Eden of the East

Eden of the East: The Complete SeriesEden of the East is a confusing romp. As a thriller, this could be construed as a compliment, but it isn’t always. The anime possesses some unique ideas, but the delivery of them sometimes falls short of expectation. However, you could not ask for a more open-ended beginning then the one Eden of the East starts out with.

Akira is contentedly standing naked in front of the White House with  just a gun and cell phone in either hand. Saki, a young girl who was just accosted by the cops, is very happy for their new distraction with Akira.

From there starts a story of a lot of questions with frustratingly few answers. Akira is absolutely no help with questions, because he has amnesia. He doesn’t even remember the terrorist attack Careless Monday that happened months ago. It’s all right though, Saki, who implicitly trusts the naked man with a gun, helps him out as they both travel home to Japan.

The first few episodes carry on very slowly. You know that there is some great big Thing that Akira is involved in, but the story tries to distract you with their relationship and minor skirmishes Akira gets involved in. The story is not successful in its distraction. One of the first things you learn about Akira is that the cell phone he is holding has credit of over 8 million dollars on it. Akira does his best to find out why, and comes close, but is happy to take breaks when Saki wants to hang out.

Just as with his nudity, Akira seems well acclimated to knowing absolutely nothing about himself. He rarely is caught fretting, almost as if amnesia is this great game, even though it is foreshadowed that Akira is in the middle of something sinister.

It is a weird dichotomy, to have the viewer more on edge than the protagonist, and for more episodes than is comfortable. When the show finally delivers on The Thing, it’s a pretty satisfactory, if very abstract twist.

Akira’s easy going personality helps invite other characters into the story. When Saki’s friends become involved, it doesn’t feel artificial that he’d let him into his amnesic mystery. It’s just the open hearted, potentially lethal, personality that Akira has.

There’s part of this anime that completely succeed toward its thriller tendencies. Aspects of it make the viewer think and contemplate and worry, which on the action-thriller score card are all good things. However, Eden of the East also falls prey to the Talkative Villain Syndrome. Instead of allowing the mysteries to unfold, or invite your viewer the chance to parse out the truth, the hubris of the villain unveils all.

The show plays its cards close to its chest until the end, where you are told everything. Just told. Not in an engaging manner, but in broad speeches made by characters. Once everything about The Thing is unveiled you realize that there are threads of the mystery throughout the show, and maybe it is possible to piece them together, but it is not as satisfactory as it could have been. If the pacing was a little different, or if dialogue was spaced out a little more, it feels like there could have been a great reveal, instead of just an interesting one.

It was interesting though. As a short eleven episode series, the show delivered a lot of ideas, some of which are very compelling. Add into that a mix of personalities that usually don’t feature in a mystery, and a romance side story? If you don’t mind watching with a cocked head, Eden of the East is certainly worth a look.

Eden of the East
FUNimation, 2010
directed by Kenji Kamiyama
275 minutes, Number of Discs: 2
Company Age Rating: TV-MA (17+)

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