Eden of the East
Also known as:
Higashi no Eden
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Year:
2009
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Format:
11 episodes
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Review date:
26 December 2016
It's slightly too convoluted and plot-driven for my tastes. I'm not saying it's cold and intellectual, because it's not. However it's a huge puzzle box where you're always unpeeling yet another layer of the mystery, with the characters sort of being along for the ride. Fortunately, though, this means it's an intelligent, ingenious show that's bringing up all kinds of wild ideas and political themes. You could compare it to Hitchcock, Philip K. Dick, Future Diary, Death Note or all kinds of other stuff.
I'm not sure how much plot to give away, for obvious reasons. Let's start with some stuff from ep.1. Three months ago, ten missiles hit Tokyo and there were no fatalities. No one seems to think this is weird. They just call it "Whoops Monday". Now you're a 22-year-old student called Saki Morimi, about to graduate from university, and you're taking a trip to Washington when a naked man appears in front of the White House with a gun, a cellphone and amnesia. He arranged to have his own memory erased. When pushed, he decides that his name is Akira Takizawa. He seems nice enough, though, in a happy-go-lucky way, so on an impulse you try to stop the local police from treating him as they would anyone who looks as if he might be trying to assassinate the president.
Other elements in this story include 20,000 naked angry NEETS, a feminist serial killer who's rumoured to have killed 20,000 victims (which would be one a day for over a half a century), ten billion yen, a phone number that turns you into God, a really bad cop and a white zombie dream in ep.4 that's still puzzling me even now. It could have been a suppressed memory bleed thing, perhaps.
It's too much for eleven episodes. There's no way this plot could have fitted into the available running time... and sure enough it doesn't. The miracle is that the director manages to make ep.11 feel like a satisfying and even triumphant culmination, even though there's still a mountain of stuff we don't know. The story will continue. It doesn't end with this TV series. The full saga is:
TV series (11 episodes)
Movie #1: Air Communication (just a two-hour recap of the TV series)
Movie #2: The King of Eden
Movie #3: Paradise Lost
I watched this series with Tomoko. She liked it. The plot's strong, the cast are fine and there's absolutely no otaku bait (high-pitched anime voices, cutesy imbeciles, etc.) The nearest it gets to fanservice is thousands of naked people... who are all male. However as it happened, she was tired when we put on the last few episodes. Had the show been in English, she'd have definitely dropped off. She struggled through until we reached the last episode, which woke her up like a bucket of water. "Eh?" was her response, which can be translated as "what the hell?" That final order to Juiz in particular is a new level of bonkers and I think she'd have popped if I hadn't had the two sequel movies ready. We'll continue the story tonight.
It's political. All these events are ostensibly happening for the purpose of saving Japan, although the exact meaning of "save" has been left unsettlingly and lethally ambiguous. There's plenty to chew over. One of the show's better (but dry) jokes is that buying the Japanese prime minister is about the price of a pack of chewing gum. It's also championing NEET power, although I should point out that NEET ("Not in Education, Employment or Training") doesn't actually mean uneducated. Some of these NEETS are superintelligent and college-educated. They're just out of synch with Japanese society and the kind of work culture where it's okay for a boss to humiliate a job applicant by spilling food on her.
Nitpicking in ep.6: wouldn't it be normal for a dog to be scared of fireworks? This particular dog seems to enjoy them, but the humans surely wouldn't have known that and so should surely have taken it somewhere else beforehand.
Would I recommend this? I'd have to reserve judgement, I think. The show reaches a satisfying climax, in large part thanks to a brilliant choice of song on the soundtrack. However the story's nowhere near complete and judging the whole thing will have to wait until I've seen the two films. So far, we have a clever and ingenious but slightly cold thought experiment. I'll report back.
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