Posted on 4 August 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Eden of the East



It’s hard to judge Eden of the East: it started out as a series that promised to be amongst the best of the year… and failed to live up to that. It tried to do way too much in too little time. The movies tried to make up for a lot by deliberately keeping the pacing slow, but in the end, even that wasn’t enough to turn this into the masterpiece that it could have been.

In the end it joins the list of flawed series that actually do have quite a few points to make up for it. Paradise Lost is really no exception. It wraps up a lot of plot points, it reveals quite a number of interesting twists that tie the plot together and it still manages to keep the pacing restrained, with a lot of focus on the dialogue between the characters.

On the downside, there are quite a number of glaring holes left open. Some other revelations lack their build-up so that they fail to make any impact for a mystery series of this scale. Other revelations just come out of nowhere and really would have benefited from more foreshadowing and others just don’t make any sense. I want to be as ambiguous for this as possible due to spoilers, but let’s just say that the final resolution felt weak to me. The fate of the NEETs also is something I didn’t buy.

Now that everything is over, I also have to say that the series just didn’t have the time to flesh out its characters. Because of that, there really is just one character who actually develops when you ignore the memory loss devices of this series. I think that out of all the flaws of this series a lot of them can be forgiven, though this is one of those key flaws that caused me to enjoy this series a lot less than I would have liked. Most of the characters are just walking plot devices that just didn’t feel interesting to watch beyond the plot they were trying to tell. And its a shame, because that plot really was pretty good and imaginative.

Despite its short length, this did turn into one of those series that actually evolves: Paradise Lost really is completely different from the first episodes of the TV-series, and through its run this is one series that has been constantly changing. Because of that, every part of this series is different and fresh, not ripping off itself and it wonderfully manages to avoid the formula that it promised in the first few episodes.

On retrospect, I don’t think that even 26 episodes and two movies would have been enough here. To really be able to flesh out everyone, and give the story really its time to be complete, the creators would have needed at least 39 episodes. But really, I do want to say that despite my bitching, I really like what this series was trying to do: here we have the brain child of a very talented director. A series that’s not based on anything and a completely original story that really benefits from its format by including some of the latest technologies, feeling like this is one of those few series that really takes place in 2009, rather than something that also could have played in the year 2000. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped to.

Storytelling: 8/10 – A good number of twists and yet a slow and restrained pacing. The story is great, but it uses too many plot devices to get there.
Characters: 7/10 – In the end, the big weakness of this series. I tried, but I failed to care about most of the characters here.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Again, Paradise Lost’s graphics weren’t exactly better than the TV-series. It’s still very consistent and detailed though. The use of music was also very excellent.
Setting: 9/10 – I like the guts of this series. It’s not afraid to think beyond the box, try out new stuff and overall I really like the different ideas put into this movie.

Suggestions:
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
Tokyo Godfathers
Key the Metal Idol

Posted on 27 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Eden of the East



After watching this movie, I’m sure of it: Higashi no Eden should never have been a Noitamina-series. The time-slot is perfect for those short stories that have a small but dedicated focus a la Tokyo Magnitude, slice of life stories like Hataraki Man and Antique Bakery or episodic series in the way of Kuchuu Buranko or Hakaba Kitarou. Series that want to tell a huge story are far better off with a regular time-slot of 26 or more. This is the mistake that shows as Library Wars and Jyu Oh Sei also made. The series of Higashi no Eden just jumped around too much to really allow the story to develop properly.

The movie’s pacing is completely different. It’s here where Kenji Kawayama has more than enough time to spend on telling his story. And that’s exactly what made it work for me. It’s a shame that the build-up of the first season left things to be desired, because otherwise it really would have been an excellent movie.

And seriously, I was expecting the two Eden of the East Movies to jump around just like the TV-series did. Instead, they focus on believability and realism. The background sounds are kept to a minimal. And instead we get to see long, long scenes of character-building that don’t attempt to cut any corners whatsoever. It really takes its time to let everything flow naturally, which makes for a very slow-paced movie, but the characterization is worth it. This really is just like Seirei no Moribito: not afraid to get boring in order to be realistic, which often has its uneventful times. It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to watch such an anime, and it’s without a doubt refreshing and I’ve got to admire the restraint of this movie, avoiding the use of overly cheesy monologues or over the top plot twists, while occasionally packing a punch where needed.

