Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eden of the East 02-03: Figuring Out the Past

And the plot picks up very quickly.... excellent!
EPISODE 02: Melancholy Monday
More Screencaps from Eden of the East 02

Akira and Saki arrive in Japan but find that the place is in chaos due to the missile attack. They find out that a plane has been shot down, leading Saki to wonder about it. It turns out that all the prior missile attacks on the country had yielded no victim; hence, the name "Careless Monday." Just then, Saki gets a call from her family telling her that they might be late in picking her up because of the traffic jam. Akira also gets a call from Juiz, informing him that he has just entered the Selecao System and that he is to start performing his duties as one of the "Privileged." Without any idea what she's on about, Akira tests her by asking her to get him out of the airport quickly. Barely a minute passes before security personnel arrive to escort Akira and Saki through the crowd. Once outside, Saki offers to go with Akira as he tries to find his home. At the terminal, Akira strikes up a conversation with Kondo, a Selecao member who has been secretly tracking him. Kondo asks him about Selecao but Akira does not remember anything. Later, while waiting for his boat to arrive, Saki tells Akira a little about herself. When the boat arrives, Akira gets on it while Saki stays behind. However, at the last minute, Akira holds out his hand and Saki takes it. Meanwhile, Kondo is still tracking down Akira and this time he has a plan.

EPISODE 03: In the Light of the Late Show
More Screencaps from Eden of the East 03

Akira and Saki find Akira's home, which turns out to be a shopping mall. A puppy greets them and Akira discovers the place that was in the photograph. With nothing else to do, Akira offers to watch with Saki any movie she likes in the mall cinema. Meanwhile, Kondo follows them to the mall and gets inside the building through a back entrance. There, he sees a graffiti on the wall which reads "Kill Takizawa Akira," reminding him of the rumor about Akira being responsible for the disappearance of several NEETs (Not Engaged for Employment or Training). While Saki watches the movie by herself, Kondo comes up to Akira, who still has no idea bout his plan. After beating him up and taking his cellphone, Kondo reveals that each Selecao member starts out with 10 billion yen but once that money runs out, they would be killed. Unfortunately, Juiz tells him that the cellphones are activated by a biometric system unique to each Selecao member. Akira then calls him up, telling him that he has Kondo's wallet. They agree to meet at the Kabuki District. While waiting, Kondo gets stabbed by his wife. When Akira arrives later, a dying Kondo tells him to track down the other Selecao members via feeds from their cellphones. Before he dies, Kondo believes that Selecao arranged his death by leaking information about his affair to his wife.


So after a rather quirky start, Eden of the East gets right down to business. Now I see why the director thinks he can make a great story out of this series with just 11 episodes. The series has a way of drawing you into the whole mysterious plot through seemingly random events. In episode 2, we find out what "Careless Monday" is but as for the reasons behind it, that remains to be a mystery. The same with Akira as we find out as early as Episode 1 that he wiped his own memories for reasons yet to be revealed. And now with Kondo's dying revelation in Episode 03, we find out that there are ten other people who are like Akira and who might be able to tell him something about the mysterious Selecao. And now the question remains, what's Saki's role in all of this?

The pacing seems pretty tight as each episode reveals just a tiny bit of the plot but at the same time whet your appetite for more. For instance, we know that Akira before the memory-wipe is probably not a nice guy -- an understatement, considering how he seems to be responsible for killing 20,000 NEETs in the vain belief that it would make the world a better place. Now how to reconcile this Akira with the current, happy-go-lucky one is up to the coming episodes. All we know so far is that Akira, and I suppose all the other Selecao members, including Kondo, are seen as saviors by Selecao supporters.

Noblesse Oblige -- the obligation of the rich to the poor is to build a better society. Only problem is that somewhere along the way, somebody got the twisted notion of giving ten billion yen each to ten people and leave it up to them to "save" society. Kondo was spot on about this: How can a single person save the world with only ten billion yen?

But Kondo, I think, got disillusioned and ended up wasting all his money on his mistress. He thought perhaps that since it's virtually impossible to build a better society with Selecao's limited resources, he decided to blast it all off for his own personal enjoyment. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum is Akira. We don't know everything he's done but we know that despite his good intentions he -- indeed, the entire Selecao System -- was proceeding from a wrong premise which, of course, led to the making of wrong conclusions and coming up with the wrong solutions to an existential problem.

That aside, it seems that the series' focus at the moment is Akira's involvement with Selecao and hardly anything about Saki. Romance is hinted at but never really explored and with the angle that Eden of the East is taking I don't think there's going to be much going on in that aspect, except that it's probably going to continue to exist if only to give Saki a reason to stick by Akira.

I don't want to expect too much from Eden of the East because I want to avoid that disappointed feeling one gets from one too many hyped up shows in the past, but I think that even if Eden of the East didn't quite deliver at the final it's still going to turn out to be one enjoyable show. At least, I hope it will. With the first three solid episodes, that almost feels like a certainty.