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Eden of the East - Complete Series [Blu-ray]
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Eden of the East scored a big hit in Japan when the series aired in spring 2009: in less than a year, two follow-up features continued the story, The King of Eden and Paradise Lost. Twentysomething Akira Takizawa wakes up in Washington, DC, buck naked and stripped of his memories: all he has is a gun and a super-sophisticated mobile phone that delivers anything he requests. He meets Saki Morimi, a college senior on her graduation trip to America, and returns with her to Japan. Takizawa tries to recover his memories, which may be linked to a pair of missile attacks on Japan and the disappearance of 20,000 NEETS (young men with No Employment, Education or Training). From his phone--which provides the equivalent of more than ¥8 million (about $100,000,000), Takizawa learns that he is a seleçao, one of 12 agents charged by the mysterious Mr. Outside with saving a faltering, apathetic Japan. As he resolves the mystery of his identity, Takizawa gets help from Saki, her friends, and a hikikomori superhacker. Eden of the East was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, writer-director of the popular Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Kamiyama once again demonstrates his exceptional skill at building suspense and weaving an exciting fantasy. The cyber-terrorism elements of Eden recall the "Laughing Man" mystery in Stand Alone Complex, but this time Kamiyama is working with his own characters and world, and the results are more intriguing. The taut scripts and a winning performance by voice actor Jason Liebrecht make Takizawa an appealing hero, even in the most improbable circumstances. Eden of the East ranks among the very best anime of 2010. (Rated TV MA: violence, nudity, risqué humor, alcohol and tobacco use) --Charles Solomon
(1. I Picked Up a Prince, 2. Melancholy Monday, 3. On the Night of the Late Show, 4. Real Reality, Fabricated Reality, 5. This Is No Time to Be Thinking About That… 6. Eden of the East, 7. Flight of the Black Swan, 8. Searching for the Path Already Lost, 9. A Man Too Ephemeral, 10. Who Killed Akira Takizawa? 11. The East That Continues On) --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is by far the best anime to be released in 2010 (in R1). Directed by Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Moribito...)and beautifully animated by Production IG, the series sits at 11 episodes and 2 films that are soon to be released (by Funimation). This wild adventure is brimming with action, great comedy, and splashes of romance. The show is very well paced, with an intriguing plot, excellent characterization, and visually stunning artwork. Its very well executed, the bluray transfers look great and the second disc is filled with extras.
Check out the trailer / preview episodes here [...]
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
With all these important questions that should take precedent over anything else, his strange predicament takes a bow so that he can rescue a girl in front of him with a predicament of her own. That girl, Saki Morimi, for entirely different reasons, stands in front of the White House and creates a situation, drawing the attention of the police.
And with a simple step forward Akira goes to aid Saki, and a special relationship develops that gives meaning to this whole series. This bond between them is what drives us, the viewer, to keep watching amidst all the mystery that revolves Akira's past, and his connection to the Selecao, the "selector."
But, what's happening?
As it turns out, Akira has been chosen as part of a group of people selected to "save" the country of Japan. What he needs to save them from is not clear, but at his disposal is a mysterious phone and a bank account worth 10 billion Yen. He can do anything necessary by calling Juiz, the operator, who can accomplish any request he desires. And by anything, they mean anything. Want to clear a path through traffic? Done. Want to have the Prime Minister of Japan say "uncle" on national TV? Done. Want to murder someone?...yes, even that. No problem. But, there's a catch. Each request is a transaction that dwindles the 10 billion yen down to zero. Once that zero is reached a special Selecao, the Supporter, comes knocking at your door to snuff you out. And it's game over, lights out--adios.
The grand picture is revealed little by little, and in the end, it's a good story to follow. I won't divulge more of my opinion on the ending, but just know it's worth it. What really keeps you there is how the relationship between Akira and Saki develops. Akira has a charm, an easy spirit that isn't suited for the task given to him by the Selecao. Yet, in the state that he's in, he charges forward, uncovering the threads tangled within his past. Saki, also is in a tiffy of her own as she feels lost in the world, trying to find a place where she can start her life. With Akira beside her, and his problems, she becomes a sort of caretaker to him, something that she feels good about and finds meaning in. Slowly but surely, both become each other's confidant, in a situation where things aren't clear and danger lurks in every corner, they can only trust themselves.
