If you ask me what my absolute favourite anime series from the last decade was, I will answer with a high level of certainty: ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex‘. The handsomely drawn, brilliantly scripted and amazingly entertaining series is quite simply a modern anime masterpiece. The genius behind Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was director Kenji Kamiyama, and from this man now comes a new anime series, Eden of the East, which I have approached with some reservations. Why? I know it’s going to be good, but the real question is whether it is going to be great and live up to the incredibly high expectations.
Ms. Saki Morimi has just finished college and is on a graduation trip to the US. While visiting the White House, a naked young man appears out of nowhere, with nothing on him except a gun and a mobile phone. Through a series of strange events, Saki comes to befriend this mysterious man, who introduces himself as Akira Takizawa but otherwise does not seem to have any memory. As more clues regarding his identity emerge, everything seems to suggest that he is connected to the recent missile attacks on Japan…
The production value of Eden of the East is top-notch. It is beautifully animated and many scenes come with memorable visuals. Character movement is fluid and facial expressions are detailed. Character design is perhaps comparatively weaker, especially for the character of Saki Morimi, who looks too young to be a college graduate. She could easily be mistaken for someone in her early teenage years. I guess some of us are blessed with looking young for our ages and so this is a minor complaint only.
What makes Eden of the East great is its story. Full of intriguing ideas, thrilling moments and unexpected twists, it offers truly edge of the seat entertainment. Each episode runs for just over 20 minutes, and with a total running time of 4 and a half hours, the show is over before you know it. The rather abrupt ending certainly contributes to the feeling of ‘what, it is over?’, and to me that is the biggest let down of the anime. It ends on a cliff hanger, and will conclude with 2 feature films (which I haven’t seen). From what I have read however, the original idea was to make the series into 2 seasons. Personally, I believe the latter would have been a wiser option, as there are so many ideas that remain unexplored and so many questions unanswered that I think they can easily make the show into a 2- or even 3-season series.
Overall, this is a fantastic anime, and one of the best I have seen in recent times. While it does not quite reach the same heights as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, to be able to come so close is already an achievement, and proves once again that Kenji Kamiyama is one of the very best working in the world of anime today. Now I just have to wait patiently for the opportunity to see the 2 feature films, and for what I hope will turn out to be a spectacularly satisfying conclusion to this outstanding anime.