Eden of the East – 01
Morimi Saki is a girl on her college graduation trip to New York City, but she’s made a detour to Washington D.C. to go see the White House. It’s not quite what she expected, but since she’s there, she decides to try to throw some money into the White House fountain. Her throw falls short though, and it draws the attention of some nearby police officers. To Saki’s surprise, she’s saved by a naked guy holding a gun and a cell phone, and after getting the attention of the officers, he disappears when a truck passes by. The police chase after him, but in actuality, he had just hidden himself. Saki is taken aback by the fact that this guy is naked, but she’s grateful for him saving her, so she gives him her hat, scarf, and coat. The two then go their separate ways, but the guy is unsure of what to do because he doesn’t have any memories of who he is. His cell phone offers no clues other than allowing him to call a special number. On the other end of that number is a female voice who calls herself his concierge Juiz, and she reveals that his memory was erased, but she can’t tell him who he is now. She is able to point him to an apartment building though, so the guy heads there.
Inside, the guy finds a messy apartment with an armoire full of guns, ammunition, and multiple passports with his picture on them. There are also pictures of a ton of naked guys standing together and him waving in front of them. The guy wonders if he’s a terrorist, but his thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Saki at his door. She had forgotten that her own passport was in her coat jacket, and she managed to chase him all the way here. The guy goes to get her passport for her, and while he’s at it, he chooses to adopt the identity on one of the fake passports. He thus becomes Takizawa Akira, and he gathers his stuff because he’s planning on leaving with Saki. In the hallway outside the apartment, Saki is then approached by a female police officer who’s on the lookout for the two suspicious characters, and she’s got some surveillance photos from earlier. Since Akira is naked in the blurry picture, the officer asks to see his “Johnny,” so he pulls down his pants. This leads to her letting the two of them go, and Akira thinks that it’s because it was cold earlier.
Since Saki has a flight to catch to go back to Japan, Akira decides to go with her, and the two eventually make their way to the airport. Akira is surprised to see that his passport is valid, and he’s able to get a plane ticket with some help from the Japanese embassy. While making their way to the gate, Saki asks Akira what he was doing naked in front of the White House, so he jokes that he’s a terrorist. He goes on to claim that it was actually a game that international students here play, and he then asks about Saki coming to Washington D.C. Saki explains how she’s on her graduation trip and how she really wanted to see the White House due to how she thinks of it as the center of the world. She had wondered if everyone was connected to there, but she realized that this place has nothing to do with them in reality. After joking with each other, Saki finally formally introduces herself, so Akira shows her his passport. From it, Saki realizes that he was born January 7th, 1989, the day after her, and both of them were born right before the changeover to the Heisei period from the Shouwa period. Saki likes Akira more and more, thinking of him even as perhaps her prince, but the mood gets dampened when they see a news report on a nearby TV screen of a missile attack on Tokyo.
If there are any doubts about the production quality of this series, just watch the opening and ending sequences. The opening uses a combination of CG, kinetic typography, and traditional animation and comes off looking really, really cool. The ending meanwhile uses papermation (as opposed to ufotable‘s claymation) to depict what appears to be a missile attack, and it seems to imply that (plot-wise) Akira has the ability to destroy them. As for the actual songs, I admit that I’ve never listened any of OASIS’s music before (not knowingly anyway), and I was pleasantly surprised by FALLING DOWN. I was unsure if an English song by a popular band would fit here, but it does quite well. The ending song is quite catchy too – as good as I remember it from the promo video.
As for the episode, it was very impressive, exceeding even my high expectations. Eden of the East is a ton of fun to watch, has some great characters, and it even manages to be hilarious a few times (the whole penis shrinkage thing and Saki’s reactions). Even the English voice work was done by actual English voice actors, so there weren’t painful segments of Engrish to get through. This being Production I.G, the animation quality was superb as well, especially the background detail, and the characters had a familiar feel to them since they’re designed by mangaka Umino Chika. Akira in particular bears more than a passing resemblance to Honey and Clover‘s Morita Shinobu in both looks and manner, but that’s not a bad thing since he’s a great character (who just happens to be pants-less for most of this episode).
The story is also intriguing, though it’s harder to comment on that since this is only the first episode. They did a good job setting things up though. Akira appears to be originally part of some powerful organization whose motto is “the abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power” (from Shakespeare‘s Julius Caesar), and I’m sure part of the mystery will be figuring out who he is and what’s going on with the missile attacks. That mysterious man in the car near the beginning is also probably important (he refers to Akira as Number Nine), and there appears to be some overarching east vs. west theme going as well. In short, there’s a lot of promise here, and with only eleven total episodes, I doubt they’re going to waste much time. Even if that is what ends up happening, this first episode makes me want to watch more, and I’m going to keep blogging this as well.