What the fuck was Studio Production I.G. thinking? Why did they release Ghost Hound last year as their 20th Anniversary Project Extroardinaire — and totally piss off a bunch of otaku with its all-around lameness and godawful ending — when they had something like this fantastic show (Eden of the East) in their pocket. Eden of the East is well animated, mysterious, well told, well paced, and all around a dem fine series with only one flaw: we have to wait until early next year for its theatrical finale which I want to see NOW. Yes, wanting more of it is its only real flaw.
What is Eden of the East about? This is going to be tough — not that it's really all that complicated, but I just don't want to give too much shit away. Like a few other shows I've covered in the past, the creators thought a helluva lot about how events should unfold and when the viewer should know what, and the end result is so well played that if I (or any other reviewer on the web) chose to ruin the major twists and turns then I (or they) would just be the world's largest asshole. Or the world's largest dick... Or the world's largest dick INSIDE the world's largest asshole. I'll keep my spoilers limited to the first few episodes in honor of what the writers and director accomplished here, and I advise you to not read anything more about this show (in any other review or even on any kind of wiki). Watch it, and watch it blind.
For those of you who need more prodding I'll tell you what Eden of the East is like: it's a healthy and strange mix of The Bourne Identity, 3 Days of the Condor, and Brewster's Millions. That sounds retarded, and it is to a degree, but it's fun as hell in practice. The whole things starts off with a young Japanese girl, Morimi Saki, touring Washington DC by herself. She for some reason thinks that it'd be a good idea to try and throw some coins at the White House fountain (some 100 or so yards from the front gate, and in direct sight of a couple of DC's finest) in this post 9/11 world. As the cops immediately start to question her about her motives and sanity, some strange, Japanese, naked dude (with only a high-tech cell phone and a handgun on his person) diverts their attention to let the girl get away. The cops go chasing after the naked guy (thinking he jumped on a passing truck), and Mr. Naked (who really just hid behind a concrete barrier as the truck passed him) approaches Saki and begins a conversation with her. Oh yeah, and Mr. Naked's got amnesia. That seems kind of important.
Okay, I was buying it so far. They nailed DC's look and feel... But then naked guy (with a gun) and the girl (who just threw an object at the White House) stand in front of the President's abode for a few minutes talking — while he's still naked and while he's still got a gun in his hand. They would have been tackled SO fast and SO hard by the Secret Service that has the entire perimeter of the place under such incredible security it ain't funny. Trust me, if they can pile on top of me within 10 seconds of exposing myself towards the white edifice and twirling my little protestor around like a stripper making her titty-tassles flip around for a horny and appreciative Friday night crowd, then these two non-white 20-something kids would have been grabbed, tortured, and questioned for at least 22 hours too... Though say what you will about Michelle, but that classy First Lady personally requested that they let me go (after I gave her a full private strip show of her own). Did you know that she apparently spends her days with a pair of binoculars staring at the front gate hoping something like that would happen? It's true, and I highly recommend that anybody and everybody who goes to DC gives it a go.
Anyway, back to the show. Because Mr. Naked Amnesia looks so cold (on this crisp Winter day) *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*, Saki gives him her hat, scarf and coat, but after he takes off she remembers that her passport and plane ticket were in a pocket in the donated coat. It was about this time that I began to realize that we were finally catching up to the Japanese, and that not all their children are super science/math geniuses. A city-wide manhunt then begins for the two, and soon my fears of this thing being retardedly stupid left my mind (meaning the police and SS start canvassing the city looking for the two mysterious culprits involved in the possible attack on the White House that afternoon, and things get deep and complicated fast). Saki and Mr. Amnesia decide to work together to leave the States and make it back to Japan, but at the airport they find out on the news that there's been a mysterious missile attack on Tokyo. Duh-duh duuuuuuuuh!
Soon they find themselves back in Japan and Mr. Amnesia is told by a mysterious woman — someone called Juiz — on his high-tech phone that he has over 80-billion ¥en (electronically available through his phone) to spend in order to "save Japan." The two confused companions soon find out that the entire city is on lock down because of the blitz, and then Saki tells Mr. Amnesia all about "Careless Monday," and how back in November of the previous year 10 other missiles had mysteriously hit Tokyo, but miraculously not even one person was killed due to one strange circumstance or another. All this shit takes place in the first 1 ¼ episodes. This show is pretty packed, start to finish.
