0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Cracking the code for Eden of the East

Friday 8th February 2013

Cracking the code for Eden of the East



Eden of the East, released in a new set today that collects the complete TV show and movies on DVD and Blu-ray, hits the ground running. Vacationing in Washington D.C., girl college grad Saki meets an extraordinary youth with no memories, killer rivals and a “magic” phone that can provide anything. Adopting the name Akira Takizawa, our hero slowly learns he’s in the middle of an incredible game. Its goal: to transform Japan forever…

Like much Japanese animation, Eden of the East animates what we’d normally think of as live-action material; in this case, a romantic comedy-action-thriller. It begins on a good-naturedly absurdist note. Saki is unwisely trying to throw a coin in the White House fountain. A run-in with security is interrupted by the appearance of Akira, who’s cheery, amnesiac and stark bollock naked! He only has a gun and the aforementioned phone, connecting him to a chirpy mystery woman called Juiz, who can seemingly give him everything (and we mean everything) he needs. Meanwhile, Tokyo has been battered by missile attacks – though these have done surprisingly little damage – while our hero isn’t the only person with a special phone...

The original 11-part series is funny, exciting and beautifully made, with heavyweight ideas and political provocations if you want them. It’s a blend of Doctor Who daffiness and James Bond operatics. It also has a dissident ethos out of Catcher in the Rye, in which geeks and NEETs may be Japan’s salvation or downfall.

The Doctor Who element is strongest in the beguilingly charming relationship between Saki and Akira. There’s the spontaneous, confident, mysterious trickster hero; and then there’s the female companion who supplies our reactions. Saki is open to criticism, being designed and voiced cute and girly. To extend the Who comparison, she seems less Amy Pond than Jo Grant four decades ago. Saki is voiced in Japanese by Saori Hayami, Musubi in Sekirei and Kiri in Towanoquon.

Yet Saki reveals realistic vulnerabilities and frustrations that have nowt to do with first-love clichés. Indeed, we gradually realise they underpin the story. Saki’s cutesy trappings are brilliantly undercut by the image of a smiley greetings-card with the message, “Leave Me Alone!” Her ensemble of friends and acquaintances, introduced slowly, start off fun and end up loveable, even the manically obnoxious ones. Several of the characters, according to director Kenji Kamiyama, were modelled on members of the real Eden production team, which may explain why they ring true. The best is eternal gooseberry Osugi, a poor lad who never accepts that Saki has only eyes for Akira.

The characters were designed by Honey and Clover artist Chica Umino, and they sometimes look about half the age they’re supposed to be! Umino was chosen by Kamiyma, who said, “I decided to use a lighter character design to make the series easier to watch, and the match was very good.” Studio president Mitshisa Ishikawa acknowledged to this blog that Umino’s input was a ploy to attract female viewers.

Eden was screened in Fuji TV’s “Noitamina” anime block, targeted at women from their late 20s to their early 30s. Kamiyama said the audience influenced him in making Eden funnier. “I had this very serious story, but I wanted people to follow it without it getting too heavy.” Interestingly, though, Kamiyama wanted to make an anime with a strong male lead. In Kamiyama’s view, “When women advanced in society and took on more leadership roles, and also got more purchasing power, they were pushed more and more as the main characters in fiction. Even in anime, you have more female characters than male. It’s difficult to create likeable and fascinating male characters nowadays.”

Eden of the East is a comedy thriller that’s funny and thrilling, and about much more than thrills and laughs. If you’re interested in its political underpinnings, you can find the director’s comments here, though you may want to explore the ideas for yourself. Despite its often batty plotting, Eden of the East is grounded in the reality of modern living, in the manner of Isao Takahata or Satoshi Kon.

The film’s anti-establishment politics echo those of the classic film Patlabor 2, directed by Kamiyama’s mentor Mamoru Oshii. Kamiyama said, “In Eden, I wasn't specifically inspired by Oshii, but after I made the series, there were people saying that it looked like my interpretation of some themes taken up by Oshii in Patlabor 2. So I realised there was probably something inside me. But it wasn’t a specific inspiration, I didn't have it in mind.”

We also get the disconcerting attitudes of a country that hasn’t experienced terrorism since the Tokyo sarin attacks by the Aum cult, seventeen years ago. At one point, Akira compares going NEET (the state of not being in Education, Employment or Training) to an act of terror. “Naw, I wasn’t doing anythin’ so cool!” simpers another character, in a moment more jaw-dropping for Westerners than any of the shock episode endings.

It feels like a real insight into a foreign mindset; though fear not, Eden’s makers like the same things we do, from tankers exploding on highways to punch-the-air action finales (and it’s hard to imagine even the grumpiest fans feeling shortchanged by the showdown in part 11). Even the moments arguably borrowed from Hollywood are revealing when they’re transposed to a Japanese setting. A few years ago, the Michael Mann thriller Collateral revolved round the image of a dead man sitting on a Los Angeles subway train, unnoticed by passers-by. Eden chillingly relocates this image to… the centre of Tokyo.

The two feature film sequels, King of Eden and Paradise Lost, are set several months after the show. They explore the fall-out from the events in the series, and answer some questions at its roots – though others, crucially, are left to the audience. Don’t expect something that’s straightforwardly “more of the same” as the series. There’s less comedy and more drama, though now the humour arises naturally from the characters we know.

