Eden of the East: Anime in Search of the Promised Land

Posted by John Martone on May 31, 2009 in Animation |

Eden of East opening titles

Plot: In a world where Japan is spiraling out of control, an enigmatic and powerful man gives twelve Japanese citizens 100 million dollars to spend on “saving” Japan. Using the network he lays out for them, they have merely to issue the command, and it is done.  Our protagonist, one of these twelve, begins the story stark naked in front the White House, holding a gun. Its at this moment he loses all of his memories, and must begin to unravel the mystery of who he was, and if that will affect who he wants to become.

Title: Eden of the East
Studio: Production I.G.
Genre: Abstract Realism, with facets of Science Fiction

If you could, how would you change the world? Would you play by the rules, or would you work outside of them? Do you feel that the ends justify the means, and that being lawful may often be what keeps us from doing what is needed. In Eden of the East, 12 Selecao (chosen) are given 100 million dollars and almost no oversight. Removed from checks and balances, the Selecao have just to whisper what they want, and it will instantly be done. With quality so unreal it is magical, traffic lights will change, a new car bought and delivered, or even undesirables could be killed, there is no wish so large that it cannot be achieved, though that would factor into its cost.

As the series progresses, more of these chosen are displayed, each whom has their own ideas that, beyond the laws, will change Japan. I’m reminded of early Death Note, where the audience is forced to question the fact that the systematic and brutal elimination of criminals could honestly be for the best. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the actions Kira took led to a world where crime was almost non-existent, even if it was based on fear.

For example, one Selecao uses his funds to have dozens of crime syndicates shut down. Spending his money to kill the people that the law could not touch, this admittedly corrupt cop did the only thing he thought would “change” his world. Another, a female CEO of a modeling agency, uses the power to find and kill convicted sex felons, and her personal company to encourage foreign men to live in Japan. She attempts to create an “eden” for women.

Selecao from Eden of the East

Yet, not all solutions involve killing. A doctor goes beyond the law to get a brand new hospital built, one directed at supplying free health care for the elderly. The Doctor felt that the elderly were being forgotten by the government, since their value to society became low. Each person is an individual, whose passion for something is laid bare, and made possible by the appearance of this mysterious benefactor.

At its core though, Eden of the East is a coming of age story in the face of modern disenfranchisement. All of the characters are trapped under the weight of expectations, and find themselves unable to make the jump between the world they long to live in, and the world our society expects them to be a part of. Crippled by this indecision, the characters are masks of quiet desperation, unable to communicate their real desires and connect to their own lives…

NEETs, Hikkikomori, these people are far more than an ignorable minority. If anything, what truly makes the “chosen” special is that they, by nature of their position, are no longer allowed to abstain. They have been forced to come out of their shell, accept the nature of the position, and spend the time and power they have left attempting to reach the ideals they believe in. Instead of idling out, waiting for the perfect opportunity, perfect postulation of how things should be, they act on their dreams, reguardless of the flaws they acknowledge

Shot from OP from Eden of the East

The plot that ties all of these individuals is rather riveting to watch. Our protagonist, the naked amnesiac, struggles not only to find out how he should “save” Japan, but also to find out what it was that led him to that moment… armed and naked, in front of the White House. Though, for a show of such seriousness, the moments of silliness are just as enthralling.  Appropriately riding the curve of my anticipation, I find that the individuals he interacts with are every bit as engaging, or real, as he is.

On the production side, the show has interesting designs. Kenji Kamiyama, director and writer, comes with a strong pedigree, including Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Blood: The Last Vampire. Both of these works, especially GitS, prepare him for this pseudo realistic, highly character driven narrative.

Below:The full opening sequence to Eden of the East, with music by Oasis

The Good News: The series is short! Some people undervalue the importance of terse stories with a definitive beginning, middle, and end, but not I.  While I lament the fact that the series is only eleven episodes, I love that in an effective package of time, I was told a full and engaging story. I didn’t need to wade through three seasons of Buffy, Heroes, or Lost before the show clicked.

The Bad News: The series isn’t out yet! Unless you are truly gifted in Japanese or devoted to the cause, you will most likely be waiting four plus months to get your hands on this delicious morsel. However, it is my hope that when you see this savory sweet on the shelves of whatever marketplace you shop, you’ll remember this article and buy that product. Because, trust me, this show is most definately “worth it.”

John Martone is Texas based writer bent on creating odd plays. When not doing that he disassembles plot lines for the enjoyment of the internet.

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