Intriguing stuff, eh?
Away from the story, everything else is good. The show is a thing of beauty. The art style is top notch, with clean lines, bright colors and fluid animation. The soundtrack stands out and really fits the mood of the show, and the voice acting is great (I saw this with the Japanese voice track, so I can't comment on the quality of the English track). And with a serious undertone as this, the show does deliver moments of levity and comic relief which never feel out of place. It's a good mix of drama and comedy, which if it didn't exist, the show would be too overbearing--kudos to the writers for that blend.
So is this a show for you? I think everyone has a space for this type of anime, and truth be told, we need this kind of anime to do well. Shows like Monster, Moribito, Fighting Spirit, Rainbow and Eden of the East are rare gems that you need to uncover amongst all the teen angst that populate most of anime shelves these days. Anyone with a nose for mystery and suspense would do themselves a favor by picking this one up.
Just as an update, there are three other works out there past this DVD release. One is a movie that compiles the series into a two hour film, compressing what occurs during the series. The other two are feature length films that continue where the series left off.
Featuring anime production from Production I.G., "Eden of the East" would feature the work of series creator Kenji Kamiyama (creator of "Blood: The Last Vampire" and worked on "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", "Hakkenden" and "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade"), manga artist/writer Chica Umino ("Honey and Clover"), art director Yusuke Takeda ("Mobile Suit Gundam Wing", "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", "Neon Genesis Evangelion") and legendary anime musician Kenji Kawai ("Ghost in the Shell", "Maison Ikkoku", "Patlabor", "Ranma 1/2', "Vampire Princess Miyu").
The anime series debuted on Fuji TV in April 2009 and was followed by three films and now the complete series has been released on Blu-ray (and three films will follow) courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.
"Eden of the East" is just fantastic to look at. Presented in 1080p, the artistic backgrounds are magnificent. I don't think there was one re-used (aside from Takizawa's home) but there was always a new painted scene whenever a character was shown. If there is one thing that I've noticed with recent Production I.G. anime TV series, despite it being a TV series, they still go out of there way to make the series look phenomenal. Each painted scene looks fantastic, the character designs by Chica Umino come alive!
The animation and overall colors are vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and I saw no excessive haloing, edge enhancements and saw no artifacting. This is one beautiful anime series and definitely one of the best, if not the best, looking anime series on Blu-ray thus far.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"Eden of the East - The Complete Series" is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The audio for this series is fantastic. From the crowd ambience and just the sounds of leaves, police sirens, blasts, airplanes, computer keyboard clicking, you name it, the audio was well utilized through the surround channels.
Dialogue and Kenji Kawai's impressive musical score is crisp and clear through the front and center channels. Both Japanese and English vocal tracks were well-done! Although not an all-out action-driven anime series, there is quite a bit of action throughout the eleven episodes and the lossless audio was very good!
I have to admit that I was surprised to hear Oasis' "Falling Down" theme but I've noticed that the theme is only present in the first episode and fans have told me that it ran throughout the whole series. I'm guessing the rights to license the song for Blu-ray and DVD release was expensive. But at least the song is presented in the first episode.
Subtitles are in English.
"Eden of the East - The Complete Series" comes with the following special features:
* Director Kamiyama & Original Character Designer Chica Umino Interview - (21:49) A wonderful interview on how the collaboration between Kenji Kamiyama (series creator/director) and "Honey and Clover" mangaka Chica Umino came about. A very cool interview but as always, Umino-san continues to be a mystery as she uses her trademark bear (featured in her HandC manga to cover her face).
* Kimura (Takizawa) and Hayami (Saki) Interview - (18:32) Interviews with voice actor Ryohei Kimura (voice of Takizawa) and Saori Hayami (voice of Saki). The two talk about not knowing what kind of series they were doing a voices for but while recording, being impressed with what they saw and being happy to be part of the series.
* Directors Kamiyama & Oshii Interview - (27:17) Director Kenji Kamiyama and Mamoru Oshii sit down to discuss the production of "Eden of the East".
* Art Director Takeda Interview - (15:36) Art director Yusuke Takeda talks about working with Umino's characters and the things he discussed with director Kamiyama before taking on the series. Also, showcasing the Bamboo studio as they worked on the backgrounds and Yusuke explains several scenes and what challenges he had and what he wanted to achieve.
