in Soul Eater, Nora Arendt in Spice and Wolf, Kai in Tower of Druaga and Maru in XXXHOLiC. Haruo Kagusa is voice by John Burgmeier, having voiced Tenshinhan in the Dragon Ball series, Dolcetto in FMA and I swear this guy voiced a character in some other anime I watched (can’t remember). Juiz is voiced by Stephanie Young, the voice of Clare in Claymore, Yui Ikari in the Evangelion remake, Arachne Gorgon in Soul Eater, Oruha in Tsubasa Chronicle and El Friede in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase. Kazuomi Hirasawa is voiced by J. Michael Tatum, who voiced Erwin Smith in Attack on Titan, Isaac Dian in Baccano, Ryoji Kaji in the Evangelion remake, Scar in FMA: Brotherhood, William de Farnese in Romeo X Juliet, Giriko in Soul Eater, Kraft Lawrence in Spice and Wolf, Kelb in Tower of Druaga, Seishirou in Tsubasa Chronicle and Shizuka Doumeki in XXXHOLiC. Kuroha Diana Shiratori is voiced by Christine M Auten, the voice behind Teresa in Claymore, young Kouta in Elfen Lied, Izumi Curtis/Dante in FMA and Shizue Sato in Welcome to the NHK. Mikuru Katsuhara is voiced by Stephanie Sheh, she has voiced Mrs. Kouzuki/Kaguya Sumeragi/Anya Alstreim in Code Geass, Eureka in Eureka Seven, Illyasviel von Einzberg in the Fate series, Yui Hirasawa in K-On (I’m watching it currently), Akira Kogami in Lucky Star, Mikuru Asahina in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Yui in SAO and Kinon Bachika in Gurren Lagann. Satoshi Oosugi is voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas, who hasn’t voiced many notable characters. Other characters include Yuusei Kondou voiced by Christopher R Sabat, Hajima Hiura voiced by Kent Williams, Jintaro Tsuji voiced by Todd Haberkorn and Ryosuke Morimi voiced by Troy Baker.
The main protagonist is the mysterious young man who has no clue of his identity and by chance finds out his name to be Akira Takizawa. There is no solid idea on who thins man is, he has no past, no family, no records, the man is a complete mystery. Found in the US, on the other side of the globe from home, nothing on him except for a phone and a gun, we discover that his memory was wiped by his own decision. He must now discover himself and figure out his current situation. Akira seems to be a relaxed guy, a pleasant, kind individual capable of thinking so deep and having a plan so grand that it involves him getting his memory wiped. He really is benevolent, he almost seems to have some sort of charisma about him. He’s realistic with his ideas and his way of thinking, though he is often corrected by Juiz who reminds him that he has the power to do almost anything he sets his mind to. He won’t divulge the scarce bits of odd truth to anyone though, he must first figure out who he really is. Among the odd things about him, he retains the memory of his mother when he was a child and can remember any movie, he was a movie nut. But he can’t remember his favourite movie. He owns a dog, a Shiba Inu which is always wearing cute little wings on its back, of course Akira can’t remember its name. Strange of all, he appears to have occasional hallucinations about strange grey men that reminds me of the creatures Sato hallucinates in Welcome to the NHK.
Saki Morimi is a young woman who has recently graduated from university and is currently looking for work (that’s my own situation). She was in America with some uni friends, but has made the extra detour to Washington on her own for reasons only she knows. Saki doesn’t always think things through, she forgets the most important of things and is often lost without those around her. But she is far from being helpless. Her parents have long since died, so she stays with her sister’s family. Her smarts aren’t obvious, but she can actually see and understand things that others would overlook. She is actually a very capable individual and feels strangely drawn to Akira Takizawa.
Satoshi Oosugi, the rosy cheeked guy is one of Saki’s friends and this guy has been lucky enough to land a proper full-time job. He’s a working man now (I’m jealous af), but he harbours affection for Saki. It’s obvious he has a crush on her, but of course, he wouldn’t have the guts to tell her. He can be brash and impulsive if he doesn’t keep his cool and this can land him into trouble. Most of all, he really doesn’t like Akira for getting close to his crush, he absolutely mistrusts the guy and this leads him… somewhere.