There are a bunch of weird things with this movie, though. While the TV-series did a surprisingly good job at handling the language barrier, the movie… um… didn’t. One scene shows Saki talk in English to an American with a really weird accent who uses really short sentences. A while later, we see Akira talk to the same guy, in JAPANESE. The American understands him and just talks back in English. Uh, why? How? There are also some of the side-characters that I still couldn’t buy. The comic relief of Saki’s friends… I’m still not much a fan of them.

Nevertheless, I have to admit: a lot of attention to detail was put in the atmosphere of a young company. I can very much relate to that (due to my current internship and all), and I must say that the creators caught it spot-on. And that’s really the great thing about this movie: the realism that you really don’t get to see in many other anime. Despite the hiccups, this movie was really refreshing compared to how the TV-series disappointed me. There are still a ton of questions that need to be answered in terms of the plot. But hey, with 90 minutes, Paradise Lost should be able to do it.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Much more focused than the TV-series. Really slow pacing allows for lots of realism.
Characters: 8/10 – Such a slow pacing gives a nice feel to the characters, but they still spend a bit too much time on exposition + badly portrayed Americans.
Production-Values: 9/10 – No significant increase in quality compared to the TV-series, but that one already looked awesome so there still is a ton of eye-candy.
Setting: 8/10 – I first want to see what Paradise Lost is going to do before celebrating this part: there is a ton of potential in this setting, provided that the next movie handles it well.
Posted on 19 June 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Eden of the East



Okay, I decided to rewrite this entire thing since the review I originally wrote was crap. Kenji Kawayama really is one of the better directors out there. His sense of realism, attention to detail and originality has really made his series one of a kind. After Seirei no Moribito I therefore was very eager to watch his next work: Eden of the East. As promised, it’s a very solidly produced series, but I do have to admit that it is a tad disappointing.

After thinking a bit about the series, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two reasons that prevent this series from being among the top of this season for me. First of all, the cast of characters leaves a bit to be desired. The lead character Saki is a great one: she grows very subtly through the series, and while she may seem weak at times, she really stands out as a strong character. The rest of the cast lacks a bit of a spark, though. Akira as the male lead is a bit too much of an idealist; his character without any seeming flaws is a bit hard to get into. The majority of the rest of the cast simply feels not fleshed out well enough: some characters show too little of themselves to really make an impact, while others are just plain annoying (most of Saki’s friends). Two notable exceptions are Kondo (whose story gets nicely explored through his limited airtime) and Micchon, who serves her purpose as a quiet side-character well.

My second issue with this series is its mystery. As a mystery-fanboy, I was of course elated after the first episode. It was so delightfully weird and unusual. There were so many different theories possible for what went on, and it really intrigued me like no other. But yeah, the thing with mystery-series is that the challenge comes with correctly revealing the mystery, and in that I feel that this series did a lukewarm job. It can’t keep its air of mystery consistent through the series, and as the series goes on and the answers come, there aren’t really any new questions asked: the answers are simply presented on a silver platter when the time seems ripe for it, without really using them for anything other than for the sake of filling up plotholes.

But yeah, despite these flaws, there still is lots of good stuff in this series. The animation really is amazing. Animation in anime is often a job of cutting corners, but here the animation is really well done to the finest details: the creators have made sure to bring their pictures to life. The CG may be a bit obtrusive at times, but the realistic movements and awesome background art really make up for it.

The setting is also very thought-provoking. Through the 11 episodes of airtime, this series takes a critical look at idealism and its positives and negatives. The whole concept behind the show remains very original and thought-provoking. You can see that a lot of imagination went into creating the setting for this series.

