Eden of the East, The Complete Series – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 275 minutes
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating: TVMA
Release Date: October 19, 2010

In this game, if you don’t save the world you die for real.

You know you’re watching a completely different and intriguing anime series when a main character comes rushing from across the street of the White House wearing nothing but a smile and waving a handgun and his strange cell phone. This is The Complete Series set of Eden of the East, an anime series that – in its first five minutes – will have your eyes glued to the screen until the final episode.

The 11-episode series begins with an attractive Japanese girl named Saki who has come to Washington D.C. as part of a class graduation trip. Alone, she decides to head to Pennsylvania Avenue just outside the White House to throw a coin in the front lawn fountain only to find herself being questioned by nearby police officer. This is when we meet our naked main protagonist waving gun and phone and distracting the cops away from the girl.

Thus begins Eden of the East as the mystery boy who doesn’t know who he is and the young girl who falls for him start unraveling the mystery of who he is and why he was outside the White House without a stitch of clothing. The young man eventually finds his apartment in the city and discovers three things: one, his name is Akira Takizawa; two, he has a cache of guns and three; he has many passports ala Jason Bourne of the Bourne movies.

Akira believes he might be a terrorist but his strange cell phone is the first clue as to what is going on. She calls herself Juiz, a consigliore of sorts who fulfills his every wish, and she calls him one of the “saviors of the nation” in what looks like a dangerous and elaborate game. As it turns out, he is Number Nine, one of the players of this unusual game but how did he come to be a part of something like this and what is his connection to a terrorist attack and the disappearance of 20,000 naked shut-ins on the day before the attack.

Traveling back to Japan with Saki, Akira finds himself being pursued by a police detective who happens to be playing the game as well. It is through this cop that Akira finds out that each player is called a Selecao and they are each given ten thousand yen spending money via their phones to use anyway they see fit to complete the game. However, it is through another player – a doctor – that Akira learns what the game is about as well as its four rules. As it turns out, there can be only one winner while the rest are disposed of in a violent manner by a player known as the Supporter.

You see, the object of this game is to “save the nation” that is heading towards a great decline that will lead the country to ruin. As we can see from Saki, who returns for a job interview only to be ridiculed by the interviewees, the new generation of Japanese are seen as unrealistic dreamers.

Meanwhile, Akira continues his quest to discover who he is and why he happened to be the owner of an empty mall or why he bought a number of shipping containers. At the same time, he comes to help Saki and her group of friends who have an interesting phone app they developed. Thanks his new friends, Akira comes across another Selecao who turns out to be a sexy serial killer nicknamed the Johnny Hunter.

There are twists aplenty in this smartly written suspense series as Akira and Saki discover the truth and the mystery behind the game itself and the person who came up with it. The series certainly tosses in some very interesting elements that add to the mystery as a character grows wings and flies away and Akira sees his “Johnnies” as mutated creatures. Then there’s the romantic elements that aren’t tacked on but actually make the story all the more memorable.

Eden of the East is a modern suspense tour de force and a clever anime series that will keep you interested from the very beginning. Really, anime this gripping doesn’t come along very often and when it does you will appreciate every second of it. Picking this one up is not a bad idea and even more so on Blu-ray because this one was certainly made for HD screens.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
With no memory of who he is or why he’s naked and holding a cell phone and a handgun in front of the White House, Akira Takizawa comes to the aid of a young girl from Japan only to get her mixed into a very dangerous game that is being played. As he unravels the mystery behind his amnesia and the fact he might be involved in a terrorist attack on Tokyo.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
Blu-ray is definitely the format you should watch this series since that animation is just stunningly beautiful. Plus, with Chica Umino (creator of the hit manga, Honey and Clover) handling the character design, you cannot go wrong.

AUDIO QUALITY: A+
Both language tracks don’t pull any punches in terms of their performances and are on the top of their game so whether your preference is you will not be disappointed. The Japanese side has great performances by Ryouhei Kimura and Saori Hayami while the English dub has quality voice acting from the likes of Stephanie Sheh, Jason Liebrecht and Leah Clark to name a few.

The music is also amazing with a magnificent score by Kenji Kawai and great opening and closing theme songs with the first episode containing an opening theme song from the British band Oasis.

EXTRAS: B+
The extras include the original Japanese promo videos as well as the original TV spots and – of course – some trailers are included as well. The best extras come in the form of two separate interview features, one of which includes an interview with Kenji Kamiyama, who wrote and directed, as well as Chica Umino who served as character designer. Interesting note about this interview, Miss Umino is known for not showing her face in any interview and she does not show herself here either.

Then there’s a fun interview with voice actors Ryouhei Kimura (who voices Akira) and Saori Hayami (who voices Saki) who talk very candidly about their roles and what went into their performances. It’s actually a fun interview.

OVERALL: A+
East of Eden is a thrill ride from start to finish and if Alfred Hitchcock was still among us he would definitely consider this a new kind of suspense classic. Wonderfully directed and beautifully animated, the series has a number of edge-of-your-seat moments that make this a smart, original and thoroughly satisfying anime series nobody should skip.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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