Eden of the East (Higashi no Eden) Review

eden of the east

Noblesse Oblige. Please continue being a messiah.

The series’ premise is something like this: a young Japanese woman named Saki Morimi is visiting Washington D.C. as part of her graduation trip. There she gets into trouble as a mysterious Japanese man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, helps her through it. The man appears to have no memory and is completely naked, carrying only a gun and a cell phone charged with 8.2 billion Yen in digital money. The cell phone has the phrase, “Noblesse Oblige”  printed on it. While they are coming back to Japan, they learn that a new missile attack has taken place in their country.

takizawa akira saki morimi 2

Eden of the East is a fine example of the mystery genre executed beautifully, and it’s one of the few shows that is captivating from the get go. However, as the story progresses and evolves, it not only becomes more complex, making commentaries on politics, society and the corporate structure in Japan. Aside from the slightly off-putting obsession with “Johnnies”, the script is excellent. The mystery throws up its fair share of memorable cliffhangers, particularly towards the end, but its strength is in the relevant commentaries that come from the various themes that are put out. At several points the anime analyses public opinion in the face of terrorism, political and technological upheaval. Eden of the East is at its strongest when it is criticising the rigidity of the corporate culture in Japan, and its requirements of loyalty and how the more creative and innovative individuals are held back and eventually cast off by the established system.

johnny cutter illusion

From the visual perspective, the show is delightful. Production I.G. has a remarkable history in pushing animation forward, with the likes of Blood : The Last Vampire and the Ghost in the Shell series. Eden of the East does not try to outdo it’s predecessors in terms of animation, however it tries to make a place for itself with it’s own charm. Everything looks very lush and the backgrounds are quite detailed. There were obviously a lot of CG used in the animation of the missiles, cars, cellphones, etc., but it all blended together well with the regular animation.

Kawai Kenji’s background music complements Eden of the East’s aesthetic sensibilities. The soundtrack is haunting and solemn, and does a great job keeping up the series’ serious and mysterious atmosphere. On top of the music, the OP and the ED are also very unique. The ending sequence is set to School Food Punishment’s “Futuristic Imagination”, and is a paper stop-motion animation featuring pencils as missiles and a symbolic summary of the show. On the other hand, the opening sequence is filled with vibrant colours, words and patterns flowing on the screen, supported by the music of Oasis, which leads us to believe that the show has a pretty high budget.

eden of the east poster

When it’s done right, the mystery genre can produce some of the most absorbing and unique stories in anime. Eden of the East is a fine example of the mystery genre done right. Free from overblown melodrama, over-sexualised female cast members, it manages to be a visually distinctive and a technically accomplished production from one of the greatest production houses in the business. It’s a smart, funny, compelling and thought-provoking thriller which is enough to appeal to a more mature audience. Eden of the East is far from perfect, but it still comes highly recommended and though the waiting won’t be easy, chances seem high that with the two feature films on the way, Kenji Kamiyama might still have all the answers the viewers are after at the end of this series. If he can manage to provide them, Eden of the East has potential to finish up as something truly special.

And on that note,

See you next, deculture!

See you next, deculture!

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