"Eden of the East": A Paradise for Any Viewer
Some titles come with an exceptional amount of hype when they’re licensed and dubbed for Western audiences. Unfortunately for those titles, the hype often overshadows the merits of the show, and the general audience is left underwhelmed. But Eden of the East is one of those titles that exceeds even the most over-hyped expectations Not only does it leave the viewer satisfied, it leaves them craving more with its mixture of mystery, originality and suspense.
Eden of the East starts with a 21-year-old girl named Saki Morimi from Japan attempting to throw a coin in the fountain in front of the White House. When the cops see her doing this she is quickly approached and questioned. Lucky for her, she is rescued by a naked man carrying two items, a gun and a phone. As it turns out, the naked man has no idea who he is, where he is from, or what he is doing in front of the White House. We quickly learn that the phone he is carrying isn’t ordinary and he has access to an operator that can make seemingly anything happen upon his request. He adopts the alias Akira Takizawa, and the story at first consists of him trying to find out who he is and why he has this phone. By using his phone he is able to find out that he is actually one of the twelve “Selecao” (number 9 to be specific) that have each been put into a game to “save” Japan however he or she sees fit. The game is set up by a mysterious individual with wealth and political connections going by the name ‘Mr. Outside.’ The Selecao are all given a phone with an operator (named Juiz) and 10 billion yen. In this game one of the Selecao has been appointed as the Supporter, an individual meant to carry out the rules of the game: to not run out of money before your task is complete, or use the money for selfish purposes. If these rules are broken, the Selecao will be swiftly terminated, and at the end there can only be one winner. Adding to the mystery of the story, Japan has recently been attacked by missiles but had no casualties, and 20,000 people have simply disappeared.
The plot and characters in Eden of the East meld together well. The plot by itself is intriguing and fairly original. Not only do the Selecao have 10 billion yen but they also have Juiz, whose abilities seem limitless. She can launch any number of missiles, make the Prime Minister of Japan say “Uncle,” and even have people killed on the spot. Though the Selecao have been assigned to “save Japan” they are free to do so in any way they see fit. This naturally makes for some fun and threatening competition between the twelve, with each having their own agenda. The plot relies on suspense and mystery, and fortunately executes these two elements successfully. The story leaves you with just the right number of questions without making you feel overwhelmed, or making it impossible for all of them to be answered. The plot drops enough clues at appropriate moments, adding to the suspense and really making you think about what will happen next. The bittersweet part about the end of the series is that it leaves on such a huge cliffhanger. The entire last episode is an adrenaline rush and by the end your jaw will be wide open in both amazement and frustration since the story is concluded in two movies.
As I mentioned earlier, the characters work well in the story. Saki and Akira definitely steal the spotlight the majority of the time, but the secondary characters all have nice moments. If the show only featured Selecao it would more than likely become too stiff, but fortunately it introduces Saki’s close friends and old classmates, the founders of the Eden of the East system (which acts as a means to identify anything). They provide for a bit of realism to everything and some great comedic relief. As for Akira, he is veiled in mystery and this is his main appeal, specifically relating to the missile attacks and the missing people. Akira is just a nice guy who seems intent on winning the game in a way that really does benefit all of Japan. Saki is a cute and innocent girl, though a bit naïve when it comes to the corporate world. It is really great to see the two interact and become closer. It is especially interesting when Saki begins to learn the truth behind Akira’s past and whether or not she can trust him. The other Selecao are of course a driving point for the series. Not all twelve are introduced in the series, but the ones that are all have very different motives and interests in the game. Number 1 is a calculating mastermind, while Number 10 abducts male rapists and chops off their ‘Johnnies’. Even Juiz has a playful personality when talking with Akira. It may seem as though there are quite a few characters, but they each get the appropriate amount of screen time and play up to the unknown aspect of the show.
The character designs in Eden of the East are slightly different than most shows. Instead of having sharp, angular faces their cheeks and chins are more rounded giving them all an adorable look. The music is a bit more subtle in this series than in others, coming to the fore mostly when revelations are made or when another mystery pops up to highlight the moment. This doesn’t take away from the show, because the music sets the tone for the majority of the scenes; it just doesn’t do it as bluntly as some series like to do. Leah Clark (Saki) and Jason Liebrecht (Akira) do an excellent job with their characters, Leah in particular expressing Saki’s innocence and sad moments quite well. The rest of the cast meshes with their respective roles easily, Stephanie Young in particular sounding great as Juiz.
Eden of the East from start to finish easily draws the viewer in and keeps them hooked. A combination of interesting characters, a suspenseful plot and mystery provides an excellent thought-provoking experience that will please anyone. While the series isn’t the conclusion to the entire story, it does well in answering a number of questions presented throughout and leaves enough to get the viewer tuning into its two upcoming movies, King of Eden and Paradise Lost.