So overall this series served its purpose as a solid build-up for the upcoming movies, which of course I’m going to review as well as soon as they come out. I know that the rating is lower than what one might expect, but I just can’t say that this was the best of the season because of the reasons mentioned above. Small series like this one really need be focused, and in my opinion this series goofed off a bit too much at times and it feels to me that this series was trying to stuff too much into just these eleven episodes. Let’s hope that the movies will use the build-up that the series has provided, but standalone this series for me wasn’t as enjoyable as other short series as Natsu no Arashi or Ristorante Paradiso, which both did know how to make optimal use of their tie (so far, at least).

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Posted on with categories: Eden of the East



Ah, there are two movies going to be released. That means three, possible four more hours for this show to tell its story (unless they pull a Death and Rebirth), which really should be enough time for this show. Overall though, this series didn’t turn out as good as I hoped it would be. My biggest issue with the show is that my favourite episode still is the first one.

Still, this episode was a pretty decent ending until the movies. There were some things I didn’t understand, though. Why did Akira feel the need to wipe his own mind again? How and why did he get all of the NEET to access the Higashi no Eden site and take pictures of Akira, protecting them from the missile attack? Why did the creators find it necessary to bring Pantsu back to life? After spending all of his money on becoming king, and getting rid of his cell phone, isn’t he supposed to die?

In any case, as it turns out the reason why Akira wiped his own memory was because he kept getting accused of being the one behind the missile attacks (because he knew that they were going to happen), and so he at one point couldn’t take the accusations anymore and decided to travel to America and mind-wipe himself. That’s totally different from the crazy Japanese terrorist that I originally believed him to be.

Overall, it’s been fun, and although I can’t say that this has been my favourite show this season I definitely enjoyed watching this. It’s a bit of a wait until the movies are released, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to see what Noitamina has in store for us next.
Rating: * (Good)
Lotsa Johnnies and a pretty nice cliff-hanger for the upcoming movies.

Posted on 12 June 2009 with categories: Eden of the East



Okay, so I was wrong in last week’s impression: this episode of Eden of the East was definitely an excellent one and a step above the previous episodes about Pantsu. This episode explained a lot, and I have to admit that these revelations were well worth it. Mr Outside was nowhere near the evil overlord I thought him to be, Mononobe didn’t turn out to have the motives of simply destroying the world. It turns out that this show really likes to use red herrings.

So as it turns out, Mr Outside was a rich businessman called Ato Saizo (har har har), who himself had a part in reconstructing Japan after the second World War. He then however started to wonder whether the society he helped to create was the right one, and so whimsically created Juiz and enslaved 12 people apparently against their will in his quest to improve Japan. Mononobe and another Selecao we meet in this episode simply want to escape this plan, and the only way to do so seems to be to win the game. Apparently it involves sending a whole bunch of missiles to Japan. The only one I didn’t like was Number 10. He really was an emo kid who hates the world and therefore decides to blow it up. I’m glad that he’s going to die soon.

Juiz turns out to be an AI, probably modelled after Ato Saizo’s secretary. Ato may be dead right now, but the real Juiz seems to be working behind the scenes, and she probably is the one who maintains the AI Juiz. In the meantime, it also turns out that number 12 is either the supporter, or another Selecao who doesn’t agree with Mononobe, and something tells me that he’s going to be the main villain of this series once the movie starts.

There’s one part I didn’t quite get though: what was up with the boat-load of NEETs that suddenly returned on the ship? Wasn’t one of those NEET shown as he managed to become active in the society again? Why is the rest of them still naked and captured? Didn’t they get the chance to pick up their lives or something?

Rating: ** (Excellent)
Finally some answers, and satisfying answers they are.

Posted on 5 June 2009 with categories: Eden of the East



Okay, so now that this series is nearly at its end (2 episodes left), I unfortunately have to admit that Eden of the East was a disappointment. It’s obviously nowhere near bad, but with its awesome first episode, I really expected something better from this series. Unfortunately, after nine episodes my favourite episode still remains that first one: it never really managed to surpass the creativity and intrigue of Akira and Saki, meeting each other in America, and to be honest, it never even came close to that.

