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by Richard Eisenbeis,

Phoenix: Eden17


Phoenix: Eden17
After escaping Earth, young couple Romi and George arrive on the planet Eden 17. Yet, despite the planet's name, it is anything but a paradise. With the land suffering from severe drought and seismic instability, the couple struggles to create a new life for themselves and their child.

Phoenix: Eden17 is an adaptation of the sixth volume of the manga Phoenix, the seminal work of Osamu Tezuka—the man known colloquially as "The God of Manga" for his lasting influence on the medium that persists even today. Phoenix is an exploration of the nature of humanity through a collection of stories alternating between humanity's past and future—with each iteration slowly creeping closer to the present day. Despite Osamu working on it off and on for nearly 40 years before his death, it remains, tragically, unfinished.

Phoenix: Eden17 is based on one of the future stories in the collection, "Nostalgia,"—though that is in no way to imply that it is a one-to-one adaptation of that work. While the majority of the main characters are the same and many of the key events still happen in some form or fashion, much of what happens and why is entirely different from the original.

Moreover, the entire four-episode mini-series doesn't particularly look or feel like an Osamu work. Aside from little touches like Romi and Com's faces, the visual style is wholly unlike Osamu's. However, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The anime's more realistic art style is highly detailed and wonderfully animated. This, in turn, serves to ground the story in our reality by doing away with the more "cartoony" elements of Osamu's style.

As for the feel of the work, it is much less overt in its storytelling—with the central theme more subtly explored than blatantly stated. However, make no mistake, that theme is the heart of the work and is 100% Osamu's.

On the most basic level, Phoenix: Eden17 is about one thing: greed. The want for more is the driving force behind all of the pain and suffering in Romi's long life. The greed of others drives her from Earth, and her greed causes herself, her child, and the eventual civilization that forms in Eden 17 to suffer. Every human character in the story is unable to be happy with what they have—striving for their own selfish wants no matter the pain it causes to themselves or those around them.

On the other side of the story, we have the non-human characters—most notably the Moopy and Com. The Moopy sacrifices 1300 years of her life for Romi and her child—doing all it can to make their dreams come true. Meanwhile, Com wants nothing more than to grant Romi's dying wish—to take her to Earth, the home she was forced to flee so many years before.

But more than just being a figure of selflessness, Com takes the role of the innocent in the story—constantly questioning the "why" of humanity's darker nature. He cannot understand why anyone would want to exploit anyone else, making him a prime target for his own exploitation.

When it comes down to it, Phoenix: Eden17 is not a happy story. Instead, it's a parable about one of the darker parts of human nature and all the pain it causes to us and those around us. By giving into it, we risk losing everything—up to and including the very planet we live on. In the end, while Phoenix: Eden17 is often different from the story Osamu originally wrote, at its heart is the message—and the appeal for us to be better than we are—remains the same.

Overall (sub) : B+
Story : A-
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : C+

+ An exploration of greed and human nature birthed from the mind of the legendary Osamu Tezuka.
Possibly polarizing to fans of the original manga due to massive changes in style, tone, and story.

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Production Info:
Director: Shōjirō Nishimi
Saku Konohana
Katsunari Mano
Unit Director: Akiko Saito
Music: Takatsugu Muramatsu
Original creator: Osamu Tezuka
Character Design: Tatsuzou Nishida
Art Director: Shinji Kimura
Chief Animation Director: Tatsuzou Nishida
Animation Director:
Shougo Furuya
Ayako Hata
Yoshihiro Kasahara
Sanae Shimada
Mecha design: Masahiko Kubo
Sound Director: Koji Kasamatsu
Cgi Director: Akiko Saito
Producer: Eiko Tanaka

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Phoenix: Eden17 (ONA)

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