Please Note: This review is of only the DVD included in the new DVD/BD combo release.
What They Say:
The intrigue goes international in The King of Eden, a feature-length conspiracy thriller that continues the action of Eden of the East. The deadly game that began in Japan now intensifies on the streets of New York City. The rules are the same: do whatever it takes to win. Die if you lose.
Takizawa prevented Japan’s destruction – and then he vanished. Six months later, clues lead Saki to the Big Apple in search of her missing friend. Meanwhile, the remaining Selecao are plotting their final move. Some of them would prefer Takizawa dead and out of the way. Some might even be willing to help him achieve his goals. Unfortunately, some are prepared to destroy everything if it means claiming checkmate in Mr. Outside’s puzzling game.
The audio for King of Eden comes in the form of English and Japanese 5.1 tracks. For the purpose of this review the Japanese track was used. For the most part the dialogue is center speaker focused with the other speakers being used to help set the environment and occasionally used for a bit of directionality with different effects. The track is free from dropouts or distortions during playback and comes across as a good, though not elite 5.1 track.
Note: The Air Communication feature on the second disc is Japanese 2.0 only and is also free from dropouts or distortions and it is a better than average 2.0 presentation.
Originally showing in Japanese theaters in late 2009 the King of Eden Feature is presented in its 16:9 format for this release. It is a fairly strong presentation with some minor issues-noise, dot crawl, ghosting and touch of aliasing-but almost all instances are minor and the issues fail to take away from the gorgeous images while colors are largely strong and come across well. The creative team took their designs and added details and complexity to what were already great visuals in the TV series. They do so in a way that adds to the feature rather than distracts one from wondering why they were not present in the TV series.
While it played in theaters in Japan the Air Communication feature uses the TV’s material and is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. This feature has a few more problems than the King of Eden movie as it contains some noise, dot crawl, blocking in strong red, and ghosting but the beauty of the TV series visuals still come across very well.
The discs used for this release were the DVD set from the Blu-ray/DVD combo. For full package details please see Chris Beveridge’s review of the Blu-Ray disc.
The DVD’s themselves use a silhouette of Akira Takizawa with his finger out pointing like at the end of the TV series in an image that is used frequently throughout the film. Disc one uses a yellow background with Akira in gray and disc two reverses this to have a yellow Akira set against a gray background.
Disc 1 uses a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge from the feature with Akira’s cell phone display on the right hand portion of the screen with the selectable options being present on the display while a white bar on the bottom portion of the screen contains the Eden of the East King of Eden logo in the center. The different options are displayed in a yellow color with a white bar that goes across the display to show what option is being highlighted. Disc two uses an image of a theme park entrance from the Air Communication feature with Akira’s cell phone display again on the right hand portion of the screen and the selectable options being present on the display the same as the first disc but with a blue-greenish color to them. The menus are quick to respond to prompts to change what is highlighted and to engage selections when chosen.
The release features a second disc of extras including movie newsflash, movie preview and TV spots for the film (note, Japanese with subtitles only) but the biggest extra on this set is the Air Communication compilation. This feature is a condensed telling of the events of the TV series leading up to the King of Eden movie. The two hour feature is initially related by some of the characters who come to be central characters in the series. Most of it will be bridged in narration by Saki Morimi as she tells how her life changed when she takes a detour by herself to Washington D.C. while she was on a post graduation trip with friends touring New York City. She arrives by taxi at the barricade for viewing the White House as she intended to throw a coin in the fountain to pray for Japan. She finds herself in trouble though as the police nearby come to question her for throwing an item at the White House but she is saved by the appearance of a naked young man who gets the police to chase him though he eludes them quickly and returns to the gate. Saki is stunned when he drops a gun on the lawn but in gratitude for him distracting the police she gives him her coat only to realize she left her passport in it and she has to then chase him down.
The young man (Akira Takizawa) is clearly more than he seems as he first he had no problem walking around naked, then he dropped a gun through the gate on the lawn and while traveling back to his abode and he acquires some clothing from complete strangers along the way. He gets to his apartment and it is clear that he has amnesia as he doesn’t know who he is and it is also clear that he is an incredibly dangerous person as he has a wardrobe full of weapons, a number of false IDs as well as an unusual phone. When Saki tracks him down after following him he chooses the ID that lists him as Japanese and her goes with her to Japan. As they fly in part of the current state of Japan world is revealed as a coastal city suddenly comes under missile attack. This information is new to Akira so Saki explains that this is actually the second time that this has happened. The first time no one was injured and it has come to be called “Careless Monday” but events play out differently this time and there are casualties.
It turns out that the phone connects Akira to a bizarre game where there are twelve people who each have a phone similar to his and they are referred to as Seleção. These members have been chosen to be part of a group tasked with saving Japan and given 10 billion yen but they will be killed if they either run out of money or another member wins the game and saves Japan first. This will set up a high stakes cat and mouse game that will show some of the events that have lead up to Japan as they are experiencing it and also a number of mysteries that have been taking place in the background.
