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Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication(2009)
The story continues where it left off from the Eden of the East TV series, and brings Morimi Saki back to the USA in order to find Takizawa Akira. The other Selecao however are actively moving to take part in the game, and a few in particular are making dangerous moves in order to eliminate Takizawa or move towards their picture of a better Japan.
For more about Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication and the Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray release, see Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on April 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
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Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray Review
International operative without a memory? There's an app for that.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, April 19, 2011
Perhaps this sounds familiar: a naked man is discovered, one without a memory, and one who turns out to have a secret life as an operative in an international conglomerate. Jason Bourne? Not in this particular instance. Instead, Eden of the East: The King of Eden picks up the story of erstwhile hero Akira Takizawa six months after his mysterious disappearance at the end of the well received Japanese television series Eden of the East. Takizawa's friend and perhaps soon to be lover Saki Morimi has ventured to New York City to try to track down the enigmatic man who may or may not be the key to saving the world, or at least Japan. Anyone without some background on the Eden of the East project is going to be mightily confused by The King of Eden, and perhaps even those with an understanding of the general outlines of the plot of Eden of the East are going to be confused, as this is one of the most intentionally labyrinthine animes in recent memory, a cartwheeling panoply of subterfuge, conspiracy, political shenanigans and proto-spy surreptitiousness. The good news is this new Blu-ray contains the first film which was culled from the series itself, Air Communication, and if you haven't yet immersed yourself in the crazy tech-laden complexity of Eden of the East, you'll certainly want to begin with that enterprise before tackling The King of Eden. Animes have long defied expectation in terms of sticking to relatively staid animation tropes, but Eden of the East may set a new bar for attempting at least to give viewers a really complex (some would say overly convoluted) plotline that owes as much to Western thriller writers like Robert Ludlum as it does to any anime progenitors.
The basic idea behind Eden of the East, and something which The King of Eden joins midstream as it were, is that there is a group of twelve "players" nicknamed SelešŃo, who are involved in a virtual joust of sorts, with the goal being to save Japan after the country survives a devastating missile attack which nonetheless thankfully doesn't actually kill anyone. Each of the players has a cell phone which puts the iPhone to shame. It comes replete with its own "bank" which allows its user to buy items to help their individual quests, as well as the ability to contact Juiz, a "concierge" voice who helps grant individual player requests. As should probably come as no shock, Takizawa figures out he is in fact one of the SelešŃo, and that he himself had wiped his memory clean as part of something to do with the initial missile attack, which has been dubbed "Careless Monday" by the evidently way understated Japanese. "Eden of the East" actually refers to yet another phone app, this one developed by a bunch of Saki's technogeek friends, and one which comes to both her and Takizawa's aid as they attempt to elude both murderous other SelešŃo players, as well as try to figure out who and what Takizawa is.
There are frankly huge elements of logical inconsistency in both Air Communication as well as The King of Eden which would require too many spoilers to talk about in detail. Suffice it to say that at least one member of the SelešŃo is rather deeply involved with Careless Monday, which begs the question as to why (not to mention how) the SelešŃo are "saving" Japan. Questions linger throughout both films which hopefully will be answered with the third film, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost, which hasn't yet migrated to Blu-ray on this side of the pond. What remains, then, is some really intriguing content that never quite gels successfully, as characters seem strangely motivated, if in fact they're motivated at all. Both films on this Blu-ray also incorporate rather odd framing devices, at least in terms of voiceover narration, which also dilutes their immediacy and makes certain characters' survival a foregone conclusion.
Both Air Communication and The King of Eden benefit from two engaging lead characters, though Saki is voiced by such incredibly young sounding women (girls, actually, or at least it sounds like it) in both the Japanese and English soundtracks that it's hard to accept her for the new college graduate she's supposed to be. But writer-director Kenji Kamiyama keeps things brisk and off kilter for the vast majority of both of these films, so that the viewer is very much in Takizawa's shoes (or at least feet, before he actually gets into clothes) a lot of the time, a literal stranger in a strange land. What may nag at some viewers' more cynical suspicions is that a lot of the questions that are raised in the first two outings are never going to be answered definitively, though The King of Eden deserves kudos for providing several salient nuggets of information as it moves quickly along to a semi-cliffhanger ending.
Again with posting anything which may spoil newcomers' arrival to Eden's shores, it seems more than evident that Takizawa is not just a "basic" SelešŃo. The series and the reedited Air Communication film present the character as an unwitting hero who becomes a pop cultural phenomenon known as Air King, when he manages to defeat another horrible missile attack. Takizawa then uses his SelešŃo "membership" to request that he become King of Japan, which sets a whole series of malevolent dominoes cascading about both his and Saki's heads. But The King of Eden is hinting at least that this choice of Takizawa's may be preordained in a way, and it will be interesting to see if Kamiyama utilizes the well-worn technique that is so redolent of Dickens and other iconic novelists, where a character's actual identity magically folds into that character's ultimate goal or dream.
This is bright, colorful entertainment which may not always be perfectly comprehensible, but which is so fast and fun that few will probably complain about moments of not completely understanding what's going on. The series isn't always incredibly artful in ping ponging between dramatic and comedic elements, and Saki tends to carelessly leave important items in unfortunate locations a few too many times, but overall this is a really intriguing and unusual anime that manages to quite neatly avoid the anime standard form dystopian future society getting pummeled by alien creatures. The third film will ultimately tell the tale as to whether this was a well thought out arc which will have a satisfying conclusion, or instead is a sort of anime Alias, a fascinating premise undone by too many unanswered questions.
Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray, Video Quality
Eden of the East: The King of Eden arrives on Blu-ray with a sparkling bright AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. As with a lot of animes, character design is cute if not overly expressive, and at some key moments, it goes completely haywire, with eyes devolving into scribbles and mouths becoming something akin to an electrocardiogram graph. But both Takizawa and Saki look appropriately youthful and are sharply detailed, at least within the context of anime minimalism. Backgrounds are nicely detailed and are at least passingly based on real life locales some of the time, and they're often animated with a really sumptuous looking diffuse lighting scheme that resembles soft focus. While this may not be the most mind bogglingly beautiful anime of all time, it certainly offers copious color, often in gorgeously varied hues, nice fine line detail and excellent sharpness and clarity.
Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Two excellent lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks are provided on the main feature, one in the original Japanese and the other a really quite excellent English dub. I toggled back and forth between the two tracks as I watched the feature the first time, and there is no appreciable difference in the mixes in terms of balance between dialogue, effects and score. The English dub is much better than many in the anime idiom, and doesn't feature quite as much hyperbolic delivery as some of these dubs do at times. There's really excellent utilization of surround channels in several traffic scenes scattered throughout the film (the opening sequence is a good example), but even more, sound effects regularly populate the side and rear channels as the film moves along. Dialogue is crisp and clear and well positioned and Kenji Kawai's score is also well mixed into the proceedings. Fidelity is excellent and there is some thunderingly effective LFE in a couple of exciting moments near the film's conclusion.
Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Eden of the East Movie: The King of Eden / Eden of the East: Air Communication Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Eden of the East: The King of Eden and its companion film (included on this Blu-ray) Air Communication are two intriguing entries in the anime canon, and they both deserve major kudos for not trodding the same old anime territory of aliens, mechas and atomic destruction. Both outings have several lingering questions which haven't yet been answered definitively, and the ultimate success of the franchise is going to rise or fall on the third film, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost, which has yet to be released on Blu-ray in the United States. Hoping against hope that Kenji Kamiyami had everything worked out before he began this convoluted journey, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least for now. Recommended.
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