Eden of the East Movie I: The King of Eden
Also known as:
Higashi no Eden Gekijouban I: The King of Eden
Medium:
Year:
2009
Writer/director:
Actor:
Ryohei Kimura, Sakiko Tamagawa, Saori Hayami, Atsushi Miyauchi, Ayaka Saito, Hayato Taya, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Kimiko Saito, Koji Yusa, Masakazu Morita, Motoyuki Kawahara, Nobuyuki Hiyama, Rei Igarashi, Takuya Eguchi, Alisa Miles, Ayumu Hasegawa, Bryan Burton-Lewis, Carlos Gibbs, Eiji Maruyama, Emilie McGlone, George Cockle, Highland Onoue, Ito Sakata, Kenichirou Matsuda, Mike Johnston, Ryuichi Azuma, Yui Shoji
Keywords:
Country:
Language:
Format:
82 minutes
Url:
Website category:
Review date:
27 December 2016
It's an episode, not a movie. It explains nothing, its ending's just a lead-in to Movie II and it repeats stuff from the TV series (including one baffling reset button). You'd almost need to watch Movie II before being able to judge whether Movie I was any good or not, which personally I'd call a condemnation. The nominal protagonists take almost no significant dramatic action, instead just drifting through New York while a plot happens around them. Admittedly there are exceptions to this rule, e.g. the decision they make at the end, but then afterwards my dad was asking me why they'd done that and the best answer I could give was "hopefully we'll learn that in Movie II".
Eden of the East was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama. Hmmmm. What else has he done? It seems he spent six years on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which fits. I don't get much human connection from that franchise either (although in fairness at least Eden of the East's characters seem like human beings and are reasonably likeable). In fact I've owned the Stand Alone Complex DVDs for years without ever getting around to watching them, but maybe I should just discard them unwatched?
Incidentally this is also the second Eden of the East movie, but the first (Air Communication) was just a recap of the TV series and you can ignore it.
One of the first things we learn here is that Akira Takizawa's wiped his memories again. I think it was his own choice. That was the impression I got, anyway. This pushed me out of the film. Once was bad enough and personally I'd never do it, but I'd more or less managed to buy the reasons we'd been given. Twice, though, is silly. He's ordered himself appointed to a position of responsibility. Wiping your brain clean might not be the best way of getting yourself to achieve your goals, make intelligent decisions or deal with danger. This is an extraordinarily dangerous fictional universe, by the way, with Takizawa's associates including a serial killer, a disembodied voice that gets enthusiastic about mass murder, people who organise cruise missile strikes and a movie enthusiast who's trying to arrange and film Takizawa's dramatic death.
Tomoko has a theory to justify the second brain-wiping. She says it's cheap scriptwriting aimed at otaku who love that plot device.
Our disc had a subtitle hiccup, by the way. There aren't any until the title sequence, whereupon all those missing subtitles are played very fast in about half a second. Don't worry, though. Saki is just saying exactly the same things you'd say in that situation.
What's the point of this film? It's not a character-based story. It has a cast, but it's not interested in exploring them via their dramatic actions. Instead we have some exploration of the show's mythology, e.g. the rules of the Selecao game and discovering that Juiz isn't impartial. She has favourites. Towards some players she's positively gushing, while towards others she's cold, sniffy and obstructive. We also have yet more politics and exploration of the writer's attitudes to how the world works. The film starts out by giving Japan a kicking, politically and economically. The NEET attitude gets unpicked somewhat with a role reversal as they start employing each other. There's a nationalist who wants to reverse what he sees as Japan's subservience ever since World War 2. There's exploration of the idea that victims have all the power these days.
There's even a brief scene where the protagonists come alive. Takizawa takes Saki to a fairground and learns things about his mother. This is the most emotionally resonant part of the film.
Apart from Takizawa's brainwipe reset, I like the ingredients of this film. They're modestly interesting. It's just that they don't add up to anything, because Kenji Kamiyama hasn't turned them into a movie. He's made a movie-like thing, exploring his world without managing to tell a story. He might yet. There's still Movie II to come. Think of this as ep.12 of a thirteen-part series, artificially padded out beyond its natural 25-minute running time.
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