* Composer Kawai Interview - (10:41) Interview with Kenji Kawai who talks about the music of the series and what he has planned. Also, showing us a few of the tracks he created at the studio.
* TV Spot - (:32) The commercial for the Japanese Blu-ray and DVD release.
* Promotion Video - (1:51) The Japanese promotional video for "Eden of the East".
* Textless Closing Song -
* Trailers - FUNimation Entertainment trailers
Production I.G. has delivered one of the finest anime television anime series to be released on Blu-ray in America. With the release of "Ghost Hound" from Sentai Filmworks last month which I gave a highly favorable review for it, I thought the Production I.G. series was just phenomenal. But here they are once again with another series and not only does it come with wonderful animation and many brilliantly painted backgrounds (which is rare to see on a anime TV series), the series creator manages to wrap the main storyline in 11 episodes.
Most anime TV series tend to run 22-26 episodes and yet, Kenji Kamiyama and Production I.G. manage to do it with 11 episodes and what a wonderful series "Eden of the East" has turned out to be!
The series has turn out to be one surprise after the other. From hearing the Oasis theme song, to seeing a well-crafted anime series from director/writer/creator Kenji Kamiyama, seeing the character designs from Chika Umino (which I'm a big fan of the "Honey and Clover" manga series), hearing the awesome jazzy music from Kenji Kawai, to see the talented BAMBOO team behind the painted backgrounds of this series....everything about this series is magnificent. Animation, background design, storyline, music...
And then not only do you have a series which looks awesome on Blu-ray, the lossless audio is great and you get a good number of lengthy special features. This has got to be my favorite anime series on Blu-ray for 2010, hands down!
I can go on and on about why I love this series but I will just say that when it comes to anime TV series on Blu-ray, I don't expect much because these anime studios are handling other series at the same time and frankly, many are completed within hours of airing on Japanese television. Anime TV series are usually not detailed like a film or OVA but somehow in 2010, Production I.G. have two anime series on Blu-ray in the U.S. that just breaks traditional convention of anime TV series and how they can look and literally raises the bar of animation and artistic backgrounds. "Ghost Hound" was incredible and the Blu-ray for the series was awesome... but FUNimation Entertainment has done well by releasing this Blu-ray, to include several lengthy special features (and not just the standard opening and ending themes) and is now planning to release the three "Eden of the East" films on Blu-ray as well.
And as far as raising the bar for how anime TV series should look, the fact that they got Chica Umino and Ryohei Kimura involved was awesome but just looking at the anime series, rarely do you see the backgrounds being used more than once. It's like every scene features new animation and background art and there was special emphasis on lighting and once again, this is not the kind of detail you usually see in a anime TV series. But Production I.G. must have high standards because so far, I've been impressed with their work and it just gets better and better.
It may be a little early since the year is not over but in terms of anime releases on Blu-ray in America, "Eden of the East - The Complete Series" may be my pick for "Anime Series on Blu-ray of the Year (2010)".
This is not your usual, action packed anime series. Along with Code Geass, this was a delightful breath of fresh air into the US anime market. The series is more cerebral and will appeal to fans of Ghost in the Shell, L.A.I.N., and other intelligent and less action packed shows and series (yeah GITS has action, but also has that futuristic cyber punk element). I wouldn't sum this up as a cyper punk or sci-fi series. More of a modern 'advanced science' story.
The entire series revolves around a conspiratorial game played by several individuals. These individuals are given a finite amount of money and allowed to spend it however they wish. Though when they run out, they are terminated. But the winner is apparently the person who puts the money to the best use while not being terminated. One of the players is actually rumored to be the 'executioner' and carry out the 'judgement'.
An interesting series to be sure. I also like that in the original Japanese audio, the Americans speak American (the first episode takes place in DC). I thought that was nice. The 'nudity' is handled well. They animated a blotchy, squiggly spot in front of the areas in question in the few scenes. Though they don't really show anything... there are several suggestive episodes and incidents including a woman who chops of guys 'Johnnies'.
Throughout the series we watch as the female protagonist struggles to help the amnesia afflicted male protagonist. It is a relationship well portrayed. Their emotions and interactions are realistic and complex. We really get a feel for these two and become intertwined in their struggles. I found that I could really sympathize with both, and that makes for great viewing.
