it took a while, but I managed to get a hold of and finish watching the Eden of the East series and subsequent movies. Here’s a quick (now that I look at it, it’s rather lengthy) synopsis, courtesy of Wikipedia:
On November 22, 2010, ten missiles strike against uninhabited areas of Japan, claiming no victims. This apparent terrorist act is referred to as “Careless Monday” and disregarded by most people. The series begins three months later, with a young Japanese woman named Saki Morimi visiting Washington, D.C. as part of her graduation trip. When she gets into trouble, a mysterious Japanese man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa, helps her through it. The man appears to have no memory and is completely naked, carrying only a gun and a cell phone charged with ¥8.2 billion in digital money. While they are coming back to Japan, they learn that a new missile has hit their country.
Akira discovers that his phone is part of a game and that he himself is one of the participants. The game consists of twelve individuals, dubbed Seleção (Portuguese: “Selection”), who are given ¥10 billion to save Japan. The Seleção are able to use the phone operator, Juiz (Portuguese: “Judge”), to fulfill any kind of order for a price. However if the money is used up completely or for selfish purposes, the individual will be eliminated.
The title of the series comes from the name of a cell phone application developed by several of Saki’s friends, which provides an advanced online image recognition and social networking service. The Eden of the East software can almost immediately recognize and provide details about nearly any object, allowing users to submit images and comments to use as data for future recognition.
As the series progresses, Akira discovers that Juiz is a computer system. He also learns one of the Seleção was the one who ordered missiles to be fired in Japan and the reason he erased his own memories was linked to Careless Monday.
This summary only covers the televised series, but that’s more to keep from spoiling the plot lines going into the movies. This is a great political, modern adventure with terrorism, convoluted gameplay, and the power vested in a new generation. I especially enjoy the political aspects and the complex interactions between Seleção in the course of this game, set up by the infamous “Mr. Outside”. And this may be subjective, but I personally liked how the characters’ dialogue wasn’t wasted on spelling out every new detail and, instead, let the viewer put 2 and 2 together for themselves. And while, yes, it is similar to movies such as the “Bourne” trilogy, I still find this series to be able to stand on its own original merit, while not an entirely original premise, definitely original plot lines and character matrices.
Each and every twist or turn was relevant to the story as a whole and how the events played out, if you pay attention well enough, you constantly find yourself saying “So that’s why….” or “Ah! That’s what …. was for!” as the power of a Seleção is very far-reaching and not everything is as it seems. Even non-Seleção characters played very important parts in relation to the overall sequence of events. “Eden of the East” served as a valuable tool (both the program/search engine and the members of its development team) to Takizawa in his search for answers and a way to prevent the other Seleção from harming innocent people.
The animation and visuals in “Eden of the East” are top-notch throughout, as are the the musical aspects, “Falling Down” by Oasis is one of my new favorite songs, and the paper doll Ending was very interesting. As far as the plot goes, it’s hard to compete, even harder to continue, but the movies pull off the transition seamlessly, without any outstanding differences or distractions from the original anime series. I very much admire the planning between the two movies, it felt very much like a natural progression of a trilogy.
If I had to make one criticism, it’s that the original televised series probably would’ve been better off not being televised, should’ve stuck straight to the movie theaters. That, or make a second season covering the events of the two movies, I would’ve like to see more of the final days of the Seleção game. The post-credit teaser at the end of “Paradise Lost” gives some hope of a continuing series, but I’m doubtful of that (there’s no real reason to continue, what with the game over and all).
Eden of the East, highly recommended to anyone looking for a series that reaches out to modern viewers, especially to the more conspiracy-minded, or anyone who likes power play on a national scale. Don’t let the “Johnnies” in the beginning put you off, grow up and learn to laugh, watching other characters’ reactions will make you laugh.
Until next time,