“If someone gave you 10 billion yen and told you to improve this country, how would you use it?”
The second and final movie concludes the series of events that started in the TV series as the game the characters are participating in finally ends. I have to say I’m not entirely sure what to think of this series now that it is concluded. The movie focuses much more on political and societal problems related to Japan and I just don’t have the context to fully understand what’s going on. Someday I would like to revisit the series again with some greater background on the problems Japan has been facing for the past 20+ years.
So what happens in the movie? Akira finally gets his memories back from his childhood and learns about his American connection. Eden of the East is under investigation for the links to Akira who is portrayed as a terrorist in the media. And the game finally comes to a sudden end in a rather anti climatic fashion. Basically Akira broadcasts to every cellphone in the world a final message, he rallies the NEET’s to a new purpose and urges the older generation to give up some control and put more faith in the youth of Japan.
One thing that I have always liked about Eden of the East is their approach to technology. In the movie they use a fictional program called Airship which is a VOIP application for mobile devices that makes secure phone calls. It’s a lot like Skype on mobile devices which only just enabled VOIP calls over data connections. The augmented reality image searching stuff that was introduced in the TV series is still a cool idea and something that we could see very soon in reality.
It wasn’t a terrible conclusion to the series but it didn’t wow me either, however there is no reason you shouldn’t watch this movie if you have watched the TV series and the first movie.
The Eden of the East TV series was straight up a well produced sci-fi mystery by Production I.G. This first movie continues on the from the end of the unresolved series so it is a good idea to first watch the TV series and then the movies. While this is a movie targeted to viewers of the TV series it is extremely well produced where Production I.G continues their excellent record with crisp detailed animation and an interesting continuation of the plot of the TV series. If movies like Summer Wars disappointed you because of the unbelievable plot then you will find that Eden of the East deals with a technology driven plot in a much more realistic and well thought out way.
The plot can be summarised as a group of 12 people in Japan have been selected to take part in a game to save Japan with each access to 10 billion Yen and a concierge via phone who will execute requests. The events of the movie pick up months after the 60 missile strike on Tokyo where Takizawa has become a cult hero as he is potrayed as the one who saved Japan by averting any casualties. He then goes on to declare that he would become the King of Japan, wipes his memory a second time and leaves the country without trace except a message for Saki “I’ll be waiting at the place where our Journey began“. The state of Japan has changed with the PM resigned, Japanese financial markets tanked, and the global economy in downturn. The Japanese government have proposed to add a new 100% tax on inheritance to encourage the older generation to spend their savings or risk losing all of it when the die. By saving Japan from a deadly missile attack Takizawa hasn’t saved Japan in the underlying sense and the game is still going on with the remaining Selecao plotting against each other to complete the goal. Eden of the East, now a proper startup company with an office as a result of their popularity, are trying to track down Takizawa and piece together the actions of the other members of the game.
The underlying theme of the show is so interesting in that it is a direct representation of the state of current Japanese society. It comments on the state of the Japanese economy and more importantly the problem of social outcasts in society. On the bright side there is some injection of hope with Eden of the East’s transformation into a proper company. As well as in the series Takizawa used the latent workforce of the Hikikomori to save the day. But the naiveté of some of the members of the game to try and save Japan is a shot at the narrow-minded nature of many of the Japanese population. The portrayal the younger Selecao (other than Takizawa) have been outright psychotic. For example in this movie we have a young filmmaker obsessed with shooting real life scenes by calling on the concierge to put Takizawa in fatal situations.
Like I said with my review of the TV series there needs to be more shows like Eden of the East that are mature in its presentation and don’t fall back on the Japanese animation cliches. Kenji Kamiyama knows how to craft a good sci-fi story and Production I.G is the best in the industry at what they do. Let’s hope the second final movie can wrap up the series in a satisfying way (already shown theatrically in Japan, waiting for the DVD release).
Eden of the East is the latest project by the team of Production I.G. and Kenji Kamiyama who most notably directed the critically acclaimed Ghost in the Shell T.V series. It is so far an 11 episode series with 2 movies planned, the first “The King of Eden” is due out in Japan on the 28th November 2009.
Set in current day Japan the show involves a game surrounding a select group of individuals, “Selecao”, who have been chosen to save Japan. The founder of this game believes Japan is in stagnation and needs a revolution and he has charged 11 individual with 10 billion yen and a phone that will execute any requests. The show revolves around Akira Takizawa who is one of the Selecao and Saki Morimi who is a member of a group called Eden of The East. If you want further information about the plot take a look at my previous episode summaries.
