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Eden of the East Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

17 min read

eden-of-the-east-uk-coverA recent classic and remains so with added completion in one set *drools*

What They Say:
Akira Takizawa wakes up naked outside the White House with no memories. He’s got a gun in one hand, a cell phone in the other, and doesn’t know if he’s a good guy or one of the worst. He doesn’t remember the phone gives him instant access to ten billion yen and a woman who can make his most outlandish requests a reality. He doesn’t recall his connection to the ongoing missile attacks terrorizing the Japanese people. Or the part he played in the sudden disappearance of 20,000 shut-ins. He doesn’t even remember he’s supposed to save Japan and will be murdered if he fails. Whatever it is he’s tangled up in, Takizawa’s definitely in deep – and that’s not even scratching the surface.

Contains the full 11 episode series and both films with the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles. Presented in collectors packaging.

The Review:

Audio:
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese for the series and the two movies (surprised as movie releases tend to be 5.1 in both) – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare, watching the movies in English (because some of the extras included watching the film again in Japanese) – despite not saying 5.1 the Japanese release was high quality to the point there was no adjustment to the volume, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub is still superb and whilst it doesn’t feel like a long time because the series was released nearly 10 years ago with the two movies between 2009 and 2010, there is still plenty of care taken to this classic release.

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation and colour in a more traditional sense, with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release, albeit one you can easily see when the show and movies switch from animation to CGI (a lot of the crowd scenes almost immediately when you see the crowds and the cars in New York you can tell, it happens very rarely but it is noticeable, especially during the NEETs sequence)

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release, but if you order the special edition comes in a special rigid case and digipack.

Menu:
The menus of the series and both movies have the same motif – they shows clips of the series/movie in the background (with a cool visual of Japanese to English sign flickering ‘Eden Of The East’) with the Selecao phone on the bottom right as the menu – selections are Play All, Set Up, Episodes (Scene Selection with the movies) and Extras. It is a very cool visual with relevant atmospheric music in the background of both the series and movies, easily selectable (sadly no Juiz answers your selections ^^) and like most Blu-Rays has a pop-up menu in the selections during your watching (though it does allow you to select extras which is a rarity) and flows very fast during selections.

Extras:
With this in essence being a three set release, there are tons of extras altogether. A lot of commentaries (including for one of the movies) so let’s see what we got here…

On the series, we have the interview of Director Kamiyama and the original character designer Umino – they met in a room highlighting Kamiyamas Ghost In The Shell background (appropriate as viewing this during the live action movie in theatres) with Umino actually not wanting to show her face on camera so it is a live interview with Kamiyama with Umino’s voice in the background – that said, they showcase her previous work (Honey + Clover being the big one) and talk about many things, including the character designs (EOTE an original creation not based off a previous manga) and how they created them, making Saki and Takizawa in particular, as well as many of the other characters (Micchan, Osuki, Hirasawa and Kuroha being particular faves) – writing the story and what they learned about the experience – there is a ton to get through here and more to come but this is a good insight of what went through creative minds to get to the spot they wanted.

Next we have an interview with the Japanese voice actors of Takizawa (Ryuubei Kimura) and Saki (Saori Hayami) – we get their thoughts on playing the characters, their thoughts hearing about the project, their familiarity of the works of Kamiyama and Umino, their auditions, impression of each other’s character, how they prepared and was careful with their roles, their favourite scenes, the story, the movies and what will happen in the future – a lot of questions and some interesting answers…

Kamiyama returns in another interview except with head writer Oshii – they talk about episode 1 (also going to Washington DC for research) and how to try to understand or work out what Takizawa is up to in that initial scene (conclusion? Impossible to work out…) The atmosphere they wish to create and the theme of EOTE are brought up which lead to some interesting discussions, the story, the respect for each other, how this was a new challenger as a director to Kamiyama and the journey getting there, the discussion of original works vs. adaptations was a good one as gives a good insight how a work like EOTE can be both more difficult yet easier than an adaptation, as the meaning of original works gets explored, the importance of character development, colours in EOTE, the technology used compared to when worked on Ghost In The Shell, etc – the end is basically Takizawa as a lead and how via him the story will be told, but with that, you have to watch the movies…good job they are in this set…

Art Director Yusuke Takeda is our next interviewee, we get his first impressions on working on an original project and the influence that Umino-san gave to him, the workflow of art productions where we get to see some of the designs/style as a behind the scenes like segment, how it then changes to computer and CG but not leaving behind any of the background work, the colours and techniques involved as with the special effects and photography, and then their feelings when seeing the finished project. A shorter interview but you get more behind-the-scenes work…

Last interview of the series set is with composter Kayi Kawai – who has done some big projects with music and anime in the past (Ghost In The Shell and Sky Crawlers being probably the biggest) – his first impressions of the project and then demoing a number of the songs, the use of some of the instruments (the flugelhorn was an interesting one), working with the director, the themes of characters, and the creation of a song – again, shorter but more behind the scenes based.

