Paradise Lost

by Bob Johnson

At least Eden of the East *started* with a cool premise

saki-ramen [Eden of the East]

Saki is next to useless, but looks great in ramen.

This show is not about the sad redhead.  It’s actually about this guy who goes by Akira Takizawa and the deadly game he doesn’t remember being forced to play: 12 folks called Seleção are each given $100 million, a cool cell phone, and a mandate to save Japan.  The penalty for failure or giving up is death; one of the Seleção, The Supporter, has the additional task of killing the others when they break the rules.

As he tries to figure out what’s going on, Takizawa cheerfully seeks out the other Seleção (who fear he may be The Supporter coming to kill them).  Akira learns that the others have widely different approaches to “saving Japan,” ranging from medical research to mass murder, and that he himself is responsible for the disappearance of 20,000 NEETs.  Did he really exterminate them?

The show doesn’t actually introduce Eden of the East (which is a crowdsourced augmented reality service) until midway through.  The programming team for the project forms our support cast: a brilliant programmer, an idealistic project manager, two creepy NEETs, a wise-cracking lady, and a salaryboy whose sole purpose is to be jealous about Saki.  Their suspicions about Taki prove to be a waste of time for the viewers, who by this time know that the Edens are overreacting.

Eden could have been a lot stronger if this subplot had been moved forward a few episodes – the early episodes felt like they had 5 minutes of padding, so there was plenty of space to try something like that; likewise, putting the romantic subplot with Saki into some of the final episodes would have been nice, it was like they forgot about her, but it’s hard to be broken up about it when she’s just another piece of wilting-flower moé eyecandy rather than someone who actually moves the plot forward.

At its core, Eden of the East is a commentary on the Japan’s persistent economic problems that wonders if NEETs could find the answer, but the multiple pacing and framing problems take away from the story’s final impact.  Though at times it’s intriguing, even fun, it lacks the courage to be a serious political drama, and while (theoretically) death is stalking our heroes, it doesn’t have much in the way of action.

Maybe look it up:

Eden of the East (Higashi no Eden)
Written and Directed by Kenji Kamiyama
Produced by Production I.G., Licenced by Funimation

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