Anime: Eden of the East - The Complete Series + Movies (Premium Edition)
Released By FUNimation
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Retail Price: $99.98
The intriguing anime series Eden of the East has a lot to bring to the table in terms of quality, introducing two unique characters from the very beginning. The first notable character goes by the name of Akira Takizawa, a young man who has somehow managed to wake up outside of the White House - but actuality has no recollection of how he even ended up there in the first place. Not only does he not know how he got to the White House, he doesn’t know anything in regards to his life, waking up naked and armed with a gun and cell phone only. On the other hand, a new yorker named Saki Morimi is on her college graduation trip when she discovers the naked and amnesia stricken Akira. She has found herself having a slight issue with police when Akira aids her and accidentally ends up with something of hers - a subtle way to tie them together from the start.
In her hunt to find Akira, she discovers that the unusual man has more puzzling things about him when they open up to each other. Akira soon finds out that the phone he holds is actually connected to a woman who has provided him with anything he needs and a whopping ten billion yen. The catch is that once the funds are spent from carelessness or selfishness, the owner of the phone (there are a dozen) will meet their demise. The 12 individuals are meant to “save” Japan - but it’s designed to provide multiple failures. As Akira and Saki return to Japan (she leaves with him on a whim) they begin to face facts about an attempted terrorist attack from months prior that seems to somehow have a connection to Akira’s life before losing his memories.
Akira’s past continues to be a point of exploration by also playing a mysterious part in the disappearance of roughly 20,000 people. By giving a character such high stakes and no understanding of who he is or what he’s done opens the door to an entire series of mystery and potential chaos. It also adds a spin by suggesting he could have contributed to something horrible while they suggest he’s a possible savior in the same token. He’s characterized as a happy-go-lucky man from the start, finding the positives in situations that others could have issues adjusting to. Placing a protagonist like Akira in Eden of the East brings extra layers to the already interesting premise of the anime series/films. He has a compassionate side we begin to see unfold over the course, which makes it harder to imagine how things could and will change as he discovers more about who he is.
I enjoyed that Saki proved to be a valuable character to Eden of the East within the 11 episode parameter and dual films. From the moment she took a chance on following Akira, you know for sure that she will be an all-in type of character that will do whatever she can to help someone she cares about. She is proven to be a romantic at heart, but without making it a trope-filled narration. Saki had experienced a harsh life after losing her parents and struggling to cope with the feeling of dependence on her sister and brother in law, but still solidifying that she has positive qualities to offer by doing whatever she can to help Akira’s cause based on her own observations. It’s easy to respect her for her actions entirely, with another series rare achievement to have multiple moving lead characters in the exuberantly expansive plot of the anime franchise.
I’m not especially drawn to romantic series, but the ongoing relationship between the two lead characters sucked me in because of the unique directions (or lack of) that made them an oddly compatible pairing. There wasn’t always spoken words that made it evident, finding subtleties in some of the more memorable scenes, for example their photo together on the boat that was a major plot point for the development with Akira and Saki. The anime series gave them bountiful moments to evolve at each other’s side but they still remained two separate people who dealt with individual circumstances as well. The conclusion of the series left things more open ended but unfulfilled, which leads us to the follow up films.
The sequels to Eden of the East are named The King of Eden and Paradise Lost. The movies are two concluding chapters to the overarching plot of a power struggle for Japan. While it still plays a great part in continuing the story, there are some moments that may be unsatisfying. The first film picks up with Akira and Saki separated in a very disheartening way, but the inevitable reunion only creates more questions about what the future holds. By the end of Paradise Lost it still felt like there was room to explore what could happen next in the fictional world, but it also creates potential for some additional sadness. The movies were a great way to fill a void of Eden of the East, now we’ll just have to leave the final moments to our imagination.
From the artistic perspective, the animation of Eden of the East had no major faults in the production of the movies or anime. The characters were fleshed out creatively, but nothing was overdone to distract from the plot or personality of the characters. I especially enjoyed the animation that brought emotional moments across in surprising ways, so I can’t come up with any complaints for Production I.G. The English voice actors who held a majority of the weight were Jason Liebrecht (Akira) and Leach Clark (Saki.) Both found the intended direction of each transitional moment with ease (and voicing a character like Akira seems impressive as is.) When you take a look at the strong quality all around, Eden of the East is certainly a franchise worth adding to your watch-list!
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
Akira was a compelling protagonist shrouded in mystery, but they did take the time to provide necessary answers.
Saki wasn’t what I expected her to be from the first few moments and I truly felt like she was a major reason the series was successful.
The films were bittersweet because while there were loose ends that were tied, it made the gap between Saki and Akira more apparent.