What would you do if you were given ¥10,000,000,000 in digital cash and told that you had to improve the nation for the better or die?
This question governs the behaviour of the twelve chosen by the mysterious Mr. Outside to wield the responsibility of becoming the future saviours of Japan, the Seleção, and enter the game whose purpose is to improve the nation by any means necessary and the goal is to survive. (The Seleção in this case are not to be confused with the Brazilian football team, who go by the same name).
On Monday November 22nd 2010 (please note: this is a work of fiction) Japan’s major cities are simultaneously attacked by 10 cruise missiles. These missiles fell onto residential areas carving out huge craters in the cityscapes, but without killing a single person. The event which became known as “Careless Monday” causes immediate shock and causes the economy to briefly crash, before being widely forgotten by all, leaving little or no long term legacy. Three months after Careless Monday, Saki Morimi, a recently graduated college senior is finishing a graduation visit to the Washington DC when she is suddenly approached by a stark naked man wielding a pistol and a mobile phone suffering from amnesia. This man, Akira Takizawa, is one of the twelve Seleção - his phone has the ability to make almost anything happen and Careless Monday is simply an initial taste of what is to come. What are his and the other Seleção’s plans to improve Japan?
Eden of the East is a combination of an elaborate conspiracy, political commentary and a penis obsessed, character driven, romantic comedy. The story is driven around the members of the Eden of the East company discovering those responsible for the Careless Monday attacks, solving the mystery of the missing 20,000 NEETs who vanished prior to the attacks (NEET meaning young people who are not in employment, education or training) and exposing the Seleção and their activities all while trying to stay alive with their respective genitalia un-mutilated.
The main theme which permeates the back story is that society is broken - and it is broken, because of the previous generation refusing to relegate their power and responsibility, meaning that the current generation are unable to progress and make their own way and, forcing them into working for their forebears of the past generations. The NEETs are those who are unable to find a decent job (part-time retail/service does not count) but still want to contribute to society. The country is stuck in a rut, and cannot progress towards a brighter future. Frankly, this is a situation mirrored in the UK and other developed nations and something that much of the demographic of UK Anime's readership can appreciate in some form or another. The Seleção are there to fix this inequality and to fix society to ensure its future.
Eden of the East is not all political commentary, missiles flying and penises. The characters are well produced and written and are east to relate to, especially to those of a nerdier disposition. The series does have the advantage of being produced by Production IG and Kenji Kamiyama, who directed Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. Because of this, not only is the series written well, it's art is simply divine, which is as expected considering the series has been produced in high definition for its Blu-ray release. Musically, for those who are fans of Oasis, they will find that the first episode is fronted by an edited version of Falling Down from their most recent (and last) album. But, unlike the Japanese release, this track unfortunately does not continue opening the remaining episodes and instead a “happier” track sung by Saori Hayami replaces it, which is a poor choice in my opinion. It just doesn’t cut the mustard against Noel Gallagher.
The Eden of the East series is merely the first half of the overall story with two films, The King of Eden continuing and Paradise Lost concluding the story. All in all, I personally think that Manga Entertainment have bagged themselves a winner and with both a DVD and Blu-Ray release; it will need to be for any hope of the films coming out on our shores. But with a gripping storyline, a never ending and incestuous conspiracy, excellent visual and thoroughly likable characters, all packaged within a single series box set, let's hope we see that happening some time soon.
Extras on the DVD release include the TV spot and promotional video for the series, an interview with the director Kenji Kamiyama and character designer Chika Umino, and a second interview with the Japanese actors for Akira Takizawa and Saki Morimi.
Price: DVD: £24.99, Blu-Ray: £34.99