Eden of the East Complete Series (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, November 05, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, October 19, 2010
After waking up naked in front of the White House with 8.2 billion yen and cell phone that can do practically anything, Akira must unravel the mysteries of his past in the hopes that it will lead the country of Japan to a better future.
What They Say
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 doesn't remember that the phone gives him instant access to ten billion yen and a woman who can make his most outlandish requests a reality. He doesn't recall his connection to the ongoing missile attacks terrorizing 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.
Eden of the East comes complete with both English and Japanese dub, both mixed 5.1 surround sound, both of which are comparable in quality in its mix. Eden of the East isn’t the most action-packed of series, but all the same, its mix is both full and effective. Voices and sound effects are crystal clear, so much so that I was even able to feel the weight of a cell phone as it was being opened and closed. It’s very subtle, but incredibly engrossing. It’s unnoticeable in the best kind of way, creating a wonderful experience while not drawing attention to itself.
Presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen, this series is an example of how good even standard definition DVD can be. The transfer is about as clean as you can get, and the typical issue of seeing shadows of interlacing when characters are in motion is pretty much nonexistent. The wonderful and unique animation combines with this fantastic transfer for a great-looking product.
The package consists of two thin DVD cases in an outer cardboard sleeve. On the front of the sleeve is an attractive picture of the two leads in front of a mountain of trash. Framing the trash is a circle of miscellaneous items, leading into a white border. It gives the cover a very clean look. The back is divided vertically in two. The left smaller half contains a picture of a Selecao phone and a background cityscape. Below that is a cool bar code that you can scan with a phone to lead to a trailer for the series. Below that is the logo of the series. On the right half of the back are pictures from the show, quotes from various reviewers, and a synopsis of the series, complete with a description of the extra features in the DVD set.
The two thin plastic DVD cases both of pictures that resemble the front of the cardboard box, with two characters, a border of objects and a sea of white. The first DVD has the leads once again, this time with Akira on a motorcycle and Saki running along. The second DVD has a picture of Mononobe with his cell phone open and Kuroha with wings. The background is a night cityscape that contrasts well with the white border. On the back of each DVD case are Selecao symbols with the Roman numerals VII-XII repeating each line.
The inside of each DVD case has the numbers of the episodes on the left side, and a similar white ring border theme as in covers of the DVD cases and cardboard cover, only this time with the lesser supporting characters such as “Pants” and Saki’s other friends filling in the ring.
The menu theme for Eden of the East is an attractive one. There is a cityscape in the background, with a white, transparent band along the bottom with the series logo. Below that is some text which lets you know which DVD in the set you are watching. In front and to the right of all this is the screen of a cell phone, where the various options such as “Play All,” “Episodes,” “Setup,” and “Extras” are present. As one flips through the various options, the background changes, but the positioning of the cell phone stays intact. This makes for very quick navigation while still keeping things looking attractive.
It’s practical, different, and in keeping with the feel of the series.
It isn’t very often that we are given substantial extras material in an anime DVD, and it was nice that FUNimation decided not to skimp out in this release. The first is an interview with Kamiyama and Umino, the creator and character designer, respectively. The interview is interesting for those wondering what the dynamic between these two is, though it is a bit strange that Umino is never actually shown and covered by a stuffed animal for the duration of the interview, which runs around twenty minutes.
In the second main special feature, we get to see the two lead actors discuss the project with one another, including their opinions on their characters and how they relate or don’t relate to them. There’s also some really funny insight and banter between the two that makes it worth watching. This special also runs around twenty minutes long. The rest of the extras come in the form of a promotion video, TV spot, the textless closing, and FUNimation trailers.
I’m a bit disappointed that they opted out of an English commentary, but I think going with an interview with the Japanese creative team instead was probably the better choice for those interested in the creation of the series itself, and not just an outsider’s perspective of it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Eden of the East is a series that has been on my radar from quite some time. With a big name like Kenji Kamiyama, director of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, it had gained quite a following even prior to its release. Frankly, though, while Ghost in the Shell was a decent series, it never really did a whole lot for me personally. As such, I didn’t really too high of expectations for the series going into it. Even after catching a four-episode glimpse into the series at this year’s Anime Expo didn’t seem to do a whole lot for me. Though, in retrospect, I think most of it had to do more with the viewing atmosphere (usually consisting of bad seats and a less-than-stellar sound system) than the actual series. But after watching the whole set, not only did I find Eden of the East to be a more-than-passable series, but a show that may very well by my favorite of the year.
