Region: 2 - UK
Length: 333 minutes
English 5.1 Surround
Japanese 5.1 Surround
On November 22nd, 2010, ten missiles strike Japan. Known as "Careless Monday," this attack does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, three months later... Saki Morimi, a young woman currently Washington D.C. on her graduation trip, is saved by a mysterious man, who has lost his memory, and has nothing except for a gun and a phone with 8.2 BILLION yen in digital cash.
I had written a much longer piece on why you should watch Eden of the East. Full of sociopolitical pieces about the fall of Japan as an economic power, the rise of the techno-logic aspect to life for people and go all in depth about the Facebook nature of some of the series with you. But I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'll give six reasons as to why to watch it.
1. It knows it's confusing.
Straight from the opening minutes, the show throws you in with no answers. Who the hell is Akra Takizawa? Why the hell did he turn up, naked and armed with a pistol, in front of the White House? Why did he help save, inadvertently, Saki from being questioned by Washington PD for her trying to throw a penny into the White House lawn? Why does Takizawa have no memory? What does the phone he's got actually do? What is Noblesse Oblige and what does it have to do with Mr. Outside giving 12 people a phone, pre-loaded with 12 billion Yen, with a direct line to a girl named Juiz who will do anything for one of the 12 or as they are called, the Seleção? What has any of this to do with the terrorist attack in Japan called Careless Monday. The show has all of these questions and more but it's taking it's time with answering them.And some of them don't even get answered in this block of episodes. Most shows cave under the stress of running the line between holding some of the information back and pleasing it's fans. Eden is only interested in pleasing itself.
2. The characters feel like real people.
For the most part. Saki is a bit of a trope in anime, albeit slightly. She's kinda same the as every damsel in distress but she's got a brain and uses it. Also her family life is very complicated. Takizawa has to be my favourite. He has such a laid back attitude about everything. From exposing himself to a female police officer, investing millions into a business, defeating a killer, getting beaten to a pulp or kissing a girl, it's all in a day's work for our man Akira. The members of the 12 that Akira encounters have been good. From the detective who's circling the drain to the CEO who feels it's her right to kill sexual predators there's a diverse group here and they all have their reasons with what they are doing with the money. All in all, these are people who we probably have met, liked, didn't like or met and just didn't know it. In other words, they are us.
3. The creator has a game plan and he's not sharing.
Kenji Kamiyama's really a guy who knows what the hell he's doing. You can't make a series about terrorism, murder, computers, money and an video recognition version of Facebook, keep the audiences interest (IMO) and not know what you're doing. The way the show plays out, he must have written a series bible out (a predetermined storybook where every character's arch is plotted and the show's detailed structure is mapped, leaving individual writers to fill in the minor points) like Ron Moore did for Battlestar Galactica or JM Straczynski did for Babylon 5. It's the only way to show why the series doesn't give anything away even in the end episode. But Kamiyama's playing the long game with a series of movies to end out the story. Look for a review of these in due course from me. Also the fact that the cast don't fall down in supplication at Takizawa's feet. They all have their draws and pulls and they have their own problems. There are other things going on in the series outside from Takizawa. Why is Mr. Outside doing this? What has to do with 20,000 people going missing? This would indicate to me that the creators are spinning a lot of plates. I hope they are all still spinning when the story ends.
4 The designs are awesome and from someone unexpected.
The character designs are from Chika Umino, the creator of Honey & Clover. She gives the cast an eclectic range. From Saki's undefined hairstyle and realistic body shape to Akira's more devilish smiles and the 12 Seleção are all different from the friendly looking to the typical ruthless business type. I'm now more pushed to pick up Honey & Clover and see what else Miss Umino can do. Her designs in Eden... are not your typical thriller/drama stereotypes and this I love about this aspect of the series. All the background plates and design work is spot on with Washington looking good, for all we see of it, to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and the little places in between. Really, the research that went into this is not in the minutia but the covering of the whole of the show in an all purpose fabric that always you to get on with watching the show rather than asking why such a bland college campus couldn't have been improved.
5. The cast have fun.
The cast have a great time with the characters. Taizawa is played in Japanese by Ryohei Kimura and Jason Liebrecht in English and in both cases they play the character straight for the most part, only really lightening up when they are around Saki and for her part Saki, played by Saori Hayami and Leah Clark, is a nice girl but as she gets to know Takizawa she finds that she wants to go the distance to help him. Nobuyuki Hiyama and Newton Pittman as Yutaka "Panties" Itazu is a great performance that should have you smiling. Chris Sabat is lurking in the English cast as Yusei. Also Takuya Eguchi and Michael Sinterniklaas are complete and utter gits as Osugi. That's all I've got to say on that.
6. You'll have fun.
I, somehow, feel that once I watch Eden of the East, I'll see no reason to re-watch it. It's not a series that you watch over and over again to achieve some kind of cultural Nirvana. It's a series that talks a lot about the requirements of nobility and what it actually means to control peoples destines. And that sort of series you need to walk away from and have a hard think about. Eden of the East allows you to do this. I can't wait to see if the promise of this series can be continued into the movies that are coming.
The series extras include a conversation with Kenji Kamiyama and Chika Umino about the show. Umino, given as how her identity is a mystery, is obscured from the camera but we still hear her. That made me smile. Also interviewed is Kenji Kawai, the music composer. Love listening to him talk about his processes. Cast interviews, clean opening and closing animations and trailers round out the package. I would have appreciated a commentary from Kamiyama as I'd love to hear how he makes a series. Ah, well.
Well, that's about it. Anime should be stuff that leaves you asking more questions than answers from time to time. Eden of the East does just that. Hopefully, more people will embrace it.
Finally, a question for those who've seen the show already: Do you really think Takizawa slept with Diana before passing out? :D
This review is of the DVD edition of Eden of the East
You can also get this title on Blu-ray in the US and UK.