It’s time to debut another new column at G.A.M.E.S.! Here in Final Cut, we will review full seasons, discs or box sets of anime series. Feel free to stop by the comments and tell us what you thought of these series as well.
Higashi no Eden is a new anime that started airing in Japan in April 2009. It is an original series from Production I.G. and is not related to the manga that shares its name. It has been licensed by FUNimation Entertainment for distribution in North America. Funimation has suggested a 2010 release for the series, but no firm dates have been announced.
The story starts 3 months after “Careless Monday,” an odd name for the event where Japan is hit by 10 missile strikes. Miraculously, no one is hurt, but no one really knows what caused the event in the first place, either. Eventually, everyone goes back to living their normal lives as best as possible, including Morimi Saki, an average girl on her graduation trip to the United States. She is visiting the area around the White House and decides to try to toss a penny into the fountain from the street when she gets spotted by security who begin questioning her for throwing things at the White House. Suddenly, a naked Japanese man with a gun appears across the street, distracting the police and keeping her from being arrested. Eventually, both she and Takizawa Akira, the naked man, escape the police and she lends him her coat and hat so that he won’t be completely nude anymore. However, later, she realizes she left her passport in her coat and has to track him down. Eventually, he helps her get a new flight to Japan, and they return together, but while in the airport, they see that Japan has suffered yet another missile strike.
What follows is another 10 episodes of intriguing and mysterious storyline. Akira has lost his memory, but has a phone with access to 8 billion yen and a contact named Juiz that has the power to make just about anything happen for him, and he’s out to find out why. Meanwhile, Saki is just trying to find a good job and get on with her life, but she keeps being pulled into Akira’s mysterious world. There are plenty of questions to be answered during Akira’s quest to find out who he really is. What did Akira do before he lost his memory? Where did his phone and the money come from? Does Saki trust him or is it just an infatuation? The beauty of this series is that the story isn’t spoonfed to the audience. You have to do some thinking to keep everything connected, and just when you think you have all of the information, another piece is revealed that might cause you to readjust your assumptions of what’s going on. The show splits its time dealing with people from the seedy underbelly of Tokyo and the average everyday life of a girl like Saki, but finds time to break the seriousness with some humor once in a while. Much of this comes from Akira himself. Akira will often hide his understanding behind wit and banter. The series does a good job of developing the main characters, but many of the supporting characters are barely touched. It’s hard to develop much of an opinion at all about most of them, which is unfortunate that there are so many seemingly throw-away characters in a show that is otherwise well done.
I really enjoyed the use of background music and sound during the show for the most part. The fact that there are scenes where there are no background noises at all make the timing and use of sound in other scenes all the more salient. I also really enjoyed both the opening and ending theme. The opening theme is “Falling Down” by Oasis off their album Dig Out Your Soul released in 2008. Hopefully, the song will be used when the title is brought to to United States, but to my knowledge, it has not been worked out yet. The opening is filled with pictures of Tokyo, both the standing city, and the areas destroyed during Careless Monday, intermixed with phrases that remind me of psalms. Then ending theme “Futuristic Imagination” was done by a group called School Food Punishment. It was the first time I’ve heard of them, but I really enjoyed it, and it was coupled with a fantastic animation for the ending credits.
This is a definite watch, and was probably the favorite of the season among my friends. I can see why the series won a prestigious Kobe award for best animated television series this year. The series ends in a cliffhanger that the movies will hopefully resolve. I can’t wait to see how they handle two movies, I expect the production values to be just as good if not higher. Higashi no Eden definitely makes the final cut.
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