Eden of the East
Takizawa is a guy with some problems. He has no memories. He's buck naked holding nothing but a phone and a pistol in front of the White House. There's also a girl staring at him. Meeting her turns out to be a stroke of luck as she's Japanese and a big help in getting him back to Japan. Takizawa starts to learn some unusual things about this phone he's carrying. The woman on the other end claims to be able to do anything he asks for, and it's connected to a bank account containing billions of yen.
Takizawa learns that he's one of 12 people selected in Japan known as Selecao, who are gifted with 100 Billion yen to change the course of Japan for the better. If the balance reaches 0, the person will die. Having amnesia, Takizawa finds his closest ally is just a normal girl trying to find a job named Saki. Having first met her outside the White house under such odd circumstances, she's more apt to believe his story. Some big questions remain. Who started this game? What can the phone really do? How can anyone make an impact on a nation?
This review covers the 12 part TV series, and the conclusion in two movies.
*sigh* I wish I had better things to say about this one. It has fantastic ideas which could easily create a masterpiece. In the beginning I would have easily rated this series as good, but it builds up to many disappointments in the two end movies. In the end I figured it was about average.
The setup of the game is awesome, with vast potential. It's particularly annoying the studio making Eden of the East seemed to understand this, and even hinted at where it could go, before basically ignoring that and concentrating on mediocrity. It's almost like the show concept was the result of highly creative brainstorming, with those people absent when the actual story was written. Even though the concepts are pushed anywhere near their potential, it's still good.
At one point Takizawa faces off against another Selecao in a game of cat and mouse. Both would have the power of Juiz at their disposal, and both can see the logs of each others purchase. This played out in a way half hearted and barely scratched the surface at amazing it could have been. Think epic chess match of wits.
The characters are strangely weak. Saiki feels like a place holder. I couldn't name any defining attributes of her personality, or anything unique she brings to the show. Takizawa has an upbeat cheerful attitude towards everything, which would be fine... if he had another side to him. Pretty much everyone in the show is likable, but lacking substance.
The story starts crazy, settles into a lull, then slowly builds into something better and better. While I can't elaborate too much on the story, the nature of the game is a cool idea, and fascinating the way it interacts with human nature. I wasn't crazy about the resolution for the crisis in the TV series, but I enjoyed the results. Extrapolating what could happen next, considering how much potential this series had; led me to believe Eden of the East would become one of the anime greats. Instead it crashes and burns in the order of two movies.
Movie I: The King of Eden - I would prefer do reviews for these separately, but this movie makes that impossible because essentially NOTHING HAPPENS. I can't justify a review for a show that can be summed up in about 3 sentences. After the TV series, Takizawa wipes his memories again, and Saki is worried about him but after six months discovers he's alive in New York. She finds Takizawa and the two run around NY, while another Selecao occasionally harasses them. The two then decide to return to Japan. - Filling in the blanks with "stuff happens" isn't that far off. About the only new development are other Selecao being removed in a way I can only describe as "cheap". Instead of giving their contribution meaning, they are simply written off in a way incredibly unfulfilling.
Movie II: Paradise Lost - I can't reveal what has happened up to this point without spoiling the story, making it challenging to elaborate where this movie went wrong. The relationship between Saki and Takizawa doesn't gain any traction here either, having already been adrift for some time. Seriously, you give two people in their 20s heaps of cash with nearly unlimited power, then continuously put them in intense situations... and they STILL can't hook up? No wonder Japan has a population crisis. The fact that Saki doesn't do much of anything AND doesn't get together with Takizawa pretty much invalidates her existence in the series. Many mysteries surrounding the game turn out to be anticlimactic. The story meanders in a few pointless directions, concluding in a way that is frustrating. I really doubt anyone interested in this series at first will enjoy the direction of the plot by the end.
With 12 episodes and two movies, it's not the biggest time investment, but I still felt a bit cheated by the finish. Seriously, the ending sucks that bad. I won't tell you to avoid it, because it has VERY cool ideas, likable characters, and is reasonably entertaining. Just be prepared for disappointment when following Eden of the East to its conclusion.
Juiz: How should I stop her?
Takizawa: I don't know, the police or something?
Juiz: Even though you are now guilty of abusing state power, I still pray for your continuing success as a savior.
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