The traditional extras are there too, we have a TV Spot, Promotional Video, the textless closing (no opening as the original opening was done by British band Oasis, and whilst that song is in episode 1, a different song is used for the different episodes due to licence and such) – trailers for the following shows are show too – Oh! Edo Rocket, Linebarrels Of Iron, Hetalia Axis Powers, Corpse Princess, Darker Than Black, Trigun, FMA: Brotherhood and Dragonball Z Kai.eden-of-the-east-uk-packaging

The first movie is quite light in extras in comparison, we get Air Communication which is pretty much a long series recap narrated mostly by Saki (Japanese only) where we see the other Selecao, Saki’s interview, meeting with Takizawa (most of the 1st episode is shown for example) – this is where the extras can be a slight issue as if you’ve just watched the series prior to the movie like I did, this extra can seem meaningless.

The rest of the extras are basic too – we get a Movie 1 News Flash (a flashback and an advertisement), Movie 1 Preview introduced by Saki and Takizawa, TV Spots and more trailers – this time for Rideback, Hero Tales, El Cazador De La Bruja (seriously underrated series), Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (again), Soul Eater, D-Gray Man and strangely Eden Of The East (suggests this was simply a copy release over from a solo Blu-Ray release otherwise why have that as a trailer when you’ve got the entire series in the same set)…

The 2nd movie however brings it back to speed – we get an entire US dub commentary of the movie throughout – Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Line Producer) goes through the movie asking the same or similar questions to voice actors who come in to talk to him during various stops, so it isn’t a huge crew, it is just bits at a time. To start, we get Jason Liebrecht (Takizawa), then a segment with Leah Clark (Saki) + Michael Sinderniklas (Osagi), then J. Michael Tatum (Hirisawa) and Lydia Mackey (Sis), then Stephanie Sheh (Micchan), then Newton Pillman (Panties) and John Burgmeir (Kasuga), and lastly Stephanie Young (Juiz). The segments are pretty much the same but with different answers – how different EOTE is to other anime, their thoughts on their characters, favourite moments and the fun question – what would they have done if they had been selected as a Selecao with 1 billion yen to spend to change the world? That one is definitely fun to see your favourite Vas have a good think…

If one huge movie commentary isn’t enough, the Japanese do one better. An extra called Visual Commentary on the Eden System is basically Kamiyama in 2010 when the movie was released set up with those who went to see it in Shinjuku Theatre with a set up on their phones, where they could actually ask questions to them via phone ON THE MOVIE a la Eden with their smart phones, whilst the director states facts and answers questions whilst the movie is playing – so they aren’t speaking, but almost like vid-notes appears during the movie of fans asking questions and Kamiyama and commentator answering – things like the concept ideas, the difference to the series, favourite interesting facts, who the characters are modeled after, etc.

After that, Kamiyama does a short interview after the movie about EOTE and its completion with some behind the scenes work as a finale of sorts.

We finally get a Movie 2 preview, TV Spot, trailers for all three sets, and some more trailers of other shows, Spice + Wolf, Noir, Peacemaker, Rideback (again), Black Blood Brothers, Dragonball Z, and funnily enough Funimation.com.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’ve reviewed Eden Of The East before and coming back to it after a while makes you wonder if the series and movies have changed in terms of what I think about it (considering it was one of my favourite short series) – fortunately this isn’t the case and combined with the special edition with extras this release is a true treat for fans. You get the series and both movies so there is a lot to go through but in essence is the ultimate pack as newcomers get the entire story in one shot which is only a good thing in this case.

The first episode is very infamous, not just with the western release only getting the Oasis song for that episode, but just how it comes about. We are introduced to one of our two main characters, the lovely Saki, a university student on a trip with friends to Washington D.C, but has decided to finish the trip on her own taking a trip to the White House. She decides to throw a coin over the fence of the White House but police spot her and her unknowing the ramifications is in trouble…until a naked Japanese man appears to distract the police as he is brandishing a gun.