When starting an anime series I plan on reviewing, I’m the kind of person who plans the number of episodes needed to watch per day to get the review done on time. With Eden of the East I had planned on watching two episodes per day so that I could finish in about five days. That plan went out the window the second I started it. Right from the get-go, the show sucked me in with its likable characters, intriguing plot, and its unique and pretty art style. I found myself unable to stop, and before I knew it, I had finished the complete set, in spite of my usual practice of pacing myself. That was when I realized that I had stumbled upon quite the gem.
The premise itself is interesting enough: A man, Akira Takizawa in this case, wakes up completely naked in front of the White House, and all he has on him is a gun and a cell phone loaded with over 8 billion yen. To top it off he has no real memory of who he is, or what he’s even doing at the White House. There he meets Saki Morimi, a young Japanese woman who came to Washington D.C. after breaking off from her friends during vacation. One event leads to another, and the two catch a plane back to Japan together, where Akira determines he will find all the answers he needs about his mysterious past.
After tracking down his home—which turns out to be a shopping mall—Akira learns that he is what is known as a Selecao, one of twelve people who were chosen to participate in a game where they are given 10 billion yen in order to “save Japan.” If Akira were to run out of money before saving Japan, he’d be killed. If another one of the Selecao were to save Japan before him, he’d be killed. If he used any of the 10 billion yen in a way that is deemed unfit for a savior of Japan, he’d be killed. The setup is indeed one that holds a great deal of promise, but also one that holds potential to become nothing more than every other thriller out there.
But while, like every good thriller, the series does plenty to string the audience along, it also does something a great deal more important than setting up cliffhangers: it creates and develops likable and memorable characters. From the sadistic and beautiful Kuroha Shiratori, to the hacker nicknamed “Pants,” who, among other things, is known for losing his only pair of pants, thereby refusing to leave the house ever again. Because of this emphasis on character, Eden of the East doesn’t ever turn into as much of a neck-breaking thriller as, say, 24 or any of the movies in the Bourne series, but it does give it more of a rounded feel than either of those examples. That being said, the show still does throw in enough twists and turns to keep you coming back for more at the end of each episode.
As much as I’d love to say this series was perfect, it still does have some of the problems many do find in a typical thriller. When Akira’s past is completely revealed, I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d been cheated slightly. Sure reasons were given for his memory being erased and all, but they did feel a bit on the forced side…almost as though the reason for his memory being erased was added at the last minute as an afterthought to make things more cohesive. There is also much to say about the “villains” of this series. Their motivations seem skewed and unrealistic, almost to the point where it hurt the credibility of the series for me.
Then again, this is the first part of a “trilogy” of sorts, with parts two and three consisting of two movies taking place after the series, so it’s only expected that we would be left with many questions unanswered. When all said and done, I had a heck of a time watching Eden of the East, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every minute of it, even when I found myself questioning the plot and motivations.
Eden of the East is an exciting ride that needs to be experienced by everybody even remotely interested in the concept. From its humble and captivating intro to its ridiculous-yet-awe-inspiring climax, it gives us exactly what we want in a better way than we ever expected. It layers on mystery after mystery, yet never becoming so convoluted and overwhelmed that it loses the characters we’ve grown to care for. A genuine treat for the year, despite its “part one syndrome” ending.
Japanese Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 Language, English Dolby Surround Sound 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, T V Spot, Promotion Video, Director Kamiyama & Original Character Designer Umino Interview, Kimura (Takizawa) & Hayami (Saki) Interview, Textless Closing Song
Sony KDL-40EX400 BRAVIA EX400 LCD hdtv 40 inch. Sony SLV-D370P DVD Player. Electrohome ELE-HTB920E 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Home Theater Speaker System
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 17 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 275
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Eden of the East