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Eden of the East Series Collection – Review

by SamJuly 3, 2011

Title: Eden of the East
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand) and Funimation (US)
Based on: Original Anime Series
Genre: Psychological, Romance, Mystery
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9) / 1080p High Definition (16:9)
Runtime: 275 Minutes
Cost: $54.95 (DVD) / $64.95 (Blu-ray) from the Madman Online Store
Classification: This title is classified M for Animated Violence and Coarse Language
Blurb: Taking place in a modern day Japan, this follows the tale of Saki, who whilst on a trip to the US runs into a man named Akira, who is standing infront of the gates of the White House naked whilst holding a gun and mobile phone. This encounter leaves the two of them searching for information on Akira’s past and a game he is playing with 11 others…. one that could save or break Japan. Every aspect of the storyline, design and music is flawless, with the only issue being that you have to purchase the movies to get the full story.
Special Thanks: Special thanks goes to the Madman Entertainment PR Team for providing me with a review sample of this title.

noitaminA, the famous Fuji Television timeslot that often does not push mainsteam anime series, but instead focuses on ones that are a bit… different from the crowd was something that six months ago, if someone mentioned it to me I would most probably shrug it off. Now hearing about any series in the slot raises my eyebrow, especially with the very recent releases of these titles from both Madman Entertainment and Siren Visual in Australia. Honestly, I was never even intending on watching this series, it was by chance that the first movie in this series arrived on my Birthday from Madman, and from there I managed to get a copy of the original television series…. I am saying this because I am very glad that I did, it would most probably be the best anime series I have watched all year. I had the fortune of watching both the series and movie (Review coming soon) on Blu-ray as well and if you are only reading this article for the shortened blurb, then I shall say Blu-ray would be the only way to go in my opinion. For those who want to read on, here is my review of Eden of the East Series Collection. 

The Fate of the World Rests in Their Hands

Akira Takizawa wakes up naked outside the White House with no memories. He’s got a gun in one hand and a cell phone in the other and he doesn’t know if he’s a good guy or one of the worst. He doesnt remember that the phone gives him instant access to ten billion yen and a woman who can make most outlandish requests a reality. He doesn’t recall is connection to the ongoing missile attacks terrorising the Japanese people, or the part he played in the sudden disappearance of 20,000 shut-ins. He doesn’t even remember he’s supposed to save Japan and will be murdered if he fails. Whatever it is he’s tangled up in., Takizawa’s definitely in deep – and that’s not even scratching the surface.

The key concepts of this series are nothing too unique to me, I mean, there are many series on the market with a group of individuals playing a game that can have catastrophic or beneficial effects on others however at the same time, the series seemed to be perfectly catered to my tastes, keeping my eyes glued to the screen until I either had to switch discs or the series finished. The series has the
Noblesse Oblige game as the key element that progresses the storyline, however with the main character without any memories of this game and several clues that could lead to terrorists acts, I found myself more intrigued into learning about the past of Akira Takizawa, especially when he owns an abandoned shopping mall and a phone that is loaded with money but with someone who can grant him any desire but answers to his past. The series is without a doubt an interesting mix of conspiracies surrounding politics and urban legends, terrorism, a game of “helping the public” where money isn’t everything, romance, witty one-liners and of course, different degrees of comedy that hooked me in.

The storyline surrounds an event that occurred known as Careless Monday, in which a mysterious missile landed in Japan, yet didn’t kill anybody and is occasionally brought to light as the episodes progress, especially as more is revealed surrounding Akira’s past and the other eleven players in the game. Alongside that, the question that is on everyone’s mind is what really happened surrounding the disappearance of 20,000 NEETs when discarded mobile phones and violent messages appear inside the previously mentioned shopping mall. The series takes a few side-routes in order to introduce some of the other characters that take part in the series and to develop other ones.

Who would have thought that a game about helping people could also involve a serial murderer whose preferred means of killing was to mutilate the Gentlemen Regions of men and a Hikikomori who cannot leave the house because he lost his only pair of pants. Whilst these could be deemed as filler episodes when it comes to these storylines, they still aid in development the characters effectively and hold some relevance to the storyline, whether in this series or the movies to come.

The best factor regarding this storyline is that they don’t take the easy route when delivering the story, purposefully making the story more complex and at times, confusing to deliver a more unique story. An example of this could be having one of the other “Players” poison Akira in the early episodes… instead of being the villain character, he purposefully tried to recreate the night he obtained the phone, to later on, the real (and very different) reasoning behind the disappearance of the 20,000 NEETs. The storyline however is primarily focused on Akira and Saki, and they do have other characters acting as either support or enemy, but they don’t get as much attention except the very occasional brief background story.

