While I didn’t think that Eden of the East lacked closure, clearly some people did, so here’s the first of two feature-length additions that aim to close out the story. The big problem with King of Eden, though, is that there’s a large dose of deja vu to the story that unfolds here…
What They Say:
Director Kenji Kamiyama’s masterful Eden Of The East saga continues with The King Of Eden, the highly anticipated feature-length movie sequel to his original 11-episode animated TV series.
Described by Anime News Network as “a necessary sequel to a deserving series” with “near-perfect execution and a higher IQ than all of anime’s lower echelons combined”, The King Of Eden is packed with cinematic flourishes and homages to Hitchcock that make it “a piece of pure entertainment that would do the Master proud” (Anime News Network).
Audio comes in both English and Japanese language, with both languages in 5.1 surround for the King of Eden feature (Air Communication comes in 2.0). I listened to the Japanese track for this review. The movie is heavily focused on dialogue, and as such sticks pretty heavily to the centre of the soundstage – there’s little opportunity to show off with the audio and effects. Simple but effective. There were no obvious encoding issues.
Video for both King of Eden and Air Communication is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen format. As with the TV series itself, video is a strong point, with wonderfully-detailed real-world cityscapes forming the backdrop to the show, with only a few pieces of jarring CG (vehicles, mainly) spoiling the look. There were no apparent encoding issues.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
As is usual for Manga’s releases these days, we get a static main menu accompanied by the movie’s main theme, with an outline of Akira against a New York cityscape setting the scene. Options are provided for Play, Scenes and Setup. The outline of Akira carries through to the submenus (albeit with different backgrounds), while there are no transition animations to slow things down. The Air Communication disc menus are essentially the same, with an added option for Extras and some different backgrounds used.
Extras are very thin on the ground (unless you count Air Communication itself as an extra, I suppose) – a set of previews for the movie, and that’s your lot.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The movie begins immediately where the series left off, with Saki Morimi arriving in New York in search of her new friend Akira Takizawa, who has once again brainwashed himself and disappeared after leaving her his Selecao phone and a message to meet him where their original journey began. Following recent events, Saki’s friends at the Eden Of The East project have developed their work into a successful small business thanks to the international recognition of their computer software’s role in preventing the missile attacks on Japan. Meanwhile, images of Taki pointing at the missiles and orchestrating their destruction have circulated the globe, turning him into a folk hero people are calling the Air King. Finally tracking down Taki to a riverside location where they spent time together shortly after they first met, Saki explains to him his past and his role as a Selecao, a pawn in a mysterious and deadly game to “save Japan”. Meanwhile, other Selecao are monitoring their movements with one, in particular, intent on assassinating Taki and catching the event on film…
Read the first sentence or two of that summary, and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d pasted in the TV show’s summary by accident. Saki, lost in America? No passport or ID? A chance meeting with Akira, who helps her out of the trouble she’s found herself in? It’s all just a little familiar, really, and that’s just the first place where this movie puts a foot wrong. Given the profile that the “Air King” now has around the world, after his rather impressive direction of the efforts to deal with the last missile strike on Japan, it’s also a wonder that he’s managed to keep a low profile. I mean, it’s not like people haven’t had a chance to get to know what he look like, if the movie’s opening scenes are anything to go by.
But no, Saki has to travel to the US to hunt him down, using only a few clues left with Juiz before his last memory wipe, and as a result you can’t help but feel that a large chunk of the movie is wasted with covering area that had been done before, probably better, at the beginning of the TV series. There’s also a lot of time devoted to giving each of the surviving Selecao their five minutes of glory, showing what they’re now up to – and in the process showing that “failure” in the game doesn’t necessarily lead to the death that we’d been led to believe lay in store. Curious? You betcha, but not something that’s followed up on in this movie.
And therein lies another of the problems here: there’s nothing resolved. Once the revisiting of the other Selecao is out of the way, there are a few interesting plot lines opened up, but the resolutions to these are all presumably being held in reserve for Paradise Lost. It also has to be said that none of those plotlines seem, on the basis of what’s revealed so far, to be all that interesting – it’s just a continuation of the TV show’s scheming by the more ruthless Selecao, who still haven’t given up on winning the game. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but the TV series has already covered that territory fairly well, and with far more time to devote to it. The only thing that wasn’t really covered was the identity of the mysterious Mr Outside, and for this movie at least that hasn’t really been touched on.
Overall, then, I can’t say that there’s anything here that grabbed me – it’s certainly not as good as the TV series. It’s primarily setup for Paradise Lost, and with that still to get a UK release date we’re going to be left hanging for a while to see if that can tie things up properly.
So much for the movie itself. Also included in the set, though, is Air Communication, which is a feature-length recap of the TV series, told through the usual set of clips with the Eden of the East gang providing voice-over – so when we’re seeing what Saki and Akira are up to, we’ll be hearing the gang talk about what the rest of them were doing at the time, or vice-versa. It’s recap in its most basic form, and while this sort of edit does often provide a way for people new to the title to get a quick handle on whether it’s worth buying the full set or not, it’s presented in a way that’s annoying enough to watch that I don’t think it’s going to really persuade anyone. It’s also quite long, at just a few minutes under two hours, which feels rather long for this sort of recap.
As far as how worth buying this is… Air Communication can be discounted and treated essentially as an extra. If you’re putting down the money for this release, it’s King of Eden that you’re paying for, and that’s so-so at best. Certainly, compared to how enjoyable the TV series was, King of Eden is missing some of the heart and appeal that used to be there. One for completeists only, at least until or unless Paradise Lost comes out to make it worth all the setup that’s going on here.
Japanese Language 5.1, English Language 5.1, English Subtitles, Movie 1 Newsflash. Movie 1 Trailer, TV Spots
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 6th, 2011
Running Time: 85 minutes (plus 120 minutes for Air Communication)
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37” widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.