Here is an anime whose plot is like a ripoff out of a Robert Ludlum novel: On November 22, 2010 ten missiles strike Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be called “Careless Monday,” does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Fast forward three months later, a guy wakes up in Washington D.C. with no memory. He is stark naked, he has a gun in his right hand and a phone on his left – a mobile phone charged with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash. Who is he, really?
Jason Bourne has an anime lovechild.
This is not your typical anime series.
Higashi no Eden opens with Saki Morimi on a graduation trip in the United States. She takes a detour and heads to Washington DC where she makes it a personal mission to throw a coin to the White House fountain. Problem is, the fountain is several feet away from her, there is a huge iron gate in between her and the fountain, and it is the White House. But she endearingly tries so we forgive the absurdity. This sentiment is however, lost on the two burly policemen who has spotted her. They approach her and in the midst of her panic she is saved by a nudist with a gun and a cool cellphone.
Grateful for having saved her, Saki lends the man
whose only cover is a distracting white squiggly moving lines her coat, he accepts it and leaves. It would have been her last meeting with him, but as belated realizations would have it, her wallet and passport are in her coat. Saki ends up chasing him who has, because of his cellphone, now found his apartment.
It is a charming opening scene. But when we later see the numerous passports the man has in his apartment, the number of weapons he has, his highly specialized cellphone that is connected to a computer who calls herself ‘Juiz’ (Portuguese word for ‘Judge’), his suspicious looking documents, how easily he blew an entire room by using a toaster, and how he can effortlessly dodge the police, the show is quick to remind us that this is a mystery thriller. And so when Saki finally catches up with him and asks him his name, he takes one of the names in his passports and says ‘Akira Takizawa’. And we wonder, who is Akira Takizawa?
Higashi no Eden boasts, among others, the best opening episode I have ever seen in an anime series. NihonReview said it best when they wrote: “When it’s done right, the mystery genre can produce some of the most absorbing and unique stories in anime. Eden of the East is a fine example of the mystery genre done right, and it’s utterly captivating from its first few minutes. ” Indeed, it proves to be a remarkable original, never once diminishing its quiet charm and charisma, its sweet innocence and subtle humor as the story progresses. We smile at the not-quite-friendship friendship between Akira and Saki, and we smile over the other supporting characters as well: Saki’s friends and family, Akira’s allies and even his enemies.
Production I.G., the studio that brought us anime series such as Ghost in the Shell, Blood+, and FLCL, has never failed to give us quality-driven shows. It continues to do so now. Feature it with Chika Umino’s (Honey and Clover) character designs and you’ve got an unlikely match made in heaven. Generally, the mystery thriller genre can never be perfectly mixed with the words ‘charisma’ and ‘sweet innocence’ but in Higashi no Eden it takes an exception and mixes them in a way that no one has successfully done before. Its character designs reminds us that these are well-meaning characters with a heart and Production I.G. was finally able to do what it had tried to do before: give us characters with such humanism it is impossible to not like or soften up to them. Its visuals is, in one word, disarming.
Higashi no Eden is one of the best anime series I’ve seen. As the story progresses, it strives to be more than just a mystery thriller that could be straight from a Ludlum novel. As it mirrors the daily realities of current events of our world we see that it struggles for political and social significance. It is one of the very few anime out there laden with movie references and parodies, most notable of which is when Akira imitates Taxi Driver‘s infamous line “You talkin’ to me?” and at one point, he even has a poster with the phrase “The World is Yours” (Scarface) printed on it. It is a smart anime.
… Aaannd its opening song is “Falling Down” by the Oasis. (I don’t know about you but that garners plus points for me.)
Later, we are introduced to the very core of the series’ plot: the 12 Selecao (Portuguese for ‘Selected’) (Akira is the 9th). Who are they? What is their connection with these missile attacks? Are they terrorists? If not, then why do they each have 10 billion yen in digital cash? Who is Juiz? Who is Mr. Outsider?
What is going on?
– A good question that sprouts more questions. It takes eleven episodes and two movies to answer each of them. But as NihonReview puts it: “My only major complaint can almost be seen as a good thing: with the hanging ending, comes confirmation that there’s still more to come.”
.: I believe I once quickly ranted about Higashi no Eden and promised to do a review. well self, here it is.