I cried the rain that fills the ocean wide
I tried to talk with God to no avail
Calling Him in and out of nowhere
Said if You won't save me, please don't waste my time
-“Falling Down”, Oasis (opening song)
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Creator: Kenji Kamiyama
Studio: Production I.G.
Length: 11 episodes, 2 films
Highlights: Believable and likable characters, engaging mystery
The stranger, who soon takes the name Akira Takizawa, soon discovers that the phone in his hand is linked to an account with over 8 billion yen in it, and connects him to a concierge named Juiz who can use that money to grant seemingly any request. Furthermore, it is somehow Takizawa’s duty to spend all the money in order to become the “savior” of Japan. Soon reunited with Saki (she had to track him down to recover the passport she left in the coat), Akira strikes up a budding romance with her while simultaneously trying to recover his memories and uncover the secrets of the phone, the money, and his mission. However, as he soon finds out, he is not the only one with the same mission, and he may be connected to or even the cause of the Careless Monday attacks.
Created by Kenji Kamiyama of Production I.G., Eden of the East is both a romance series and a slow-burn mystery. It gives equal time to these two different genres, which makes an interesting combination of the highly realistic (especially in its depiction of life in modern Japan), and the speculative (especially in its depiction of the conspiracy that Takizawa slowly unravels). It possesses an animation style which generally leans more towards the realistic scale of the anime spectrum, and well-written dialogue and characterization which serve to make the characters highly believable. Viewers will very quickly begin to care both about Takizawa’s search for the truth and his relationship with Saki. The other characters in the series are similarly realistic, possessing ordinary jobs and lives in order to keep the (generally) realist feel of the series. These include Saki’s sister and brother-in-law who run a bakery and a recycling/computer programming club at her university (yes, I know it’s a weird combination).
In addition, the series touches on a number of philosophical concepts. The main one is the idea of noblesse oblige, a French term which means “the obligation of the privileged”. Basically, it is the idea that the people of a society who possess power and wealth must use their resources in order to help those less fortunate. This is further commented upon by a phrase that is repeated numerous times throughout the series: “The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power” (a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, ironically enough). As Takizawa gets deeper and deeper into the conspiracy, he must decide what exactly this means for him, and therefore how he will save his country.
As I said, the mystery is very slow-burn, with a slow but steady reveal as the series goes on. However, the last few episodes advance at breakneck speed as the plot reaches a climax in the finale. However, the series does not completely wrap up all of the plot points that it raised. In order to totally complete it, the series was followed up two films- Eden of the East: The King of Eden and Eden of the East: Paradise Lost. They pick up six months after the series ends, and initially shift the plot to New York City before transferring back to Japan.
The general rule of thumb is that one has to watch at least three episodes of an anime series in order to determine if it is worth your time. But, out of all the anime series I’ve watched, Eden of the East was one of the very few that I was invested in from the very first episode; I had to find out what happened to Saki and Takizawa. I attribute this to an engaging plot, and above all highly believable and likable characters. Like all the best mysteries, Eden of the East will grab you from the get-go and not let go until the end.