Warning: Some soft spoilers follow (but I still won't give away any of the big revelations). We quickly learn that Mr. Amnesia is one of only twelve individuals (known as Selecao) who each have a super, hyper, hi-tech phone that he or she uses to contact the woman Juiz, whom they can speak to any time of day and who is essentially God in her omnipotence and ability to give them whatever they may want (for a price) at a moment's notice: be it a drink, a multi-million dollar MRI machine, a shopping mall, a clean-up crew, or an assassination. The prices for each of these requests are taken from their remaining funds (the billions of Yen that Mr. Amnesia found listed on his phone), but they each have so much mullah that it never seems to matter what they blow it on. But there's a catch (as Mr. Amnesia learns quite early on and as I've already stated in the paragraph above): they must use their generous finances to "save Japan." What this means is apparently open to each Selecao's interpretation, but the group is highly competitive, and the penalties for NOT saving Japan are steep. Oh, and if any of the Selecao spends too much of their digital funds on anything personal then even quicker penalties are forced upon them.
Soon into the whole mix come Saki's old college friends (and their sweet image-recognition software that they're pioneering), 20,000 missing NEETs (losers who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training), a fucked up hikikomori (who's an engineering and computer genius), and well, shit... I can't say anything more without revealing some big stuff. Trust me, everything up till now is just the groundwork of the series. Spoilers are now over. You may proceed reading if you were a pussy and skipped the last paragraph.
Ah hell, I can't really blame you if you jumped ahead, after all I told you to keep spoilers to a minimum. You're not a pussy, you're just a lemming who does whatever anybody tells you to do... Pussy.
I gotta be honest here, with the opening episode I was really hoping and expecting a giant, globe-trotting, spy-infested, mystery yarn... But after that it became small and, well, almost confined in feeling. Yes, the plot is ever moving, the characters are fun, and the riddles keep you guessing, but I just expected something BIGGER. Not that it's really all that small. The last few eps of this thing do get rather monumental. Anyway, when the fat hikikomori — who only wears 5-sizes too small underwear (because his only pair of pants blew away off his clothesline years before) and never leaves his tiny apartment — shows up I figured I should just stop trying to will it into my preconceived notions of what it should be about and just go along for the ride. That was a good call.
As I stated before, in the end I just wanted more of this show. They ended it on pretty much what is episode 11 of a 17 or 18 episode series. A lot was cleared up by this point, true, but there are still GAPING holes in the whole experience that we have to wait for the two follow-up movies to answer.... I fucking HATE when studios pull this shit. It's bad enough when they split a TV series into 2 parts, and we have to wait 6 months for the second half, but to do the same thing but make viewers wait for a couple of movies (that they have to pay to see) is, to quote Balki Bartokomous, reeeeeeeedick-u-lows! Damn those flicks better be worth the wait. And man, what I wouldn't give to see them both animated entirely in the same kick ass paper animation style as in the ending credits. That would be really fucking cool.
Ugh..... Lord knows I've woken up, naked, in strange places, and come close to gotten arrested for packing a big gun... But you don't see me writing any stories about it... Well, besides this right here.
Not that East of Eden is bad or anything, just that it's a poor man's Bourne Identity. And honestly, a good portion of all the times those crazy people with fancy phones called in to that strange lady and asked for really outrageous shit, and got it lickity split, it kind of felt like that other anime cartoon the Rossman used to make me watch, what with the green-haired, bikini-wearing, flying girl. There was this super rich guy in there who always wore white and yelled a lot. He'd always yell into his portable phone and like ask for some tanks, or a gun, or for some ninja guys to kidnap somebody. It just felt kind of goofy like that. The Japanese are really weird.
This is just so creepy! It's like they saw how Kiff and I met outside the White House a few years back and decided to make an animated Japanesey show about us!... Only Kiff turned out not to be a spy, and was only roofied and raped by some guys at a gay bar he said he accidentally stumbled into, and then had his clothes stolen and then was raped again by some hobos... And then the cops did catch him and me, and then left us in an old questioning room in some DC police station for about two days before we decided to just leave and we had to saw off the handcuffs with my nail file and the hacksaw that I always keep in my purse. Then there was the time that we fell into the tigers pit in the Washington Zoo, and Kiff, still naked, had to ride that big tiger over the wall to freedom, and then we kind of got caught up and had to stow away on that Merchant Marine ship that sailed off for the Middle East. Other than that it was eerie how close this thing mirrored real life. I should get some residuals!