Yeah, weird start…

The man in question appears to have amnesia, but with some help manages to find his place and after acquiring clothes and befriending Saki, the other item on his person is a mysterious cell phone who has a mysterious voice over it – named Juiz – who claims to be his concierge and able to do pretty much anything he wishes – it turns out he has been brainwashed and he is part of something quite big as he gets told he had 10 billion yen to spend to try and be a saviour of the world. He currently has 8.2 billion yen and may have been involved in something rather big back in Japan hence his brainwashing. With this, he takes on the identity of Akira Takizawa to go back to Japan with Saki, as news of a missile attack on Tokyo is announced…

The money in the game is also being used by 11 other people, known as Selecao, who are also given the task of spending the money wisely as a saviour – however, there are a few rules – if you spend it all, don’t spend it at all, or use it in a way that showcases you aren’t using it as a saviour over a period of time, someone named the Supporter will kill you. And it looks like there are logs that can track down on the phone what the other Selecao are up to. When Takizawa returns to Japan, that causes a buzz with other Selecao as he heads to his apartment…or rather giant mall he appears to have purchased – some like the first one he meets Kondo, seems to be in trouble and just wants the phone to get his remaining money. Unfortunately for him, the phones are specific to the Selecao in question so he can’t use it, and worse, he accidentally told his wife about the money when he was intending to send it to his mistress, and that resulted in a knife to the gut. Other Selecao members however are a bit more interesting – we get the doctor who created a hospital for the elderly, and helps Takizawa understand the game before apparently been taken out by the Supporter, and the infamous Johnny Hunter, a.k.a. Kuroha, a beautiful women who uses her abilities to hunt out rapists and have them meet an end with a cigarette cutter (this one gets tied in as they think Osugi, one of Saki’s friends who has a huge crush on her, gets depressed when he sees her and Takizawa together, and see his bag in a hotel room…)

In between the Selecao though, we also have Saki and her friends – a group later known as Eden Of The East – a website and system which allows people to enhance and scan objects, which later was abused as a matchmaking service to the point that Takizawa actually intends to help them use it as an ultimate ideal for a NEETs paradise – when Saki is humiliated at a job interview, she pretty much joins them full time whilst Osugi, the guy who has a crush on her, combines that with the fact Takizawa seems to have been involved with the mysterious NEET disappearance during an infamous missile attack called ‘Careless Monday’ and this combined with Takizawa losing his memories (he gets confronted by one of the NEETs in a comic sequence but it does begin to trigger the pieces together). It leads to Takizawa finding one of Eden’s friends, the mysterious Itazu, better known as Panties due to losing his only pair of pants in the wind and becoming a NEET shut-in, but is one of the world’s best hackers, so looking to hack into the Selecao phone – he is quite reclusive, but thanks to a) having a soft spot for girls so Saki and Micchan join Takizawa and b) Takizawa himself being interesting enough for him to get into his den, and soon truths come about. Unfortunately, some of the other Selecao who are a bit more devious see what Takizawa is up to on his log, and begin to make their move…

Eden Of The EastThe two other Selecao eventually meet up with Takizawa to talk about the game, their plans and themselves whilst Eden get a lot of help from Itazu (despite some sabotage from the Selecao above named Mononobe and Yuuki), we learn about the missiles, the missing NEETs, the mysterious Mr. Outside who created the game, and then the return of said NEETs as Takizawa discovers his past, leading to Takizawa taking a drastic move in using the money he has remaining in his account to become ‘King Of Japan’. This sets up another brainwashing but not before he slips the phone into Saki’s pocket…

This sets up the 1st movie, ‘The King Of Eden’ with Saki now searching for Takizawa in New York after 6 months of no contact, bar a message to meet him at ‘that special place’. In the meantime his image has been used as a hero for the NEETS known as the “Air King”. Thanks to Eden (and a recovered Itazu now with pants ^^) they are able to keep with the Selecao logs, whilst Juiz’s plan slowly unravels on Takizawa’s request (seemingly manipulating that Takizawa may be an illegitimate child of the now deceased prime minister). Akira is now on the list of people wanting to find him, but Akira again his memory is gone, but the connection with him and Saki is still there as Saki reveals the photo of the two of them together. A new Selecao Jikimoto seems to intend to try and kill Akira, but his attempts are foiled as Kuroha is keeping an eye on them, whilst Mononobe tries to screw over Eden as well as trying to kill Akira. The end of the film though is a true moment of awesome for Kuroha, as she sacrifices her Juiz to make sure Akira can try and finish the game (we learn earlier in the movie that those who are out of the game may not have necessarily been killed…)

The second movie, ‘Paradise Lost’ where everything unravels. Akira meets with the wife of the prime minister Chigusa for a DNA test, whilst Akira decides to see if he can track down his mother as more of his past is slowly revealed via Eden. He escapes being trapped and warned Eden of the Juiz trucks which Mononobe tried to destroy (Kuroha sacrificing herself to avoid Akira’s been blown up) whilst Saki and Osugi track down Akira’s mother who despite several denials they do figure out was her and had been seen with the then Prime Minister AND was pregnant…

