*Spoilers Ahead*... do NOT read if you do not want to know how it ends.
Same as Joshua Adair's review, please do not bash me. There are some very emotional ppl out there when it comes to these things, so just try to accept the fact that a review can contain an opinion that is different from yours.
This review is for the entire series, not just the last movie.
I, also, loved this series. It has it's flaws, one of them (for me) was a bit inexcusable, but I still say it is worth the time and effort to watch this series and the subsequent movies.
First, the pros; the animation is breathtaking - drool-worthy, beautiful, can't-take-your-eyes-off-it type of thing. One of my favorite things about EotE's look is the choice in color palette. As an artist myself, I know how tough it is to select - and then stick to - a palette. It can literally make of break your piece. Some very wise choices were made here. There was just enough effort made in "effects" (if you can call them that - animation is one big effect, but still), realism, NON-realism, and cartoony-style humor. The animation was almost my favorite aspect of EotE.
The characters were without a doubt my favorite part. They were fleshed out nicely and a perfect mix. I loved the personality differences expressed between each version of Juiz, based on which Selecao 'she' was assigned to. The Eden team was hysterical and, frankly, very believable.
The other Selecaos were a pleasant mix of the frightening, spoiled, odd, powerful and sweet. The Johnny Hunter still fascinates me - I can never reconcile her actions but I can totally sympathize with her cause. Plus, let's face it, she kind of kicks a$$ in the style department.
Saki was adorable, she was plucky and willing to invest time in a huge risk (Akira himself) without being too much of a pushover, too emotional, or the warriorette. Nothing is wrong with any of those roles, but they would not have done opposite Akira. She was his perfect compliment.
Akira himself is one of the most charming anime characters to come along in awhile. He gets a bit flighty at times (let's see how *you* behave after two memory wipes!!) but he is so endearing that you have no choice but to forgive him. He is clearly interested in Saki - not just she's The Cute Girl That Helped Me, but it's obvious he's looking out for her well-being and wants her to stay near him even if he can't figure out why. Is he interested enough? I fear we will never know. He is compassionate, easy-going, tenacious, adorable, adventurous and intelligent. What more can you want in a lead?
I have only ever seen this in the original Japanese with subtitles, so I will be interested to see how well I like the English soundtrack. I usually have trouble finding enough emotional resonance with the Japanese soundtrack (only because I am sure such a thing is more subtle than English, and I simply don't know enough Japanese to 'hear' it) and I opt to listen to the English. But, I can tell you one thing for sure - Akira's voice actor is without a doubt my favorite male Japanese voice actor so far. So much so, that if I find the english actor lacking when I buy the series, I will not listen to him. I will let nothing ruin Akira. Nothing.
The plot does have it's similarities to other animes, and especially books/movies like the Jason Bourne series. But there is nothing new under the sun children, EVER, and for my money when the series is as engaging and creative as this, I say who cares? if it's good, it doesn't matter how many times it's been done. I was very happy with the reconciliation at the end of Paradise Lost regarding the politics and the NEETs, the future of most of the characters and especially Taki's confrontation with Mr. Outside - which was perfectly in character with him! It was just enough revenge for our hero, and, consequently, just enough for us. The open-ended aspect of the entire ending was absolutely appropriate to the subject matter - there are no perfect answers with a problem this big, it says, but we have to keep trying.
Now for what I did not like about the end. Yes, it was the resolution between Akira and Saki's relationship. Without giving away too much, I believe my problem with it is one of two things: Either the translation from the Japanese to the English subs somehow missed the inflection of the plot, OR, it is the basic rule that if you are a pessimist, you saw it one way, and the opposite if you are an optimist.
I am definitely a pessimist...
This is hard for me to explain, but at the risk of inciting fan-girl flames, I'm going to try. Did he ever go back to her as promised? I don't think he did. After some of Saki's rather final-sounding narration, and Akira's flighty nature when he said goodbye, and the total lack of any visual indication he went back, and especially Saki's very, VERY last line of dialogue, I do not think he made good on his promise to her. Maybe saving Japan has him too busy now, or the fool went and had another memory wipe, or maybe he finds himself too dangerous and is simply protecting her by staying away? I am not sure. It was almost as though he truly wanted to be Saki's guy in the series (even as he knew she needed to get over her bro-in-law, and even as he was willing to show the Johnny Hunter some real affection). But then in King of Eden (after the second memory wipe, mind you), he liked being near Saki, but he couldn't figure out why. But by the end of Paradise Lost, Taki-chan left me feeling like... ok, yeah, I'll say it: He's just not that into her (anymore?). Well, Ugh! You build me up then give me that?! *sigh*
That aspect of the plot left me cold & wanting. It is the ONLY reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5. You want so badly for them to be together - not for a story book romance crap ending, I hate that stuff - but because they are just so good together that you get addicted to 'them'. Who knows, if I can find it in my heart to be more optimistic, I may come back and upgrade that rating. ;) But don't hold your breath.
Don't get me wrong, I still loved this anime. And I will watch it over and over like I did with Samurai Champloo. I admit the series was more engaging than the movies, but that was nothing more than a timing thing, and the part of the ending that I hate... well, I truly, REALLY hate it.
But... I loved it, and can't wait to get all my copies.