Considering that Eden of the East is the title of this story, the actual Eden of the East and its production team (It is a piece of computer/phone software) doesn’t have much of a focus which is disappointing, but they do play more of a role in the movie at later episodes. Akira and Saki on the other hand receive a well paced progression of development and despite their difference in personalities, have perfectly contrasting ones. My only issue is that the storyline does end more abruptly then I would have liked, and could have used a bit more to it at the end to not leave the viewer confused for the first parts of the movie. Overall, whilst there could have been more development and preferably more episodes with it, the storyline was more then enjoyable to me.

Chika Umino, who was also responsible for the character designs in the series Honey and Clover, returns in Eden of the East and retains the charms in her designs, with improvements to suit the more realistic and modern environments shown in this series. The character designs are well suited to the personalities of the characters whilst their expressions are well adapted to their mood and overall clothing/hairstyle choices were simple, but are appropriate for the modern feel of the series (So with the exception of where it is warranted, there are no cat-people, characters with abnormal coloured hair etc.). This series needed to be modern and as they tried to put forth a sense of realism into the world of Eden of East, they had to replicate environments both realistic (Well, anime-realistic) and where necessary, respective of the real-world landmarks. I enjoyed the environment designs as they did add the little details that differentiates between the good and great designs. Whilst being a realistic series, there are still the other odd touches that make the animation and design work shine, such as a ‘theatrical exit’ of one of the characters by forming wings and flying away, to a replication of Akira’s first appearance in this series, fully naked… only with many more people taking part. Overall, great designs and if I were to make a slight suggestion if you didn’t read it above, this is a series that I would say warrants purchasing a Blu-ray copy for above all others.

Opening Sequence
Falling Down by Oasis
Michael ka Belial by Saori Hayami

I love the very modern feel to the animation of this sequence and the pink/purple/grey motif work very well alongside all the other elements presented. Whilst Falling Down was not the best song suited to the sequence, Michael ka Belial was a well paced and enjoyable song that I enjoyed listening to every time an episode started.

Ending Sequence
“Futuristic Imagination” by School Food Punishment

Neither the animation or the song really did it for me in this ending sequence, I did manage to appreciate them doing a ‘different’ sequence from the norm, much like the first Honey and Clover Opening sequence was.

The music score was mostly produced by Kenji Kawai who I have heard in a few series before such as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and very lately, Fate/stay Night. Whilst the music might not be the best I have heard in a series, it is more then suitable for the series and has many appropriate tracks. There were also a few spaced-out vocal tracks in the series, with at least some of them in English and were a nice addition to the series, whilst remaining appropriate to the context they were used for. In terms of voice acting, there is a solid voice cast behind it with Jason Liebrecht (Moon Phase, Star Ocean 4)  taking the role of Akira and doing a very enthusiastic job of him, and Leah Clark (Spice and Wolf, Chrome Shelled Regios) who also does a solid job at portraying the soft personality of Saki. The rest of the voice cast is strong and are all rather well known voice actors / actresses.

Regardless of if you purchase the DVD or Blu-ray copy of the series, the cover design does not differ significantly and there are two discs in each set. The cover art is nice consisting of a white backdrop, with a colour image of the missile attack site and images of different items around it indicating the “10 billion yen” component of the storyline. Finally, an image of Saki and Akira are on the front looking at each other…. alternatively just look at the cover art above. As I am reviewing the Blu-ray copy, the two discs feature the city landscape and sunset and sunrise and look simple but effective.

Thankfully, there are quite a few extras placed on the second disc of each set which according to the back cover of the Blu-ray disc,  has a total of 100 minutes worth. The contents of each include:

  • Director Kamiyama & Original Character Designer Chika Umino Interview
  • Kimura (Takizawa) and Hayami (Saki) Interview
  • Directors Kamiyama & Oshii Interview
  • Art Director Takeda Interview
  • Composer Kawai Interview
  • TV Spot
  • Promotion Video
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers – As this is more or less the Funimation version of the Blu-ray version unlike the Madman DVD version, the trailers are not respective of Madman License Acquisitions (To the point of where the pre-menu advertising is of Casshern Sins). The trailers menu consists of the following series: Oh! Edo Rocket, Linebarrels of Iron, Hetalia Axis Powers, Corpse Princess / Shikabane Hime, Darker Than Black, Trigun, FMA: Brotherhood and Dragonball Z Kai.

For those who like interviews, there is no reason why you should not be happy with this collection of extras.

I regret having not watched this series earlier. It was a series that kept a modern and realistic environment to it, but at the same time catered to almost every one of my preferences in an anime series. I cannot recommend this series highly enough as it offers a high level of design and sound alongside a solid storyline and likable characters that do not fall into the generic category.

Final Score

Storyline / Character Development: A
Design:
A
OP/ED Sequences:
B+
Music/Voice Acting:
A
Packaging/Extras:
A-
Personal Preference:
A

Overall Score: S

So in summary, I almost never got to watch the second title to receive an S rank from me….

Sam
Your average, perhaps slightly geeky 23 year old University student who spends his days studying but his nights watching, reviewing and reporting on video games, anime and manga. Has been writing for The Otaku's Study ever since it opened in 2006 as Sam's Anime Study.
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