1.24.2011

Eden of the East Review

Eden of the East (2009, original series; 2010, movies)
Eden of the East is like 24, Bourne Identity, and Death Note rolled mixed into one giant suspense filled romp. The main character is an amnesiac with access to 10 billion yen to spend as he sees fit. The rules of the game are simple, spend the money to save Japan, or else. There are 12 players ... and missile attacks. What the crap.

This is an 11 episode series with 2 movies to complete it, and I just gobbled it all up in a single weekend. It's a rare show that I, for better and for worse, put off for a long time. I can't imagine watching this week to week, that would be painful; and to wait 6 months in between movies must have been torturous.

I was pretty put off by the animation style at first, which is what made this series languish on my queue; especially since the facial structures reminded me too much of Ghibli (which I don't particularly enjoy), but I began to live with it for the sake of the story, which is just captivating. What's particularly interesting is how each of the 12 players approaches the game differently. Some think small, some think big, and some are just insane.

For the most part though, Eden primarily revolves around two characters, offering a complementary point of view of their world. One is the aforementioned insomniac, Takizawa, and the other is a young job seeking adult, Saki. Together, they explore the Japanese socioeconomic world and lament its decline at the hands of an entitled, somewhat elitist older generation of adults. I like the story telling approach here; while the two are unraveling the mysteries of Takizawa's past, the game is constantly progressing in the background by the other players, which ultimately gives them a sense of urgency.

Why am I obsessing about this game so much? Because original setups like this are rare as Death Notes. The coolest plot device here is that each player gets an instant log of each other player's spending activities, opening up opportunities to locate and/or counter each player/move. Awesome to watch the mechanics of this show in action.

Ultimately though, what I hate about these story driven suspense anime is that re-watch value is pretty low. Once all the tricks are revealed, it's really hard to get excited about the next episode.

kenholic rating: 7.5; despite thematic similarities with other shows, this show still carries an air of originality. Recommended for folks seeking a new thrill.

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