Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eden of the East 04-05: Like Puppets on a String

IMHO, Eden of the East is still the best summer offering this side of whatever. What I especially like about it is how tightly the whole show is starting to look. There's the very interesting plot that just keeps on going and then there's the character development that's acutely insightful. If you know your anime, character and plot don't often go well together, but in Eden of the East, these two elements flow together as seamlessly as they ought to.
EPISODE 04: True Reality, False Reality
More Screencaps from Eden of the East 04

After leaving Akira's place without nothing but a note, Saki returns to her home where her family awaits her. Meanwhile, Akira tries to find out from Juiz whether or not he really killed 20,000 NEETs. Juiz, however, is unable to do no more than confirm that Akira did gather the NEETs in one place but as to what happened to them afterwards, she doesn't know. Likewise, Juiz can't tell him why he was chosen as a Selecao member or who the Supporter is. At this, Akira decides to follow Kondo's advice and just ask the other members. His search eventually leads him to Number V, Dr. Hiura, a famous brain surgeon who has used his money to establish a self-managing private hospital. Hiura, however, believes that Akira is the Supporter, there to finish him off. To protect himself until his project is finished, he drugs Akira. Meanwhile, Saki is still moping about Akira's sudden disappearance when she gets a call from Ohsugi inviting her to go together with him to their respective job interviews. After their talk, Saki sends Akira a text message, asking if he has regained his memories. Later, Akira wakes up from his drug-induced sleep to find himself in an abandoned room. There, Hiura finally revealed to him that the Selecao System is run by a mysterious entity known only as Mr. Outside. The System is made so that if any one of the twelve members abandons their mission, uses the money for their personal desires or runs out of money without saving the country he or she will die at the hands of the Supporter. As to the identity of the Supporter, only Mr. Outside knows it. Moreover, if one of the members fulfills his mission first, all the rest will be exterminated. Akira believes that with all that Hiura has done, his mission is finished. But according to Hiura, his accomplishments are not enough to please Mr. Outside. True enough, after Akira leaves the hospital, the Supporter arrives to kill Hiura.

EPISODE 05: Now's Not the Time to be Thinking About That
More Screencaps from Eden of the East 05

The episode begins with a female member of the Selecao waking up at a hotel to find a dead body of a man in the same room. Seemingly not surprised, she picks up her phone and asks Juiz to take care of it. Meanwhile, Akira meets a guy who reveals himself to be one of the NEETs that Akira gathered. It turns out that Akira did not kill them but merely dumped all 20,000 of them in Dubai where they were forced to work and reintegrate themselves to society. Later, he asks Juiz how far he could go using his cellphone. Due to some misunderstanding, Juiz ends up taking as an order what Akira meant only as an example, but at any rate, Akira realizes just what the Selecao is capable of. Just then, he notices Saki's message from yesterday and hurriedly sends her a reply. However, Saki at that moment is on her way to her job interview, which doesn't turn out well. Worse still, the interviewer plays a prank on her, inviting her to lunch then standing her up and even arranging for a guy to dump a bowl of beef soup on her. After that disastrous experience, Saki finally decides to leave and gets picked up by Akira, who has tracked her down with Juiz' help. Despite her earlier promise with Ohsugi to have drinks with him, Saki lets Akira take her away. They end up at the pier where Saki rants to him about her horrible day and how she can't go home and face her brother-in-law. After hearing her complain, Akira kisses her on the lips and then tells that she could come with him to his place. Meanwhile, a depressed and drunk Ohsugi catches the attention of the female Selecao member.


So we get more clues about Akira's mysterious past and I must say that I'm glad to learn he's not a bad guy -- i.e. he did not kill those NEETs. Then again, I don't think this series is about good vs. bad at all because the way everything is set up, Eden of the East looks all set to blur the lines.

Other Selecao members are finally showing their faces but other than Kondo and Hiura, we don't know who they are or what they're going to do about Akira. Well, the blue-haired lady doesn't seem too concerned about him but that guy with the redstone ring looks shady. Anyway, Ohsugi is in big trouble, if indeed that blue-haired lady is a serial killer.

As for Saki, I'm also somewhat relieved to find out that she isn't just the token female lead. It looks like the very real problems that she, along with other young people situated similarly, is facing is going to help Akira come up with the best way to fulfill his mission and meet Mr. Outside. That means she isn't just there to tag along but is there to provide him with the perfect foil for his character.

One aspect about Eden of the East that bears stressing is the fact that it manages to be quite extreme (even fantastical to some extent) but at the same time heavily grounded in realism. Who here hasn't experienced a little of what Saki went through during her job interview? After all, not all job interviews go as smoothly as we'd like. And who here hasn't had a crush on one of their friends only to be the last to find out that they're just not that into you? Clearly, even as Akira's mission is the prime mover in this series, it's the little problems that Saki and Ohsugi are facing that really hit the point home.

Here's to hoping for another spectacular episode next.