Kazuomi Hirasawa is another of Saki’s friends and this guy actually took a year off uni, delaying his degree. He’s supposed to be a neet… but this is clearly nonsense as he’s always out and about with his friends and working with them to get somewhere. He is the leader of their little group called Eden of the East and they’ve developed a powerful search engine that could change the world. He’s very smart, calm and collected, though he is reasonably wary of Akira and his ‘shady’ amnesia.
Mikuru Katsuhara is a small short-statured hacker girl, another of Saki’s buddies from within Eden of the East. The term ‘hacker’ is probably inappropriate here as she’s a computer whiz, she was the one who wrote the software and code for Eden of the East. It seems that Mikuru is a bit shy around people she doesn’t know too well, but she really gets along with those who are her friends. She can be a bit hot-headed and childish at times, but that just goes with the anime trope of short girls I guess.
Big sis AKA Onee (no name given) is the oldest of Saki’s friends in Eden of the East, as is evident by her relaxed composure and the wrinkles on her forehead. She really is the big sister, she never really buts in and is the supporting member of the group. She’s on hand to give advice, help out and is very knowledgeable. My description isn’t doing her justice, since I make her sound like she isn’t an important member of the team. She’s a bit difficult to describe, since she doesn’t have as many lines and scenes as the other characters, so she could be seen as shallow. But I take it she’s just being her adult self, letting things happen.
Haruo Kasuga is the strange guy with the glasses (Kazuomi has glasses too though) in the Eden of the East group. In meetings he seems to ‘reside’ inside a closed desk (you’ll understand when you see it) and is the closest thing to the comic relief of the group. He’s always trying his best to be of use and he can get carried away in his ideas, he easily excited. He’s best buddies with Satoshi and sounds like he understands his buddy’s feelings. He can make a fool of himself at times, but he’s an alright guy.
Juiz is the mysterious attendant who is accessible only via the unique phone that Akira has. She seems to have amazing capabilities, being able to pull up information on anything very quickly and able to carry out any order she receives, of course, with some exceptions (she can’t tell Akira about his past, perhaps because she was instructed to). She is very helpful and seems to be essential in making progress. On the odd occasion, she will act on her own, though this is mostly just to reassure and show concern over the user of the phone.
Onto the more side-characters is the voluptuous woman named Kuroha Diana Shiratori. This woman was already rich to begin with as she heads a large modelling company as its CEO and runs it with an iron fist, she is remorseless and will fire staff on the spot if they are not performing to her liking. She also owns a phone like the one Akira has. She is also sadistic and has a messed up mind. A very scary woman indeed. Does the phrase… ‘Johnny-killer’ ring a bell? IMO, she turned out to be an very interesting character, I’m glad she was included.
Among the cool other characters is the smart hacker (literal this time) Yutaka Isuzu. He dropped out of university and became a neet with the excuse that his last pair of pants flew away in the wind and he can’t leave home without pants. A shit excuse, but that’s besides his main objective. He has a big ego, likes girls (though is pleasantly surprisingly not a pervert), has put on weight since becoming a neet and is amazing with technology, he can even hack ‘special hardware’. He falls into the trope hacker how is trying to uncover secrets and conspiracies, like trying to discover the truth behind the disappearance of the 20k neets, the Selecao, the Careless Monday attacks and the Johnny Killer. All of which are important in the plot of this anime. Except he isn’t crazy, this guy is legit and actually makes sense, he knows what he’s doing and thanks to the other characters, he hits the mother-load, while also being a help to the protagonists. I actually liked this character, he’s pretty cool.
Among the other characters is Yuusei Kondou, a detective who seems to heavily be involved with the Selecao and also appears to have the same phone as Akira. He isn’t the perfect human being, he has his short-comings and as ‘lawful’ as a cop should be. He’s on the trail of Akira and his phone allows him to figure out what Akira is up to.
