Reviewby Michelle Yu, Aug 9th 2011
Eden of the East: The King of Eden + Air Communication
The intrigue goes international in The King of Eden, a feature-length conspiracy thriller that continues the action of Eden of the East. The deadly game that began in Japan now intensifies on the streets of New York City. The rules are the same: do whatever it takes to win. Die if you lose.
Takizawa prevented Japan's destruction- and then he vanished. Six months later, clues lead Saki to the Big Apple in search of her missing friend. Meanwhile, the remaining Selecao are plotting their final move. Some of them would prefer Takizawa dead and out of the way. Some might even be willing to help him achieve their goals. Unfortunately, some are prepared to destroy everything if it means claiming checkmate in Mr. Outside's puzzling game.
Imagine an offer you cannot refuse because if you do, it could cost you your life. This is the burden which has fallen upon twelve Japanese citizens known as the Selecao. Each has been bestowed with a seemingly magical mobile phone and ten billion dollars in digital money. The money can be used in any way in order to achieve the purpose of “saving Japan”. However it cannot be converted to cash and any excessive self-interested spending could see any of the chosen twelve stripped of their privilege as well as their lives. It is a deadly game where there can ultimately only be one winner- the saviour of Japan.
The King of Eden is basically the continuation of the Eden of the East series, so it is highly recommended that viewers watch the series prior to this feature. Luckily the two-disc release from Madman includes a “prequel movie” Air Communication, which is essentially a compilation of the series itself with interjecting commentary from the characters. Air Communication only came in the Japanese-with-subtitles language option which in my opinion was not a major problem since it was perfectly easy to understand. In addition, it seems that its purpose was supplementary to the primary feature, therefore the omission of an English dubbed version was not a particularly important detail. The same disc also included extras such as trailers, TV spots and previews for The King of Eden.
The King of Eden itself is centred on the female lead Saki and her search for the missing hero of the story- Akira Takizawa. While it is clear that there is chemistry between the two, the writers have done well to keep the romance between the two characters subtle and somewhat light-hearted. Even the love triangle formed by the two plus Saki's friend Osugi plays out as humour rather than drama. In addition it addresses some modern, real-world social issues such as the ageing population, terrorism, and the growing number of Generation Y (and beyond) who shirk adult responsibilities in favour of living off their parents and guardians. Conversely, the story does plod along at a lazy pace and issues that arise in the course of events are left unfinished for the most part. The DVD extras let slip that there is a follow-up feature where we can assume that strings will not be left untied. However in some ways, this makes The King of Eden feel like one long “filler” episode.
In terms of major complaints, that is where it ends. Both the Eden of the East series as well as The King of Eden feature fabulous soundtracks by musical heavyweight Kenji Kawai. I have personally yet to find a Kawai piece which I do not like, as his songs do not merely stay in the background, but often tend to tell a story of their own. I was also pleasantly surprised by the opening song “invisible” performed by LEAH which has English lyrics and a nice guitar riff that blurs the line between J-pop and rock for a few seconds.
The artistic style throughout the Eden of the East series and corresponding features are reminiscent of works by Studio Ghibli as well as series such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The latter is no wonder, as both Stand Alone Complex and The King of Eden share the same director- Kenji Kamiyama. The clean style and character designs coupled with fairly accurate depictions of the real world are a winning combination. Add incredible animation to this and mix and it results in a formidable player in the arguably saturated anime market. Although ANN.au received the DVD version of this release, art and animation of such a standard is likely to be best viewed on the Blu-Ray version.
Despite the languid pace of the story, it is actually difficult to find any other negatives. The Eden of the East franchise has great universal appeal, particularly for patient viewers and does not make the mistake of trying too hard to cater to the perceived expectations of viewers.
© EDEN OF THE EAST Licensed by FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Story : B+
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Engaging story with beautiful animation and a great soundtrack.
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