Review: Eden of The East
I think we can all agree that, on occasion, we might rely on our mobile phones a little too much. I’d probably rely on mine slightly more if it had access to ¥10, and Juiz; the concierge who can fulfil any request, for a price. Eden of The East is, at its best, a digital fable that ambitiously tries to mix science and romance, and it might have succeeded if it wasn’t for a few major flaws.
Eden of The East has one of my favourite opening episodes in anime. Whilst the whole ‘amnesia’ thing has been done to death, this is a show that adds just enough spice to the tropes it uses to make sure they remain entertaining. Set against a superb backdrop of Washington D.C, main character Akira Takizawa is first seen outside the White House completely naked, and with no memory of how he got there. In one hand he has his mobile phone, in the other a revolver.
Whilst the show may struggle to top this incredible opening, the first few episodes are still immensely enjoyable. Taizawa is revealed to be part of a ‘Battle Royale’ style competition, which again doesn’t sound particularly original but the specifics of how things work are interesting, as are the conflicts that follow. With 12 contestants and only 11 episodes, the pace picks up quickly, and whilst this initially works in the show’s favour, things begin to fall apart as it starts running out of time.
Eden of the East has no filler. There’s simply no room for it; events are raced through as fast as possible and characters that look like they’re here to stay either die abruptly or simply disappear. Storylines are left unresolved, and the loose ends start stacking up. All the while I remained hopeful that things would be concluded nearer the end. In the mean time the relationship between Takizawa and Saki is compelling, and the show’s use of technology and social media is interesting enough, helping make the wait for answers not too unbearable. However, the more I got into the show the more I wanted its events to be resolved, and the more I was ultimately let down.
The last two episodes aren’t bad, in fact if they weren’t meant to be the end of the series then they’d be two of the best. But they offer zero conclusion to the storyline, which abruptly stops for no reason. There’s no second series, but Eden of The East does have what should have been the next best thing; two films that carry on the story. With the show over I remained hopeful that these movies would deliver the resolutions I was still waiting for. But here is where Eden of The East collapses, and I was extremely dissatisfied by these final hours of the narrative.
Of the two films, The King of Eden (the first one) is significantly worse. For a show that had already missed one opportunity to tie up its loose threads I was completely stunned by how little effort the movie made to address any of the outstanding issues. I won’t give away too much, but will say that this time the use of ‘memory loss’ as a narrative device is lazy, boring, and stalls the progress of the plot significantly. It honestly feels like the writers might have also lost their memories at this point.
By the time I got to Paradise Lost (movie #2) I had given up hope of the show delivering a satisfactory ending. However, many of the resolutions I was craving finally arrived, and this film does effectively wrap up the story. My main problem with this film is that it contains a lot of plot holes, and some of what happens makes absolutely no sense. Again I won’t say too much, but when did Juiz become a truck?
You’re going to have to overlook a lot of things if you want to enjoy Eden of The East, and with its excellent start this is a show that will build up your expectations only to smash them down. The first season is unfinished and the two films should have been a second season with a better plot. You’ll have to decide for yourself if the good outweighs the bad, but don’t expect much from the show’s later half.