To explain the story well without spoiler is tricky to say the least. In 2010, Japan was hit by a bunch of missiles, surprisingly nobody got hurt. This was known as Careless Monday. Sometime recently, 20,000 neets were ‘kidnapped’ and went missing without a trace. Additionally, a serial killer called ‘the Johnny Hunter’ has been murdering men at an alarming rate. A year later, Saki Morimi is on her way home to Japan from her trip to the US, but not before she makes the decision to visit Washington in order to throw a quarter in the fountain for some silly reason. Of course, she’d get into trouble, but the attention of the cops are diverted to a mysterious naked man holding a gun and a phone. Due to a series of events, the two become acquainted and go back home to Japan where they find that another missile has just recently hit, this time people were hurt. The man calling himself Akira Takizawa knows nothing of himself, other than the fact that he was the one who made the decision to erase his own memory. His phone allows him to access an account of several billion yen, combined with the assistance of Juiz he can do almost anything. According to Juiz he is something called a Selecao. So what do all these strange things have to do with each other? That is what this anime sets out to do.
Being a mystery anime, the story is fast paced and very revelatory, it’s not at all predictable and takes many twists and sharp turns, surprising the viewer even all the way to the very last episode. It almost seemed to me as if this might be an incomplete story, in the earlier episodes it feels like progress is slow. It’s meant to be this way. There are some things that might seem like plot-holes in certain instances, things don’t make sense. I know I was fooled. But these are turned around and is explained very well, the plot here is very refined and complex. There was one thing that didn’t make sense to me though, that dude that returned from Dubai early. At times it may be difficult to understand.
The story concludes well, it doesn’t tie up every loose end, but is a reasonable compromise, leaving room for a sequel. One thing is did, was give me some relief about one thing in a way that didn’t break the story, but easily could have. It does what it sets out to do, thought nothing more which is a tad disappointing. Which in fact there are 2 sequel movies, so expect some more from this. If anything, I feel this anime would have benefitted from having a full 12/13 episode season or even a double size of 24 episodes incorporating the sequel elements. Unfortunately, because of how potentially niche that is, it would have been too much of a risk for the studio to make that much.
Most interesting of all are the themes of this story, which would appeal more to older viewers. Things that are very relevant such as a person’s role with—in society, the hardships of finding a job and how people fit together to make the cogs of these modern times roll. It tackles issues like conspiracy (neets and conspiracy appear to go hand in hand it seems), unemployment, corporations, jobs, the government, all of these big things. Included in that we’ve got some more troubling topics like mass murder, mutilation, terrorism and such. This might not be an anime for the faint of heart in that regard. Perhaps the core theme that runs through is the idea to seek an improvement for society, the concept of the privileged helping the less fortunate. Not in the obvious way like charity though. Then there’s the big idea of public opinion. In times of crisis, people seem to feel the need to blame someone and they’ll happily go around throwing the blame on the wrong people. Recent events in the real world are an example of that.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable anime to watch and it’s very different from the usual types of anime. Some people might think this reminds them of anime with similar interesting concepts like Death Note and Mirai Nikki. It seems folks who enjoyed those anime enjoyed this one too, so I recommend fans of those anime to give this a try. I’d recommend this to people who don’t like most anime, or like interesting and unique anime. I’m surprised at how popular this anime is, despite its small target demographic. If you like big world topics being jabbed at by subtext and social commentary, then this can also be right up your alley. Most importantly for me, besides entertaining me with a story this anime got me thinking about the world around me. And I like it when an anime makes me think of the bigger picture. While it doesn’t resolve every little thing, it leaves room for a sequel in a way that isn’t too much of a cliff-hanger or leaving the lot incomplete. The good news is that there are 2 sequel movies and it wasn’t long before people got them, the first one released soon after in the same year and the 2ndf movie released the year after. I look forward to seeing what else this narrative and these awesome characters have in store.
Family-friendliness Rating: 4/5 Disturbing scenes and serious world concepts (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 9/10 (higher is better)
I've been meaning to watch this anime for almost a year now, thinking that with such high ratings and such an interesting synopsis it would turn out to be a new favourite.
A series of mysterious terroist attacks tied together with a (naked) man with no memories of himself or his life having to participate in a game with life or death stakes? Sounds interesting. Or rather, sounds like it has the potential to be interesting.
The first episode opens with a girl who we know nothing about getting in trouble with the police for something petty. Regardless, it looks like she's about to get it-- or maybe not. Suddenly the police's attention is drawn away from the girl by a naked man shouting and waving his gun around. In almost no time at all he manages to send them on a wild goose chase, saving the girl from any unnecisiary trouble. How heroic.
