"Eden of the East: Paradise Lost": What's Lost is Found
Eden of the East started out with an interesting premise that seemed fresh and ambitious during a time where most series struggle to be original. Its ability to weave an intricate story with bold characters made for entertainment any viewer could enjoy. The first movie, The King of Eden, took the momentum of the series and brought it to a sudden stop, just managing to pick up the pace and anticipation at the end. Though this was a letdown, the movie did offer development between Saki and Takizawa. At its heart, Eden of the East has always been the story of Akira Takizawa: the man who stood naked in front of the White House with a phone and a gun. The details of his past, his involvement in the game, and his solution to saving Japan are what drive the series. In that respect, Paradise Lost delivers. The ending however is slightly disappointing, in that it diminishes the drama within the game.
Eden of the East: Paradise Lost starts off right where The King of Eden left off, with Takizawa returning to Japan under the guise of being the late Prime Minister’s illegitimate son. Just moments before he took off in the plane, Selecao Number One discovered that Juiz was being transported via trailer truck and set out to eliminate his competitors. He successfully took out Selecao Number Two, but failed to take out Takizawa, as Selecao Number Eleven sacrificed her Juiz trailer in order to protect him. With the other Selecao (for the most part) taken out of the picture, the game has been left to Number One and Takizawa. As Takizawa and Saki land in Japan, he makes one request of her: to find his mother. As she sets out to find her, the other Eden members give their full support to Takizawa as he attempts to realize his order of becoming King of Japan.
Looking back, the plot of Eden of the East has never been very fast paced. There was just so much information to be unveiled and discovered that it never felt slow. In comparison, the movies just seem slower due to the lack of information needed at this point. Like The King of Eden, it feels as though there is little happening in Paradise Lost. Instead, most of the screen time features the characters just talking to one another. Prime examples are when Saki questions a lady she believes to be Takizawa’s mom and then near the end when Takizawa and Selecao Number One discuss their ideas of what it means to “save” Japan. The details within these talks are necessary, but they also cause the plot to drag. In series format, it might have worked, but in a movie entering its end game, a bit more action would have made it more exciting.
The ending is perhaps the most pivotal point in any show. It is the last impression the viewer will get and can essentially influence how he or she feels about the entire series. For Eden of the East this is especially true since there has been so much build up as the game progressed and what will happen to who wins/who doesn’t win. In Paradise Lost, the end of the game comes about too suddenly, and the declaration of the winner seems to take away all of the tension built into the game. It is anti-climactic, and unrealistic in how Japan supposedly “changes.” Two movies just couldn’t do justice for a plot that is so elaborate. The after-credits scene, however, is one of the most satisfying moments in the show, making for a good laugh and an appropriate conclusion for Takizawa.
As mentioned before, Takizawa carries the series. The detailed plot makes for all the excitement, but Takizawa is the mystery that everyone wants (or at least, should want) to know about. Naturally a story that is about discovering who his mother and father are and how he became who he is would satisfy that element of Eden of the East. While various bits of information are confirmed about his lineage, Takizawa’s past is still largely unknown. Giving away his entire back story would have destroyed the appeal of his character, so Paradise Lost did well in not revealing every detail. The great thing about Takizawa is that he genuinely cares for the people of Japan. He’s an idealist that has been given a way to actually make his ideas come true. On the other hand, Selecao Number One has lost faith in the people. They have two very different ways of wanting to change Japan, and this rings true to human nature. Everyone has a different idea of what should or shouldn’t be done for their nation, so to see two clashing ideas go head to head makes for a fascinating dynamic as Takizawa and Number One confront one another. Number One has a more realistic approach to the situation, but Takizawa is so genuine it is hard not to side with him.
Saki’s initiative to find Takizawa’s mother works well for her in this film due to the separation from Takizawa. The two needed their own separate paths in order for his story to be fleshed out. It is also appropriate she be the one who finds his mother because she is the one who has evoked memories of his past from him. While Takizawa carries the story, Saki acts as the means to which said story is told (and really has been the entire series). As the story is going towards the end, the Eden group again doesn’t get too much screen time but the leader, Kazuomi Hirasawa, does find a key player in the game, giving his character some significance. There is also a nice moment for Satoshi Osugi, who comforts Saki at a time when she thinks she might lose Takizawa forever, despite the fact that he is hopelessly in love with her. Small developments like that are always pleasing additions to a story where secondary characters don’t have too much significant involvement.
Paradise Lost has a couple different treats packed into the extras (aside from the usual trailers and whatnot), with a full cast commentary for the movie included. The commentary features several of the voice actors that worked on the show and is a fun exploration of what each voice actor thinks of the various characters and what they would do in a similar situation. Some more talk on specific scenes would have been nice but in general it was definitely worth listening to. Also included is an informative interview with Director Kenji Kamiyama that, while short, is a nice look into his perspective of Eden of the East.
Eden of the East: Paradise Lost may not have ended perfectly, but it did not end badly. The problem with creating such an impressive story is that it leaves a lot of high expectations, some of which may be difficult to meet. It is also rather difficult to properly end a series featuring the change of an entire country. Keeping that in mind, Paradise Lost did what it could, and that is worth respecting.