Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Funimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD)
Running Time: 85 minutes
Release Date: August 23, 2011
This game is over.
It began with a question: If you had the monetary means, how would you go about fixing your country’s problems?
This is the question that was posed to potential candidates of a dangerous game that had them competing against each another for the right to save the country anyway they saw fit by way of a most unusual cell phone that connected them to their own personal concierge that could get them whatever they wanted. As we saw from the Eden of the East series as well as the first feature film, Eden of the East: The King of Eden, one player is inching closer to fulfilling his dream of being Japan’s King.
A lot has happened to Akira Takizawa as he has gone from running naked in front of the White House to becoming something of a world-wide celebrity of sorts when he helped stop missiles from hitting Japan. It is a girl by the name of Saki Morimi who has not only helped Takizawa but has become a part of the game. As we saw in the first movie, it was Saki finds Takizawa once again to help him finish this game as – once again – Japan is in danger of repeating another catastrophic even such as “Careless Monday.”
Paradise Lost finds Takizawa and Saki returning to Japan as they touch down in Narita. It’s clear from the nightmare Takizawa had on the airplane that the game is finally starting to wear him down but it’s far from over and he is determined to make his dream of being the King of Japan a reality. On top of that, though, there was the rumor that Takizawa is the illegitimate son of the new deceased Prime Minister, Seijiro Inuma. Since word leaked out that Takizawa would arrive in Japan, Narita’s airport is not only filled with NEETs waiting for their chance to see him but somebody else has come to see him as well.
That person, as it turns out, is Inuma’s widow, Chigusa Inuma, who accuses Takizawa of being the one that started the rumor that he is Seijiro’s illegitimate child. She even takes a hair sample in order to expose the truth about him his ties to her husband and expose him as a liar and terrorist. Seeing no way out of this, Takizawa asks Saki to find his mother and ask her to reveal the truth about him. His only clue is the cute dog Saki is taking care of and a woman who caught his eye during “Careless Monday.”
As Takizawa finds a way to escape Chigusa Inuma’s men, Saki – once again – enlists the help of her close friends. Unfortunately, Public Security is secretly investigating Eden of the East and painting them as a possible terrorist group. With a few of her friends dodging agents, Saki and her friend Osugi (who still has a monster crush on her), do manage to find a woman that fits Takizawa’s description. She even recognizes the dog right away. However, it isn’t until Osugi finds evidence linking this woman to Seijiro Inuma that they find the truth about the older woman and her connection to Takizawa.
Meanwhile, Hirasawa from Eden of the East digs around enough to locate the mastermind behind the Selecao game who all the players know as Mr. Outside. Their conversation is easily one of the bigger surprises of the movie and his explanation as to why he picked Akira Takahashi actually makes a lot of sense considering the young man’s selfless personality. Even Mr. Outside’s identity is a testament to just how intriguing and mysterious this series has been from the very beginning.
As the game spirals towards its conclusion, Takizawa manages to save his Juiz in time before the other player could destroy it and looks to Chigusa for help as the young man has a final confrontation with Number 1 who is so determined to win that he makes a surprising plea to Takizawa. This leads to a decision that leads to the end of the game as Mr. Outside finally declares a winner.
Paradise Lost might not have the same surprises as The King of Eden nor does it contain the same intense momentum of the series. Sure, it lost its Bourne Identity-styled feel and gained something even more significant. That said, however, the ending is a big disappointment especially since Takizawa calls upon the NEETs for the final time to fulfill his final wish only for their role to fizzle out in the end. Oh, and those expecting something to finally happen between Takizawa and Saki will not be satisfied even when Saki does the unexpected. It was as if all that Saki did for him meant nothing at all.
Ok, so the ending wasn’t what one might expect from such a creative and meaningful series but stick around after the end credits for a teaser to what I hope might lead to a follow-up movie. Even with the not-so-good ending, Eden of the East is the kind of series I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future.
Eden of the East: Paradise Lost is a deep and powerful film that truly spells out the significance of the game and what is at stake but those looking for a real resolution to the NEETs or the Takizawa-Saki relationship will be in for a major disappointment. This isn’t a horrible ending but it’s not a great one either considering the fact that this series has proven to be nothing short of brilliant. Still, this is a movie you definitely need to watch.
BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Takizawa and Saki finally make it back to Japan in hopes of stopping another “Careless Monday” from going down but the widow of the deceased Prime Minister finds Takizawa in hopes of exposing him as a liar. Meanwhile, Saki looks for Takizawa’s mother in hopes of learning the truth about his real identity as Mr. Outside comes to a decision as to who won this game.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Just like the first movie as well as the series, Paradise Lost is simply gorgeous to look at and even more so on Blu-ray. Chica Umino’s character designs work nicely for this series as well but it’s the level of detail of the backgrounds that make this an impressive-looking movie.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting has been topnotch from the very beginning and it remains that way even in this second movie so if you prefer to watch it in its original Japanese language track or opt for the English dub you will not be disappointed. There’s an amazing score as well with a good opening theme song and a great closing song like “after laughter” by school food punishment.
You’ll find the original trailers for Paradise Lost as well as the series and first film included here as well as the TV spots for this movie as well as the preview. We also get some Funimation trailers but fans will certainly enjoy the Visual Commentary on the Eden System with an interview with Director Kamiyama that took place last year in Shinjuko to a crowd of fans who got real-time text messages on screen during the viewing of the movie so we get to read exactly what they got to see during that event as we watch the movie. Think of it like those old VH1 pop-up commentary bubbles with facts from the Director and the staff.
Then there’s the U.S. Cast commentary with ADR Mike McFarland as he chats with various members of the cast such as Jason Liebrecht, Leah Clark, J. Michael Tatum, Lydia Mackay and Michael Sinterniklaas just to name a few. It’s a blast to listen to the various voice talents who add their own input on characters and the story.
A bit disappointing but still a riveting animated feature that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, Paradise Lost closes the chapter on Eden of the East in a way that could have been better but still just good enough to keep the suspense intriguing enough to keep us glued to our seats. There’s a lot of meaning to this game and why it was played in the first place but as far as endings are concerned it just falls short.
Review copy provided by Funimation Entertainment