This kind of beginning is the kind that's meant to draw you in and keep you there simply because you want answers. It's weird, bizzare and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Who's the girl, who's the guy, why is he naked and what do they have to do with each other? Within the first episode all of these questions are answered, but the story doesn't seem to be going in any clear direction just yet. By the end of the second episode, the centre of the story and conflict is reveleaed. At the time, I was very intruiged. I liked everything about Eden of the East, from the characters to the mystery to the pacing. From that and the "suspense" and "high-stakes games" tagged to it, I thought I was in for a real ride.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
As I said before, Eden of the East had potential. If executed properly, it could have been so much better. The way the characters were introduced (and protrayed) was just bad, the "mystery" was so much of a mystery that it sucked and the supposed suspsnese? It didn't even exist. There were instances where I found myself getting a little excited, but the feeling wore of within a matter of minutes, if even. The pacing of the story was horrible and dull. One thing happens, and you're like "Oh, okay, that's pretty cool!". The attention is shifted from that matter to another, and then another and another and I could go on forever. It wasn't the elements included the story and that events that took place that ruined everything, but how they were introduced. We were left in the dark in order to create "suspense", but that failed, and too much was crammed into a measly 11 episodes. I understand that there are movies that wrap up these missing plot points and I do plan on watching them, but this review is based solely on the anime.
The ending might have been the worst part of the entire thing. Finally, something interesting happens. The characters (and many other peoples) lives are at stake due to something I won't state for the sake of spoiling, and it needs to be stopped. Rather than making the last episode exciting and trying to get the viewers on the edge of their seats, everything is dull, unexplained and the ending was so anti-climatic that it hurt.
When I finish a good anime I'll usually be left feeling giddy, though a bit dissappointed and it becomes the default of my thoughts for the next couple of days. With Eden of the East, I simply thought "What, that's it?" and closed my browser, thuroughly unimpressed.
Overall, the story was weak. More focus should have been put on the "game" and other potentially interesting elements of the story rather than on Saki (not that I didn't enjoy her) etc. Yet, I did find myself enjoying bits and pieces of it, such as the relationship between Akira and Saki. I was never bored, funny enough, and while I can regocnize its overhwleming flaws I can still say that it was a pleasant watch, even if not quite worth my time. I give the story 4 out of 10 even if all I did was complain, simply because of the potential it held and that it mananged to keep me busy for a few hours.
Clean and simple, fitting to the story (for the most part) and pleasant to look at. I don't have a whole lot to say regarding the animation except that it was nice but nothing special. "Clean and simple" often translated into plain and the way the characters moved (or rather, didn't move) was boring. It was good, but once again, nothing special.
I don't have much to say here, either. The opening and closing themes were alright, fitting to the story and not something you'd actively skip, but remarkably average. They were to standard anime OP/EDs, and to me they got boring to listen to by the end of the series. The voices of both the original and the dub were good, but a lot of the time I felt as if they lacked emotion, specificlaly in the dub. But that kind of flaw is typical for dubs, so I won't judge too harshly there. Anything else, such as background music... well, I can't really say because I don't remember any of it. That's funny considering I finished the anime a little over the hour ago and started it three days prior. With any stunning soundtrack, you may not remember it but you at least remember that it was. Judging by that, I'd say it was average at best.
I feel that only about three of the characters had any thought put into them. The rest were fairly bland and we didn't know much about them from start to finish. There was absolutely no development (even on the main character) and I never found myself wanting any of them back on screen. Somehow, most of them were still quite entertaining and while not outstanding, I wouldn't call them bad. It took me a while to decide if the characters were average or below, but I'll settle with average.
I had high hopes for Eden of the East and most of them were let down. It's a shame, really, because if it hadn't been so rushed and poorly executed, it could have turned out so much better. 4/10 may be a low mark, but I'm still not going to call this anime bad-- just not all that good, either. I didn't drop it (and that's really saying something, because I drop a lot of anime) and it provided me with a decent amount of entertainment, so there's at least that. If I find the movies a step up (or down) then I might review those too. Here's to hoping they do they do the story at least some justice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Terror In Resonance
[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control