This is the kind of show that entirely appeals to my tastes, I love the mix of mystery and believable science fiction set in modern day Japan. The technology involved in this show is not as crazy as what we have seen in something like Ghost in the Shell but has more to do with the internet and applications surrounding it. Eden of the East is a group who have developed an image recognition software and utilise the public to effectively tag people and objects. It is accessible on mobile phones and puts into focus possibilities for real life application. This aspect is not a main focus but gives it some depth along with the mystery elements surrounding the premise of the show.
One of the main underlying themes is the societal problems in Japan surrounding the NEET’s. But this isn’t a show like Welcome the the NHK, it has some upbeat attitudes towards them and they are involved at various points in the series. Akira utilises the strengths of theses NEET’s as a collective to try and save Japan. Other Selecao have different ideas on how to save Japan such as missile attacks on the elderly and NEET’s. Some buckle under the pressure or the greed overtakes them with 10 billion yen to spend. The actions of the Selecao sum up the different views on the current state of the society in Japan.
Go out of your way and watch this show, there needs to be more like this.
Genre – Mystery, Science Fiction Length – 11 Episode series Year – 2009
This final episode wraps up many of the remaining mysteries and sets it up for the first movie, The King of Eden.
Akira used the NEETs as a collective workforce to evacuate people from targeted areas before the initial “careless Mondays” missile attacks. However the evacuated people were suspicious of them knowing where exactly the missiles were going to fall.
Akira deflected the blame of the attacks to himself in front of the NEETs who were then sent to Dubai to shield them from the public eye.
To prevent the upcoming missile attack Akira used this time the collective minds of NEETs to come up with solution.
Akira believing he can’t just make the public believe this latest attack attempt was the fault of terrorists makes himself King/Prince of Japan. “And just like that he became a prince, in a country with no kings”
It’s tough making a final episode for a TV series where you satisfyingly resolve enough of plot but keep it open for future development. I think Kamiyama has done as good of a job as he could with a 11 episode series (around 4 hours total), with such a short amount of time it is hard to develop characters and flesh out this alternate reality. A full series review will be up soon.
This episode has demystified much of the plot and is wrapping up the 11 episode season. We find out that the game that the Selacao are participating in has been set up by Ato Saizo (Mr Outside), the president of the ATO Company, who has been an major political and economic influence in post WW2 Japan. The reason as to why he set this up is believing the current state of Japan was not not going anywhere and needed a revolutionary change.
The three Selecao pictured above are planning to launch another missile attack this time with 60 tomahawk missiles. They aim to eliminate elderly and slackers (NEETS). And on cue the NEETS are back from Dubai and apparently without clothes. Good to see the unique censoring method back again as it was last seen in episode 1.
The only aspects left to tie up are what is going to happen with the missile attacks and who the hell the supporter is.
I though this episode in particular was well paced with the right balance of reveals and suspense throughout the episode.
Two new selecao are introduced. Mononobe a middle aged former bureaucrat and Yuuki a young man around Akira’s age.
Yuuki is reveal to be the one who “fiiled Japan with holes” with the careless monday missile attacks. However it is uncertain as to the circumstances. He is referred to as “the hero who is trying to prevent hundreds of thousands of millions of people from being wiped out by missiles“. Is there another missile strike planned in the future?
More information is revealed on Akira’s past as he gains access to past activity messages. Some of the messages are below in reverse chronological order.
Memory wipe program download from ATO Harima Neuroscience labs (900 yen)
Nippon Pacifico Sea Freight Full Container ship x2 Charter (16 million yen)
Shibata Industries Sea Container x500 (47 million yen)
If you are keeping up with this series as I am you would probably be wondering what can they possibly do in the final 3 episodes of the TV series. There have been great episodes in the past, especially the 1st and 7th, but there certainly have been average episodes. Being a 11 episode series you would expect each episode to be interesting but it is increasingly becoming cleat that this is a set up for the movie that will follow the series. There are 3 episodes left and a whole lot of Selecao have not yet been introduced.
Here is a summary of what happens in this episode –
Akira along with Saki and Micchon take a train to Kyoto to meet a talented secluded computer expert.
Akira needs this expert to gain access to Selecao number 11’s phone so that he can learn more about his history from the past messages.
There is more mystery about the 20,000 missing neets and controversy about Akira’s mysterious past. Akira is entered into Eden’s recognition system and comments start popping up identifying him under multiple names. We end the episode more uncertain about Akira’s character and intentions.