Judge Roman Martel does not look back fondly at his time as a NEET—Nerdy Ever Expanding Twinkie.
Hey, Akira Takizawa, you've just saved Japan from a massive missile attack.
What are you going to do now?
When Eden of the East concluded its 11 episode run, we were left wanting more. Sure Takizawa (Jason Liebrecht) saved Japan with a bunch of naked NEETs but what was going to happen to him and Saki ((Leah Clark)? That's why we have the sequel movie The King of Eden. But don't get too excited, because this is only part one of the big finale. One more Eden of the East movie is on the way.
First things first, if your memory of the series is a little foggy, I highly suggest you revisit it before watching this film. The King of Eden jumps right into the action, with Saki in New York looking for Takizawa. She has a clue on Takizawa's high tech cell phone (which he slid into her pocket in the final episode of the series). Following the clue gets her into all kinds of trouble as the remaining players of the deadly game focus their attention on her. When she finally runs into Takizawa, he's lost all of his memories of her and the game. Can Saki help him remember before things get really dangerous? Why is Juiz (Stephanie Young) acting so odd? Are Saki's pals back at Eden of the East helping her, or just getting into more trouble?
Animation-wise this movie appears to be a slight improvement over the series. New York looks really good, with lots of detail, even down to authentic looking taxi cabs moving around the streets. Compared to something like Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom which had a very stylized version of America, this movie goes for a more realistic look. The character design and overall atmosphere of the show remains consistent. While this movie has some strong thriller elements to it, it keeps things light and fun. Kenji Kawai's score certainly adds to this.
The English voice cast continues their excellent job. Both Liebrecht and Clark really make their characters likable and believable. The relationship between Takizawa and Saki is vital to the show, and it's important that dynamic was kept in this movie and the next. I'm looking forward to hearing more from them in Paradise Lost.
As for the story, it also keeps many of the same elements of the show. We have Saki getting in over her head. We get Takizawa coming up with clever and unique ways of solving their problems, and we get a visit from the mysterious and deadly Shiratori (Christine Auten). The whole Eden of the East gang acts as the command crew, with Panties (Newton Pittman) even getting into the act. Behind it all, the deadly game involving "the saviors" continues. Like moving chess pieces each savior takes different actions culminating in another missile attack, but this one on some very specific targets.
But here's the thing, the movie suffers from a major bout of "middle movie syndrome." This is where your middle film of a trilogy consists of characters milling around and setting up for the third film. Good sequels manage to make their middle chapter a self contained adventure that builds up to the third film at the same time. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is the most obvious example of doing it right. But what we get here is closer to The Matrix Reloaded. There is a lot of stuff going on, but when the movie ends, you kind of wonder why it had to happen in New York, or why it took so long to accomplish so little.
Part of the problem is trying to work all the favorite characters from the television series into a movie that is 80 minutes long. The focus of the movie is still Takizawa and Saki, but so much time is spent cutting back to these other characters that it feels a bit gratuitous. There are also the small elements that seem like they were pulled right out of the series, but changed just slightly to make them new. Is this to give us a smile at the connections, or because of lazy screen writing?
Maybe I'm coming down a bit hard on the movie. But I was expecting something a bit more interesting than what I got here. It was fun to watch the characters again, but when the movie ended I was left wondering if this finale was going to fizzle—because it's showing signs of heading that way.
Funimation provides King of Eden with a solid release. The image was nice and clear, with the blacks behind the New York and Tokyo skylines looking great. The sound was mixed well, with dialogue and music being nicely separated. You also get a disc of extras. The first is called Air Communications and it will help out those of us who have trouble remembering what we watched last week, much less months ago. You get the entire Eden of the East series condensed into a 2 hour movie. It's told from the characters' perspective, as they narrate the action taken directly from the show. This is in Japanese with English subtitles. You also get a selection of Japanese trailers and television spots for the movie.
I was entertained by King of Eden and hope the elements that seemed like filler here will turn out to be more important in the next film. I can recommend this if you enjoyed the series, but I'll hold off full judgement until I see Paradise Lost.
Verdict pending on further evidence.
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