Eden of the East the Movie II: Paradise Lost
Also known as:
Higashi no Eden Gekijouban II: Paradise Lost
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Year:
2010
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Format:
95 minutes
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Review date:
29 December 2016
Well, it's better than Movie I. Stuff happens, Kenji Kamiyama discusses his political content and the plot reaches what's probably the best achievable resolution. Tomoko thought it was nonsense, though.
It's still about saving Japan. This is a huge, ambitious subject and you've got to admire Kamiyama for having the guts to build a TV series and two films around it. The country's problems include economic decline, a plummeting birthrate, an ageing population and well over half a million young people being hikikomori (shut-ins with mental problems) or NEETs (no job and not obviously looking for one). Then you've got the country's uneasy relationship with its history, i.e. World War Two, and neighbouring countries whose regimes have been stoking jingoistic Japan-bashing for decades (China and the two Koreas). There are no easy answers to any of that, but that's not stopping this anime from taking it on anyway. Mr Outside has challenged twelve mysteriously selected people to fix their country and is backing up his challenge with hired killers and government-level amounts of money.
Fundamental questions are being asked. Everything from the show's title to the show's opinion of politicians is a challenge. Unfortunately it had to provide answers at some point, of which unsurprisingly it doesn't really have any. Tomoko didn't think what happens here would have any effect at all. In fairness, even the story itself admits that the in-universe effects were fairly marginal, but it is at least trying to diagnose problems and point towards goals that people could try to work towards.
The show could be argued to be a bit too gentle towards its NEETs. It's harsh about the hidebound older generation, but to the disaffected youth it assigns collective brilliance and almost no moral culpability for anything. Some of them weren't very good employees in Movie I. That's about it. However the show's also trying to instil some get-up-and-go by showing that good things can happen if a bunch of them get serious.
The plot is functional, but it has some problems. I reel at its take on memory loss. In the TV series, Takizawa voluntarily wiped his memory and as a result went through eleven episodes of largely avoidable life-threatening mystery. He must have thought this was fun since in Movie I, he did it again. Then, in Movie II, his memory's magically returned (huh?) and he doesn't think twice about it, only for more memory shenanigans later. Maybe this has thematic significance? Wartime memories are part of what poisons Japan (thanks to the hard right) and those neighbouring countries I mentioned.
It's sort of okay. We find out what's been going on and there's some cool stuff with our heroes being hunted by cops. I also quite liked the material about Takizawa's mother. It's just that it's trying to be a Big Issue Anime, tackling the fundamental problems of Japan itself without ultimately having much in the way of answers. It's a puzzle box plot and not very good at character-based storytelling, but here we learn that what's inside the puzzle box is a bit rubbish too. It's been a somewhat intriguing journey, though, and some of the characters are moderately likeable.
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