Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Eden of the East the Movie I: The King of Eden (anime movie), via Netflix

Eden of the East the Movie I: The King of Eden is a mystery/thriller set in an alternate history in which Japan was hit by several missiles in the recent past. The anime TV series, Eden of the East, set up the story, and this movie continues it.


This movie takes place 6 months after the events of the Eden of the East TV series. Saki has spent the whole time searching for Takizawa, who disappeared shortly after saving Japan. She only has a few clues to go by: Takizawa's phone and a message from him saying that he'll meet her at their special place. Saki is convinced that their "special place" is in Washington, D.C., but new developments indicate she is probably wrong, and so she heads to New York instead.

Before disappearing, Takizawa ordered Juiz to turn him into a king. Then he had his own memory wiped. Juiz's method for fulfilling Takizawa's request to become king finally starts to become clear: she is slowly erasing Akira Takizawa's identity and replacing it with that of a new Akira, one who is supposedly the illegitimate son of the prime minister of Japan. Juiz seems to be aiming at having Akira become the prime minister's successor after he steps down.

Unfortunately, several other Selecao are still in play, and not all of them wish Takizawa well. One Selecao leaks information that links Takizawa's new identity as the prime minister's illegitimate son with his past actions dealing with the missiles that struck Japan, making the amnesiac Takizawa a very sought-after young man. Not even the help of Number 11 and Saki's friends at the now-successful Eden of the East project may be enough to save Takizawa and Saki and get them safely back to Japan.


I realize that there are a lot of people out there who are absolutely wild about this series, and I can see why. For once, we have a (nearly) contemporary-set anime starring young adults who are still trying to find their place in the world. No high school students who suddenly discover they have super powers. No fan-service moments every 5 minutes. Very little in the way of the usual anime cliches. The original TV series sets up a fairly solid mystery/thriller...which just happens to end before everything has been wrapped up. For those who were frustrated by that, watching the movies is the next natural step.

If you haven't seen the original TV series, don't even bother watching this movie. It's a shame that Netflix doesn't also provide access to the original TV series (although you can watch it on Hulu), because this movie doesn't stand alone well at all. As it was, I even had trouble following what was going on at times. Although I had seen the TV series, it was long enough ago that I had problems remembering a few things, like which Selecao was which number.

Overall, I thought this movie was a huge disappointment. I was never as enamored with the original series as so many others seemed to be, but I still found it interesting and was looking forward to seeing what would happen next. What the movie ended up giving me was something that felt like a very long episode from the original series, and if the original series' loose ends frustrated you, the ending of this movie will have you frothing at the mouth. It's like the screenwriter just said “Oh, whoops, we're out of time, let's stop this thing and start the closing credits.”

Yes, I know there's another movie after this one. I'm assuming that movie wraps up the whole story. Actually, scratch that, it had better wrap things up. However, I don't think it was too much to hope that this movie have at least a semi-satisfying ending. The TV series did, after all. As a matter of fact, the TV series ended pretty awesomely.

In the original TV series, I was underwhelmed by the non-Selecao characters and was carried along mostly by the overall mystery and the much more interesting Selecao characters. That didn't change much with this movie. Unfortunately, in this movie, the Selecao characters were also underwhelming. Number 6 was annoying, to the point that he even seemed to annoy Juiz. I couldn't remember what Number 1 and Number 2's motivations and approaches to winning the game were, if those had ever even been revealed, so they were just two scheming, malevolent characters in the background. I was pleased to see that Number 11 was back, and I enjoyed seeing her protect Takizawa, which made me all the more unhappy with the way the movie ended.

Saki's incredibly boring friends got a lot of time in the spotlight, but only as a group, not as individual characters. And then there was Saki herself, who was just as much of a wimpy damsel-in-distress in this movie as she was in the original series. Finally, Takizawa: after the awesome way he ended the TV series, I was expecting more good things from him in this movie, only to get...not much. He did a nice bit of bluffing and fast talking to get Saki's purse back, and that was basically it – because of his amnesia, there wasn't much else he could do other than listen to Saki's story and start trying to put the pieces of his identity back together. I imagine he'll be interesting again in the second movie, but he was a letdown in this one.

If Netflix or Crunchyroll had the second movie, I would probably have watched it by now, because this movie's lack of a proper ending practically begs viewers to immediately watch the next one. Unfortunately, I'm not interested enough in the outcome of the series to shell out the cash for that second movie, especially since there's no guarantee it will wrap things up in a satisfying way.

Watch-alikes and Read-alikes:
  • Death Note (manga) story by Tsugumi Ohba, art by Takeshi Obata; Death Note (anime TV series) - Those who'd like something else with strong mystery/thriller elements and characters who have been given an incredible amount of power might want to give this a try. Just be warned, it's a lot darker than Eden of the East. I've written about the first live action movie.
  • Paprika (anime movie) - Those who'd like something else with strange mystery/thriller elements and a more realistic overall look (i.e. not much in the way of the usual anime cliches) might want to give this a try. I've written about this movie.
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (anime TV series) - Another series starring a character with tons of power, which he could use to change his world for the better. However, the main character of this series is an anti-hero, more like some of the other Selecao than like Takizawa. He treats other human beings like pawns in a giant game. I've only seen part of this, but what I saw was fascinating.
  • Honey and Clover (manga) by Chika Umino; Honey and Clover (anime TV series) - If Eden of the East's style of art really appealed to you, you might want to check this series out. The similarities are so striking (I know I'm not the only one who noticed) that I would have guessed the character designer for Eden of the East was in some way involved with an incarnation of Honey and Clover, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In terms of story and tone, it has little in common with Eden of the East, but those who liked the scenes involving Saki and her friends may like watching Honey and Clover's college art students pick their way through various funny/bittersweet/complicated interpersonal dramas.
  • The Bourne Identity (live action movie) - Those who'd like another thriller starring a very capable main character who has lost his memory might want to give this a try.

1 comment:

  1. I loved the original series but I pretty much had the same issue with this film you did. It just...stops. It felt like I was supposed to be watching this and the second film back-to-back. I still haven't gotten around to seeing that second film for the exact same reason as you.