Please Note: This release is a Blu-ray/DVD combo and we’re covering only the Blu-ray portion here. You can read the DVD review here.
What They Say:
The intrigue goes international in The King of Eden, a feature-length conspiracy thriller that continues the action of the acclaimed 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 Seleção 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 presentation for this release has both the English and Japanese tracks in 5.1 using Dolby TrueHD. The main feature has a decent mix to it but it is one that is largely very much a dialogue based piece of work so it doesn’t exactly have to work itself all that much. Events do pick up at times that lets it shine a bit more, but it never feels like it has to flex its mixing muscles and just does things by the book. It has a good feel and the music makes out very well, but it lacks any serious oomph or impact. With it being so dialogue heavy though, it’s very well done in that regard as placement is spot on and when multiple characters talk on screen at the same time, it never feels like it’s poorly laid our or has an odd sense of depth to it. It’s definitely good for what it’s trying to convey but it’s not a feature that really stands out.
Originally released in November 2009, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The feature has a very good look that takes the original TV work designs and has an incremental improvement overall. It’s not a significant jump but it feels just a bit richer in its design and the transfer captures it well. The color palette is one that has a slightly soft look to it, though there are colors that pop at times, and it’s pretty smooth and clean. Some of the interior backgrounds are a bit off though as there are some visible gradients with some strong block designs in how they’re portrayed, but it’s hard to tell if it’s supposed to be intentional because of how strong they are. It’s more in the brownish/gold interiors and isn’t noticeable elsewhere thankfully. It’s not a huge distraction, but you can easily see it in those scenes. Generally, the transfer here looks good and definitely along the same vein as the TV series that we saw previously.
The packaging for this combo release is about as I expected with it being in a DVD keepcase which holds both the DVD and Blu-ray with a hinge inside for one of them. The release gets a slipcover which mirrors what the actual keepcase artwork is and it’s apretty nicely done in an understated way. The front cover has Takizawa and Saki together, hand in hand, in New York City with the feel of the city very much present with a good bit of detail and a nice nod towards the Air King angle. The back cover is a bit murkier in a way as the left side has the same kind of city background, but it’s very indistinct overall and uses some colors that push it to the murky side very easily because of it. That area has some of the Selecao numbers floating about and has a decent breakdown of the premise of the film and where it stands overall with the first TV series. The right side has a white strip that shows off several pictures from the show and is very clear with the discs extras. The production information and technical grid all convey good information, but it’s done with a dark great on black background which makes it hard to read unless you have direct light on it. With the technical information, it definitely makes it harder to figure out what you have there. While there are no show related inserts, there is a great reversible cover that uses a white background with a great illustration image of Takizawa on one panel and his Selecao number on the other that makes it worth reversing while keeping the slipcover.
The menu layout for this release has a good in-theme feel to it while still going with a bit of simplicity by having the background a large series of clips from the feature that are generally pretty mild, slow and mood setting pieces. The menu itself with all the navigation is set along the lower right where it’s done in the form of the phones that are used throughout the film with the various numeric codes along the top to give it a bit more of a connection. The font for the text is a bit awkward to read, especially black on yellow, but it’s all serviceable and basic selections so it’s quick and easy to navigate. Sadly, it isn’t used as the pop-up menu during playback, which admittedly would be distracting but would also fit well, as we instead get a simple soft blue bar along the bottom that has the basic navigation to it. Everything loads very smoothly and the design is good overall, certainly one of the better in-theme menu designs.
The extras for this release are all on the feature disc so there isn’t a separate disc for those. The movie flash preview is a nice little 80 second piece that shows events from the TV series to get you primed for the new one by showing you some of the key sequences. There’s also a shorter 49 second version that has scenes from the King of Eden feature itself which gives it a more fast paced feeling than it actually does have. Add in a couple of TV spots and you get the usual array of promos and trailers that most features get for extras.
