Funimation // 2011 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // August 28th, 2011
A question for you: if a stranger handed you 10 billion yen, then said, "Improve this country," what would you do? How would you answer him?
One of the few anime that was not first a manga, Eden of the East made its debut on Japanese television in 2009. It ran for eleven episodes and ended leaving more questions than answers. It was followed by a movie, Eden of the East: The King of Eden, which answered some of the questions and raised many more.
The series' conclusion, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost, begins right where Eden of the East: The King of Eden left off. Thanks to the destruction of the Juiz-bearing trucks, only a few Saviors are left in the game. Now it's a mad rush of moves and counter-moves as each tries to plant his vision on the face of Japan. Akira (Jason Liebrecht, Dragon Ball Z Kai) realizes his only hope to stay in the game is to ensure the safety of his concierge, and in so doing sets up a showdown of sorts with Daiju Mononobe (John Gremillion, Summer Wars). Meanwhile, Saki (Leah Clark, Evangelion) searches for Akira's mother while Kazuomi (J. Michael Tatum, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) follows a tip and tries to locate the elusive Mr. Outside.
After what amounts to thirteen episodes over the course of a couple of years, the question on everyone's mind going into the final installment is, "Do all the questions get answered?" The answer to that question: yes and no.
The game does come to an end. We do meet Mr. Outside. However, the winning strategy, the proclaimed winner, their reward, the man behind the curtain...none of it is what you're expecting. Which, given the show's predilections, should not come as a surprise. Very little of Eden of the East, from beginning to end, follows convention. And I can't really say too much more about it without giving away its secrets. Suffice to say that the answers are satisfactory to a point, but there is enough residual ambiguity to keep you gnashing your teeth for the more complete resolution that the ending only hints at. Speaking of which, make sure you hang on through the end credits.
I guess that leaves us to talk about the technical aspects of the show. The series as a whole gives short shrift to many of the secondary characters, and its conclusion is no different. Some of them are thrown a long-overdue bone, but they could easily have dropped three people from the Eden of the East staff without changing a bit of the story. The voice acting is pretty good overall, with complex emotions coming through nicely. Stephanie Young's (Soul Eater) Juiz stands out; since she effectually plays several characters with the same voice, she has to vary her modulation without losing her unique tone, and she manages this task without difficulty.
Visually, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost goes the opposite direction of your usual anime. The background artwork ranges from great to stunning, with almost photographic results in places, whereas the character models are relatively simple. Character shading and texture is light; wrinkles and body definition are non-existent, noses are generally depicted as a couple of dots.
The sound is a little too balanced through all speakers; there is little stereo effect. Still, there is plenty of ambient noise to back up the action and the bass response is fabulous. The result is a nicely immersive audio experience.
Most of the extras are just trailers for the various Eden of the East incarnations plus a handful of Funimation's other shows. There is also something that calls itself a cast commentary track, although it doesn't follow the normal commentary form. It plays as the film is showing, but ignores everything presented on the screen. Instead, it's a series of interviews by Line Director Mike McFarland of various cast members. He asks them all the same questions: what did you think of your character, what parts of the show did you like, what would you do if presented with the Saviors' situation? All of their answers are pretty similar, so the session quickly becomes repetitive. There is also an "interview" with writer/director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) where he hints there could be more Eden of the East in the future.
One last note about this release: it comes in a Blu-ray/DVD combo, but the Blu-ray was not available for review.
The questions faced by the characters of the Eden of the East franchise are the same ones faced by every citizen of every country: what is wrong with society, and what can I do to change it? To the show's credit -- and its audience's frustration -- it doesn't give us a conclusive answer. Instead, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost carries the series' story to an ending that wraps things up but leaves its audience not only thinking, but wanting more. Your enjoyment of the show will depend entirely on how much that thought appeals to you.
Not guilty. Noblesse oblige.
Review content copyright © 2011 Josh Rode; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Blu-ray Version