The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Eden of the East the Movie I: The King of Eden

Title: Eden of the East the Movie I: The King of Eden aka Higashi no Eden: Gekijouban I The King of Eden
Genre: Drama/Romance
Company: Production I.G.
Format: Movie; 82 minutes.
Dates: 28 Nov 2009

Synopsis: Takizawa Akira is a hero, having saved Japan from a missile attack. However, after being questioned by police, he has disappeared into thin air, the only clue to his whereabouts being a cryptic message left to Morimi Saki. Even though the missile attack failed, Japan’s economy has tanked and its reputation on the world stage is in tatters. However, things have improved for Eden of the East, the website founded by Saki’s friends, which has boomed in popularity thanks to its role in bringing the events of the missile attack to public.

The Highlights
Aesthetics: Live up to the expectations of a Production I.G. feature film.
Atmosphere: Lacks urgency; only about three climactic moments.
Mystery: Few answers; numerous new questions set up for the sequel.
Characters: Takizawa isn’t as intriguing in this outing; a missed opportunity to develop Hirasawa.

The King of Eden is the first of two movie sequels from Kamiyami Kenji’s excellent anime series from last year, Eden of the East. The second film has already screened in Japan, but I’ve yet to see it, and given the way this outing is structured, it inevitably colours any judgement I make about this film. My attitude is that sequels should be judged with respect to what’s come before, but ignoring what might come afterwards, since that generally amounts to speculation. The problem in this case is that The King of Eden exists entirely in servitude to the following Paradise Lost. No matter how you paint it, The King of Eden is a set-up episode, and I can’t reconcile my expectation that stories have a beginning, middle and end with a film that only has a beginning and a middle.

What’s an anime movie without impressive aesthetics? Hell, what’s a Production I.G. work without the same thing? The King of Eden is every bit as polished as you’d expect, a worthy upgrade of an already sparkling TV series. The vibrant palette and Umino Chika’s identifiable character designs are carried over from the series, and the backgrounds and scenery, particular the city of New York, are rendered superbly well. Movies carry higher expectations as far as animation is concerned, but Eden of the East’s first film doesn’t disappoint.

What does disappoint is the noticeable lack of urgency in this outing. Eden of the East is ultimately a mystery thriller, but The King of Eden only has about three climactic moments in total. It seems to be much more concerned with exposition and world building, but it simply isn’t as intriguing as it could have been. Takizawa isn’t as enigmatic a character in this outing because there are far fewer unresolved questions about his past. We watch him essentially knowing more about him than he does, and while he still continues to surprise on a few occasions, it just isn’t as rousing as his exploits during the TV series. The bad guys, especially the mysterious Mononobe, or No. 01, move mostly in the shadows, so their schemes remain frustratingly shrouded.

The political intrigue doesn’t feel fully fleshed out, almost as if it’s been set up to be little more than a plot device. However, the place where The King of Eden missed an opportunity was in fleshing out the character who I think this movie should have been about: Hirasawa. When you think about it, the title character of The King of Eden in the context of Takizawa’s amnesia isn’t Takizawa, it’s Hirasawa, president of the now influential Eden of the East internet corporation. The contradiction of the rise of his company with his ideals as anti-establishment and anti-corporatist are only just touched on and treated as an occasional inconvenience, rather than the interesting dilemma it could have been. The failure to deeply explore a character who’s working with a blatant paradox struck me as a major missed opportunity.

The King of Eden does feature a decent number of very intriguing revelations surrounding the motivation of Hirasawa’s company, the backstory of Takizawa and the plans of Mononobe and the other Seleceao. The plot has moved forward with a couple of major plot twists… I just think it could have moved with a quicker pace. In all honesty, the success of The King of Eden largely depends on how well things have been set up for Paradise Lost. Intriguing questions remain, which will inevitably fuel the suspense of the follow-up movie, but judging this movie as a stand-alone sequel, it just isn’t enthralling enough in its own right.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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