Title: Eden of the East the Movie II: Paradise Lost aka Higashi no Eden Gekijouban II: Paradise Lost
Company: Production I.G.
Format: Movie; 93 minutes.
Dates: 13 Mar 2010
Synopsis: Not long after Morimi Saki finds the amnesiac Takizawa Akira and brings him back to Japan, they are thrust headlong once again into the intrigue of the Selecao game. As Saki and the Eden of the East group get increasingly involved in the dangerous circumstances, it is up to them and Takizawa, having recovered his memories, to unweave the secrets behind the Selecao system and its patron, the mysterious Mr. Outside, once and for all.
Animation: Remains exceptional Production I.G. quality.
Plot: Becomes increasingly hard to suspend disbelief for towards the end.
Revelations: Disappointingly anticlimatic in the Wizard of Oz sense, and explains little of interest.
Themes: Overly idealistic; hard to take completely seriously.
Characters: Saki still does nothing of much account, Akira is still mysterious, and their relationship still goes nowhere.
Ending: So….what was the point of this whole journey?
As the second of two movies following from the hit TV series Eden of the East, it goes without saying that the probable target audience of this title would solely be those who have followed it, and the movie sequel that came before this one, The King of Eden. This of course affects how one should judge the title; specifically, as a conclusion to the great mystery fans of the franchise have been following for the better part of a year. Sadly, even by that adjusted expectation, Paradise Lost still comes up disappointingly short.
The roots of this have been planted from since The King of Eden, but Paradise Lost takes the plot of the Eden franchise into an altogether unlikely direction. Without wandering into spoiler territory (which is going to be tough for me throughout this review), whoever wrote up the script for this plotline clearly has a warped concept of how the Japanese government system works, even given its oligarchic tendencies in real life. The result is a series of plot progressions which make less sense as it goes along, and when even Takizawa, the centre around which the whole shebang orbits, has trouble explaining just what’s going on around himself, you know someone in the scripting department has tangled themselves in more knots and loopholes than the Holy Bible.
Part of the appeal of the Eden franchise was the mystery behind the entire Selecao system; specifically, the real identity of its proprietor Mr. Outside, and the true nature of the Juiz supercomputers, the seemingly vast capabilities of which underpins the entire game of intrigue. This aspect of the entire story was where the “wow factor” was expected to appear; sadly, the unveiling of this particular mystery simply comes across as an anticlimax instead. In fact, the uncloaking of Mr. Outside could be compared to that of the Wizard of Oz, a disappointingly ordinary figure hiding behind a bunch of smoke and mirrors….except the “smoke and mirrors” in this case, Juiz, remains unexplained. At the end, there is still nothing known about how Juiz could operate the way it does, and it remains a literal deus/diabolus ex machina in the hands of the Selecao.
So much for that. How about the themes? Indeed, the socio-techno-political critique that has been present as a running theme through the Eden story returns, and comes to a head in the confrontation between Takizawa and his biggest rival Mononobe. Unfortunately, Takizawa himself seems to get infected by the unrealistic optimism of the entire course of the movie, and shows his hand through what can only be described as a variation of President Barack Obama‘s “Yes We Can”… and we all know how that worked out in real life. Thoroughly anvilicious and overly optimistic, this thematic conclusion might appeal to those as yet unjaded, but it is hard for anyone else to take this essentially shounen ending seriously.
Finally, the character interactions, while fairly strong in the TV series, also fail to make much headway even at the end. The most glaring example of this is the relationship between Takizawa and Saki; they barely get any opportunity to play off each other, and when the former sends the latter off on a side plot which later turns out to be of no big consequence, one can’t help the feeling Takizawa himself did so to keep the bewildered little girl out of harm’s way while the big boys played their deadly game. The rest of the Selecao also become barely-noticed sideshows in the big showdown between I and IX, and it is the Eden group who play the important supporting roles, pulling more than their weight in moving the story along. Romance? What romance ends with barely any hint of progress having been made, and which still goes nowhere in the end?
In the end, Paradise Lost concludes on an ending as open as the one which concluded the TV series, with about as much of an unsatisfying lack of resolution as the latter. Despite the platitudes of an improving society as a result of events, despite the feelings of hope which keep getting pushed into the audience’s faces at the end, one cannot help but feel that The King of Eden and Paradise Lost have become to Eden of the East, what Reloaded and Revolutions are to that otherwise excellent cult hit The Matrix; offerings that promise satisfying conclusions, but end up delivering millstones to the franchise’s reputation.
The Rating: 5
Reviewed by: Ascaloth