There is a lot to be revealed and most is revealed by the end of the series. But the series ends with a ton of questions and the two later 'film' releases reveal much of the rest. The series is great but it is kind of short.
It's well worth the price though. I would say to snatch up the combo while it is $25 or so.
Smooth, no shortcuts or gimmicks. The backgrounds are a high point and stand out from standard anime. The battle animation and choreography look great, although battles are almost nonexistent.
The main character is funny, confident, and completely at home in his confusion. His self-assurance gives the series a lighthearted attitude that helps to keep it entertaining but also causes a problem down the road, which I'll get to. There's a hacker called "Panties" who'll come into play in the second half, and he is fantastic. The rest of the players are mildly interesting and not annoying, which seems to be hard to achieve nowadays in anime.
It's hard to touch on the story without throwing up *SPOILERS* because the whole point of the show is that the main character (Akira) has amnesia--and thus the audience should be amnesiacs, as well. We learn of this world as we go along. Akira wakes up naked outside the Capitol in Washington, DC. He has a gun, a cellphone, and no memory. The token female lead appears, and it's time to figure out what's going on. His cellphone has a ton of yen on it and an operator on call that can make pretty much anything happen. It's intriguing and enjoyable to unravel the facts of this unique world.
Eden of the East suffers from some pacing issues that begin around episode five. The story slows to service a romance and some curious side characters, and the casual attitude that makes Akira so likable begins to erode the seriousness that the plot is trying to form. The lag isn't terrible, but I felt myself getting bored. Worry set in that this show was going to lose its narrative or that the creators didn't have a conclusion planned at all (which anime is famous for). This story DOES HAVE A CONCLUSION, but it drifts between epic and disappointing--an odd feeling. While I can say I liked the resolution, I also felt the show deserved more.
The soundtrack is light, funky, and has some jazzy vocals. This quirkiness works during cute moments or when Akira is being slick, but during the intense scenes the lightness of the music undermines the gravity of the content. The missile attack finale is ruled by this music, dampening a great scene and making the end of the show feel like every other episode: charming and mildly entertaining.
Don't let my gripes dissuade you from watching this series; it's a good story and worth your time. I just expected more from the team behind this, because I knew they had the potential to create something fantastic. They created an interesting world and characters, and then moved them forward mildly. I will watch the movies and hope that they include the much-needed drama and intensity that the series is missing. Please enjoy, but don't expect action or anything more than what you start with. The story is interesting and well-conceived, but that is all.
As such, as an American, I have trouble getting attached.
Eden of the East is perfectly competent throughout its 11 episodes, but never features any really powerful moments, clever twists, original ideas, or memorable characters. You'll enjoy it while it lasts, and it doesn't do anything particularly wrong, it just doesn't excel.
Eden of the East, to spare you an overly long and unnecessary explanation, is basically the Bourne Identity meets Future Diary. It's not the most unorthodox of combinations, and it's executed exactly as you think it would be. Akira, the main character, has amnesia, and a cellphone. Other people also have cellphones. These phones give them access to resources they must use to try to save Japan, and things get ugly and competitive ala Future Diary. Akira is likable enough, a bit quirky, but never manages to fully forge a clear identity for himself. The supporting players suffer from this in greater amounts, with not a single one feeling like the viewer has encountered a new, unique individual.
The plot, while making a point of letting the viewer know it's a social commentary piece, doesn't make any real effort to say anything that hasn't been said before. Far less preachy shows have tackled Japan's social issues in a more interesting way with greater results (see Welcome to the NHK).
The ending... is lazy. It made sense, I suppose, but ultimately feels anti-climactic and doesn't accomplish much. The sequel films, unfortunately, while wrapping things up with a tidier bow, essentially play out like Hollywood movie cliches and make matters worse.
That being said, Eden of the East is a perfectly decent way to kill half a day. The art is good, the animation is slick, Akira is fun to watch, if not a character who will go down in history as a classic character, there are funny moments, cute moments. Go in with reasonable expectations and you'll enjoy yourself. Go in expecting a classic, and you'll probably be disappointed.
Eden of the East show rating: 6/10 (amicable)