Saki finds herself unable to forget Akira and by trying to be close to him draws both herself and her friends (who will also narrate parts in the feature) that have created a new cell phone application/social network program into a giant soup where they may find themselves in terrible danger or realizing their dreams-possibly even both- while their program may be a key in saving Japan as different Seleção’s plots stir around them and one young man with no memory maybe all that is capable of saving Japan.
I came into Eden of the East having never seen the TV series and found that this compilation movie does a fairly good job of making sure important characters and events are covered in the limited time frame it posses. It isn’t perfect for those who haven’t seen the series as the condensed time means that events often get covered at the expense of character development scenes but I found the feature provided a good though not great base so that the movie made sense as without this movie I would have had no clue as to what the circumstances were. I like the feature overall but it mainly whet my appetite to go and explore the full series so I can get the entire panoramic view of the events.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The King of Eden picks up six months after the end of the TV series as Saki has traveled to New York City to try to find Akira. He disappeared shortly after the missiles were shot down leaving Saki his phone and a message on it to find him where they traveled together. Saki’s adventures in New York start bad as a miscommunication with her English speaking driver has him thinking she wants to get out at Grand Central Station rather than just commenting on the station itself (this is changed in the English version and though the miscommunication doesn’t come off as well it still seems plausible). As the driver is taking her suitcase out of the trunk it springs open revealing a small arms cache and causing Saki to be thrown out of the cab-though in parallel with the TV series her purse with her passport and Akira’s phone are still inside. The cab driver forces a gun into her hand before he barrels off and as Saki continues to hold it while being stunned the surrounding pedestrians start freaking out. A miraculous accident prevents the police whose attention she has grabbed from following up on her odd behavior and she escapes their attention as the opening credits roll.
Saki then narrates a flashback scene that bridges the gap between the TV series and the movie and fill in the details of what went on both for her personally and for Japan as a whole. On her personal front Saki had spent three days being questioned by the police before being released and meeting up with her friends from Eden of the East. While Saki is trying to lay low Eden of the East has exploded in popularity as almost all the images from the second missile attack came from their site. As a result a large amount of attention came on their application and in the intervening months it has gone from a small college friends group to an almost indispensible social app. Due to the pictures Akira’s image as he pointed at the missiles that were to be shot down has become almost iconic and his likeness has been popping up on merchandise everywhere and he is known as “Air King.” Saki discovers that her friends took EotE public to try to help Akira but that the game is still going on as Akira’s name had been changed on government records when he vanished-and now the Japanese Prime Minister who has the same last name has collapsed. A message crosses the phone that leads them to believe Akira is in NYC and other members of the game are after him there.
Saki discovers that the guns in her luggage had been placed there by one of the participants of the game and at the same time yet another member has been leaking that Akira might be the Prime Minister’s illegitimate son and starting a campaign to have the Japanese government and media track him down. As the plots start to swirl around them Saki has to try to figure out where the place she and Akira traveled together at in a city they were never together in was. But will meeting up with Akira bring an answer to what is going on or will his lack of memory prevent him from being as effective as he was before? And what happens when different members of the game decide to play by new rules-ones that may include removing Akira from the game one way or another?
The King of Eden is kind of an odd duck of a feature as it essentially goes back and covers some of the same ground as the TV series (Akira having lost his memory, Saki losing her passport) while upping the stakes with some of the other Seleção. It also introduces a bizarre tangent of a character that doesn’t seem to be serving much of any purpose other than to bring a Michael Bay like desire to bring some explosions and a bit more danger but really adds nothing of note to the feature. While the production values are raised (on a series that already had gorgeous visuals) it feels like this feature is almost a filler bridge between the TV series and the final feature. It isn’t bad as such it just feels like so much of the feature is going over similar ground when the TV series had raised the bar on expectations. Thankfully most of the characters from (the now corporation) East of the Eden get a bit of screen time and aren’t neglected but the film felt kind of hollow beautiful after watching as it lacked many of the innovative and fresh sparks of the TV series (at least that the compilation movie covered).
It is fitting that the main menu features a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge as this film feels like a metaphorical version of a bridge. There are some stunning sights at times but all in all the purpose of a bridge is to go from one side of it to the other and the trip itself is a bit secondary. It is still a decent feature but a good deal of the time in it feels like it is an attempt to relive feelings from the TV series which was produced the year previous to King of Eden. It doesn’t have an easy time building up the nostalgia feelings after so short a period of time and this effort seems to take away screen time from continuing the story from the end of the TV series and Akira’s goal. It is kind of an odd duck in that it feels like it was both shortened from more material and lengthened to become its own feature. It is a decent piece that will likely have fans waiting in anticipation for the concluding chapter in the saga but it may not impress those more ambivalent to the story.
Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Air Communication Prequel Movie (TV Series Summary), Movie 1 News Flash, Movie 1 Preview, TV Spots, Trailers.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen