DVD Review: Eden of the East: The Complete Series

Created By Kenji Kamiyama
Starring Ryohei Kimura and Saori Hayami


A man awakens standing in the street outside the White House completely naked, without memory of who he is, holding only a handgun and a high-tech cell phone loaded with 8.2 billion yen in credit. His phone routes directly to a mysterious concierge who will instantly arrange any request his credit can facilitate – requests as simple as ordering a pizza or as complex as bribing governments and police to serve his need. After he saves young graduate Saki Morimi, the girl takes a shine to him and tags along to help unravel the mystery of who he is, where his phone came from and how it all ties in to the terrorist bombings that recently struck Japan.

Equal parts mystery, conspiracy thriller, romantic drama, comedy and commentary on the socio-economic state of modern-day Japan, if there’s one overriding thing to praise Eden of the East for, it’s how adept it is at blending genres cohesively and without cost to pace, entertainment or riveting mysteries. Steadily unveiling key pieces of its larger puzzle like a shifty dealer quickly slipping the latest fix into a junkie’s hands, Eden of the East is incredibly gripping and addictive stuff, and at 11 episodes is a show that absolutely breezes by without feeling light or insubstantial.
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The plot’s similarity to The Bourne Identity is so obvious that it’s one of the first things lead character Akira Takizawa himself points out (the show quickly cultivates a trend of cleverly nodding to numerous movies throughout), and there’s a distinct dash of Death Note’s murderous notebook in Eden of the East’s fantastic phone concept, but the show quickly charts its own path with speed and conviction as the mystery becomes clearer. But while said mystery is captivating and introduces cleverly-handled high concept ideas and plenty of thrilling moments per episode, it’s more surprising how riveting the more low-key elements of the story are, too.

While I could bemoan the fact that female lead Saki Morimi is a more developed and three-dimensional character than our main character (which, to be fair, is only natural considering he’s an amnesiac), it’s a testament to how much care is spent on character throughout the show that I was actually entirely invested in the romantic subplot in a genre/medium that all too often reduces female characters to soapy cartoons. The cocky, playful Takizawa certainly makes for a likeable lead, but it’s often Morimi who provides the heart of the show as she proves a sweet, sympathetic and surprisingly nuanced character – a far cry from the usual ‘big eyes and bigger boobs’ fanservice that anime is rife with.
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However, while the core mysteries are wrapped up with adequate resolution and the story serves well as a self-contained series, the myriad of minor unanswered questions left dangling throughout the show tend to nag a little when all’s said and done. Whether the two upcoming follow-up movies tie up those loose ends remains to be seen, though the “Complete Series” label feels like something of a misnomer without them. An extended subplot involving a wang-chopping serial killer dubbed the “Johnny Hunter” induces unintentional guffaws in a series that juggles tonal shifts so adeptly otherwise and tosses in a distractingly outlandish concierge-aided escape that feels ridiculous in comparison to the other relatively plausible phone uses.

The minor missteps and issues do little to detract from the pure enjoyment of the series though. As a pacey, captivating mystery, Eden of the East delivers completely, but it’s a great bonus that creator/writer/director Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) saw fit to add depth, character and an undercurrent of well-handled social commentary. The result is a gripping mystery thriller that stands head and shoulders above the majority of anime output from the past several years and an incredibly addictive experience.
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On the DVD:

Manga Entertainment’s UK DVD release includes the essential original Japanese audio track with optional English subtitles, along with an English dub.

The special features are few, but surprisingly substantial. ‘Director Kamiyama & Original Character Designer Umino Interview’ offers exactly that, offering a comprehensive chat with the two about the show’s origins, the art style and character design and how they found working together. Umino is strangely hidden behind a giant plush bear for the entire interview, but at 22 minutes, it’s a pretty lengthy and informative interview.

Following suit, ‘Kimura (Takizawa) & Hayami (Saki) Interview’ provides an 18 minute talk with Ryohei Kimura and Saori Hayami, touching on their characters, how they came to the project and what it was like working with Kamiyama and Umino. It’s the usual, obvious line of questioning, but the two are easygoing, enthusiastic and entertaining to listen to.

Lastly, a promotional video for the series and a TV spot are also thrown in.

The Series:

The Blu-ray:




Eden of the East: The Complete Series is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.
Click here to order the DVD from Amazon.co.uk.