My guess would be that it’s the lack of focus that’s working against this series. The pacing has simply been too slow for such a series, and during the quiet moments I don’t think that the creators really made optimal use of it to flesh out the cast. I once praised this show for how it involved its side-characters with the main-storyline, but for the past two episodes I’m really beginning to wonder what their purpose is. What really is the point of Oosugi, showing the Akira-hate messages? What can that really add to the story, other than making the side characters hate Akira with passion?

The thing with mystery-series is that creating intrigue is one thing, but making the revelations worth it is really the difficult part. Now that the revelations have finally come in, I unfortunately have to say that they… don’t really live up to my expectations. So yeah, the rockets were launched by one of the other Selecao who is out to destroy Japan and start anew. Should have seen that coming. Every Selecao is trying to destroy Japan, it seems, aside from Akira of course, who along with Number 5 was probably the only one who was doing the right thing. My big worry is also that Mr. Outside. I know that there are two hours of movie left for him, but my big fear with him is that the creators aren’t going to have any time to flesh this guy out, making him dangerously close to your typical evil overlord.

Compare this to shows as 07-Ghost: even though its plot is nowhere near as interesting as that of Eden, it did put lots of time into building up and fleshing out, and actually looks like it’s going to get away with it. Eden though… something just feels to have gone wrong during its build-up. I really hope that these hunches are wrong, because I really want this show to work.

Rating: (Enjoyable)
Predictable, Pantsu wasn’t really that interesting, but at least the plot moved forward a lot.

Posted on 29 May 2009 with categories: Eden of the East



Okay, this episode is probably the one that sets up the story for the final arc of this series. With three episodes left until the movie, I have to say that this show turned out to be quite a bit different than I imagined. With 12 Selecao, you’d expect each episode to focus on a different one of them to see how they decided to try and change the world, but the creators cleverly tried to stay out of that formula and instead are going to explore what lies below everything.

Having said that, this wasn’t the most exciting episode though. I really wonder how Akira knew that Shiratori had wings, and what is it with his dreams about “Johnnies”? The parts with Oosugi were also quite annoying, especially when he got jealous for Saki and all. I really don’t know what a pointless love triangle is going to add to this series, especially when there’s no doubt that Akira and Saki are going to end up together.

Still, I like Micchon a lot. Finally we see an actual believable programmer (seriously, most programmers you see in anime nowadays are nothing but l33t hax0rz instead of the software developers that you’d assume them to be, but that’s just me being the computer science student that I am) and that Pants-guy intrigues me, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they’re going to deal with the Selecao system.

Also, I’ve been wondering: what’s up with those squares on everyone’s faces? Are they meant to be subtle shadows or something?

Rating: * (Good)
Quiet building up episode.

Posted on 22 May 2009 with categories: Eden of the East



Whoa, WTF…

Here I thought I had this series figured out, and then it comes with this episode. Looking back, there were indeed a lot of signs foreshadowing that the Selecao system had something supernatural about it, but for someone to be sprouting wings and defy the laws of gravity… I didn’t see that coming. Especially so soon, even though the dog with wings was pretty much an obvious hint for this. This episode seriously added tons of intrigue to the series, and really: I am SO looking forward to that upcoming movie.

That Mr Outisde… I really don’t know what this guy was thinking. It’s of course one thing to pick out individuals that didn’t turn out to be fit for the task of saving the world, but making a mass murderer a Selecao? What the hell was he smoking?! As it turns out, she cuts off the Johnnies of the hopeless men in society because she has some deep-seeded grudge against males for some sort of reason.

And really, the Saki Running scene really has to be the best animated scene of the season so far. Her movement is really life-like, and for once no corners are cut in a running-scene at all. And I must say that the creators have really succeeded making Saki a part of the storyline, and making her important for Akira even though she has nothing to do with the Selecao. The kidnapped guy didn’t even turn out to be Oosugi, it was just one misunderstanding. Though that does beg the question how the guy got Oosugi’s bag and where the real Oosugi ended up. My guess is that his bag got stolen and he had no way to get back home.