The big thing is discovering who Mr Outside is – also known as Selecao 12, or Saizo Ato, who created the game. Via Eden, the logs and some good detective work, Hirasawa finds Ato and he explains his motives, and why Akira was a different kettle of fish to the other Selecao with his work, whilst Akira and Mononobe clash, with Mononobe wanting Akira out of the game and whilst Akira believes he isn’t suited as ‘king’ he doesn’t go with Mononobe’s actions, so spends the last money of his to forcibly download the Airship system Eden was used (Panties found out they were been hacked by Mononobe, so used this software so they could talk without being bugged) and then show a live message to everyone in Japan, pretending to be a terrorist and giving everyone 1 yen to start thinking about the future of Japan and how to change it.

Eden of the East Paradise LostThis ends the game with some final moments (and vengeance) with the now former Selecao, a fun epilogue (with a bit of romance) as Akira finds Ato and begins what maybe the start of something big…

This is a series and two movies yet doesn’t feel too long (still shorter than a 26 episode series obviously) and the story is at a great pace – Takizawa is an intriguing but likeable character, he trusts the instinct with everyone and whilst maybe too trusting and initially gullible, he is quite the smart character and his relationship with Saki combined with his own judgement and ideals (done perfectly in the flashback sequence with Ato) allows the story to flow naturally along. The idea of someone who seems to be a terrorist and being tarnished with it but for a much different reason, combined with his own self-sacrifice means you are rooting for him throughout in how he going to do it…

The slow bring up of Eden Of The East and how it helps Takizawa throughout is also well done. Saki is part of it of course, but each of the group has their own concerns, quirks and things they need to deal with. Osugi obviously has a huge crush on Saki but when Takizawa enters the fray, he does get jealous trying to find out who he really is, but at the same time it is hard to not feel sorry for the guy, and he does get his moments both at the end of the series and in the 2nd movie. The other cast all their moments, especially when Panties gets involved – it’s also not one of those series that has a pure antagonist – Mr Outside is the mysterious benefactor who apparently will kill you if you don’t follow his rules, but as the movies prove that maybe not the case, Mononobe and some of the other Selecao seem to wish to win the game via any means necessary and do team ups to deal with Takizawa – Mononobe is probably the closest thing to a true antagonist but even he usually deals with Takizawa with talking most of the time, though he can get trigger happy…

It is also interesting how the other Selecao see how to help cure the world – the most interesting one for me is Kuroha who gets an expanded role in the 1st movie as well as her Johnny Hunter episodes – Takizawa is one of the few men she respects when he goes to try and save who he believes is Osugi using his phone and all his efforts despite never meeting the guy – Kuroha is impressed by him and basically whilst her mentality seems to be one track, obviously her back-ground and her own redemption (resulting in a moment of awesome in the 1st movie) makes her quite a stand out character despite not being it that much.

Eden of the East Movie 1 HeaderThe 2nd movie also brings out Takizawa’s mother into play, something which has been alluded to as a background plot throughout the series and even the 1st movie – it adds a little twist to Takizawa’s ‘going to be king of Japan’ plot and just how Takizawa goes with the flow. The finale is a nice little touch to a little promise he had in planned for Mr Outside, as well as how well despite the short time they technically known each other the Saki/Takizawa relationship came about.

The series holds out incredibly well and with the two movies in the package as well, you get the entire story in one huge arc making it one of the most worthwhile packages around at the moment. It hits the interest, the character development, the story, the conclusion, everything hits on the head perfectly and still remains one of my favourite series of all time.

In Summary:
Eden Of The East isn’t the oldest series out there but it can be defined as a ‘classic’. Good storytelling through with the Careless Monday situation, combined with a likeable yet flawed lead character in Takizawa, a group of characters he befriends who help him with Saki and co, complicated potential villains who have more to them than they appear, the interesting mix of animation styles but research done (especially with the American scenes and movie references), the effort here is phenomenal and I still love this series with all my heart. Highly recommended.

Features:
Interview with Director Kamiya & Original character Designer Umino, Interview with Kimura (voice of Takizawa) and Hayami (voice of Saki), Interview with Directors Kamiya and Oshii, Interview with Art Director Takeda, Interview with Composer Kawai, TV Spot and Promotional Video, Textless Closing title sequence

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Anime Ltd
Release Date: February 20th, 2017
MSRP: £44.99
Running Time: 275 minutes (series) 88 minutes (movie 1) 95 minutes (movie 2)
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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