Review: Eden of the East (2009-2010)

Eden of the East currently consists of three properties: an 11 episode TV series and two feature films.  I’m lumping them all together here in this review since all of them run together in a continuous story line.  The only problem with that is how to remain spoiler-free and still tell you what you might need to know about EOTE.

The story revolves around Akira Takizawa and his quest to unravel the mystery of his own past.  At the beginning of the series, he finds himself naked and holding a handgun and a super-cool cell phone in front of the White House, but he has no idea how he got there.  He ends up with Saki Morimi, a Japanese tourist who is intrigued by his odd behavior and whose path continuously criss-crosses Akira’s.  There’s some Jason Bourne stuff here, but at least they’ve made Akira a film buff so he mentions things like Bourne and Taxi Driver.  Very cool.

Unfortunately, that’s about all I can tell you without giving anything away.  Trust me, you’re better off going into this with no idea of what’s really going on.  The real joy of the show is the series of revelations that bring Akira closer to understanding what he’s supposed to be doing and why his memories were erased.  As more and more information is discovered, an interesting commentary on terrorism and patriotism begins to coalesce.  It’s a fascinating political tale which held my attention from beginning to end…of the series, that is.

The two feature films are another story.  Film 1, The King of Eden, is a total bust.  There’s a little exposition that adds to the tale, but the script is awfully weak.  At the beginning of the story, Akira’s mind has once again been wiped.  Really?  I smell Death Star 2.  On top of that, the bulk of the movie revolves around the Eden software team, the most boring group of guys and girls in all of Japan (with the exception of the recluse programmer named Underwear or Panties, depending on which translation you see or hear).  We get to see them…CODING.  :/  I thought that really bad decision came about as a way to stretch the story into two films instead of just one, but then I saw film 2.

Paradise Lost basically takes most of the setup we’ve seen up ’til now and flushes it.  I can’t for the life of me figure out how writer/director Kenji Kamiyama could give us such a compelling series with such an awful, drawn out ending.  If I had to compare it to something in the states, it would be JJ Abram’s Lost.  Like Lost, I don’t think he had an ending in mind when he started writing the show, and when the time came to wrap it all up, there really wasn’t anywhere to go.  It’s sad since the setup and characters are so good.

As to the production values, the look of the series is fantastic, with unique textures and wonderful character designs.  Strangely, I found the visuals of the series much more compelling than those of the feature films.  I’m not sure how that could be unless the features were compiled out of episodes of a season two that never was to be.  Come to think of it, that would explain why we only got the two features instead of another 11 eps.  If that’s all the story Kamiyama could come up with, it would have been impossible to stretch that out for 11 episodes.

I should also mention that the English dub rivals that of some of the American releases of Miyazaki films.  I’d pretty much given up on ever enjoying the dubbed version of anything, but I watched the series that way and absolutely enjoyed it.  Funimation (the worst name for a company EVER) really stepped up this time.

If I were you, I’d enjoy the series and ignore the movies.  I wish I had never seen the films as they left a bad taste in my mouth for a show that I really loved.  Sadly, there’s a scene after the credits of Paradise Lost that suggests there could be more to come.  I sincerely hope not.

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