The approach of the films is arguably closer to that of Mamoru Oshii, and there’s certainly more politics – there’s a fascinating paper to be written comparing Paradise Lost with Alan Moore’s British revolution fantasy, V for Vendetta. Whereas the first Eden series gave us friends and foes to cheer and boo, by the end, the players are converging. Having given us a big action climax in the series, Kamiyama now seeks to take us past a summer-film mentality… and into something more thoughtful.

Eden of the East, the definitive collection, is out on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.

Buy it now

Cracking the code for Eden of the East

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Eden Of The East: The Definitive Collection (original Series, Air Communication, King Of Eden Movie, Paradise Lost Movie)

£23.99
sale_tag
was £29.99
The complete Eden of the East Collection includes Episodes 1-11 of the original TV series as well as Movie 1: King of Eden, Air Communication OVA and Movie 2: Paradise Lost across 5 discs.

FEATURED RELEASE

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES

The Eden of the East serial continues

Andrew Osmond finds terror tactics, national disasters and rogue states in King of Eden.
[Spoiler warning: this piece gives away some story points from the original Eden of the East TV series.] The story begun in the anime serial Eden of the East continues in King of Eden, the first of two feature film sequels by director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex) and Production I.G. Of course, we’re mainly watching to find out what will happen next to the main characters: Akira Takizawa, the daffily spontaneous player of a game to save Japan, and Saki Morimi, who fell into his adventure and then for him. Of course, we do find out what the pair do next; but Kamiyama also wants to show us what’s been happening to Japan.

Hidden links in Eden of the East

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.

Unboxed: Eden of the East

Jeremy Graves definitively opens the definitive collection
Jeremy Graves definitively opens the definitive collection.

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

The World of Ghost in the Shell

Masamune Shirow’s imagined future
The Net is vast, Major Motoko Kusanagi reflects more than once across the multiple versions of Ghost in the Shell. So, indeed, are franchises. Ghost in the Shell has been going twenty-five years, and seems capable of renewing itself for at least as long again.

New Ghibli Film Announced

Suzuki’s swansong will be the ultimate in exclusivity
Rough artwork has been leaked of Studio Ghibi’s next film, announced as the ultimate in collectibles: a film released in a single print, with a guarantee of no DVD or Blu-ray release. Slated for release in one year’s time, Gertie the Dinosaur began with the most unlikely of inspirations for a much-loved children’s studio.

Naruto Music: Totalfat

Tom Smith on Naruto’s rising punk-pop stars
‘The next hero in the Japanese rock scene!” boldly claims their press release. Someone certainly believes in Japan’s rising guitar act TOTALFAT, it’s not every day there’s an English language press release accompanying a theme song from Naruto (or most anime for that matter).

Blood C: The Last Dark

Director Naoyoshi Shiotani on getting the darkness right
“In every theatre you have different light, so you can never be sure what it’s going to look like. So you have to think; will this be okay, will you lose details in that kind of darkness? It was hard to calculate all that.”

Bleach Music: Miwa

Tom Smith rings the ch-ch-changes…
Bleach series 13 continues the clash between Soul Society’s Shinigami and Sousuke Aizen’s Arrancar army. It also brings with it a new talent in Japanese pop-rock: miwa. This fresh-faced female, armed with a guitar and an arsenal of upbeat pop-rock songs, provides the series’ twelfth opening theme, ‘chAngE’.

Podcast: Speaking of Hugos and Gareths

More than one way to skin a catbus, in our 24th podcast
Jeremy Graves is joined by Jerome Mazandarani, Andrew Hewson and Jonathan Clements, for a series of rants and ill-informed commentary about anime, manga, the storm over the Hugo Awards, and your most awkward convention moment.

Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere

Andrew Osmond tries to make sense of Sunrise's mad new anime
As regular subscribers to Manga Entertainment’s podcast and twitter feed will know, there was some confusion about whether Sunrise’s new comedy-fantasy-action-fanservice series was called (deep breath) Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere or Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. We’re calling it the former in the UK, although releases elsewhere have plumped for the “in” option. Either way, it sounds less weird and Escheresque once you know that Horizon is the name of a pivotal female character in the series. But it reflects the inescapable fact that Horizon is, well, confusing.

The Future of Cinema & the Future of Anime

Jasper Sharp on the rise of new cinema gimmicks
Does the future of anime lie on the big screen, and if so, will developments in cinema exhibition technologies redefine its form, content and audiences in the digital age? These are questions many are asking as pundits declare conventional anime’s glory days to be a thing of the past.

Berserk Movie 3: The Advent

Anime's answer to the Red Wedding... but what was the question...?
The BBFC, which rated the first two Berserk films '15,' rated the third part a hard "18," with "sexual violence, strong bloody violence and strong sex." Believe us, they’re not kidding.

Anime at the Oscars 2014

Andrew Osmond on Japan's chances at this year's Academy Awards
There are two anime among this year’s Oscar nominees: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, competing for Best Animated Feature, and Shuhei Morita’s Possessions, vying for Best Animated Short. To date, there has been only one Japanese winner in each category. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was the winning feature in 2002; Kunio Kato’s La Maison en Petits Cubes won Best Animated Short Film in 2008. What are the new films’ chances?
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Cracking the code for Eden of the East from the UK's best Anime Blog.