It’s also interesting that Number 11 is really planning to defy the system. What seemed like an absolute truth at first may turn out to be rather vague; either that or she really believes Akira to be the supporter and that made her confident enough to just ditch her cell phone. But really: she knows Number one. If she does, then why didn’t she know that he was the supporter? I mean, if she calls him on a regular basis, she must have expected something, no?

I also wonder, the number 20000 just keeps returning, doesn’t it? With your given budget, you can kill 20000 people, Akira chose 20000 NEETs to send to Dubai, Number 11 has cut off 20000 Johnnies by now. I wonder if it’s another sort of foreshadowing, or whether it’s simply a nice coincidence that the creators wanted to insert.

Rating: *** (Awesome)
Some of the best animation this season, and really an episode where things start coming together.

Posted on 14 May 2009 with categories: Eden of the East



Yet another episode of building up, but really: that’s exactly what this series needs to be doing at one point. I watched this episode raw, so I probably missed quite a few things, but it’s always good to see an episode dedicated to fleshing out the side-cast. There’s plenty of time for the climaxes during the final episodes of the series and the movie, so I’m happy with how this show has turned out so far. It’s definitely the series with the most solid execution of the entire spring season, even though it’s not the most exciting one.

This pattern really reminds me of how brilliantly Mouryou no Hako turned out. Its middle part also had SO much building up, and yet it finished off with such an awesome climax, and Eden of the East is shaping up to become the same. This episode shows how Saki gets dropped off by Akira near her friends, so that she can introduce them to him. Among her friends are a female programmer and two NEETs, of which one has lots of resemblances to a hikkikomori. In a way, especially her male friends are exactly those targeted by Akira’s “saving the world” programme.

Also correct me if I’m wrong, but “Eden of the East” turns out to be Saki’s friends’ programming club. At the moment, I’m not sure whether Saki herself is also a computer geek, but she sure did befriend a lot of them. When the show started, I thought that it was some sarcastic reference to Japan, with all of the bombings and all. The theme of young people trying to find the place that they belong turns out to be surprisingly large for a series that first seemed like just a fascinating mystery-series. The “Eden” more means something like a heaven for NEETs.

Also, this episode sure gave an even more macabre image of the white-haired woman, as we learn that she kills her victims by cutting off their “Johnnies”. I really am not sure how a selfish bitch like her managed to escape the supporter for that long. My guess would be that she made some sort of deal with number one, who pretty much everyone suspects to be the supporter.

Rating: * (Good)
Building up and fleshing out the cast with still all-out excellent production-values.

Posted on 8 May 2009 with categories: Eden of the East



This episode was a typical building-up episode, but it definitely added some extra intrigue to this series. Most of the episode was about Saki’s first interview, but we also get to see two more of the Selecao: Number One and a strange woman whose number we don’t get to see and who seems to be a bit too full of herself. That Number one really baffles me, though. There are lots of hints pointing at how he’s the supporter, he seems to have a lot of connections to the Selecao, and yet he didn’t just kill off pre-mindwipe Akira like he did with the other two.

Speaking of which, if you take a look at the OP, at one point you see connections being made between certain numbers of the Selecao: One is linked to all of them, while Nine (Akira) is linked to Four (Kondou), One is linked to Two and Ten once more, and Three is linked to Twelve. There are three numbers that disappear: Four, Five (as shown in the previous episodes) and Ten, who I guess would be that woman of this episode. What’s also interesting is that apart from them, it is suggested that nobody dies… or that might be saved for the movie.

In any case, it also gets revealed that Akira didn’t kill off the NEETs at all: he just dropped them in the middle of Dubai and had Juiz made it look like he killed them so that others wouldn’t start searching for them, allowing the NEETs to finally have to do something for themselves. And that was his way of trying to make the world better.

Saki was also great in this episode, with her first job interview and all. Her depressed look after seeing the interview failed felt really genuine to me.

Rating: * (Good)
Just building up, but still a very nice episode.

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