Anime Expo 2010 Eden of the East Focus Panel
by Carlo Santos, Jul 3rd 2010
Eden of the East fans gathered at Anime Expo's film screening room on Friday for a premiere of the show's English dub, followed by a question-and-answer session with the creative minds behind the series.
Director Kenji Kamiyama, producer Tomohiko Ishii, and animation supervisor Satoru Nakamura each began with an opening comments on their excitement for the US release of Eden of the East. After these remarks, the panel was opened up to questions from the audience.
The first question was about the studio's decision to produce two movies as a follow-up to the series. Kamiyama explained that, although the original plan had been to produce a second TV season, it was ultimately decided that a pair of movies would fit better. And on the subject of continuations, Kamiyama also hinted that there may someday be a third Ghost in the Shell series—although that still remains pure speculation at this point.
Other audience members also asked about various aspects of the series' production, such as working with manga-ka Chika Umino (Honey and Clover) as the character designer. Despite Umino's trademark "cute" style contrasting with Eden of the East's serious themes, both Kamiyama and Nakamura felt that the designs worked well for the series. There was also mention of the series' numerous references to American movies from the 70's, which Kamiyama had added as an homage to the creative influences of his youth.
The most in-depth part of the discussion came when Kamiyama spoke about his motivation for creating the series. It seemed, in a way, that various members of the audience were asking the same question with different wordings—or perhaps it was simply that the answers to each question all pointed back to a central guiding principle. And the principle is this: that Kamiyama sensed a lack of motivation in today's Japanese youth.
Kamiyama went so far as to say that today's generation seemed "lost," that they lacked serious aims and goals. Because of this, he created Eden of the East to help Japanese youth think about what they could do to make the country better. Even a fantastical, mysterious character like "Mr. Outside"—the apparent antagonist of the series—was a symbol of how young people, especially NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training), needed an outside force to motivate them.
Kamiyama also pointed to technological advancement as a possible contributor to the troubled state of Japanese youth, where the age of digital and wireless communication had created new sources of stress for this generation. However, the director has also seen signs of hope; he mentioned having received letters from NEETs who had seen Eden of the East and finally decided to apply for jobs or find new goals in life. It is in moments like these that he felt the message of the series coming through.
The remaining audience questions were on the lighter side: there was discussion of the protagonist's nudity in Episode 1, including why he was naked in the first place (watch all the DVDs and see the movies to find out, said Kamiyama) and how he managed to get himself some pants (apparently, there is a secret phrase that will do the trick). Kamiyama also mentioned the tight scheduling challenges of creating a TV series, and how the stop-motion ending sequence was created as a way to catch the viewer's eye during the TV broadcast.
It was clear from the level of discussion that there is still much to be written and said about Eden of the East. After having spent some time with the director and his team, hopefully US audiences can also gain a better understanding of the series.
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