Title: Eden of the East
Genre: Action, Comedy, Mystery, Psychological, Romance
Summary: On November 22, 2010 ten missiles strike Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be called as “Careless Monday,” does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, 3 months later… Saki Morimi is a young woman currently in the United States of America on her graduation trip. But just when she is in front of the White House, Washington DC, she gets into trouble, and only the unexpected intervention of one of her fellow countrymen saves her. However, this man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, is a complete mystery. He appears to have lost his memory. and he is stark naked, except for the gun he holds in one hand, and the mobile phone he’s holding with the other hand. A phone that is charged with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash.
Review: After finally getting around to finishing the critically acclaimed Eden of the East and both its movies I have to say that it meets expectations and then pushed them higher with each episode. Eden of the East is a brilliant story based anime that does a lot of things right. It has elements of different genres that come together in a well organized fashion. From the first episode to the end of the second movie I was pulled into this alternate world, excited to see what was to happen next.
The art style for Eden of the East isn’t spectacular. If you look at the characters and some of the backgrounds it isn’t anything out of the ordinary. The characters themselves are rather plain and don’t have any outstanding characteristics. However, that is one thing that made the anime so engaging. It made you feel as though this was all actually happening, that Japan was bombarded by missiles and there is a group of twelve unknown people trying to make everything right in their own way. For once the main female lead wasn’t some jaw-dropping gorgeous girl with a strange sense of bravery and honor. Saki was the definition of average girl. She was cute, and it wasn’t that she had a poor role, but she wasn’t exactly the most amazing girl either. Her average facial features and generic body type followed suit. Even our main lead Akira, the mysterious man with a lot of cash, looked like nothing more than your average Japanese citizen. Probably the only person who stood out was No. 11. But I’ll let you watch the series and discover what I mean by that.
The story is was gives Eden of the East such a high rating. The overused tactic of memory loss was played correctly and immersed you into the series. From the beginning the series already puts you into a cloud of mystery as it tries to clear everything as the story goes along. This generally poorly executed plan was the height of the series. It made you feel much closer to all the characters because everyone was in the same boat of not knowing what was going on. Who was this strange organization called Selecao? Why does Akira have a phone that shows an 8 billion yen budget? And more importantly who is this all-knowing, all-doing Goddess Juiz? The series’ story development matched the perfect pace of giving you just enough to stay interested but holding back to keep you from leaving. It seemed like every episode answered more questions while bringing up new ones. You were constantly thrown back and forth between who was righteous and who was unjust. The blurry line of morals and beliefs was constantly in question. The thing that made everything so engaging was the way information was gathered. Due to Akria’s memory loss the characters had to piece together information using random pictures or news articles they found lying around. And more often than not, their first guess wasn’t the right one. Using the method of finding information through conventional means meant that the anime could avoid flashbacks; a tactic that is probably my most disliked for story progression. I find that the use of flashbacks is extremely overused to prevent audience participation or speculation. My opinions of the different members of Selecao flopped back and forth constantly because of this. There were even times where I started to question some of the less important characters. Eden of the East is an anime that will get you thinking whether you want to or not. That being said, the character development in this series was superb. Saki started off as an innocent bystander and turned into a pretty cool gal. Her personality and interests started shifting as the series went on. Its hard to say when that specific shift came since it happened so gradually. It felt realistic and natural though considering all the events going on around her. There were also no unnecessary characters for comedic relief or what have you. With a total of twelve members in Selecao you don’t actually meet all the Numbers. While some speculate that the unknown Numbers were actually in the anime but located in the background, there isn’t solid evidence. Nevertheless the story still unraveled nicely and still kept Selecao with some sort of mystery.
Another thing that made the series so amazing was the Eden of the East system. Created by a small group of individuals, the system would find any and all information about a specific target whether it be a building or a person using the power of the web. That being said, much of the information was from hearsay when it came to the unknown Akira. The reason I found this so fascinating is probably because I’m a computer scientist. Quite frankly this sort of technology isn’t that far out of reach and you could see a lot of it already being development through websites like Bing or Google. Although possibly not the same scale, the idea of pointing to a specific building or animal for more information isn’t that hard to grasp with GPS and object recognition at our disposal.
The soundtrack for Eden of the East was also brilliant. The opening “Falling Down” by Oasis has become an icon for the series. This was probably the biggest shock I got; an extremely popular English band opening for an anime. It isn’t as though they made their career through anime either considering their hit songs like “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova”. It was nice to hear an English band in an anime though, an extremely good one at that. I know there have been others such as Radiohead from Ergo Proxy, but it is still nice to know that they exist. The ending and background music was pretty good too. The animation for the ending was simple and artistic with lyrics matching the series well.
Final statements: I base my opinions off the series and movies since it is a continuous story line. You really can’t have one without the others. The hours I spent watching this series was well worth it for the story alone. Probably some of the best development I’ve ever seen with a very unique and interesting story of a man trying to save Japan and a girl who got mixed up in everything. If you haven’t heard of this anime I’m shocked. If you have heard of this anime and still haven’t watched it I’m even more shocked. A must see and easily in my top thirty anime of all time.