The big extra here is the two hour movie compilation of the TV series with Air Communication. It’s kept to a Dolby 2.0 TrueHD audio mix and a good high definition presentation that looks pretty much like the TV series did. Taking a lengthier series and getting it down to its serviceable bits for a two hour feature isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but Eden of the East certainly had its slower moments, welcome that they are, that could be excised in order to make this flow better. If you haven’t seen the TV series before, it’s definitely a good movie for covering the basics while missing some of the quieter moments and stranger moments that helps to tie it all together better. If you’ve seen the TV series, it’s an interesting feature to watch to see what they felt like keeping and what they excised and whether it provides a similar overall feeling that kept you captivated.
The Eden of the East TV series was a show that really won me over from start to finish in just about every way. The series played in the real world, skewed things slightly to the side and gave you an experience where you couldn’t be sure where it was going to go at any given time. Few shows can really be that predictable but it hit so many strong marks over the eleven episodes that it ran that you couldn’t help but to marathon it in order to see what would come next. With strong production values, great acting and a real sense of self that gave it a kind of confidence that you don’t see all that often, it was a given that the show was memorable. With the series going well, the planned follow-ups were planned for movies and this first one, King of Eden, takes us six months into the future after the end of the series (or the Air Communication recap movie if you’ve only seen that).
With Takizawa having disappeared after the events of the TV series, he’s become quite a legend because of it as he’s now known as the Air King because of the photographic evidence which is quite striking when you think about it. That picture has become larger than life in its own way, taking on its own life as it’s adorning many different things and it’s not just in Japan itself. This is seen first hand by Saki as she’s ended up in New York City after the Eden of the East gang has managed to decode and understand the phone that Takizawa used to have so they could see where it is he was going and some of what he had set up with Juiz in order to achieve his seemingly flippant request to be made the King of Japan so that he can achieve the goal that’s been set forth for all the Selecao players.
Saki’s attempts at finding him come at the same time that a couple of the other Selecao players are doing their best to figure out what he’s up to as well, so with the Eden gang tracking a lot of these requests, they’re able to help, though they’re all aware that Saki is essentially bait to draw Takizawa out. When she does come across him, she has the problem of his memory loss as he believes he’s someone else now and she has to try and get him to reconnect to the person she knew him as before. It’s a slow and lengthy process as they go through all of this, but it’s well done in showing the relationship that these two have that even transcends the memory loss, though a good portion of that comes from how Saki perceives him and because of his own good nature that also transcends it.
With this making up a huge part of the film, it’s definitely something that’s well done but it keeps the feature from feeling like it has a whole lot of substance to it. If it was done as a TV series, it’d easy to imagine this covering three to four episodes worth of material. It’s certainly interesting, but it’s the kind of “middle film” that deals with plot points and moves things into place without doing much itself. There is involvement with the other Selecao as they’re working their own games and watching what it is that Takizawa is up to, but the feature definitely doesn’t have the same level of engagement because it doesn’t bring us any real answers. It covers certain areas, but there’s no true build-up and intensity that we saw in the TV run as it neared its ending.
While I find myself not quite as engaged with this feature as I was with the TV series for obvious reasons, there’s still a whole lot to like here as it continues on the story and expands on the world of the Selecao even more. There’s a lot to like here as Saki goes to New York City and as we see what kind of person that Takizawa has been reborn into. The Eden of the East gang is a whole lot of fun to watch throughout this as they’ve made their mark on the world with their search software and seeing the way they work together is definitely an area where you can grin pretty wide with enjoyment. Getting the expanded view on the other Selecao and seeing how they operate and what they’re watching for adds to the storyline pretty well, but in the end we’re still just playing the waiting game here as it’s moving us closer to the real meaning behind things and what Takizawa’s real game may be as the mysteries seemingly only grow rather than become resolved. Which means the final movie should have a lot of revelations and great moments to deal with all of it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Air Communication Recap Movie, TV Spots and Promo
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.