Eden of the East – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 15, 2010 by Dennis Amith
Magnificent! Production I.G. once again shows us that despite the series being a TV Series, they put a lot of effort in making the series look fantastic. Awesome animation, detailed/artistic background art and a storyline so addicting… “Eden of the East – Complete Series” is definitely the top contender of best anime series on Blu-ray of 2010!
Image courtesy of © FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
BLU-RAY TITLE: Eden of the East – The Complete Series
DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (Duration: 275 Minutes, 2 Blu-rays)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: TV 14
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Original Creator: Kenji Kamiyama
Directed by Kenji Kamiyama
Screenplay by Kenji Kamiyama
Music by Kenji Kawai
Original Character Design by Chika Umino
Character Design by Satoko Morikawa
Art Director: Yusuke Takeda
Chief Animation Director: Satoru Nakamura
Anime Production: Production I.G.
Featuring the following voice talent:
Ryohei Kimura/Jason Liebrecht as Akira Takizawa
Saori Hayami/Leah Clark as Saki Morimi
Atsushi Miyauchi/John Gremillion as Daiju Mononobe
Ayaka Saito/Stephanie Sheh as Mikuru “Micchon” Kuzuhara
Hayato Taya/John Burgmeier as Haruo Kasuga
Kimiko Saito/Lydia Mackay as Sister
Motoyuki Kawahara/J. Michael Tatum as Kazuomi Hirasawa
Rei Igarashi/Christine Auten as Kuroha Diana Shiratori
Sakiko Tamagawa/Stephanie Young as Juiz
Takuya Eguchi/Michael Sinterniklass as Satoshi Osugi
Akira Takizawa wakes up naked outside the White House with no memories. He’s got a gun in one hand and a cell phone in the other, and he doesn’t know if he’s a good guy or one of the worst. He doesn’t remember that the phone gives him instant access to ten billion yen and a woman who can make his most outlandish requests a reality. He doesn’t recall his connection to the ongoing missile attacks terrorizing the Japanese people, or the part he played in the sudden disappearance of 20,000 shut-ins. He doesn’t even remember he’s supposed to save Japan and will be murdered if he fails. Whatever it is he’s tangled up in, Takizawa’s definitely in deep – and that’s not even scratching the surface.
In April 2009, a few of Japan’s popular talents in the anime and manga industry teamed up on a project known as “Higashi no Eden” (Eden of the East).
Featuring anime production from Production I.G., “Eden of the East” would feature the work of series creator Kenji Kamiyama (creator of “Blood: The Last Vampire” and worked on “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Hakkenden” and “Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade”), manga artist/writer Chica Umino (“Honey and Clover”), art director Yusuke Takeda (“Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”) and legendary anime musician Kenji Kawai (“Ghost in the Shell”, “Maison Ikkoku”, “Patlabor”, “Ranma 1/2”, “Vampire Princess Miyu”).
The anime series debuted on Fuji TV in April 2009 and was followed by three films and now the complete series has been released on Blu-ray (and three films will follow) courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.
In November 22, 2010, ten missiles were unleashed in Japan but there were no victims. Because there were no deaths, Japanese tend to disregard the event and the day was known as “Careless Monday”. Although there were no victims, 20,000 NEETS disappeared (note: In Japan, NEET stands for Not in Education, Employment and is a term to describe reclusive individuals who do not go outside of their home).
Three months later, a young woman named Saki Morimi is visiting Washington D.C. Before she is to go back to Japan, she just wants to visit The White House which she calls the “Center of the World”. Because she is unable to get through the gates, she throws a penny on the White House lawn but of course, the secret service sees what she has done and goes to apprehend her.
Meanwhile, a young man who is naked and is holding a gun and a cell phone sees what’s going on and distracts the agents. As the agents scramble to find the man, the young man checks on Saki. And Saki who is a bit bashful of seeing a naked man, gives the mysterious naked guy her coat, her hat and scarf. She learns that he has lost his memory and doesn’t know why he is naked. He just woke up with a gun and a cell phone.
As the guy leaves to make sure he doesn’t get caught by the agents or cops, Saki forgets that she left her passport and ID inside her coat. So, she runs to find him.
The young man is directed by a woman named Juiz to visit a location and when he gets to the location, he realizes its where he lives. When he opens the closet, he finds many weapons and also several ID’s and passports. Saki manages to track him down and when she goes to see him, she tells him that she needs her passport to get to Japan and immediately, the man looks at the passports and decides to go with one of the names he finds… Akira Takizawa.
But the secret service has a bulletin for the apprehension for both Saki and Akira and immediately, Akira decides to join Saki and both leave to Japan.
But while the two develop a pretty strong friendship, Akira slowly starts to learn that the phone he is carrying is more than just a mere cell phone and he will need it to survive. Apparently, he is one of the 12 Selecao and he must take part in a game in which each of the 12 individuals are given 8.2 billion in digital money.
The cell phone which utilizes fingerprint recognition puts him in contact with a woman named Juiz, a person that each Selecao contacts and whatever they want, she will do, but each time something is done, it comes from their own personal account. Also, the cell phone shows the progress of each Selecao and what requests they made with Juiz.
The game is run by a man known as “The Outsider” and the game requires each Selecao to use the 8.2 billion yen to stand up against current modern Japan and find a way to change it. They must spend all the money for that cause and nothing for personal ambition. If they do not follow the rules, a supporter will kill them.
Also, there can only be one winner at the end of the competition.
Akira is upset that he is being forced to take part in this game, but seeing how Japan is in such a mess, he will do what he can to win the game but also win it, so he can get back at the Outsider who forced him to take part in it. Also, because he lost his memory, he is starting to learn that he may be person responsible for “Careless Monday” and the disappearance (or murder) of 20,000 NEET’s.
Determined to find out the truth about his real identity, Akira is determined to win the game and as a Selecao, the first thing he wants to do is help Saki and her friends who are part of a financially struggling company that is responsible for creating a social media application known as “EDEN OF THE EAST” in which one can use their own personal cell phones and aim it at anyone and get information on them but also communicate with everyone tied into the site.
But when one uses the East of Eden on Akira, they start to worry if he is not a well-intentioned individual but possibly a killer. As Akira looks for answers by searching for Selecao, he is unaware that other Selecao are looking for him.
The main characters of “Eden of the East” are:
Akira Takizawa – Known as Selecao #9, Akira has amnesia and apparently his memory was wiped out for some reason. He finds out that he is part of a game with 12 other Selecao’s but aside from not knowing much about his responsibilities, he feels close to his new friend Saki Morimi. Along with his cell phone and connected to a mysterious woman named Juiz, he goes out in search of other Selecao’s to find out his true identity.
Saki Morimi – A young woman who is about to graduate college and needs to look for a job. She lives with her older sister and her family and has left to the US on a trip to NYC with her friends as a graduation trip. While visiting Washington D.C. alone, she meets with a mysterious naked man named Akira Takizawa. She currently works alongside her friends (they are all part of the University’s Recycling Club) who are responsible for the social media site Eden of the East but is trying desperately to find a new job so she doesn’t have to depend on her older sister and her brother-in-law.
Eden of the East Team – Eden of the East is a popular social media application that can be used to gain information anywhere, anytime. Point your phone at an individual and immediately pull up information on them. The team consists of Kazuomi Hirasawa (the leader of Eden of the East who wants to create a paradise for the NEET’s), Satoshi Osugi (a friend of Saki who loves her and is jealous that she is spending time with Akira), Micchon (a shy, very young but brilliant programmer known for developing the image recognition for Eden of the East), Yutaka “Panty” Itazu (a NEET and reclusive man who stayed in his home because he lost his only pair of pants. He is a brilliant hacker and programmer).
“Eden of the East – The Complete Series” features eleven episodes on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:
- EPISODE 1 – While enjoying her final day in the US in Washington D.C., Saki runs into a mysterious, naked Japanese guy who ends up going back with her to Japan.
- EPISODE 2 – Because this mysterious man, Akira Takizawa has no memory, Saki tries to help him. Meanwhile, Akira learns about his responsibility as a Selecao.
- EPISODE 3 – Saki accompanies Akira to his home and finds out that he lives and owns an entire mall complex. Meanwhile, another Selecao will pay Akira a visit.
- EPISODE 4 – Akira goes to look for other Selecao’s and know more about the “game” and to learn more about himself and why his memories were wiped out.
- EPISODE 5 – Akira runs into a guy who said he left him Dubai, meanwhile Saki tries to find a job.
- EPISODE 6 – Saki visits her Recycling Club at the University, to tell them that her friend wants to help them fund Eden of the East. But the club is a little apprehensive about it.
- EPISODE 7 – The club are receiving pictures from Osugi, who’s life may be in jeopardy. It appears he may have been kidnapped by another Selecao and Akira goes out on his own to find out.
- EPISODE 8 – The aftermath of the last episode, Saki learns about the Selecao but keeps quiet. Meanwhile, Akira, Saki and Micchon visit a hacker/programmer named “Panty”.
- EPISODE 9 – Panty manages to crack Selecao #4’s cell phone but he discovers information that Akira needs to know. But other Selecao members want to stop him before he can relay any information to Akira.
- EPISODE 10 – While Saki and Micchon are on the train home, they hear a conversation between Akira and Selecao #1 on the real reason his mind was wiped out and the truth behind “Careless Monday”.
- EPISODE 11 – Everyone of the Recycling Club are stuck in Akira’s mall complex as thousands of angry NEET’s are looking for Akira Takizawa and wanting revenge. Meanwhile, Akira is working quickly to stop a new pending disaster in Japan.
“Eden of the East” is just fantastic to look at. Presented in 1080p, the artistic backgrounds are magnificent. I don’t think there was one re-used (aside from Takizawa’s home) but there was always a new painted scene whenever a character was shown. If there is one thing that I’ve noticed with recent Production I.G. anime TV series, despite it being a TV series, they still go out of there way to make the series look phenomenal. Each painted scene looks fantastic, the character designs by Chica Umino come alive!
The animation and overall colors are vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and I saw no excessive haloing, edge enhancements and saw no artifacting. This is one beautiful anime series and definitely one of the best, if not the best, looking anime series on Blu-ray thus far.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Eden of the East – The Complete Series” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The audio for this series is fantastic. From the crowd ambience and just the sounds of leaves, police sirens, blasts, airplanes, computer keyboard clicking, you name it, the audio was well utilized through the surround channels.
Dialogue and Kenji Kawai’s impressive musical score is crisp and clear through the front and center channels. Both Japanese and English vocal tracks were well-done! Although not an all-out action-driven anime series, there is quite a bit of action throughout the eleven episodes and the lossless audio was very good!
I have to admit that I was surprised to hear Oasis’ “Falling Down” theme but I’ve noticed that the theme is only present in the first episode and fans have told me that it ran throughout the whole series. I’m guessing the rights to license the song for Blu-ray and DVD release was expensive. But at least the song is presented in the first episode.
Subtitles are in English.
“Eden of the East – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:
- Director Kamiyama & Original Character Designer Chica Umino Interview – (21:49) A wonderful interview on how the collaboration between Kenji Kamiyama (series creator/director) and “Honey and Clover” mangaka Chica Umino came about. A very cool interview but as always, Umino-san continues to be a mystery as she uses her trademark bear (featured in her HandC manga to cover her face).
- Kimura (Takizawa) and Hayami (Saki) Interview – (18:32) Interviews with voice actor Ryohei Kimura (voice of Takizawa) and Saori Hayami (voice of Saki). The two talk about not knowing what kind of series they were doing a voices for but while recording, being impressed with what they saw and being happy to be part of the series.
- Directors Kamiyama & Oshii Interview – (27:17) Director Kenji Kamiyama and Mamoru Oshii sit down to discuss the production of “Eden of the East”.
- Art Director Takeda Interview – (15:36) Art director Yusuke Takeda talks about working with Umino’s characters and the things he discussed with director Kamiyama before taking on the series. Also, showcasing the Bamboo studio as they worked on the backgrounds and Yusuke explains several scenes and what challenges he had and what he wanted to achieve.
- Composer Kawai Interview – (10:41) Interview with Kenji Kawai who talks about the music of the series and what he has planned. Also, showing us a few of the tracks he created at the studio.
- TV Spot – (:32) The commercial for the Japanese Blu-ray and DVD release.
- Promotion Video – (1:51) The Japanese promotional video for “Eden of the East”.
- Textless Closing Song –
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers
Production I.G. has delivered one of the finest anime television anime series to be released on Blu-ray in America. With the release of “Ghost Hound” from Sentai Filmworks last month which I gave a highly favorable review for it, I thought the Production I.G. series was just phenomenal. But here they are once again with another series and not only does it come with wonderful animation and many brilliantly painted backgrounds (which is rare to see on a anime TV series), the series creator manages to wrap the main storyline in 11 episodes.
Most anime TV series tend to run 22-26 episodes and yet, Kenji Kamiyama and Production I.G. manage to do it with 11 episodes and what a wonderful series “Eden of the East” has turned out to be!
The series has turn out to be one surprise after the other. From hearing the Oasis theme song, to seeing a well-crafted anime series from director/writer/creator Kenji Kamiyama, seeing the character designs from Chika Umino (which I’m a big fan of the “Honey and Clover” manga series), hearing the awesome jazzy music from Kenji Kawai, to see the talented BAMBOO team behind the painted backgrounds of this series….everything about this series is magnificent. Animation, background design, storyline, music…
And then not only do you have a series which looks awesome on Blu-ray, the lossless audio is great and you get a good number of lengthy special features. This has got to be my favorite anime series on Blu-ray for 2010, hands down!
I can go on and on about why I love this series but I will just say that when it comes to anime TV series on Blu-ray, I don’t expect much because these anime studios are handling other series at the same time and frankly, many are completed within hours of airing on Japanese television. Anime TV series are usually not detailed like a film or OVA but somehow in 2010, Production I.G. have two anime series on Blu-ray in the U.S. that just breaks traditional convention of anime TV series and how they can look and literally raises the bar of animation and artistic backgrounds. “Ghost Hound” was incredible and the Blu-ray for the series was awesome… but FUNimation Entertainment has done well by releasing this Blu-ray, to include several lengthy special features (and not just the standard opening and ending themes) and is now planning to release the three “Eden of the East” films on Blu-ray as well.
And as far as raising the bar for how anime TV series should look, the fact that they got Chica Umino and Ryohei Kimura involved was awesome but just looking at the anime series, rarely do you see the backgrounds being used more than once. It’s like every scene features new animation and background art and there was special emphasis on lighting and once again, this is not the kind of detail you usually see in a anime TV series. But Production I.G. must have high standards because so far, I’ve been impressed with their work and it just gets better and better.
It may be a little early since the year is not over but in terms of anime releases on Blu-ray in America, “Eden of the East – The Complete Series” may be my pick for “Anime Series on Blu-ray of the Year (2010)”.
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