Andrew Osmond searches for hidden links in Eden of the East
Production IG’s political-romantic-comedy-thriller-borderline-SF saga Eden of the East concludes – perhaps! – on November 21st with the film Paradise Lost. Continuing the story from the King of Eden film and the preceding 12-part TV series, it sees protagonists Akira and Saki return to Tokyo for the last acts in the game to “save” Japan. There are bonus prizes on offer, like Akira’s backstory, and perhaps even the unmasking of the game’s enigmatic sponsor. In keeping with Eden’s copious cinephile references, here’s a clue for you; think Martin Scorsese.
If you’re chewing over the plot, bear in mind that one of the deep conflicts in modern Japan – perhaps even more so than in other countries – is between the old and the young, especially in the workplace. Japanese society had a terrible shake this March, but many of the country’s youth still perceive Japan Inc. as run by entrenched old men – the “gerontocracy” denounced at the end of the TV series. But Paradise Lost is complex enough to contain multitudes; stay around for a vital last scene after the credits, which up-ends what’s gone before.
Some viewers may complain that a few big questions remain unanswered, especially about Akira’s tendency to flush his own memories as casually as a Star Wars droid; though it’s arguable that his reasons are implicit in Eden’s central theme of a pure-hearted hero playing humanity’s most corrupt power games. But there’s another question left hanging at the film’s end, one that was set up at the very start of the story.
In the second TV episode, there was a passing reference to a plane crash in which a 6-year old boy and girl were the sole survivors. Now, bear in mind that Eden of the East is the creation of Kenji Kamiyama, who also directed Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex… and that in the second series of SAC,we learned that Motoko Kusanagi survived a plane crash as a child, together with a little boy. Is this just a tease, or an indication that the changing Japan of Eden is actually the same world as Stand Alone Complex, only a few decades earlier? If you’re not sold, then consider Eden’s dulcet-toned A.I. “Juiz,” voiced by the same actress as the ever-evolving Tachikoma robots in SAC…
Interviewed last year, Kamiyama seemed slightly cagey about whether Eden had finally ended, though he said that Paradise Lost concluded the “save Japan” game. The mind boggles at the prospect of a series bridging Eden and SAC, though any such venture would presumably need the blessing of Masumune Shirow, creator of the original Ghost in the Shell. Then again, Shirow seems happy to see very different interpretations of his world running in parallel, from the Salinger-inflected themes of Stand Alone Complex, to the art-house musings on dogs and dolls in the Innocence movie.
If you’re interested in following Kamiyama’s criss-crossing motifs, then watch his fantasy series Moribito Guardian of the Spirit, which features another steel-strong woman warrior who physically resembles Kusanagi but has a quite different psychology. And then there’s Kamiyama’s current project, which is a fantastically glossy-looking movie remake of the vintage Cyborg 009 science-fiction manga by Shotaro Ishinomori. Just watch the trailer and see if it doesn’t remind you of something...
Eden of the East: Paradise Lost is out on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.
The Wolf Children is a family film about a family. This may help explain while Mamoru Hosoda’s movie was a hit in Japan, something that’s very unusual for a standalone cartoon film not linked to an entrenched brand. A well-rounded portrait of a family offers many ways in for different generations. The Wolf Children is the story of an unassuming ‘ordinary’ mum who must find reserves of superhuman strength; of a rambunctious girl and a troubled boy, each with different relationships to their animal sides; of a magic, mythic love between a human woman and a gentle werewolf; and of everyday, practical living away from city lights and mod-cons.
Monkey Majik first shot to fame in Japan in 2006 when their second major-label single Around The World became the opening theme to TV drama Saiyuuki, an updated version of the famous Chinese tale Journey to the West. A fitting introduction for the band, considering the story is widely known as Monkey in English. Magic.
BFI announce a festival of Miyazaki, Takahata, et al...
The BFI South Bank cinema in London will be screening a Studio Ghibli season throughout April and May. Curator Justin Johnson will be giving an introduction to Ghibli on the 2nd April, followed by screenings of all the major Ghibli works and a number of relative obscurities
Need more cowbell? Have five! Japanese pop quintet Bon Bon Blanco (or B3 for short) is made up of 80% percussionists – and whilst its vocalist Anna Santos is the only member without an instrument to bash, I’m pretty sure she could work her way around a cowbell if pushed.
Some of you may have heard that the US release of the hotly anticipated Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo has been delayed. Unfortunately we can now confirm that this has had a knock-on effect for the UK DVD and Blu-ray release and as a result we have been forced to amend the release date. We are very sorry for this but it is beyond our control.
Tom Smith on the band behind Bleach’s 14th Opening Theme
"The song is based on the singer’s own experiences of forming a band and the hardships endured while keeping the faith for a brighter future, with lyrics just vague enough that they could easily represent the struggles of Ichigo and pals, too."
It’s notable that, despite what you might think looking at the franchise now, Yu-Gi-Oh! was not conceived as a card game tie-in, any more than Totoro was made to sell soft toys (though both benefitted hugely from the spin-offs). When it began, the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga was rather different from the anime which most people know.